The right kind of realignment
In January, countless Reddit users worked together to increase GameStop stock, adding so dramatically to the company’s value that Robinhood’s personal investment app prevented its users from buying more due to “market volatility”. This allowed hedge funds to buy or unload the short stocks at will, while preventing individuals from buying because too many were making too much money.
It was a case of ordinary people figuring out the system to use themselves in ways that undermined Wall Street. The Robinhood action that followed was clearly big business protecting Wall Street at the common man’s expense. A populist uprising of the 21st century was suppressed by the financial and political elite.
“That is unacceptable,” said Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained. Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace retweeted the far-left Democrat approvingly. Add “Big investment firms are crying in front of the government because some people used (Reddit) and (Robinhood) to beat them at their own game.”
“You short-circuited (GameStop) and lost. Period, ”added the freshman. “In a free market everyone is free to succeed / fail.”
But apparently some companies are too big to fail. “Any claim that Robinhood has supported hedge funds or other special interests to the detriment of our clients is absolutely false and market-distorting rhetoric,” said Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, in February. “Given this unprecedented volatility and volume … Robinhood Securities has temporarily restricted certain securities to facilitate compliance with clearinghouse deposit requirements. This will allow Robinhood to continue serving our customers and complying with all trading regulations.”
Tenev’s defense was that his company had to comply with federal regulations. Big government protects hedge funds at the expense of everyday Americans who may want to gamble in the stock market just like the rich. And they did – until big business and government put an end to it that day.
How many Americans lost a total of trillions to the subprime mortgage crisis in the late years? The federal government’s first concern, however, was protecting the elite when Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama dutifully turned over billions of taxpayers’ money to Wall Street. The tea party movement of the time was a response to these bailouts.
How many wealthy people today have benefited from the trillions of coronavirus relief at the expense of those in need? Republican Congressman Thomas Massie said of the first aid package in March 2020: “The tragedy of this bill is that it is a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the money class.”
Americans have grown accustomed to watching the rich and powerful screened off by the big government while the little man has to accept his financial hardship. Maybe there should be a big American political party fighting for them.
Millions of voters saw Donald Trump as a hero because he appeared to be fighting against government, corporate and media forces against whom the average American feels powerless. Polls show that a majority of Republicans still support the former president.
Many of these Republican voters are still facing or recovering from coronavirus lockdowns. They fear their civil liberties will be attacked by the government and big tech. Many voters are suspicious and angry with their state and federal governments who work with large corporations to disrupt or suppress daily life.
The Washington ExaminerTim Carney saw the writing on the wall eight years ago after “47 percent” of Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election.
“The GOP is no longer in power and must play against the discontented,” Carney wrote in 2012. “The discontented are not the rich, an obvious point that conservatives don’t seem to understand. The rich got richer under Obama, and corporations scored Record profits while the median family income fell. “
A January 2020 Gallup poll found that a whopping 70 percent of Americans believe the economy has been “manipulated” to benefit the powerful. Why not make the cronyism favored by political and corporate elites an enemy?
A newer group of nationalist and “nonprofit” conservatives that emerged during the Trump era will seek to use state power to empower the little guy against an entrenched elite. But democratically-lite – or democratically-like – proposals from this group could prove to be more difficult than they implement under Biden. A Republican proposal by Sens. Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton in February to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 10, combined with increased restrictions on illegal immigrants in businesses, met with mixed reactions.
Instead, economic collectivists left and right should be hit by a more radical free market agenda.
“Instead of trying to convince successful people that Democrats will take their wealth away, why not explain to the middle class that big government is holding them down?” Carney urged eight years ago. “It’s time for free market populism and a Republican party fighting against all forms of political privilege.”
Carney’s libertarian populist agenda then included dissolving big banks, lowering or eliminating sharply declining wage taxes, ending corporate prosperity, refusing to re-approve the export-import bank, cleaner tax laws, health care reform, and abolishing anti-competitive regulations , the fight against political privilege and more.
Today, a libertarian populist agenda could include rejecting bailouts for hedge funds or anyone else. This could include taking over the teachers’ unions and fighting for school choice, an issue popular with the majority of voters and especially Black and Hispanic Americans. Health care reform could spearhead such an agenda as many Americans wonder why their premiums rise when insurance and pharmaceutical companies become wealthier.
Such an agenda is similar to how former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, who inspired a libertarian populist movement during the 2008 and 2012 elections, described his populist vision in a column for CNN in 2016. “In a free society, there would be no bailouts for banks too big to fail, artificially low interest rates, crony rules, or coveted government contracts,” Paul wrote. “Snuggling up to power would be a thing of the past, as such centers of power would no longer exist.”
I asked Carney for his thoughts on the possible success of libertarian populism in 2021.
