In this current era, too many on the right have fallen prey to the lures of a bellicose, centralizing populism.
Over the last number of years, parts of America’s political Right seem to have forgotten, pushed aside, or just given up on many of the governing principles that defined American conservatism for generations. Though the political circles backing nationalism, populism, industrial planning, Trumpism, or common goodism aren’t coterminous, there is one significant area of overlap: Compared to those on the right a decade ago, they are more open to a more managerial, muscular, free-spending Uncle Sam and less energized about distributing authority to states, localities, and nongovernmental bodies.
Now that the progressives controlling Washington are pushing a New Deal–Great Society–style agenda centralizing power and sporting a jaw-dropping price tag, conservatism finds itself in a bind. It’s hard to be taken seriously as anti-statist after you’ve been flirting with statism. One type of response you might hear is along the lines of, “But our expensive, centralizing, managerial proposals are better than their expensive, centralizing, managerial proposals.” But American conservatism has not been and should not become a different flavor of power consolidation. The key to defeating progressives’ hyper-ambitious plans and crafting an inspiring, politically successful agenda of our own is picking up and dusting off the governing principles we’ve recently neglected.
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