"National Conservatism" has no coherent, workable plan for America
Unlike the Reaganites of the 80s, today's insurgents have more rage than vision.
In the late 2010s, American conservatism changed. A series of failures and rejections had made the old Reaganite conservatism — which came to prominence in the late 70s — untenable. The financial crisis and Great Recession had soured people on tax cuts and deregulation as a path to prosperity, the Iraq War discredited muscular interventionist neoconservatism, and the secularization of the American populace and the broad acceptance of gay marriage diminished the political power of conservative Christianity. Something new was obviously needed, and — unfortunately — that something was Trump. Trump promised severe restrictions on immigration, a swerve away from free trade, a restoration of manufacturing, law & order, and a return to glorification of certain aspects of America’s past (e.g. “our ancestors tamed a continent”) that many people now find quite unsavory.
Trump was just one man, though, and implementation of his promises took a back seat to social media fights and his own overwhelming ego. In the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss, however, a faction of the political Right has emerged that seeks to transform Trump’s appeal into a lasting movement. This movement goes by the name of National Conservatism, and is associated with politicians such as Josh Hawley, J.D. Vance, Blake Masters, media figures like Tucker Carlson, and thinkers like Adrian Vermeule, Sohrab Ahmari, and many of the people at the Claremont Institute. Some people call this grouping the New Right, which to be honest is probably better from a branding perspective, since it can’t be abbreviated “Nat-C”.
Tyler Cowen has a long and excellent blog post critiquing the New Right’s approach from the standpoint of a classical liberal. You should read it. I intend this post to be a complement to Tyler’s, rather than a substitute. Or rather, I want to expand on a single sentence in one of Tyler’s paragraphs: “As a nation-building project [the New Right] seems like a dead end.”
Because whether we’re talking about economic policy, social coherence, or foreign policy, National Conservatism just doesn’t offer our country a future worth fighting for.
National Conservatism has no workable, coherent economic plan
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