Tag Archive for: MAGA

The Blood Red Speech

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

President Biden, when he is not on vacation, is changing the political landscape…and not for the better. A candidate who billed himself as an “uniter” has used perhaps the most divisive, may we say, incendiary language of any President in recent memory, or perhaps in history.

With strange blood-red lighting, he walked with his wife to the podium to the sounds of Hail To The Chief in front of Independence Hall.  After kissing his wife and struggling with a phelm-filled throat, his demeanor changed. Speaking with a constant scowl and often dual clenched fists, he spoke with Marine guards flanking him. He tore into what he referred to as MAGA Republicans as a threat to the nation, which is roughly half the country.

His whole body language and rhetoric were threatening. Since he has only about 38% approval rating, this made almost two-thirds of the country feel not very safe.

To Biden, his fellow Americans are enemies, not rivals, and not opponents. We are enemies, and despicable ones at that.

“But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country,” Biden said.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love,” he said.

Biden continued, saying, “They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”

The inflammatory language continued to roll on for over 26 minutes referring to  “Republicans” 16 times, “MAGA” 13 times, and naming former President Donald Trump specifically three times.

What was doubly odd was this was an official Presidential address, where he represented the highest office in the country, and was not a fundraising or campaign speech.  In fact, he seemed to be campaigning against Trump, even though the former President is not a candidate at this time and we are in midst of a Congressional election.  He did this representing his elected office, which is very revolutionary.

The implication of using his office is that the entire power of the state is now on his side exclusively and because of the nature of his political opposition, the instruments of the state can legitimately be used against those who disagree with him. It was positively Stalinesque.

Outside of the hateful rhetoric,  he wants to run against Trump, rather than defend his own record. In other parts of the speech, he clearly was running against the Supreme Court.

As far as being a threat to the Republic, Biden continued on the course the Democrats have taken to exaggerate the buffoonery of the January 6th Capitol riot (remember the guy with the horns quietly talking to the guards) to claim all opposition to his programs is a threat to the country and the Constitution. This gets ominously close to claiming those who disagree with him are treasonous.

Commentator Matt Walsh called this “pre-genocide” rhetoric.

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley suggests the speech was written by quack historian Jon Meacham, a Vanderbilt professor known for his anti-Trump ravings on Twitter and comically co-chair of the “Vanderbilt Project on Unity and Democracy”. If true, the word irony just does not seem strong enough.

But Presidents choose what to use among the things their speech writers give them. So even if Meacham is the author of some of these hateful words, Biden made the choice to use them. Biden is the President and must be held accountable for what his office does and says.

The next day, he walked back his remarks, but his press secretary continued the attack, and then Biden himself followed through again with his MAGA is a threat to the Republic rhetoric. So except for one day of hesitation, he continued on his rampage.

This can’t be dismissed as the ravings of an old man. Earlier, he had said the country’s greatest threat was “white supremacy” and even took steps to hunt down Biden dissenters in the military.  You might recall he said the whole reason he ran for President was “Charlottesville”, and the lie that Trump said there are “good people” among the racists. He was referring of course, to good people who did not think statues should be torn down. It is now in the fog of memory that what prompted the riot was the tearing down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Of late, Biden has used the term “semi-fascists” to describe those that don’t agree with him. While the term is loaded with historical pejoratives, in fact, Biden’s own economic policy and cozy relationship with big pharma, big tech, big green industries, and big media, is much closer to the Mussolini model.

No, Biden and the Democrats have chosen to conduct their political dialogue on a level that demonizes and dehumanizes Republicans and they did so some time ago. The Blood Red speech is simply the most recent and egregious example.

A few Republican leaders have struck back, but not nearly enough of them and not nearly strong enough. That makes Biden more likely to continue his woke jihad.

Republicans should make it clear that they will not tolerate these kinds of smears. They need to publicly challenge Democratic candidates if they agree with Biden’s view of his fellow Americans. Moreover, there are unstable people out there that believe such things and we already have had deranged Democrats shoot up Republican officials at a softball game. Besides, it is hard to conduct a civil dialogue when your opponent is calling you evil.

While Biden is trying to make the Congressional elections all about Trump and MAGA, Republicans need to make this all about stopping Biden. The man is ignoring the law, and accusing Republicans of destroying the country, all the while he is getting the bulk of his agenda passed. Republicans have been too passive in responding vigorously to the constant accusations that they are white supremacists, racists, and neo-nazis. That such people exist in small numbers in the country is undeniable, but they are not represented well in the Republican Party. On the contrary, the Klan was formed as the militant wing of the Democrats and has remained so for the bulk of their history.