“I think the populist energy on the right is currently behind an activist government (protectionism / cracking down on big tech / subsidizing families etc),” said Carney. But he also believes that “libertarian populism is a good compromise position among right-wing populists, the more typical Reagan / Ryan conservatives, and all cooperative elements on the left.”
How to deal with an increasingly censored Twitter, Google or Facebook: “Embrace big tech by taking away privileges and subsidies,” Carney said.
On a family policy level, Carney added that libertarian populism could also: “Help families by lowering marriage penalties and lowering taxes. Help US Manufacturers by Eliminating Government Bias. “
The most libertarian example of right-wing populism in the 21st century to date has been the tea party movement and its focus on spending in Washington. But populist energy can be steered in a myriad of different directions. Many debates about the future of the Republican Party are currently about rejecting or continuing to accept Trumpism. Why not take some good parts, reject bad ones, and add even better parts?
A libertarian populist agenda could woo white working class voters by stressing that the problem is with the powerful, not historically disenfranchised racial minorities, immigrants or other often powerless groups blamed for America’s social ills.
There is room for a Republican Party that is for border security and against illegal immigration, but also more for immigrants, or at least less against immigrants. A Gallup poll in July 2020 found the number of Americans wanting more immigration to the US is increasing (about a third: 34 percent last year, up from 27 percent in 2019). A June 2020 Politico/ The Morning Consult poll found that “69 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016 – when he vowed to deport dreamers – say they should be protected.”
Humanizing migrants would be key. Late March, Republican Sens. Mike Braun, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and others investigated the conditions of inmates implicated in President Biden’s growing border crisis. brown watched“The humanitarian conditions here are appalling.” Cruz saw in the detention centers “several mothers who breastfeed infants … who were housed in outdoor stables where they slept on the floor and breastfeeds their babies.”
Republicans should talk more about what this Democratic president is doing to these poor families.
Ron Paul once lDuring a Republican primary debate in 2007, his party said, “If we had a truly market economy, illegal immigrants wouldn’t be the scapegoat.”
One suggestion that Tim Carney had in 2013 was, “Do you want to reach immigrants? Perhaps more explicitly party to the entrepreneurs and kill regulations that protect the big guys from competition. ” Good idea.
A Republican party more like the coalition that created the First Step Act could form broader coalitions than the 2017 racially motivated violence in Charlottesville that tainted the Trump era. A shift in tone, attitude, and focus – a recalibration – from Republicans’ recent past to racial issues could broaden the base of the GOP.
A Gallup 2020 poll in September found that most Americans believed racial relations were at all-time lows. Given that so many streets in the US are on fire in 2020 due to racial tension, it’s not hard to imagine why. Many Americans were traumatized to see far-right corporations devastating businesses and civil unrest in various cities and neighborhoods. While many black Americans may want to send a message about their life that matters, they probably don’t like having their neighborhoods demolished either, especially by left radicals, often white, who try to appropriate legitimate black ailments.
By doing Washington PostBlack journalist Jonathan Capehart quoted a suspect from the September 2020 riot in Portland, Oregon, who said, “I’m 100% ANTIFA all the way! I am ready to fight for my brothers and sisters! “
“On behalf of black people, I can say: ‘No, thank you'”, wrote Capehart.
There are ways to tackle police and criminal justice reforms while fully opposing the “awakened” mobs. Libertarian conservatives were almost the only faction on the right willing to join such a reform while opposing the violent left. When Senator Rand Paul and his wife Kelley were surrounded by a guard mob on the White House grounds after the 2020 GOP Convention was concluded, protesters yelled at the couple, “Say your name, say your name!” Referring to Breonna Taylor, an African American woman who was killed by police using an arrest warrant without knocking. But Senator Paul is the sponsor of the Justice Act for Breonna Taylor, which would ban federal no-knock arrest warrants.
The left won’t want to hear from a Republican about such practical solutions, but a portion of 42 million black Americans could. Conservatives should merge black concerns about other kinds of government transgressions with the Republican agenda. There are examples. The Senate’s only black Republican, Senator Tim Scott, gave a tearful and heroic speech after police murdered an unarmed African American, Walter Scott, in his state. He delivered a personal message about the reality of police brutality, a truth that came from a respected black leader to a largely white constituency and audience. Scott later introduced a police reform law that had Trump’s support but didn’t exist. More can be done. On March 2, Trump approved Scott for Senate re-election in 2022.
While many do him no credit, Trump has really opened the door to a racist realignment on a grand scale. When President Trump signed the First Step Act in 2018, a poll sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that three-quarters of Americans were in favor of abolishing the mandatory minimum sentence and supporting prison reform. These issues do not threaten the interests of white working class voters. A libertarian populist might argue that a big government has more forms than just taxes and regulation.
