What is a conservative in 2021: the party of Lincoln lives on
What does it still mean to be politically conservative in America in 2021? And what ever happened to the party of Lincoln?
While the Left revels in the labels “racist” and “fascist,” and is in fact using them to smite President Donald Trump, its liberal allies, along with its most ardent supporters in the globalist media, manage to avoid the label “conservative.”
And even less often do they deign to mention that the Republican Party – yes, the GOP – was the party of Lincoln back in the day.
This essay aims to explain why.
The only thing that gives the Left a sense of security is the certainty that there will be “no amnesty, no importation” of “every conceivable kind of immigrant into the country,” except for “people who are here illegally and need to be deported” and “families who enter the country illegally and have to be sent back to their country of origin.” Given the question “Do we want the invasion of illegal aliens, legal and illegal, into our country?”
Does TV show Republican conservative views?
If you read conservative news sites like The Washington Beacon, Free Beacon News, or UnionLeader, you could be forgiven for thinking the news that you see on TV is actually from another country entirely. If you read Ben Shapiro books, you might think CNN is a sitcom. The party of Lincoln is rarely presented in a positive light.
In some ways, the current debate over illegal immigration is reminiscent of this chasm. Liberals seem almost driven to deny the reality of the topic. President Trump’s critics will argue that his promise to keep out “bad hombres” is xenophobic and is in fact akin to the post-World War II exclusion of Chinese immigrants.
But this argument is not a good one. It does not seem to bother the Left that the president has promised to keep out foreign nationals, but somehow believes that his promise to keep out illegal aliens—who he says he wants deported—is tantamount to racist racism.
This is ludicrous. Immigration is an important issue for voters, who favor a compromise in this matter at least as much as they did in 2016. But if the Left wants to call this compromise “racist” and “xenophobic” in the process, so much the better.
Political values in flux
It was once popular for the left to deny that there were political values at all. They said that the only thing worth thinking about was individual rights, and that they were all that mattered in politics.
Only a relatively small group of people who believed that the welfare state could ever be justified wanted to consider economic questions.
This essay cannot predict the future. But its message is clear: the Left believes in the existence of a massive government conspiracy to expand the welfare state, but they do not like people like Trump doing anything about it.
They want to abolish the border, but not the welfare state. To them, the actions of Trump are simply a brilliant signpost that indicates the perfect place to “move to.”
An Old Republican in the most conservative state in the USA
As an old republican, I can assure you that an attack on illegal immigration is tantamount to an attack on the welfare state. The endless use of the term “illegal immigration” in American politics is in fact a constant reminder that the welfare state remains popular in some quarters.
And that makes the Left’s job much easier. It allows them to declare that there is no reason to debate the issue, and to forget that the 2016 presidential election was largely decided on this issue.
President Trump’s willingness to ask Democrats to fund a wall, while also contemplating some form of amnesty for some “bad hombres,” is another reminder that the Left’s goal of eviscerating the welfare state remains just out of reach.
Without a sizable increase in tax revenues or a corresponding decrease in entitlement spending, no amount of new immigration is going to make a difference. The Left’s economic nationalism is not a major part of the national debate in the United States, or even on the Left.
What is conservatism in politics in 2021?
The temptation to simply declare victory and declare the debate over is irresistible.
The United States is extremely divided. Half of the country is either strongly pro-President Trump, or strongly anti-Trump. The vast majority of the American people want to achieve some sort of cooperation on a broad range of issues.
Most people agree that the United States is a diverse society, with some people moving here for the benefit of the welfare state, and others for the benefit of a better quality of life. But there is almost no disagreement that most people want this country to remain intact. Much like Lincoln did. And the party of Lincoln still very much wants this today.
A constitutional conservative in a Leftist utopia
Yet the Left, which used to champion civil society, and support legislation that benefited all Americans, is in the midst of an ideological civil war. Its leaders are engaged in an internal power struggle, with the goal of bringing down a President that they simply cannot accept as the legitimate president.
Their opponents can recognize no other goal than the elimination of all of our civic institutions.
