The extraordinary two debates of the twenty candidates for the Democrat Party nomination for president went far to illuminate what the presidential election of 2020 will be about, and could not have provided a clearer contrast with what the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, will stand for.
Practically to a person the Democrats made clear that they favor easing or abolishing all legal restrictions on immigration, they want sooner or later to replace our current system of predominately private health insurance with a single-payer, government-run system, they would allow abortions throughout pregnancy and would use public funds to provide them.
Many, if not most of them would also favor eradicating student indebtedness through the expenditure of federal funds.
Some disparaged agencies of law enforcement generally, and some appear to embrace the notion of reparations, which would entail a substantial redistribution of resources, as would Democrat plans for substantially increasing federal taxes.
The Democrats’ 2020 platform, if it follows the expressed desires of these candidates, will be something of a socialist manifesto, and will follow the Left’s usual desire for central planning and a shrinking of individual freedom in order to implement the values and plans of progressives.
This political scheme, in short, is sort of a super New Deal, and would represent the most audacious reordering of American priorities since the Great Depression. It would make a mockery of the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution, which is supposed to guarantee a federal government of limited and enumerated powers.
Perhaps all the Republicans need to do to secure victory in 2020 is to indicate that Europeans in the beginning of the Twentieth Century and South Americans in the twenty-first have tried socialism or communism and found that it led to despair and disaster rather than to utopia.
Given the commitment of much of the American media to the Democrats’ progressive delusions, however, for Donald Trump to prevail, it would be much better to set forth the positive program of the newly energized Republican Party that Trump represents. That program has the virtue of having worked in the last three years, and of reflecting much more of American tradition and traditional American values.
Thus, the Trump administration’s reduction of federal regulation and the lowering of federal individual and business tax rates has led to an explosion in productivity and employment of a kind that has rarely, if ever, been seen in American history. The accelerating creation of new small businesses that deregulation and reduced tax rates will make possible ought to be seen as demonstrating that decentralizing and relying on individual entrepreneurial initiative is a far better strategy than anything the Democrats can offer.
The Democrats’ desire for redistribution flies in the face of our national tradition in favor of private property and our core belief, as old as the nation itself, that without the protection of private property life and liberty are precarious.
Donald Trump has grasped this, and this accounts for one of his best stump speech lines, that as Americans “we worship God and not the government.” It is an interesting question whether this notion is not anathema to many Democrats.
The Democrats’ program promises a secular paradise but would remove much of what has given meaning and character to American life since the founding. Implementing the founders’ notion that we cannot have order without law, nor law without morality, nor morality without religion, throughout most of our history we have relied on a virtuous and a religious citizenry acting through private enterprise and private charity to bring us shared prosperity.
Republicans would do well to argue in the 2020 contest that what we need is a return to these traditional and timeless notions, and that rather than centralizing all authority in a federal Leviathan, we ought to strengthen state and local governments, in order the better to realize our shared goal of self-government.
The Twenty-First century can be expected to bring fresh challenges in the provision of healthcare, in the maintenance of the environment, in the accommodation to new technologies, and in the provision of public and private education. In some of these areas we still lead the world, but in others we have fallen dramatically behind.
The Democrats appear to hold fast to the belief that what failed in other countries could succeed here. We can, of course, learn much from what other countries have done, but Donald Trump and the Republicans can secure four more years to return us to a more sensible polity if they clearly reject the creeping socialism of the Democrats and reaffirm the wisdom of our own heritage.
Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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