The rise of populist conservativism infected us all, even liberals, to greater or lesser degrees. Times were good, after all, why not reward our success and heat it up?
Alas the idea that tax and regulation cuts — especially for the so-called “job creators” — would trickle down and bless us all proved to be a failed argument. If populist conservativism would benefit everyone, why is such an elite few reaping the benefits?
Billions of dollars of tax cuts didn’t go into job creation, those dollars went into bank accounts. Conservatives ran with it anyway and fostered a general distrust of government. The era of doing more with more met its match. We would spend decades chasing the lie that we can do more with less.
That’s fine if you have already reached the top. Forget the ethics of taking yours and abandoning those who helped you get there. Say we are all best served when we purse our self interests, then why would the masses — that populist conservativism — support programs that have given us the growing disparities we have today? If only the people who benefited from the GOP platform voted Republican, not only would we not have much to worry about, but we would have a fringe party wallowing in the shadows of success.
The fact is most people are not in the top one percent. They’re not even in the top 10 percent. Or top forty. Math has never been our strong suit, has it? And it is true that we will never all be the top ten percent, that’s true by definition. That’s ok. No one should argue that everyone should be exactly the same, whether that is a bounty of plenty or the misfortune of need.
But it isn’t only the “job creators” who need gains. Aren’t we all better when the middle substantively improves? When the least fortunate of us improves his lot, we are all better. America’s tremendous economic growth and opportunity rose on the shoulders of a growing and strengthening middle class, not an increasingly exclusive economic and political elite. We didn’t become what we were by looking up to beneficent job creators to “build it” for us. And conservatives know that…
How many of today’s conservatives come from middle class families that got a start from veteran higher education grants? Or look at rural America, what would that part of our society look like if we did not protect our environment and support rural communities? And everyone, fortunate and poor alike, benefit from clean water, safe streets, food safety, functioning infrastructure, and so on and so on.
We shouldn’t be surprised that we have less and have gone broke getting less. This has been part of conservative strategy since the 1980s. Starve the beast. Underfund programs and use the financial crisis that it creates just justify cuts. Very simple and the results have been disastrous.
You don’t have to be a genius to understand this — although it seems you have to be a shade brighter than a typical modern conservative — blaming government has given us less, not more. It has made us weaker, not stronger. And it has depressed the outlook for our future.
- Is The GOP Suckering Fiscal Conservatives All Over Again? (outsidethebeltway.com)
- How Conservatism Lost Its Mind (theamericanconservative.com)
- Your Kid Has Autism? Start a Business! (alittletourinyellow.wordpress.com)
- Moment of Truth for GOP’s Conservative Wing (susanbarsy.com)