Sen. David Perdue: Mitt Romney makes the same mistake that cost him the White House

With his attempted character assassination of the president, a fellow Republican, Romney put self-interest ahead of the larger national interest: conservative Republican governance. The op-ed brought to mind 2012, when many Republicans chose to divide the party by continually bashing each other. Romney eventually discovered that many discouraged GOP voters decided to stay home on Election Day.

Like others who have run for president and failed, Romney has taken a stance that smacks of jealousy and resentment. It does nothing but serve the radical liberal left and further divides conservatives.

As the only former chief executive of a Fortune 500 company in Congress, I was initially thrilled by the prospect of welcoming another business guy to the Senate. But Romney’s behavior — before he was sworn in or cast his first vote as the new senator from Utah — was deeply disappointing.

He ran to the media instead of picking up the phone. That is exactly what is wrong with Washington. Too many career politicians focus on finger-pointing for their own self-interest rather than on getting results.

We have seen what a divided party means for Republicans. It means we help put Democrats in charge. It means we help them advance their radical liberal agenda, which has proven to fail the very people they claim to champion: the working women and men of America.

Conservatives know that bigger government, higher taxes and single-payer health care should not be the way forward. It’s fiscally and socially irresponsible.

The mainstream media and Democrats want to further divide Republicans, and now Romney has played right into their hands. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) filled that role before his retirement; the last thing we need now in the Senate is a Jeff Flake on steroids. We certainly don’t need more distractions. We need constructive leaders who want to get things done.

Like many other leaders in history, Trump is certainly an unusual president. He does not fit the typical mold of a Washington politician. That is exactly why the American people, fed up with business as usual, elected him.

The presidency is bigger than any one individual. It is about providing a vision and executing an agenda to advance all Americans. Criticism of the president or his policy decisions is, of course, not off-limits. But I believe it is much more productive to have candid conversations behind the scenes.

The Republican agenda is working. Just look at the results. As the news about employment and wages on Friday confirmed, over the past two years, the United States has undergone an astonishing economic turnaround. The economy is growing at twice the rate it did under President Barack Obama. More than 4.4 million new jobs were created in 2017 and 2018 . Middle-class income is at an all-time high. Overall unemployment is the lowest in 50 years, and African American, Hispanic and Asian American unemployment is at historically low levels.

Clearly, this president understands that his primary role is to protect Americans. He is strengthening the military and reasserting U.S. leadership around the world. These results would be absolutely celebrated if anyone else were president. Instead, “the resistance” has spread from the political extremes to the media and now to the Republican Party itself.

Imagine if Romney had been elected president and removed hundreds of regulations, passed a historic tax bill, made the United States’ NATO allies pay their fair share, negotiated a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and stood up to China. Would he have been met with this type of resistance? Of course not.

We are on track to change the nation’s direction for the better. We are on track to restore economic opportunity, fiscal responsibility, limited government and individual liberty. I hope Romney, who plans to caucus with Republicans, will reconsider continuing his harmful behavior as he begins his Senate career.

Instead, I hope he will join me as one of the few business-minded leaders who can stay focused on getting the job done.

Republican or Conservative, You Have to Choose

Conservatives said we agree with the general effort but think you’ve got human nature wrong. There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order.

.. “The question of which comes first, liberty or order, was to divide liberals from conservatives for the next 200 years.”

.. The practical upshot is that conservatives have always placed tremendous emphasis on the sacred space where individuals are formed. This space is populated by institutions like the family, religion, the local community, the local culture, the arts, the schools, literature and the manners that govern everyday life.

.. Over the centuries conservatives have resisted anything that threatened this sacred space. First it was the abstract ideology of the French Revolution, the idea that society could be reorganized from the top down. Then it was industrialization. Conservatives like John Ruskin and later T. S. Eliot arose to preserve culture from the soulless pragmatism of the machine age.

.. Then it was the state. In their different ways, communists, fascists, social democrats and liberals tried to use the state to perform many functions previously done by the family, local civic organizations and the other players in the sacred space.

.. They both fizzled because over the last 30 years the parties of the right drifted from conservatism. The Republican Party became the party of market fundamentalism.