In the case of Charlottesville, there is not enough discussion about the role of professional agitators actually associated with the left. Only Dinesh D’Sousa and a few others have called attention to this and the role leftists played in leadership. The leadership of the rioters was not conservative Republicans.

The only way to stop a continuation of this ruinous rule and his assault on half the nation is to block Biden by taking back both houses of Congress. That is by far the best response to all these wreckless racial charges against Republicans. And taking Congress back may be the only way to protect the Supreme Court.

If Democrats can work themselves into such a lather even while they successfully push their agenda, Lord knows what Democrats might do if Republicans were really effective at stopping them.

REVIEW: Progressive Conservatism – How Republicans Will Become America’s Natural Governing Party?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Editors’ Note: We at The Prickly Pear will continue to run worthwhile articles that explore the shift from “establishment Republican” to MAGA Republican, often referred to as National Conservatism, Progressive Conservatism or National Populism. It is a work in progress and you can tell that because various adherents can’t even agree on what to call themselves. But what seems clear is they want the government to be smaller, less expensive, less arbitrary, and act first and foremost in the interests of Americans. Americans come first, and then we can aid the rest of the world. American interests come first, not those of international bodies. American liberty based our Constitution come first. All hues note that the nation-state is a better model than international bodies or international government. Government is already distant enough and should be brought closer to home more to the state level within our Federal system. Let California be California, as long as we don’t have to be. It is part traditional Republican, part populist, and a dash of libertarianism on the economic front, but not the social front. As we see books and worthwhile reviews, we will continue to bring this to your attention. Above much of the theory is the necessity to win so as to defeat the Left. William F. Buckley famously said when he founded National Review  that “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” The problem is traditional conservatism didn’t stop much of anything. It has pretty much been 70 years of Progressive Left victories. It has left us where all the important cultural and political nodes of power have been captured by the Left. So, what we have been doing has not been working, and thus a new more muscular kind of conservatism is evolving. Trump did not create it, rather like a good prospector, he tapped into a rich political vein that no “experienced” politician had previously found. It is uniting small businesses and working-class people who are tired of unelected elites using state-sanctioned force to impose their way of life on others.

And they are tired of paying for their own destruction through high taxes and high inflation. Trump also taught many new candidates to counterpunch, realizing that the media and educational institutions have been captured and corrupted by the Left. MAGA needs to be a political movement with well-thought-out principles and less focused on the person of Trump. Perhaps both this review and the book itself will continue to aid in that effort.

 

Frank Buckley is always a thoughtful and provocative author, but I disagree with what he has to say in Progressive Conservatism more than with other books of his I’ve reviewed, such as his outstanding American Secession and Curiosity (see my review here).

In the present book, he defends a “national conservatism” and is critical of laissez-faire capitalism, though he does not dismiss it entirely. Whether he is correct that the program he favors is the “winning strategy” for the Republican Party I do not presume to say: he knows far more about such things than I do. Despite his rejection of the complete free market, his concrete proposals often manifest great economic insight and his criticisms of the contemporary Left are forceful and effective. I propose to begin, though, by asking why it is that Buckley differs from the Rothbardian position I deem correct.

The answer, it seems to me, is that Buckley reposes much less confidence in philosophical reasoning when applied to politics and economics than do Rothbardians, who endeavor to derive a legal code based on natural law. Buckley is unsympathetic to natural law and says of it,

There are several difficulties with natural law theories, however, beginning with the leap from what is to what ought to be the case. If we have natural preferences, that doesn’t tell us that they’re the ones we ought to have. By nature, we can be greedy and selfish, so calling something natural doesn’t tell us it’s a good instinct. And if all you meant by saying something is natural is that it’s a good thing to do, labels like “natural” and “unnatural” are wheels that turn nothing…. More recent thinkers, such as John Finnis, try to sidestep the is-ought problem by identifying natural law with rational egoism and the idea that our practical reason will direct us to choose those goods that are best for us. This has come to be called New Natural Law…. But NNL fails to explain why we should sacrifice ourselves for others when there is no personal gain from doing so. (p. 180; on p. 242n15, Buckley cites David Hume on the “is-ought” gap)

