The Republican Party is sitting on a goldmine if only it has a lick of sense to notice (too much to ask?). If it positions itself as a strong advocate for personal freedom right now, it will become the natural home for all Americans (of all backgrounds) who object to the growing shadow of government authority. That conflict between total State power and individual liberty is at the heart of all policy battles being fought today — from the West’s omnipotent surveillance state and its quixotic pursuit of amorphous “extremists” hiding behind every door to its experimental vaccine mandates and climate change fear-mongering intentionally used to justify government control over the economy. If there were any doubts as to how threatened Americans’ liberties now are in the twenty-first century, the last year of arbitrary lockdowns, forced economic ruin, and suspension of constitutional rights dispelled those doubts for good. The war pitting personal autonomy against State coercion will define the decades to come.
It is clear which side the Democrats have chosen. They are the party of bigger and more expansive government intent on intruding into the personal lives, thoughts, and choices of every American. They are the party of new and bigger taxes and a more powerful and politicized IRS. They are the party of Big Business, so long as those businesses adhere to the State’s official messaging and promote the State’s official goals. They are the party of Big Tech and Big Media, both of which have become instrumental to the Democrats’ control over information and their throttling of Americans’ free speech. They are the party of unconstitutional lockdowns and a pandemic police state that they have sought to make permanent through a “Great Reset” of society.
The Democratic Party enthusiastically endorses censorship by first pretending anything said in opposition to its worldview is “hate speech” or “misinformation” and then criminalizing unsanctioned “hate” or “misinformation.” (BLM and Antifa hate, in contrast, is not only legal, but also glamorized and honored, and the Intelligence Community’s Russia hoax disinformation, government health professionals’ cover-up of COVID-19’s origins, and State-backed propaganda attacking Christianity all get a pass.) Democrats have transformed once mocked “political correctness” standards into biting “cancel culture” edicts that quickly end careers, livelihoods, and reputations. Instead of working to avoid the atrocities, humiliations, and violence that occurred during China’s Cultural Revolution, those same Democrats have imported and nurtured that intellectual virus here in America. And just as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, and Pol Pot did before them, the Democratic Party believes in confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens while increasing the lethality of federal police forces.
With no self-awareness whatsoever, Democrats embrace authoritarianism, racial conflict, the rewriting of history, and the politically expedient redefinition of words while accusing their opponents of those transgressions. Holding up their copies of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 as if they understood the lessons of those novels (and some tyrants in the Democratic Party no doubt do), they have ironically become the spitting image of everything against which Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury forewarned.
What is less clear is where Republicans stand. For too long, they have embraced the mantle of a stodgy, conservative party, happy to oppose first the threats of Soviet communism and then the rising menace of Marxist-socialism, more generally, by merely slowing down their opponents’ push for revolutionary change and seeking to preserve traditional institutions of American culture and power. Fighting growing government power by conserving traditional government power, however, has predictably aided the government in only becoming more powerful. So-called “progressives” have succeeded in expanding government control over the individual, and so-called “conservatives” have succeeded in preserving the progressives’ new devices of control in the name of “tradition.”
This is the conservatism of Paul Ryan and his acolytes — so focused on the preservation of institutions and the lofty glorification of “permanent things” that it has consistently failed to formulate and promote any kind of a platform for protecting and strengthening Americans’ freedoms. Institutions originally designed to limit government power and promote individual liberty are only as good as they are effective. If America’s institutions have become increasingly co-opted by Democrats’ collectivist power-grabs, then conservative efforts to protect institutional power perversely protect Democrats’ authoritarianism. That’s why after years of Republican Party promises to the contrary, Obamacare is still the law of the land, and none of the perpetrators behind the Russia hoax or the IRS’s persecution of Tea Party groups has been punished. It’s as the old joke goes: what will Republicans fight to defend today? Whatever the Democrats fought to create ten years ago. No wonder Chuck Schumer still talks nostalgically of the days when Paul Ryan’s leadership guided Republican Party politics!
In his seminal essay, “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” F.A. Hayek repudiates the conservatism advocated by the likes of George Will and Paul Ryan for having no forward-thinking philosophy capable of adapting and responding to ever newer threats to an individual’s liberty (particularly when those threats come from government itself). Stuck between the binary choice of Republicans’ efforts to conserve whatever they deem worth conserving from one decade to the next (marriage, free trade with communist China, democracy seeding in the Middle East) and Democrats’ relentless campaign to progressively advance toward a totalitarian State, American voters have had no viable political party dedicated to defending personal freedom and individual liberties against attacks from wherever they might come. That reality should shock Americans — that a country founded in the spirit of expansive personal liberty and a commitment to combat all forms of government tyranny is represented by two political parties that pursue neither! The end result has been a profound failure in the United States to uphold the Constitution’s protections and to prevent the steady transformation of the “land of the free” into another expansive socialist State.
That failure does not have to continue if Republican officeholders wake up to the reality that the only thing left worth conserving in the United States today is liberty itself. Republican voters have been awake to this troubling reality for decades, but until Donald Trump came along, their concerns were ignored. How have voters reacted to his defense of America’s constitutional freedoms? They overwhelmingly prefer his policy goals to those of the Republicans who controlled the party in the past. If the Republican Party is to survive in the years to come, it cannot remain the lesser of two Big Government evils. It must stand as a contrast to the authoritarianism gripping the Democratic Party by advocating not that this marble palace or that marble palace be conserved for posterity, but that American freedom be preserved at all costs.
Rebelling against government control is America’s birthright, after all. If Republicans choose America’s birthright, they will win America’s future.