Last week, we discussed the emergence of a new Republican Party for the coming epoch in American politics. Now, we discuss that party’s platform. Specific policy details will depend on time and circumstance, but as a broad umbrella, this platform, starting from Trump but evolving after him, will be well-suited to maintaining and expanding the Republican Party’s new base.
1. Maintain the Balance of Power
This is less a policy than an overall aim, a North Star for public policy. America is so internally unstable now because a healthy social balance of power has not been maintained.
This emphasis on the balance of power begins with America’s founders. The question of the balance of power obsessed them. They bent over backwards and then some to establish a social contract with a federal government comprised of branches that would balance one another out, would balance the federal government with the states, and would balance the particular sections of the country with one another so that none could be powerful enough to dominate the rest (this is where the Electoral College comes from). The result was our Constitution, a document so full of compromise that contemporaries wondered whether it would even be adopted.
Later, when it became clear that the states were accumulating power that stripped their inhabitants of liberty and which could destabilize and even break apart the national compact, Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party corrected the imbalance with their victory in the Civil War and then the post-Civil War Constitutional amendments. These ensured the federal government would be able to act to protect the liberties of the people of the states. Recall that before that, the Bill of Rights and other safeguards applied only when citizens were dealing with the federal government. These amendments corrected the imbalance and vulnerability that oversight left in place. Now, the states had a more robust check on their behavior, just as the states checked the federal government.
It would take another century to fully apply these safeguards. Republican President Eisenhower, though privately reluctant, nevertheless did his duty to maintain the Constitutional balance of power, beginning the process of desegregation.
There is a post-Reagan Republican Party tradition to dislike some of the 14th Amendment’s provisions in the belief that they allow the federal government to go too far at the expense of the states, the infamous “penumbras and emanations” in Griswold v. Connecticut being the ultimate example. There is truth there, but as the coronavirus lockdowns approach the six month mark, we see the importance of this check. We now know that there is little scientific evidence to back these lockdowns up, especially at this stage of the game, and yet they continue arbitrarily, with arbitrary edicts that differ according to the whims of unelected “health” bureaucrats and power-drunk governors who increasingly resemble the petty potentates called Nomarchs that were responsible for the breakdown of central authority in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.
These mini tyrannies are precisely what the 14th Amendment corrected and was designed to prevent in the future, by allowing American citizens to take their state and local governments to federal court. It is long past time for this to happen in class actions from coast to coast and for the Justice Department to show these would-be Nomarchs that life, liberty, and property cannot be taken without due process of law.
In the coronavirus lockdowns, we see just how important the concept of a balance of power is. As the states are getting far too powerful, we have a check in the form of the federal government.
Between the Civil War and Eisenhower’s moves, though, another threat to the balance of power emerged, one the founders were less aware of – private concentrations of wealth and authority which again threatened to destabilize the country. As the Industrial Revolution gained steam, wealth increasingly concentrated in the hands of trusts, most infamously Standard Oil. This destabilized the social balance of power in a different way, as economic and social life became dominated by a few captains of industry, whose whims could send the country into a tailspin. Perhaps the best example was in 1902, when a coal strike threatened to plunge the country into a bitter winter.
Theodore Roosevelt was fortunately President at the time. Feeling it his duty to prevent that outcome and to correct the imbalance of power that had accumulated, Roosevelt took action, preventing the strike from stretching into winter. During his tenure, Roosevelt ended what some historians call the era of the executive retreat – a succession of post-Lincoln presidents who were weak and reluctant to intervene, leaving a power vacuum that the trusts filled. Roosevelt reversed this and started the trend that would curb the trusts, creating a more stable economic balance of power which led to both commercial success and the creation of a prosperous middle class.
It became an act of orthodoxy amongst the Reagan era Republican Party to turn against the heritage Roosevelt bequeathed to it. In 1980, this was understandable, as the big government era of the 1960s and 70s far exceeded its civil rights mandate, bringing with it the failure in Vietnam, stagflation, and unpopular overreach like forced school busing, all with high high tax rates for the privileges. Reagan’s platform thus had appeal and was necessary. The federal government had gotten too powerful at the expense of the states and civil society.