Donald Trump stated at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2021 in late February: “The future of the Republican Party is a party that defends the social, economic and cultural interests and values of working American families – of all races, skin colors and creeds. “
Black and Hispanic voters care about their families just as much as white working-class voters. For most Americans, there is probably no greater priority. This probably had something to do with the fact that more black and Hispanic voters joined white working class voters in 2020 to support Trump than in 2016. This contradicted everything the left and mainstream media were telling us about Trump and race.
The New York Times In December 2020 reported, “In the United States, many areas with large numbers of Latinos and Asians, including those with the highest numbers of immigrants, had one thing in common in these elections: an increase in turnout and a shift to the right, often a considerable one. “
Biden “defeated President Trump in almost all of these places en route to his record win in the referendum” Times reported. “But the redshifts, along with a wave of blueshifts in Republican and white areas, have disrupted conventional wisdom of American politics and may foretell a new electoral calculation for the parties.”
Days after the election, Geraldo L. Cadava, author of The Hispanic Republican, explained in the Atlantic“Trump understood what motivated his Latino supporters – economic individualism, religious freedom, and law and order – and he made sure they knew he was doing it.” These are conservative and libertarian values.
Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), told CNBC the day after the election, “I think black Americans are getting a little tired of casting big votes for the Democrats and getting a minimal return on economic prosperity see and fill the wealth gap, job creation and employment opportunities. “
Perhaps more black Americans and Hispanics are ready for a populist movement to speak to them. Sam Fulwood III, who headed the Black Swing Voters Project, told BBC News that African American voters overwhelmingly thought President Trump was “racist” and “incompetent” but admired his “showing strength and defying the establishment” . Fulwood said, “I think this is resonating with a large number of particularly young African American people who already feel that the establishment is weighted against them. They don’t like his politics, but they like the idea that he sticks to the establishment. “
The response to establishment control and censorship suggests that the Republican Party may become the Liberal party in the United States. That is correct in view of democratic illiberalism: Republicans as liberals – that is, classically liberal. The basic rules of modern liberal democracy continue to be challenged by the hard left: freedom of speech and expression, constitutional freedoms, the electoral college, racial equality, and America’s historic pluralism.
reasonCommenting on the emerging illiberal left, Nick Gillespie said in February: “Many in the media and academia are questioning fundamental commitments to freedom of expression and freedom of thought. As the former head of the ACLU, Ira Glasser, said reason Recently, many activists, scholars and journalists believe that “free speech is an antagonist” of social justice. “
There are some left-wing critics of this trend, mostly liberal old-school veterans, some of whom are viewed as right-wing by their earlier audiences just to defend these values. As a progressive writer, Matt Taibbi said about his liberal colleague Glenn Greenwald in mid-February: “What people who describe (Greenwald) as right-wing actually say is that his views – opposition to monopoly, surveillance and censorship, skepticism about secret police agencies, belief in journalistic fairness – are with the current orthodoxy of the Democratic Party incompatible. “
Growing illiberalism has become a growing problem on the right. Greenwald is a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s popular Fox News Show speaking about these topics. “If you disagree with their orthodoxy and consensus, you are a threat and a danger,” Greenwald told Carlson in late January. Regardless of what it is said, liberalism will need its defenders.
There are libertarian Republicans in Congress who have advocated most or all of the positions mentioned here. Some could run for president. Some could be leaders who make libertarian populist legislation a reality through the ability to put Trump’s stamp close to Trump, such as best-known Senator Rand Paul. The Kentucky Senator has liaised with Trump at the Trump level in the past, particularly on libertarian issues.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is already pretty libertarian on at least some points – especially if he successfully opens his red state, as opposed to the blue states which are still banned.
Vanity Fair Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, an ally of DeSantis and Trump, noted in March 2020: “Gaetz has crossed off a list of issues where he breaks with his party: martial powers, gay rights, animal rights, climate change, mandatory arbitration, marijuana. “I’m a different kind of Republican, and I think we are in a period of political realignment made possible by the Trump presidency,” he said. “I think I’m a libertarian populist,” added Gaetz.
Any of these figures who may help shape a more libertarian populist Republican party is no far fetched than Josh Hawley, who positions himself to do the same through his nationalist brand. Libertarians are entitled to aspects of Trumpism just like this camp.
Libertarians are already partly there. Not only is criminal justice reform a conservative issue largely thanks to Trump, but his gift of America First foreign policy has revolutionized the number of Republicans now talking about war and peace.
Senator Paul put this paradigm shift in context in August and contrasted today’s GOP with the composition of the party when his anti-war father Ron Paul ran for president 13 years ago: “I think the party that was not ready for my father in 2008. In fact, the positions of less war and military intervention are much more accepted, but mainly because President Trump has expressed similar views. “Parties change, often because leaders make that change.
What other libertarian positions could become part of the DNA of a populist, working class, multi-ethnic, classically liberal, and anti-aroused Republican party? Let’s find out.
Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and Co-author of the book in 2011 The tea party goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.