A populist wish-list as we head into 2021


At long last, 2020 is about to end. It was a terrible year, marked by a once-a-lifetime pandemic that brought to heel our economy and put an abrupt halt to hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans’ way of life. We also endured a once-a-generation national “dialogue” about race, characterized, in part, by months of anarchic mayhem. We had a national reckoning about the maturation and rise of a geopolitical archenemy, the Chinese Communist Party.

Next year surely can’t be worse than 2020. So, with the expectation that Joe Biden is our next president and Republicans win at least one of January’s two Georgia runoff elections to retain control of the Senate, here is a conservative political wish list for 2021.

1) End COVID-19 totalitarianism. The draconian lockdowns and lifestyle restrictions and their stubborn perdurance long after the flattening of the curves now amount to our most pressing domestic problem.

Without our most rudimentary lifestyle liberties, such as the ability of children to socialize with their peers at school and religious adults to pray at church or synagogue, little else matters.

It is unclear whether the Founders would have even bothered to fight a bloody independence war against the British Crown if they had known that their progeny would, centuries later, so docilely submit like lemmings. The roll-out of vaccines simply must end this insanity.

2) Confront the rise of Communist China. Just as ending debilitating COVID-19 lockdowns is the most pressing issue on the home front, confronting China’s rise is the most pressing issue on the geopolitical front.

The Beijing regime assuredly poses a greater threat — militarily, diplomatically, economically, culturally, technologically — to America this century than the Soviet Union posed to the United States at the height of the Cold War. We have never faced a foe so thoroughly determined, in every conceivable way, to subdue and subjugate us.

The early stages of COVID-19, with our shortages in personal protective equipment, shined a spotlight on the pitfalls of our decades-long strategy in neoliberal outsourcing to get the cheapest labor and lowest consumer prices possible — no matter the noneconomic costs. Here’s hoping populists and nationalists of both parties unite around a comprehensive China-containment strategy affecting every issue, from US Navy buildup to pro-manufacturing industrial policy to cybersecurity to intellectual property fortification.

3) Extend President Trump’s Middle East breakthrough. Trump became one of the more unlikely champions of Middle East diplomacy, helping to usher in unprecedented Israeli rapprochement with the broader Islamic world and bolstering the security positions of our Sunni-Arab allies against the region’s nonpareil threat, Iran.

The president did so by ditching the outmoded consensus of “inside-out” diplomacy — coercing Jerusalem to give up precious land for an elusive peace with the Palestinian Arabs — in favor of an innovative “outside-in” diplomacy that ­focused on finding areas of overlapping concern shared by Israel and America’s Arab allies.

The temptation will be strong for Team Biden to reverse Trump’s gains and return to the Obama-era policy of pro-Iran, pro-Palestinian, pro-Muslim Brotherhood appeasement. Such an impetuous move would be enticing, but it would also be calamitous.

4) Push for solutions that defy the stale postwar, neoliberal consensus. We are in the midst of a rare political realignment, in which Democrats are emerging as the party of the college-educated elite and Republicans are emerging as the party of the working class. But while this realignment remains in flux, neoliberal elites of both parties, for now, have more in common with one another than they do with the core voters of their respective parties.

The upshot is that there is at least some potential for bipartisan initiatives on any number of pro-worker, pro-family prerogatives that could reverse the economically and culturally deregulatory excesses that have characterized most the post-World War II order. Conservatives shouldn’t be content to merely play the role of dedicated opposition; when possible, we should seek to be constructive in attaining mutually desirable ends.

Thank God the year 2020 is about to end. Maybe, just maybe, 2021 won’t be as utterly terrible.

Twitter: @JoshHammer

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