We like to think about power as being associated with the state, which is a reminder of how profoundly Reagan shaped public discourse, but the truth is that private tyrannies are just as real, which is why libertarianism will ultimately defeat itself. By surrendering too much power, the federal and state governments invited a new league of trusts to fill the vacuum.
The new Republican Party must orient itself around an end goal of creating a stable balance of power between the branches of the federal government, between the federal government and the states, and between government, civil society, and the various sectors within civil society, a balance of power based on evolutions from history and tradition, which can adapt as circumstance requires.
As James Madison so famously said in Federalist #51, ambition must be made to counteract ambition. For too long, the Republican Party has let the ambitions of some run roughshod over the ambitions of the rest, while pretending such a thing was an expression of liberty. It’s notable that this is now the position of the Democratic Party, which is why it is inconsistent and incoherent. Its pretense for policy comes down to considering as good anything that empowers it and as bad anything which counteracts its power. This is why Democrats now want to abolish the filibuster and Electoral College, which are both moderating influences which prevent any particular faction from getting too much power. It’s also why they care little about an unaccountable federal bureaucracy (most acutely the intelligence agencies) and an economy filled with trusts and monopolies (because those monopolies donate to and support their political causes).
Donald Trump didn’t say any this (he’s not a deep enough thinker to), but he implicitly understands it, and he made us realize it. It’s now up to him and his successors to evolve policy based on Madison’s realism. The rest of this outline is to that end.
2. Economic Policy
There should be no big contradiction to this. The big mistake the Republican Party made in the Reagan era was constantly favoring big businesses, which promptly shipped jobs overseas and otherwise rigged the system for their interests at the expense of workers and smaller businesses.
While the Marxist dialectic we’ve been reflexively trapped in is to put labor against capital, it need not be true on the grand scale. The policy goal should be to enable the growth of American businesses, with a priority of hiring American workers who grow with them and see their earnings increase, at least proportionally, with the company’s.
To an extent, that has happened during the Trump years, unlike the years prior, and it should be one of the major goals when it comes to making economic policy. There will always be some tension between workers and owners, but the goal of policy should be to deal with that in a pragmatic, balanced arrangement, in much the way Theodore Roosevelt dealt with the coal strike in 1902. Ultimately, labor and capital both need each other if they want to get ahead.
Encourage Domestic Manufacturing
If the Chinese coronavirus pandemic has taught us one thing, it is the importance of domestic manufacturing. As the virus spread, we learned that most of our critical medical infrastructure – equipment, pharmaceuticals, and so on, comes out of China. That our country allowed this to happen over the decades can only be described as maliciously stupid.
It’s been much the same story with other critical industries, such as electronics and communications technology, steel, and so on.
During President Trump’s acceptance speech, he said that a priority of his next four years would be to make America the greatest manufacturing powerhouse in the world and end America’s dependence on China once and for all.
This is a worthy goal. It was critical to his first victory and was long overdue. He has promised to offer tax credits to manufacturers that bring their infrastructure out of China and back to the United States. That’s a good start. If need be, the Republican Party should encourage a policy that Japan is currently using and actually subsidize manufacturers to get out of China.
Manufacturing not only provides good jobs for American workers that don’t require college degrees, with their attendant indoctrination and debt, but it is crucial for American national security. It needs to be encouraged and restored to the fullest extent possible, particularly in vital industries, and in all areas of the country. The regional balance of power must be maintained.
This has long been neglected in the Republican Party, but now more than ever, the party must embrace the legacy that Theodore Roosevelt bequeathed to it. In terms of ensuring domestic tranquility, antitrust policy will be as important as immigration.
The threat that the new wave of trusts poses to free speech is already well-known. Increasingly, the new trusts also threaten to cut off the credit and finances of those who do not profess public adherence to the woke orthodoxy, and this could easily extend to travel and every other aspect of private life. Michael Anton recently examined the threat in “A Tyranny Perpetual and Universal?” at American Greatness.
This is in addition to the threat the new trusts pose to normal economic activity, the labor market, and business formation. Amazon recently opened a grocery store under its own brand. If Jeff Bezos had his way, Amazon would be in every industry, absorbing the entire economy (or at least the entire retail economy) under its brand. Think of the threat such a move would pose to the democratizing power of the market and entrepreneurship, labor relations (it’s hard to get a better job when all the jobs are under one roof) and increasingly, civil liberties.