Market fundamentalism is an inhumane philosophy that makes economic growth society’s prime value and leaves people atomized and unattached. Republican voters eventually rejected market fundamentalism and went for the tribalism of Donald Trump because at least he gave them a sense of social belonging. At least he understood that there’s a social order under threat.

The problem is he doesn’t base his belonging on the bonds of affection conservatives hold dear. He doesn’t respect and obey those institutions, traditions and values that form morally decent individuals.

.. His tribalism is the evil twin of community. It is based on hatred, us/them thinking, conspiracy-mongering and distrust. It creates belonging, but on vicious grounds.

.. In 2018, the primary threat to the sacred order is no longer the state. It is a radical individualism that leads to vicious tribalism.

.. At his essence Trump is an assault on the sacred order that conservatives hold dear — the habits and institutions that cultivate sympathy, honesty, faithfulness and friendship.

.. You can’t do that rethinking if you are imprisoned in a partisan mind-set or if you dismiss half of Americans because they are on the “other team.”

 

 

Liberaltarians

The conservative movement—and, with it, the GOP—is in disarray. Specifically, the movement’s “fusionist” alliance between traditionalists and libertarians appears, at long last, to be falling apart.

.. Libertarian disaffection should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP’s rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.

This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism.

.. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government.

.. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.

.. the conservative embrace of a right-wing Leviathan has left libertarian-minded intellectuals feeling left out in the cold.

.. New York Post columnist Ryan Sager bemoaned the rise of big-government conservatism and warned that excessive pandering to evangelicals would rupture the movement.

.. Andrew Sullivan denounced the right’s fundamentalist turn in The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back.

.. 13 percent of the population, or 28 million voting-age Americans, can be fairly classified as libertarian-leaning.

.. Back in 2000, this group voted overwhelmingly for Bush, supporting him over Al Gore by a 72-20 margin.

.. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame caused something of a stir by proposing the term “Libertarian Democrat” to describe his favored breed of progressive.

.. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, fellow Montanan Tester, and Virginia Senator-elect Jim Webb—have sounded some libertarian themes by being simultaneously pro-choice and pro-gun rights.

.. if Democrats hope to continue appealing to libertarian-leaning voters, they are going to have to up their game. They need to ask themselves: Are we content with being a brief rebound fling for jilted libertarians, or do we want to form a lasting relationship? Let me make a case for the second option.

.. the prevailing ideological categories are intellectually exhausted. Conservatism has risen to power only to become squalid and corrupt, a Nixonian mélange of pandering to populist prejudices and distributing patronage to well-off cronies and Red Team constituencies.

.. Liberalism, meanwhile, has never recovered from its fall from grace in the mid-’60s.

.. Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods.

.. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends.

.. many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era—the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration—were championed by the political left.

.. capitalism’s relentless dynamism and wealth-creation—the institutional safeguarding of which lies at the heart of libertarian concerns—have been pushing U.S. society in a decidedly progressive direction.

.. The civil rights movement was made possible by the mechanization of agriculture, which pushed blacks off the farm and out of the South

.. Likewise, feminism was encouraged by the mechanization of housework.

Greater sexual openness, as well as heightened interest in the natural environment, are among the luxury goods that mass affluence has purchased.

.. secularization and the general decline in reverence for authority, as rising education levels (prompted by the economy’s growing demand for knowledge workers) have promoted increasing independence of mind.

.. Yet progressives remain stubbornly resistant to embracing capitalism, their great natural ally.

.. Knee-jerk antipathy to markets and the creative destruction they bring continues to be widespread, and bitter denunciations of the unfairness of the system, mixed with nostalgia for the good old days of the Big Government/Big Labor/Big Business triumvirate, too often substitute for clear thinking about realistic policy options.

.. the rival ideologies of left and right are both pining for the ’50s. The only difference is that

  • liberals want to work there, while
  • conservatives want to go home there.

.. Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right’s homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country’s draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

.. their conceptions differ as to the chief threats to that autonomy.

  • Libertarians worry primarily about constraints imposed by government, while
  • liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces.

.. At the same time, some of the resulting wealth-creation would be used to improve safety-net policies that help those at the bottom and ameliorate the hardships inflicted by economic change.

.. Progressive organizations like Oxfam and the Environmental Working Group have already joined with free-market groups in pushing for ag-policy reform.

