Should the reader be at all surprised that Mr. Cass is the executive director of ‘American Compass’ ? It’s another Think Tank. The quotation from Russell Kirk leaves no doubt :
‘”A sound economy cannot exist without a political state to protect it. Foolish political interference with the economy can result in general poverty, but wise political encouragement of the economy helps a society toward prosperity.”
Russell Kirk (1989) ‘
Or the ‘Mission Statement’ that follows this quotation, in all its platitudinous glory.
To restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity —
REORIENTING POLITICAL FOCUS from growth for its own sake to widely shared economic development that sustains vital social institutions.
SETTING A COURSE for a country in which families can achieve self-sufficiency, contribute productively to their communities, and prepare the next generation for the same.
HELPING POLICYMAKERS NAVIGATE the limitations that markets and government each face in promoting the general welfare and the nation’s security.
So the headline & sub-headline of this essay, that is awash in American Political Theologizing, is right on target? What is the Post-Trumpian Soul?
Headline: Republican party battles over its post-Trumpian soul
Sub-headline: An ideological contest rages between Reaganite libertarians and post-Trump conservatives
But recall Nixon’s ‘Law and Order’, ‘The Silent Majority’ while erasing his ‘Enemies List’ and ‘Kent State’, not forgetting Henry Kissinger and Vietnam! Or Ronald Reagan’s bankrupt piety ‘Morning in America’ while forgetting ‘The Contras’ and the ’76 and ’80 battle cry: ‘Welfare Queens Driving Cadillacs’ ? Bush I & II must be added to this collection, that represents the Republican Party, that is the object of Mr. Cass’ political nostalgia. All this suffused with the misbegotten spirit of Jonathan Edwards , or is it Cotton Mather ?
Mr. Cass then enters into the political thicket:
In another era, a stable party apparatus that predated Mr Trump might be waiting in the wings. But of course, if that existed, the party would not have been levelled by the Trumpian earthquake. Instead, its strains and infirmities, so well exploited by Mr Trump, define the contours of arguments about how to rebuild. The fundamental question is this: what happens to a party beholden to free-market dogma when the market fails to deliver?
Traditionally, Republicans brought together libertarians and conservatives who both prized markets but in different ways. Libertarians regard the free market as an end unto itself, or trust that the free market will deliver the best outcome. Conservatives see the free market as a means to an end. Markets can deliver healthy social outcomes, but there is no guarantee they will. If they do not, policymakers should play a role channelling market competition to advance the common good.
In the latter half of the 20th century, when faith in markets was still richly rewarded, both sides were in general agreement. But 50 years later, economic reality had changed and the coalition began to crumble.
Next to appear in Mr. Cass’ essay are Republican political luminaries:
Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation, Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Pat Toomey, Mitt Romney, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton
The reader has to wonder about Mr. Cass’ acumen! Where is the well funded, politically connected, and supported Anti-Trump organization The Lincoln Project’ located in the American polity, so carefully described by Mr. Cass?