It’s beyond clear that the tech trusts need to be broken up. Google, with its increasingly Orwellian control of almost all information, and Amazon, with its increasing dominance of all physical economic activity, are the most odious of these, but Facebook, Apple, and others all play their role in rotting the political economy.
Theodore Roosevelt’s famous doctrine – that the goal is not to be against corporations, but to make sure they serve the public good – applies.
And even if not for the public good, the Republican Party needs to become a trust busting party again, for its own survival if nothing else.
De-emphasize University Degrees and Address Student Loans
The Trump administration made an important contribution this year when it announced that federal hiring would no longer be obsessed with university degrees, but rather emphasize skills. The federal government should encourage the states to do the same with the power it has over funding or defunding the states.
This step needs to be expanded to other areas of the economy. The federal and state governments, when in Republican hands, should no longer consider university degrees the be-all, end-all in terms of the individuals and firms they do contracting with.
If need be, federal and state governments can support apprenticeship and other training programs to get workers good jobs without university degrees.
This is essential, because, going back to our concept of the balance of power – too much has accumulated in the hands of the university educated professional at the expense of other parts of civil society, leading to unsustainable wealth disparities and the closing off of options for the latter groups (along with a whole bunch of hectoring at their expense). This is to say nothing on the threat that universities now pose to the national culture and soul (more on that later).
The new Republican Party must make it a priority to lessen the power of the universities. Universities must not be permitted to act as the sole path to success in America. It must also act to solve the mounting and looming student loan crisis. This policy would at least prevent the problem from getting worse.
The mechanism of actually reducing the student loan problem is complicated. Just forgiving the loans, as a certain faction in the Democratic Party wants to do, would create too big of a financial moral hazard. Nevertheless, the party must make it a priority to find one. Not only would it appeal to younger voters, it’s essential for the financial future of our nation.
3. Cultural Policy
Free Speech Absolutism
The Republican Party needs to be the party of freedom of speech. Period, end of story. It must not hesitate to bring lawsuits against universities or any other institution that would deny free speech rights. In a prelude of the trust busting policies to come, it also needs to repeal Section 230 that incentivizes the tech trusts to censor.
Ultimately, the party should pass an Internet Bill of Rights that guarantees freedom of speech, association, economic activity, and other fundamental liberties that are increasingly tied up online – and thus at the mercy of tech companies. The party must make it clear that the United States will not accept a Chinese-style social credit system within its borders.
Identity Politics for No One
In a direct rebuke to Democrats, the Republican National Convention had its most diverse lineup in history – but didn’t harp on “diversity.” Instead, all of the participants talked about only one identity – their American identity – and the promise of this country.
That’s exactly what we needed to see.
As the example of the late Roman Republic reminds us, when conflicting tribal identities undermine and supersede the national identity, threats to the nation’s existence will follow.
The Republican Party must make it clear that there can be only one allegiance and identity. As usual, Theodore Roosevelt serves as the guide. His passages about immigration and hyphenated Americanism are clear. This brings me to the next item.
Root Out Cultural Marxism
The waves of unrest and subversion we’ve seen in recent years weren’t random. They came as a result of decades of subversion with the teaching of Critical Theory (the front for Cultural Marxist philosophy) in universities and then its steady infiltration into other institutions, as successive waves of university graduates populated them. Today, Critical Theory is not only operating indirectly, it’s openly taught almost everywhere, even the military. The cancer has metastasized and the Republican Party has up to now simply watched. Aggressive therapy is required and it must be a big part of the party platform.
To wit, the Republican Party must root out, defund, and eradicate Critical Theory wherever it can. If it can’t do so directly, it should find creative ways to use the power of the purse to get it done.
This week, we saw an important step, as President Trump took action to prohibit the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the executive branch of the federal government.
The days of taxpayer funded indoctrination trainings that sow division and racism are over. Under the direction of @POTUS we are directing agencies to halt critical race theory trainings immediately.https://t.co/dyMeJka9rt
— Russ Vought (@RussVought45) September 4, 2020
To further root it out of government, the federal government should financially penalize state and local governments that permit and encourage this to be taught throughout their own ranks. States have always modified their behavior in response to federal funding.
