Sunday, April 17, 2016

Circle the Wagons - American Conservative Style

Many Republican Thinkers are getting around a real possibility that come November 2016, GOP could be a big time loser. When choices are between Trump and Cruz, one can understand the motivation of Conservatives to look beyond 2016 election; given that the 'white knight' option increasingly looks improbable. Some Conservative intellectuals are arguing that Republican Party will still survive the looming disaster of 2016 while others are simply jumping to January 2017, skirting aside reasons for today's Republican predicament.

But the problem is not just yearning for a difficult to achieve new beginning, it is with 'what is proposed for this new beginning'. There I find Yuval Levin is simply circling the wagons and is attempting to put same old failed Republican policy prescriptions in some new clothes.

Fundamentally there is a refusal on Levin's part that a solution for job losses due to globalization is not local. It is the Federal Government which negotiates global trade deals and it is the Congress which passes those. State Capitals do not have much of a role there. It is the Federal Government and Congress again which decide Immigration, not local agencies; the immigration which Trump holds responsible for stealing jobs of Americans. It is all of Federal Agencies and Congress which control the monetary policy, regulations for banks and big corporations; who have substantive influence on common Americans. So clearly Levin like Conservative thinkers are completely misdiagnosing the location of where the stakes are. Repeating the mantra of 'let states and local bodies do the policy' does not wash away the importance of what gets decided at the Federal level and in Congress which is where the real political debate is.

Big part of America's problems since last decade has been igniting perfectly avoidable war like Bush's Iraq War. That kind of adventurist and imperial foreign policy has not only cost lives of Americans in foreign lands, but has also pushed us back by trillions of dollars in debt. None of those problems get shoved under the carpet just because someone utters the mantra of 'decentralization'. Let 'local bodies decide' is not the answer for that - the answer is America's Foreign Policy, conducted at the Federal level by constitution, got to be rational and smart and must avoid getting America entangled in needless adventures.

No Republican thought process in Obama era is ever complete unless there is a visit to the shrine of 'end to ObamaCare'. Yuval does that dutifully and simply finds a cheap way to fulfill that responsibility by prescribing 'let States decide'. This is all code word for let insurances sell across States; meaning a lousy and horrendous policy sold in Alabama or Texas will make Californian's to loose their state mandated robust insurances! It is simply a race to the bottom with disastrous consequences for all. 

Next, Yuval praises Purdue University and Texas University System for some reforms. Some of these ideas are simple and good - like let there be competition among accrediting agencies or lower cost degrees by state universities. But it is particularly glaring that none of the non-sense cultural wars is mentioned which is imposing new hurdles to state universities or causing companies to run away from these regressive states. In case of Texas University, that system is struggling with 'open carry' policy on the campus which none of the university administrators, teachers or students wanted but Texas Legislature is still ramming it

For GOP to propose something useful for America, there is a need for the party to go away from these cultural wars. But GOP is addicted to exploit cultural wars as the rallying cry to motivate voters to the booth. Similarly, Yuval like Conservative thinkers need to grasp the basic contradiction at the heart of Republican party - it wants votes of non-rich people (meaning majority of Americans) but serve their masters in rich class. That is the reason Yuval never even dares to mention correcting the 'tax policy' of Republicans. That means he does not see anything wrong in the tax policy of giving more tax cuts to rich while taxing poor more. So long as that core of the problem remains untouched, any reformist thinking on the Conservative side is inconsequential. 

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