Suffice it to say that Buckley does not address the endeavor of standard natural law theorists to bridge the is-ought gap (for some, though certainly not all, judgments) by appeal to the notion of the human essence; and though he cites Philippa Foot’s Natural Goodness (p. 3), he appears unacquainted with its distinctive line of approach to the issues he discusses. Further, it is not correct that John Finnis’s NNL is a version of rational egoism; in claiming this, Buckley has not considered what Finnis has to say about “the requirements of practicable reasonableness.” (For further discussion of the traditional natural law view, see my review of Douglas B. Rasmussen and ‎Douglas J. Den Uyl’s The Realist Turn in the Philosophical Quarterly, October 2021)

Buckley makes explicit his antitheoretical stance in this passage:

But wait, says the right-wing intellectual. You want to promote the common good. Fine, but where’s your theory? Ah, you noticed that, did you, answers the progressive conservative. You’re right. I don’t have a theory. I think they’re baloney. They offer a false security and not the nuanced and adaptable answers needed for the multitude of problems life throws at you. “It is illogical to guillotine a prince and replace him with a principle,” said Ortega. (p. 182)

I should prefer to say, with Immanuel Kant, that if your theory does not work in practice you have the wrong theory.

That said, Buckley offers insightful comments on many current problems. He wants the Republican Party to return to the tradition of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, who supported nationalist policies designed to aid American workers and rejected the unhampered free market; but the polices Buckley favors at the present juncture are often quite in line with what Austrians would prescribe.

He says, for example,

While the legislator can’t enact cultural changes, there are nevertheless things he can do to help restore traditional family structures…. We could also make it easier to get married and have children through more generous tax credits for children in married households. The tax credit at present is $3,600 per child, and progressive conservatives should give some thought to increasing this. (p. 187)

Like Buckley, Rothbardians support the traditional family; and the more tax credits, the better.

On higher education, he says that the “government-backed loans increased the financial burden on students, and it also corrupted higher education. They freed universities from the discipline of private markets and led them to admit students who had no business in university. If the ill-educated students couldn’t get jobs after graduation, too bad for them” (p. 189). Well said, indeed!

Again, Buckley explains with exemplary clarity a key principle of political economy:

Mancur Olson described minoritarian misbehavior as a collective action problem in The Rise and Decline of Nations. We’d all be better off if we could band together and prevent interest groups from wastefully directing public spending their way. But when the benefits of combining together are dispersed across all American citizens, it’s easy to free ride and do nothing. The interest group doesn’t have the same problem because its numbers are far fewer. A classic example is government protection of the sugar industry, where tariff barriers raise sugar prices 64 to 92 percent above the world average. (p. 132)

I venture to suggest that this provides an excellent reason not to trust the federal government to administer the welfare state measures Buckley favors to aid the poor, but rather to reduce the size and scope of the government to the greatest extent possible.

One can only applaud when Buckley calls for a radical reduction of government regulations. “Could the commission cut back regulations by 70 percent as Trump proposed? Yes, and more so, if it corrects the biases of the deep state’s rulemaking and abandons the regulator’s conceit that every little error deserves to be corrected by a rule” (p. 199).

Perhaps the best point in the book is Buckley’s mordant comment on the contemporary Left:

What especially annoyed Republicans was how Democrats tried to pass themselves off as the party of law and order. They told us there was nothing to see when cities burned and stores were looted, and when Antifa injured 140 federal officers in Portland, the blamed the cops…. For Democrats, the police were the villains and the thugs were social justice heroes, which explains the degradation and crime we’re now seeing in Democrat-run cities, the homeless encampments and the looting, dangerous driving, and carjackings. (p. 23)

The fundamental difference between Buckley’s position and that of consistent supporters of the free market emerges most clearly in this passage:

I’ll concede, the progressive conservative tells the libertarian, that you have some great thinkers on your side. However, they don’t supply me with the kind of answers I’m looking for. If I want to know what percentage of the federal budget to spend on welfare, the Robert Nozick of Anarchy, State, and Utopia will say zero. If I asked Ludwig von Mises what kind of tariffs to erect, he’d say get rid of all of them. If I asked Milton Friedman what to do about infrastructure, he’d say “privatize, privatize, privatize.” They’re wonderful savants, but I have a different set of teachers and a Republican Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, not of philosophes. (pp. 173–74)

Though I would choose differently from Buckley, I would agree with him entirely that Eisenhower was no philosopher.

David Gordon is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He was educated at UCLA, where he earned his PhD in intellectual history. He is the author of Resurrecting Marx: The Analytical Marxists on Exploitation, Freedom, and JusticeThe Philosophical Origins of Austrian EconomicsAn Introduction to Economic Reasoning, and Critics of Marx. He is also editor of Secession, State, and Liberty and co-editor of H.B. Acton’s Morals of Markets and Other Essays.

