North Texas Daily

A way forward for conservatism

A way forward for conservatism

A way forward for conservatism
December 16
12:00 2021

For most of us growing up, the Republican Party was the symbol of the neoliberal consensus. With the Bush family at the helm, the Republican Party created the North American Free Trade Agreement, invaded Panama and passed the Immigration Act of 1990. However, if the party wants to stay alive, it needs to become relevant to everyday people. 

When Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia gubernatorial election, his message was simple: fixing schools and making it cheaper to live by suspending gas and grocery taxes. He didn’t bring up former President Donal Trump. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe, however, did. He focused on localizing ideas, ideas that pushed him to win. 

Republicans used to run on free-trade and supply-side economics to make products cheaper. Harping on about the national debt is an excuse to do nothing, invest in nothing and let the invisible hand of the free market do the work. 

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of Paypal, wants the future of conservatism to remain anti-establishment. Riding the wave of the former president’s actions and messaging without becoming a lightning rod is a tough challenge, but Youngkin provided a blueprint. He’s investing money into schools and charter schools directly, grants for more people to make their businesses and focused on differentiating himself from career politicians more focused on their future than those of the people they serve. 

This new conservatism is about the people they serve, in stark contrast to neo-conservatives focused on big world visions. A transition from free-markets to fair-trade, promotors of high immigration rates to immigration restrictions for all and foreign wars to domestic cultural ones. It’s not enough for Republicans to run against the ever-looming socialist threat, or pay lip service to conservative issues such as religious freedom.

The conservative base wants results on their key issues, and their leaders are being judged as to who will stay and go. In some circles, Governor Greg Abbott is in the mold of all talk and no action. Candidate Don Huffines threatening to defy federal law and take action against immigration directly appeals to those wanting results instead of long court battles with Abbott. 

Legal immigration is seeing a shift in conservative circle circles too. The biggest problem in the legal immigration system is the H-1B visa system, where employment opportunities are often staffed by workers with an associate’s degree, despite a legal bachelor’s degree job requirement. These are jobs people believe American workers can perform according to a Morning Consult poll. Conservative lawmakers proposed sweeping changes to ensure no American job can be displaced by a foreign worker in the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2020 and the American Jobs First Act.

Thiel and Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation, are outsiders. They have not been beholden to the Washington consensus. Their rhetoric and the focus of their campaigns on a more personal and familial level reveal their differences. 

One hurdle for Thiel and Masters’ is their approach to discussing the failures in the 2020 election.

“It’s really hard to know,” Masters is quoted as to who won the election on CNN. Masters does not hold the view others have expressed to him, claims of voting systems changing votes or election rigging on Election Day.

His contention is media information streams. In his view, the information environment makes it hard to know who to trust. Social media uses algorithms to spread misinformation, so established local broadcasters such as Sinclair Broadcasting run political commentary segments verbatim from one another. Airtime, perspectives and methods of interviews all play a role in what vibes a politician gives. If those criteria were equal, who would have won the election? 

Once again, it’s a time for choosing within the Republican Party, in the electorate and Washington within. Stay the course with establishment conservatives and lose to outside ideas such as democratic socialism or Universal Basic Income while campaigning against socialism every step of the way. It is a change of ideas new to Washington, with ideas such as raising families on one income, diverse domestic energy markets and reducing immigration in all of its forms, ideas conservatives should try. 

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Chris Sotelo

Chris Sotelo

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