.. the current subsidy programs act as a regressive tax on low-income families here at home while depressing prices for exporters in poor countries abroad—and, to top it off, the lion’s share of the loot goes to big agribusiness, not family farmers.

.. the president of Cato and the executive director of the Sierra Club have come out together in favor of a zero-subsidy energy policy.

.. cut taxes on savings and investment, cut payroll taxes on labor, and make up the shortfall with increased taxation of consumption. Go ahead, tax the rich, but don’t do it when they’re being productive. Tax them instead when they’re splurging—by capping the deductibility of home-mortgage interest and tax incentives for purchasing health insurance. And tax everybody’s energy consumption.

.. Gore has proposed a straight-up swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes

.. Greg Mankiw has been pushing for an increase in the gasoline tax.

.. libertarians’ core commitments to personal responsibility and economy in government run headlong into progressives’ core commitments to social insurance and an adequate safety net.

.. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is now projected to increase from about 9 percent of GDP today to approximately 15 percent by 2030.

.. We can fund the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs for the poor; we can fund unemployment insurance and other programs for people dislocated by capitalism’s creative destruction; we can fund public pensions for the indigent elderly; we can fund public health care for the poor and those faced with catastrophic expenses. What we cannot do is continue to fund universal entitlement programs that slosh money from one section of the middle class (people of working age) to another (the elderly)—not when most Americans are fully capable of saving for their own retirement needs.

.. Instead, we need to move from the current pay-as-you-go approach to a system in which private savings would provide primary funding for the costs of old age.

Democrats Don’t Want to Be Conor Lamb

“For all of you who think that the Democrats have found a new way to win here by having these cookie cutter white guys run as quasi-moderate liberal conservatives, moderate Democrat conservatives, that isn’t gonna fly party-wide. The leftist radicals that run this party are not gonna let these guys get away with this ’cause they’re not gonna let their liberalism be watered down.”

.. The left is doctrinaire. The left is in your face. The left is not into deceit and compromise the way this guy’s talking about.” Well, from The Politico, the headline: “Democrats’ Civil War Flares After Lamb’s Upset Win.” Do I need to go any further? The headline alone establishes my point yesterday.

.. “Conservative Democrats argue the party needs to embrace his centrist message in other battleground races.” Liberals in the party say BS. “Conor Lamb’s triumph in Trump country is being heralded by conservative Democrats –” There’s no such thing by the way. Not really.

A conservative Democrat is not a Democrat or he’s a liar. There is no such thing as a conservative De.

.. Joe Manchin, they’re not conservative Democrats. There’s no such thing as a conservative Democrat.

In fact, you know what the role of the Never Trumpers is? What do you think the role of David Brooks and David Frum and all these other clowns, the Mona Charens, what do you think their role really is? What do they do? They go on TV and they are heralded as what? Conservatives. Intellectual conservatives. Smart conservatives, right? These are the educated, these are the non-Klan member conservatives, right? These are the mainstream think tank intellectual leading conservative.

.. And what do they do? They don’t just bash Trump. They bash other conservatives. The reason why they’re on PBS and the reason why Mona got her Washington Post Style section story after CPAC, the purpose they serve is that they go on mass media as conservatives criticizing conservative policy, criticizing other conservatives. And that gives it even more credibility than when the left does it.

Never Trumpers are not embarrassed to be conservatives except when Trump’s name enters the discussion. Then they become embarrassed to be conservatives, and then they embark on a strategy designed to keep whatever stench they think attaches to Trump off of them. It is not to advance conservatism. And that’s the problem most people have with the Never Trumpers on the conservative side. They’re not really trying to advance conservatism because Trump’s doing that, and they still disagree with it, and they’re trying to undermine it.

.. One or two of them that are pro-life and gun. That does not make you a conservative. How do they vote on Big Government? How do they vote on spending? How do they vote on all of these traditional things? How they vote on abortion?

.. I guarantee you that when the pedal meets the road, when the rubber meets the road, pedal hits the metal, these people are voting Democrat.

.. This guy is telling the Democrats, stop this radical leftist dumb stuff and let’s go sound like Trump, let’s go sound like moderates, let’s go sound like conservatives, and that’s how we win.

.. Radical, leftist, extremist socialism is going to be what defines this party, as far as they are concerned.