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This article was published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is reproduced with permission.

The Next Populist Moment

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

After Tuesday’s primaries, the New Right has officially arrived. Next to win, and then to govern.

 

On Tuesday [August 2], New Right rising star Blake Masters won Arizona’s Republican Senate primary by more than a ten-point margin. Kari Lake defeated establishment candidate Karrin Taylor Robson in the state’s gubernatorial primary. Up in Michigan, MAGA challenger John Gibbs—a Stanford and Harvard grad and faithful Catholic convert who served as assistant secretary of HUD—bested anti-Trump incumbent Peter Meijer by a slim but safe 3.6-point margin.

The only real question mark left on the field is Joe Kent, a decorated retired Green Beret and Gold Star husband running for Washington State’s 3rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kent is hoping to unseat Jaime Herrera Beutler, a five-term incumbent liberal Republican who (like Meijer) voted to impeach President Trump.

On Wednesday morning, with 57 percent reporting and Kent trailing Beutler by a good distance, many were ready to call the race against the America First challenger. As numbers slowly trickle in, though, it seems their judgment was premature. While counting is still inexplicably unfinished, at the time of writing Kent has closed the gap to just 1.3 points, with only 83 percent of all votes reported. A path to victory remains open for Kent, and seems clearer with every batch of counted votes.

If he does lose, it will be no mystery why: Heidi St. John. The Christian mommy-blogger-cum-entrepreneur was meant to bow out if she did not receive the 45th president’s endorsement. When the nod went to Kent, St. John stayed in. At present, she is trailing at 15.7 percent to Kent’s 22. If the America First vote had not been split, it would be clear ahead of Beutler’s 23.3 percent.

Halfway across the country in Kansas, a referendum on abortion was shot down to much fanfare. Pro-abortion Democrats and accommodationist Republicans have taken the result as evidence that pro-life policy will not actually be viable at the state level after Roe. Rachel Sweet, campaign manager of the pro-abortion group Kansas for Constitutional Freedom, claimed that “the people of Kansas have spoken. They think that abortion should be safe, legal and accessible in the state of Kansas.” President Joe Biden likewise asserted that “this vote makes clear” that “the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions.”

Of course, the vote does nothing of the sort. The text of the amendment on the ballot read as follows:

Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstnces [sic] of necessity to save the life of the mother.

Maybe the average voter is a lot smarter than I am; I certainly hope he is. But if I got away from work for a few minutes on a Tuesday to cast my vote quickly in a primary election, I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to make sense of that word salad. At a glance (which is all most people give), a reasonable person could easily take a “No” vote to mean not empowering legislators to enshrine a fictional right to abortion at the state level. Pair this fact—that most people likely had no idea what they were voting for—with the state’s infamous libertarian streak, and it is hardly a surprise that the Kansas measure failed. It is certainly not an indictment of the prospects for outlawing abortion in America writ large.

So, with two easily explicable exceptions, Tuesday was a banner night for the GOP’s ascendant wing—call it pro-Trump, MAGA, America First, New Right, or populist. Ben Domenech, a prominent D.C. libertarian, strangely and preemptively cast the night as “not a particularly good showing for populists.” But it was, on almost any measure, an absolutely stellar showing.

Masters in particular should inspire hope among the upstart faction. He opposes abortion wholesale, and thinks Griswold and Obergefell should go the way of Roe. He reads Curtis Yarvin and Ted Kaczynski. He wants to scale back immigration and get a handle on Big Tech. He has thoughts on the last election and the riot at the Capitol. The father of three young children, he ran not just on an America First but a pro-family platform.

Conventional wisdom said he was unelectable as late as Tuesday afternoon. Yet he outpaced even J.D. Vance’s 8.3-point win in Ohio. This cycle has shown beyond any doubt that the possible in politics is lightyears beyond the establishment’s measure of it.

No surprise, then, that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is bothered by this latest round of victors. Once bullish on the party’s midterm prospects, by Wednesday McConnell was fretting on Fox News that this election would be a nail-biter. Unable to learn a lesson from the primaries, he seems to think a Republican Party with any higher message than complaining about Joe Biden will have no prospect of securing a majority. And if they did, he would surely have no interest in allowing them to govern.

McConnell is right to be worried, in that case: not that this new crop of Republicans will lose, but that they—we—are going to win.

 

Postscript: the latest we have is Kent is behind by just 257 votes.

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This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.