The next step is to go right to the heart of this cancer and defund all the university programs that teach it. The obvious targets are the gender and ethnic studies programs that grow in our universities like out of control Kudzu, but it’s unfortunately not so simple. All of the humanities, and increasingly, STEM departments (see the rise of woke math), have become infested.
Crafting a policy to root this out won’t be easy and will require nuance, but it is nevertheless essential for the future of our youth and our country. The Republican Party must adopt policies where the federal government makes clear that it will not back student or parent loans to university programs that embrace Critical Theory, with its attendant sinecures like “offices of diversity and inclusion,” or anything similar to it.
Rooting out Cultural Marxism in the corporate world will be harder. Nevertheless, the government has extensive contracts with corporate America, and it should use its power of the purse to only do business with those businesses that eschew Critical Theory and woke virtue signaling. This, combined with an Internet Bill of Rights, should go far in solving the problem.
On the visceral level, the party also needs to root out, defund, and, when necessary, arrest and prosecute Antifa and Black Lives Matter, the Marxist militias responsible for the waves of terrorism we’ve seen this summer. RICO should be used if it can.
This is now a major national security issue. As Ronald Reagan said: “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” That rings far truer now than it did in his own time. The United States triumphed over Communism abroad, but Communism has transformed itself into a social style of Marxism and infiltrated our society – starting after World War II, but gaining steam little by little. Now, it’s mainstream. This philosophy is in direct conflict with the founding values of the country. One philosophy cannot coexist with the other.
It’s the true nation of 1776 or the make-believe nation of 1619. We must choose one or the other.
The Republican Party needs to choose 1776 and use all the levers of power available to ensure that choice.
Bringing the Media to Heel
The fake news media, that formerly posed as a free press, is the enemy of the people. No ifs. No buts. Their constant fanning of the flames of hysteria has torn the country apart. For the past decade (and longer) hoax after hoax has come about, and during the Trump era, any mask of objectivity has come off. The media will simply make things up if it has to. This has brought about 40% of the population to a persistent state of mental illness, and that part of the population lashes out at others in the pursuit of their fearful hallucinations.
And the media just profits from it. Therein lies the dilemma. The media is meant to provide a public good with the truthful conveyance of information, but it has a private incentive to sensationalize because sensations are by their nature more persuasive than facts. This impulse is especially bad when all the “journalists” come from the same social networks, are limited to one point of view, and have a palpable hatred for anyone outside that viewpoint. These dynamics preceded Trump, but the acute and visceral hatred of him among the media exposed them to the highest degree.
Unfortunately, bringing the media to heel won’t be easy. First Amendment protections are rightfully broad. However, the Republican Party, where it can, should look to prosecute media figures for making illegal in-kind campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. The “fine people” and “suckers and losers” hoaxes are prime examples of this. The latter conveniently timed with a Biden campaign ad. Coincidence? If the Trump campaign wants to go for the jugular, it should sue on the grounds that the hoax is an illegal in-kind campaign contribution. We need to see a lot more of that.
Republican legislatures and executives should also pass laws mandating greater disclosure in advertising and in media hit pieces. Why was it not disclosed in the “suckers and losers” hoax that the owner of the publication and the “journalist” that wrote the hit piece were big Biden donors? That should be a material fact in an anonymously-sourced story, shouldn’t it?
The party should also cease to give legitimacy to these outlets. Stop going on their shows. Stop giving them interviews. Stop letting them moderate debates. Stop indulging them until they change their behavior and provide the public good they are supposed to provide.
Ultimately, the party needs to fund hard-hitting journalism of its own. Perhaps this needs to take place outside the levers of government and through the party apparatus and social circles, but it needs to happen. Imagine if the party paid more attention to this and cultivated a legion of people like Alex Berenson, Glenn Greenwald, and on the harder-hitting end, Tucker Carlson and Mike Cernovich.
Just look at what Christopher Rufo did by exposing Critical Race Theory being taught in the federal agencies. That is now (for the moment) prohibited thanks to him.