By declaring this debate closed, the Left undermines all those who might agree with their view. The nearly incomprehensible dysfunctionality of the Trump presidency proves that even political neophytes can impact our politics.
Many of those who feel alienated by the current administration are now thinking that their future lies elsewhere. By declaring that the debate is closed, the Left places those who want to improve the functioning of American government and provide a brighter future for our children in an impossible position.
Conservative principles and the party of Lincoln: where next?
The Left wants to implement an economic nationalist program, and in the process promote a country that they consider radically inclusive.
They envision a society in which there is no racial discrimination, no discrimination against gender, no discrimination against religious freedom, and no discrimination against national origin.
The Left would also like to have a society in which people are equal no matter their social and economic status.
That is a hell of a lot to ask of the American people. It is precisely the sort of society that our forefathers created, and that they feared we would lose, when they formed a society based on the idea of an inclusive democracy.
By declaring this debate closed, the Left places those who want to improve the functioning of American government and provide a brighter future for our children in an impossible position.
A world with no national character
Instead, the globalists would like to create a world in which there is no national character, and no consideration for the economic and cultural interests of people who have chosen to live in a particular place.
At the same time, they want to reduce the amount of effort for helping those people who do have a national character, as a result of their history or geography. By declaring this debate closed, the Left places those who want to improve the functioning of American government and provide a brighter future for our children in an impossible position.
Many on the left would like to think that they are being reasonable, by pretending that there is nothing to worry about.
To be fair, this is how it has been in the past. There was the dominant theme of a Progressive ideology, where American democracy was going to become more like European social democracy
The countries that adopt this model – including the United States – are often derided as “the Third World.” However, it should be obvious to all that this was not really about creating a “Third World” in the sense that they are sometimes described.
The founders of the party of Lincoln knew well that there’s nothing wrong with being “American”
But the Left is vehemently opposed to any “national character” at all. Therefore, they say that if someone has a “American” background and is proud of their American heritage, they are guilty of racism.
The Left would have people believe that the only objective question is “Is the current national character good or bad?”
That is, we can “analyze the national character,” to see how it compares with the ideal, and then determine the “just right” national character, or “just wrong” national character.
The Left views the European nations as a model for the United States. They seek to replicate the features of progressive Europe: egalitarianism, social democracy, universalism, open borders, free trade, and third world immigration.
In the U.S. they are now trying to get Americans to accept a commitment to “civility, tolerance, acceptance, equality, diversity, and multiculturalism.”
They aim to “become more like Europeans”.
This is a goal that is acceptable to everyone on the Left, not to mention Republicans, and people with no political preferences. In Europe, there is now a movement to eliminate national character from the national lexicon, as if the “creative use of a lexicon” were an admirable objective of all governments.
They claim that defining national character would be “oppressive”. But defining any human behavior in universal terms is oppressive. It is a purposeful assault on human individuality.
The definition of a political conservative: a conservative defense
The problem is that we Americans already accept the universal concept of race. We are the only people in the world who use the term “racial” in this way. The notion of a “racial” community is not anything that we aspire to. We may call a neighborhood “black”, but we generally don’t try to impose racial segregation in housing.
What is the Republican party, really? When the Republican party formed — that is the American Republican Party, it wasn’t immediately obvious that the party of Lincoln was of a part with the conservative, Republican politics that was now reflexively associate with the GOP party.
And if we go back, remember in 1968, Richard Nixon had a campaign slogan that said, “Bring us together.” It was a very different time.
And the reason I ask about the context of the party is that we have seen a major battle raging in the GOP since 2010. That’s where the tea party had its inception. That’s when the radicalization of the Republican Party began. And a lot of that comes from the GOP establishment.
But look. Over the last 50 years the Republican party has evolved, at times incredibly, in the face of dramatic change and the change, frankly, has been brought about not only by the Civil Rights movement, but also by the Cold War.
The Republican party — as recently as a generation or two ago — was, as a matter of policy, the more moderate, the less conservative party.
And I know a lot of Republicans who, when they think back, don’t remember a time when they had a name for it that was pure.