Thank goodness for August! That’s normally not a sentiment expressed in Gulf states where heat, humidity and hurricanes reign. Nevertheless, August weather in the South pales in comparison with all the fuss and fury coming out of Washington and news outlets so far in 2019. Congress is in recess and 2020 presidential candidates are warming up for the traditional Labor Day kickoff of national elections.
Democrats continue to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, as they have since November 2016. They’re still griping about collusion with the Russians and conspiracies to obstruct justice. Even Special Counsel Robert Mueller looked bedraggled and worn out from all this fury during his seven hours of testimony in which he revealed nothing new outside the report. The only people not bedraggled and worn out by all this handwringing are Democrats, #NeverTrumpers and media ideologues. Apparently Trump in the Oval Office is the eternal flame that keeps on stoking their engines.
The left’s latest angles of attack against Trump and his supporters are that nationalism is unpatriotic and nationalism leads to collectivism.
Last week Brett Stephens penned an opinion in the New York Times, leveraging a quote from Friedrich Hayek who wrote, “It is this nationalistic bias which frequently provides the bridge from conservatism to collectivism.” It’s funny how definitions shift over time. Hayek defended “classical liberalism,” not to be confused with political liberalism today. In fact, Hayek has been and continues to be a heroic thinker, writer, and philosopher among those who espouse smaller government and individual liberties, i.e. those things today’s conservatives support and socialists oppose.
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But Stephens was bashing America’s nationalists today by twisting conservative principles into collectivist goals. His first fallacy is equating Hayek’s “nationalism” with today’s American nationalists. He says today’s “conservative nationalism” requires “the mainstream conservative movement to jettison its best principles.” Then he builds three straw jettisons.
First, Stephens says conservatives have jettisoned “faith in free markets.” Ironically, he fails to note how President Trump has undone many of President Barack Obama’s attempts to nationalize or control businesses and whole industries. Think health care. The Trump administration has cut regulations on businesses to the point the economy is booming and manufacturing jobs are returning to America.
Second, Stephens says conservatives have jettisoned “faith in free people,” writing, “Most nationalists want to restrict even legal immigration.” Whoa! He cites no statistics for this claim. And, his argument deteriorates into a charge that “Nationalism is the superimposition of one form of identity politics over various others.” Again, he ignores the obvious identity politics played by progressives/liberals/Democrats/media with hyphenated-American identity groups. The single identity group of conservatives is All American.
The irony continues as Stephens charges conservatives have jettisoned a third principle, “faith in the American example.” He returns to immigration again, charging, “Nationalists only want to sharpen or weaponize those (cultural) differences.” No, conservatives want legal immigrants to become Americans, and not try to change American culture radically. The reason America is the most attractive nation in the world for immigrants is America is not like any other nation in the world. Conservatives still believe in American exceptionalism as described by Alexis de Tocqueville and, ironically, by Hayek himself!
August may be a good month to read Hayek’s book, “The Road To Serfdom,” in which he warns that the end result of socialism is serfdom.