Thoughts on an Assertion Regarding the Populist Right

Thoughts on an Assertion Regarding the Populist Right
by pragerfan

On the right — or anyway the intellectual/populist right — markets destroy traditional moral conventions, democracy is mostly a sham, individual freedom encourages behavioral deviancies, state power is a force for good, and the First Amendment's ban on the establishment of religion was likely a bad idea.

Let's see if we can unpack this a little bit more. I think it it is safe to say that for a long time conservatives preferred the private sector to the government sector except for military. Government's three basic purposes are to (1) defend against external threat, (2) provide a system of courts where citizens can peacefully resolve disputes, and (3) quell internal insurrections (e.g. 2020 "George Floyd" riots). But since Trump's election in 2016, we look at the Big Tech / social media / mainstream media complex and we've belatedly realized that the private sector isn't all it's cracked up to be. The private sector makes widgets, but it cannot be counted on to protect first amendment. In fact, the private sector gets away with outright censorship of speech — something the government could never do without ending up in court. We don't have the proper laws in place to deal with private sector censorship. Combined with at-will employment, the private sector has succeeded in an unprecedented chilling of free speech through corporate speech codes, HR departments, and the like. The standard excuse is "we can't allow employees free speech because our brand might be damaged." This has pushed many conservatives like myself who might have supported some reasonable restrictions on speech (e.g. no defamation of public figures) further and further towards a libertarian stance where we now do not support any restrictions on the first Amendment whatsoever.

It seems to me that the Trump presidency highlighted the importance of free speech and religion in the face of the onslaught by the Big Tech/Social Media/Mainstream Media cabal. The Left has used the pandemic to shut down speech even further. The Left colludes with Big Tech to censor and de-platform medical doctors and other scientists it doesn't agree with, for example. Corporations are in on this too, as they fire or threaten to fire employees who publicly disagree with any aspect of coerced masking and vaccination. Private companies force masking and vaccination by threatening people's jobs even though in most cases my job has nothing to do with either vaccinations or masking. The excuse is we have to protect our employees but I cannot recall a single case where it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that an employee contracted CV at the workplace (in fact, how a person contracts CV is still not fully understood and cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt). We need to move from an at-will employment system to a just-cause employment system where just cause means poor job performance and little else — it certainly would not include what an employee says or posts while not on the job. We need to gain general agreement that an employee is not property of the company 24x7 but only while he is at work and/or actively representing the company. If the employee is actively representing the company and makes political statements on behalf of the company then I say yes, that is fine if the company doesn't agree with the statements it can fire him. But the company cannot fire someone for expressing political views while off work, on his own time and using his personal accounts. As you know I went through this crap with my company, and it wasn't fun. I kept my job but I had to cave in and compromise my values in order to keep my livelihood. That should not be the case in America. This is why, among other reasons, conservatives have largely soured on the private sector. The other reason is corporate "wokeness." Companies embrace Left-wing causes and thereby offend all of their conservative employees, which is half of America. But being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry.

That markets destroy traditional moral conventions is mostly a Left-wing, not a conservative position. Conservatism as I see it regards the politically neutral corporation as the ideal. Corporations should focus on good service and quality widgets, not getting on board a political agenda — they should stay out of politics. But of course for the Left there is no such thing as "out of politics." Everything in life is political — as Rahm Emanuel famously said, "never let a crisis go to waste." And because the Left has controlled education since at least the early 1990s, if not the 1960s, we have a generation or two of young people whom the Left has inculcated to believe that not only must companies provide good service and quality widgets, they must also espouse Left-wing political causes. This started with the fairly innocuous "let's help the rain forests" with Starbucks about 25 years ago and has sinced morphed into an all-out assault on traditional American values: this is what we would call "wokeness." I think there is a book out by an Indian fellow called Woke, Inc. which makes this case in spades.

Conservatives don't believe democracy is a sham, we believe that the Left corrupts the democratic process. Everywhere Leftism has taken root, democracy dies. Venezuela is a great example of this, but we don't need to go that far. Look at how the Left engineered Trump's "defeat" in 2020: using the coronavirus pandemic to engineer massive mail-in balloting which then likely corrupted enough of the democratic process in key states that Biden was able to squeak by in several states. Trump won in 2016, and the Left swore there would never be a repeat of 2016. We saw that 2018 was a practice run to see if their electoral schemes would work and 2020 was the main show — they cheated and it worked.

In my opinion voting should be restricted to U.S. citizens, you should have to show a valid U.S. passport to vote, and except for active duty U.S. military deployed overseas, you need to vote on the day of the election.1 Mail-in voting and other forms of not voting on election day need to be sharply curtailed because all these alternative voting schemes can easily be sources of corruption. The Left is trying to rig the system so that a Republican can never be elected president again — and they have nearly succeeded.

Conservatives don't believe individualism encourages "deviancies." I used to believe that the Supreme Court got it wrong in the 2005 Texas sodomy case but I'm now open to reconsidering that. Government has absolutely no business regulating what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom, but we do need public standards of moral behavior. We ought to be able to say that people should wait until marriage before engaging in sexual relations but to say that today is misogynist (though I'm not clear why, as the same standard applies to men too — promiscuous men are no better than promiscuous women). We ought to be able to say that women should dress modesty — this goes back to the New Testament — but say that today and it's tantamount to blaming women for having been raped. But the Left hates standards because where there are standards, there is judgment. We've become like decadent Rome — no public moral standards, if it feels good do it, abort all the babies you want — there are no consequences to evil behavior. Of course this does not comport with reality but neither do Left-wing ideas. One day God will judge all of this — but first let me grab my popcorn!

Conservatives don't believe religious freedom is a bad idea. But the very freedom of religion isn't, I think, grounded in some sort of Enlightenment thinking, as the Left and not a few conservatives — especially secular conservatives — seem to believe, but rather in a shared, general, societal belief in some kind of supreme Being (call him God if you like) and, more importantly, an afterlife where the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished — a final divine judgment. This belief, encapsulated by Christ's dictum, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," creates fertile ground in which religious pluralism and tolerance flourish.

When a society no longer believes in God (and concomitant objective morality), that society will believe in anything, including the false god of health uber alles, which animates today's mask and vaccine hysteria. Godless societies easily descend into fascism, Nazism, or communism — for when God dies, freedom dies with him.

Finally, if there is no God, and therefore no afterlife where the good are rewarded and the wicked are punished, then there is no objective morality: good and evil are irrelevant. Whether murder is wrong is merely a personal preference, like whether someone prefers vanilla or chocolate ice cream. When morality becomes a personal preference, then you have Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the North Korean nightmare — and of course let's not forget about Pol Pot's killing fields. Frightening, but true.

1 Some will raise the question of expats, U.S. citizens living abroad. In my opinion if you decide to leave the United States to live in another country, you give up your civic rights and responsibilities in the United States. In general expats ought not to vote in U.S. elections because they have no discernible interest in electoral outcomes — but reasonable minds can of course disagree and I have no issue with that.