Why does the Republican Party bother giving legitimacy to these big media Democratic-biased polls and allow their narrative to spread when it has people like Richard Baris (PPD/Epoch Times) and Robert Cahaly (Trafalgar) available, who have been more accurate, and who would go a long way into blunting their propaganda?
The problem with the Republican Party is that, until Trump, it responded to news cycles and didn’t control them, because it ceded the initiative in making them to the left and their own media complex. The Republican Party was the white paper party. No more.
Directly or indirectly, the party and its membership needs to fund its own hard-hitting journalism to combat the leftist propaganda apparatus.
Art and Aesthetics
Look at this year’s Democratic National Convention and now look at the Republican National Convention. If you think aesthetics don’t matter, you’re out of your mind. For decades, Democrats understood this and used it to become the “cool party.”
But as the Convention showed, the Democratic Party is increasingly becoming uncool. Ratings for woke sports leagues, for example, are tanking. The UFC, which showed up at the Republican Convention in the person of Dana White, has seen its ratings increase.
Meanwhile, sales for “social justice” infested comics are going down quickly while the Japanese manga industry, which is rising, is taking steps to avoid infestation on its own turf. A cultural vacuum is growing, as I predicted at the end of 2016.
It’s beyond apparent that much of the propagation of the strange polutocrat-degenerate narrative in the centers of popular culture comes because its adherents have to tow the party line or risk losing their careers.
The Republican Party, or at least those loyal to it, should use its social networks and capital to encourage and establish culture creators and the infrastructure to support them. Imagine if they had done this over the years instead of bottling themselves up in increasingly irrelevant libertarian think tanks. Perhaps the party’s cultural impact wouldn’t be limited to lame Dinesh D’Souza movies.
This is less a function of public policy than it is social communication and networking, but the Republican Party must encourage and boost culture creators outside of the plutocrat-degenerate axis. This is ultimately the role I want to fill. Stay tuned!
4. Immigration Policy
We all know the right path by now:
- Immigration is not an abstract emotionalism, it is meant to benefit the people already living in the host country.
- America’s legal immigration system needs to be based around merit and skills that employers need, not “family reunification” where third cousins and great-great uncles can come in for no other reason than a distant relation to someone here. In other words, we should have a points-based system similar to Canada and Australia, with elastic visas based on the state of the economy and job demands, but capped at about 500,000 in good years.
- Visas that enable employers to fire their American workers in favor of cheap foreign replacements should be banned. Employers must demonstrate a real need for the foreign visas, with robust enforcement of this.
- The border must be completely secured. Catch and release must be ended permanently. We must crack down on visa overstays.
- Only once the illegal immigration problem is under control can we decide what to do with those who have resided here illegally for a long time. Those who broke the law willingly shouldn’t be rewarded with citizenship, should they receive some kind of permanent status.
- The Republican Party must make a concerted assault on birthright citizenship on the legislative and judicial level to end the practice. Only the children of citizens and permanent legal residents should automatically be granted citizenship. No more anchor babies. No more birth tourism.
5. Foreign Policy
I’ll bullet this one as well, since we more or less know what the aims should be.
- Communist China is the greatest national security threat America faces.
- American foreign policy should therefore primarily be aimed at blunting and reversing Chinese imperialism.
- This second Cold War will take place largely in the realm of technology and diplomacy. A coalition needs to be built against the Chinese Communist Party comprised of old and new allies alike. The strong ties Trump has forged with Modi’s India are a positive step in this direction. Russia should also be a part of this coalition, as it poses no major threat to American interests. That we are fixated on Russia stems from hoaxes spread by an “intelligence community” and chronically wrong foreign policy establishment that lives in the past.
- Also to this end, the country has to close the book on the endless wars in the Middle East. With our booming domestic energy industry, the region simply isn’t as important as it once was. To the extent that it is, America would want to stop Chinese influence from spreading there, largely through Iran, which our foolish foreign policy has driven into China’s arms. This can be done through existing alliance networks, and ultimately, a rapprochement with Iran, which truthfully poses no threat to American interests so long as nuclear proliferation doesn’t happen there. There’s no reason why such a deal shouldn’t be possible.
