A speech?

Note: This is a draft of a 200-word speech that I wrote for a speechwriting class on the future of conservatism.

Ronald Reagan told us to “always remember that you are Americans, and it is your birthright to dream great dreams in this sweet and blessed land.” Another more recent Republican president told us that he had “abandoned free-market principles to save the free market.” One of these men is remembered as a great conservative president. The other is remembered as George W. Bush.
The future of conservatism lies in articulating a vision. Ideologies die when there is no direction. It is not enough for us to simply present a plan for the next four years. It is not enough to say that we will repeal ObamaCare, lower tax rates, and cut back on regulations. Those are policies. They are not a vision.
Progressives excel at presenting a vision. They are not afraid to propose new, controversial policies even if it loses them an election. They constantly push the boundaries of the political discussion. And so we are stuck on defense, forced to disagree with their proposals instead of presenting our own. We win elections, but the country moves leftward.
For conservatism to be more than just a response, it must stop being ashamed of itself. We must present a full-throated vision of freedom from an oversized government, a vision of a country where people are not blocked from achieving their full economic potential. For conservatism to have a future, it must first offer Americans one.


On Election Eve, I’m Concerned About the Long Game

I am voting for Gary Johnson tomorrow.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I think he is a deeply flawed candidate. Even though I prefer to think of myself as more of a classical liberal than a libertarian, he presents libertarianism in a completely incorrect manner. It is not “social liberalism, fiscal conservatism,” it is “social libertarianism, fiscal libertarianism.” Social liberals do not have all that much in common with social libertarians when it really comes down to it. I also think that he has said and done enough weird things that I would be concerned with having him in the presidency. That said, so have the other candidates, and he at least would support (mostly) policies I like.

I’m also voting in DC. Not Fairfax “DC” or Bethesda “DC,” actual DC. So my vote is not going to change anything. I would probably still vote for Johnson if I was in a battleground state, however. As much as people decry protest votes, I believe that politicians need to earn votes by being the best candidates, not merely the least bad candidates. I think that if you get into the habit of voting for the least bad candidate, you will never put any pressure on politicians to support policies you approve of.

The real reason I am not voting for the nominee of the Republican Party this November 8, however, is because of the long game. While it gets traction to discuss politics as if every election is a choice between prosperity and the apocalypse, the reality is much less exciting. The country will go on with Hillary as president. With Trump as president, we might get a (marginally) better president policy-wise, but we will mortgage the future of the Republican Party.

Every growing demographic does not trend towards Trumpism. Millennial voters, female voters, educated voters and minority voters are all being pushed away by Trump. The future of conservatism depends upon changing how the party is perceived. This election cycle has done a great deal of damage to our efforts to rehabilitate the image of the Republican Party. But not irreparable damage. Irreparable damage would be done by allowing Donald Trump to be the leader of the party for four, or possibly eight, years.

Let’s be clear. Donald Trump is not a Republican. Donald Trump does not believe in free markets, limited government, or fundamental conservative values like the sanctity of life. Donald Trump is a populist with an amateurish understanding of economics and a narcissistic compulsion to be seen as a great man. His proposals to cut off trade or essentially default on our debt are economically illiterate and ill-becoming of a Republican. His threat to punish women who get abortions betrays his unfamiliarity with the pro-life side, among so many other statements, seems to lend credence to the ridiculous Democratic narrative that there is a Republican war on women. He also has a habit of floating very liberal-sounding proposals.

I have no interest in voting for a populist Democrat who pays lip service to Republican ideals just to stop another Democrat from entering the Oval Office.

Instead, I encourage everyone to vote for Republicans in the Senate. As of writing, things are very tight in the race to hold the Senate. Vote for Republicans in the Senate, confirm a moderate nominee to replace Justice Scalia who is not another Justice Ginsburg, and play the long game. Expand the party’s control of the Senate in 2018, run a real conservative in 2020, and start enacting real conservative solutions like market-based healthcare reform, tax code simplification, and trade liberalization. There is a future to be found for the Republican Party even in the midst of this election. It just has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Time to start making the real conservative argument on climate change

Climate change is an issue that millennials care a lot about. This makes sense, of course, they are the group that stands to lose the most from climate change effects. What’s more, majorities of millennials believe in anthropomorphic, or man-made, climate change. So why do conservatives keep making these ridiculous statements about it being a hoax and mortgaging the future of the party?

Okay, fine. I didn’t exactly pull from the brightest bulbs in the conservative movement there, and I can’t stand Bill Nye either. And yes, there are issues with how the scientific consensus is being presented in the media today; for instance, that 97% figure that is so often repeated is probably a little bit off. But the point is that conservatives who know nothing at all about climate science should stop staking their entire argument on the very slim hope that all those climate scientists are wrong.

For the record, I believe that climate change is real, and I believe that it is caused by humans. I believe that because I am not a climate scientist, and real climate scientists are telling me so. Conservatives sometimes go into ultra-conspiracy territory on this issue, believing that all these scientists have been paid off as part of a scheme to create profits for green energy companies. Look, if they accomplished that…well, congratulations, they tricked me. Odds are they didn’t though. Could you imagine how absurd it would seem if our political opponents just ignored the economic consensus that, say, raising the minimum wage costs jobs– wait. Well, that’s how they feel about conservatives on this issue. They believe we see the truth as inconvenient, and easier to just ignore. Let’s stop ignoring, and start making the conservative argument.

There are two elements to this conservative argument. The first part is an acknowledgment that, while there is a near-scientific consensus that climate change is caused at least partially by humans, we don’t know how much we can do about it. Almost universally, the “solutions” progressives propose to tackle climate change would devastate the economy. The carbon tax Senator Boxer and Senator Sanders have proposed alone would kill a million jobs and shrink the economy by $2.5 trillion by 2030, and this is just one proposal. People also need to acknowledge that low-income Americans would suffer most from these proposals; higher energy costs cause inflation, raise utility bills, and make food more expensive, all of which hit the poorest Americans the hardest. To handicap our economy like this (and if you’re still buying into Jill Stein’s “it creates green jobs” argument, I encourage you to read up on the broken windows fallacy), we’d better have a damn good reason. And to be blunt, there’s reason to doubt that even drastically cutting down on carbon emissions would have any meaningful effect on global temperatures.

The second part to this argument is that, even in this situation, top-down control is not the best way to address an economic problem. The way you create new, superior technologies that benefit everyone is, and always has been, through investment. How do you invest when the economy is trapped in a self-induced death spiral?

The problem with progressive economics is, in this case and every other case really, is that it is what I like to call “snapshot economics.” It looks at one single moment in time, decides what the best solution to fix that problem tomorrow would be, implements that “solution,” and then pats itself on the back and walks away like a movie superhero walking away from an explosion. Free-market economics says that you should look at the big picture, and you should understand what the consequences of your actions will be. In this case, we should look at how the market has always responded to demand by providing us with superior technologies to fix the problems we face. The conservative solution to the climate change issue is really just conservative policy in general: pass meaningful tax reform that promotes growth, cut back on burdensome regulations, and promote specialization and innovation through removal of trade barriers.

Organizations centered on this approach do exist, such as the good people over at republicEn. It’s time to start demanding that conservatives abandon the intellectually lazy recourse of climate change denial, and instead start providing Americans with a meaningful alternative to the progressive vision of perpetual austerity for minimal results.