- America must take particular heed to improve its capabilities in space, with drones, and with missile technology, the latter of which the Chinese are rapidly getting an edge on. The country has wasted too much time and money on military projects that will become increasingly irrelevant.
Implementing this policy will be tough, as it requires the party to go against the infamous “foreign policy blob” in Washington. Many Republican Party members are part of that blob. Nevertheless, the work must be done. Otherwise, more American troops will bleed and die for no good reason, and China will continue to accumulate power at the expense of our country and the freedom of the entire world.
6. Odds and Ends
What else might this new Republican Party want to accomplish?
Environment and Energy
On the environmental front, it should be the party of nuclear energy. The fear of nuclear energy is irrational and if the goal truly is net zero carbon, it is the only way to get there without throwing everyday life into a tailspin. California’s rolling blackouts and the comically, maliciously impotent pleas from its hapless public officials like the “Mayor” of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, to turn off major appliances after 3 PM are emblematic of this.
This is the future Democrats want for the nation. They confidently proclaim their technocratic prowess but can’t even keep the lights on. As I said in Lives of the Luminaries, once the woke virus infects something, it cares only about replicating itself. In this case, government doesn’t govern.
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) September 7, 2020
The Republican Party can draw a huge contrast with its dynamic energy policy, encouraging the shale boom and providing good jobs by building the next generation of much safer, zero-carbon nuclear reactors. Ultimately, the goal should be to crack nuclear fusion and ending any energy concerns for the future.
Aside from blunting leftist propaganda on the environment, it’s also the right thing to do, and the contrast it would serve with the hapless leftist energy policy would be positive. There are people out there like Mike Shellenberger and Mark Schneider who would be eager to help.
Sunset Clauses and Term Limits
To prevent long-term power imbalances, the new Republican Party should insist that more legislation and other initiatives contain sunset clauses. This will force periodic reexamination and help ensure that bad policy doesn’t get enshrined into permanent law.
In a similar vein, term limits should be imposed not only on elected officials, but federal bureaucrats. Why is the octogenerian Anthony Fauci still allowed to drive health policy despite being haplessly out of touch and ossified for decades in his post?
Officeholding should largely be temporary. Those who have been there too long should leave, at least with a 10 year cool down period before taking office again. The Romans had the right idea.
Redistribution of Federal Offices
This ties in with the concept of upholding the balance of power. Why are all these federal offices concentrated near Washington? All that has done is permit the formation of a Praetorian Guard class that undercuts the popular will and necessary political readjustments. It has taken opportunities away from the rest of the country and concentrated them in Washington.
Josh Hawley and others have brought this idea up, so the new party should waste no time in following the vanguard. It’s time to redistribute some of these federal jobs throughout the country to diffuse their power, bring more opportunity to communities across America, and make federal bureaucrats more accountable to the general public instead of the special interests that congregate Washington like arterial plaque.
The Republican Party has obsessively stuck with Originalism in the tradition of Justice Scalia, and there is good reason for this. As the most unaccountable branch of government, the judiciary should be as limited as possible in its application, sticking to the text of the law and not reading into it things that aren’t there.
Yet, as we saw with the rulings earlier this summer that read transgenderism into the Civil Rights Act with the approval of the supposedly Originalist Neil Gorsuch, there is a limitation to this theory.
Adrian Vermeule caught a lot of flak earlier this year for talking about how Originalism failed (it’s hard to argue) and how the right wing legal movement needs to transcend it to a reading of a common good Constitution steeped in natural, moral law.
On the one hand, such a philosophy could require a dangerous expansion of unaccountable judicial power. On the other, it’s hard to disprove that it might be a necessary tool to root out the subversive Marxist rot.
The new Republican Party may wish to look for both in judicial appointments in the future.
This is a program I think present, and particularly, future, Republican candidates and devotees would more or less agree on. It transcends the failures of the conservative movement and provides for a far more muscular and virile platform to meet and defeat the strange plutocrat-Marxist alliance in battle, and its historical credentials are strong.
If the party is to survive and fix the country, it must embrace something like this platform. Donald Trump hinted at the way, but it’s now up to more disciplined, deeper thinkers to follow and perfect the path.
I predicted much of this in 2016 in Stumped. Get it today and read the chapter on realignment.