Jacobin: The Siren Song of “Pro-Worker” Conservatism

Interesting article.

Basically, I agree that the ideal of a pro-White, pro-Western, pro-working class National Populist version of conservatism taking root in the Republican Party is a mirage.


"There’s a new, increasingly assertive, tendency on the Right. These conservatives are not rabid free marketeers, hawkish neocons, or religious fundamentalists. They hate Beltway elitism and think both major parties have sold out the working class.

This cohort has elements that flirt with the most reactionary segments of online conservatism, but its most well-known figures — like Julius Krein and Michael Lind of American Affairs, Saagar Enjeti of HillTV’s Rising, Oren Cass of American Compass, Chris Buskirk of American Greatness, and Fox News’s Tucker Carlson — have built audiences behind economic nationalist rhetoric. ...

It’s worth spelling out the nature of the particular niche that the new workerist Right occupies, as well as how the reality of their popularity differs from their own self-conception. According to them, after decades of betrayal from liberals, blue-collar workers have finally had enough and bolted into their arms — for God, country, and restricted immigration. Armed with protectionist policies and blue-collar values, only the workerist Right can offer a true vehicle for the aspirations of American workers today.

This, at least, is their animating fantasy. But what often goes unsaid is that, while a significant group of working-class voters have gambled on right-wing populists, a startling share of formerly Democrat voting workers have simply abandoned politics altogether. ...

But workers’ gamble on the Right is likely part of a greater downward spiral in voter mobilization and political participation — not a rising tide of Gaullist militancy. We’ve already seen how it plays out: center-left voters in rural former manufacturing towns attempt to punish their former party leaders and governing elites by defecting to the Right; the Right, once in power, fails to reverse the downward slide in wages and living conditions — and most often helps to accelerate it; finally, with nowhere else to turn, these voters just stop turning up. In America, that means the abstention of 100 million eligible voters. ...

It makes sense that the corporatist Right is hostile toward Sanders, given that they frame their own project as a healthy alternative to socialism. But why didn’t these rightists support Joe Biden?

The incoming president’s “Made in America” program is far closer to their vision than Trump’s ever was. Biden advocates an industrial policy complete with a $300 billion investment in research and development, and he promises to use federal money to buy American-made goods. In fact, Biden’s whole platform promises far more investment in manufacturing, a state-subsidized demand-side stimulus, a public works program, and a major infrastructural overhaul. Plus, there was little woke sloganeering from Biden on the campaign trail. So what gives? ...

The contradiction of right-wing parties making left-wing economic appeals has always resolved itself in one direction: upward. The economic program gets dropped as soon as the financial sponsors of the party — and their own anti-tax voters — have any say. This has obviously happened with Trump, who allowed libertarian Paul Ryan to run his domestic agenda, but it’s also happened all over the world.

Such is our current predicament.

In 2016, we elected Donald Trump and voted for a GOP Congress based on the idea that the Republican Party could be reformed in a nationalist and populist direction, but this fantasy quickly collided with the reality of the GOP. The donor class and the free marketeer wing have their own agenda.

In 2017, Donald Trump spent his political capital on Paul Ryan's agenda of repealing Obamacare, the tax cuts and deregulation. In 2018, he got criminal justice reform done for the Koch Network. He put Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court and stacked the federal judiciary with conservative judges. He gave the RJC billionaires virtually everything they wanted.

Just the other day, Sen. Mike Lee and the Republican-controlled Senate delivered an endless supply of Indian cheap labor for Big Tech. Not a single Republican senator objected to the bill.

At the end of four years of the Trump presidency, the Trump administration has piled sanctions on Russia, expanded NATO, withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and antagonized Iran to the brink of war, kept the troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and adopted a regime change policy in Iran and Venezuela. Thankfully, it hasn't started any new wars and has improved relations with North Korea, but aside from that it hasn't really changed our foreign policy except for making it more pro-Israel than ever before.

The Trump administration renegotiated NAFTA and the U.S.-South Korea (KORUS) free trade agreement. It started a trade war with China. The trade deficit with South Korea is basically unchanged. USCMA only went into effect in July, but does not appear to have done much to change the trade deficit with Canada and Mexico. Donald Trump's trade war with China had the effect of disrupting supply chains and benefiting other low-wage countries like Vietnam. Far from being any major break with the status quo, Trump's trade policy was largely optical and for domestic political consumption. The U.S. trade deficit with the world in goods is unchanged. America is still drowning in foreign imported goods.

As for immigration, we finally got about 400 miles of a refurbished George W. Bush-era border fence out of Trump. There was no mass deportations of illegal aliens. There was no reform of the legal immigration system although legal immigration was cut by Trump and was temporarily suspended during the pandemic. The same number of people continued to become lawful permanent residents. Illegal immigration continued as usual and peaked in early 2019 after which it was cut by the Remain in Mexico policy. The Trump administration continued to bring in guest workers through H-2A agricultural visas, H-1B visas and H-2B visas. Refugee resettlement stands out as a success for the Trump administration while DACA and sanctuary cities remained intact and E-Verify went nowhere in the Republican Congress.

The truth is that there is no such thing as conservative populism. There are only populists voting for the GOP and empowering conservatives in Congress who end up controlling the policy agenda. The True Cons wing of the GOP does not want to cut immigration. It is pro-free trade and pro-globalization. It is for low-taxes, low-regulation and low-wages for the working class. It is against any kind of national infrastructure plan. It doesn't support UBI or any national government program to provide health insurance for the working class. Finally, it certainly doesn't support White identity and it puts up no resistance to political correctness. It can't even stop itself from delivering tax cuts and guest workers for Big Tech.

None of this means the socialists are any kind of alternative. As we saw in the Democratic primary, Woke Bernie has his own issues and lost states that had supported him in 2016 to Joe Biden. Faced with the choice of empowering Democrats and swallowing the dog on social issues or empowering the Republicans and swallowing the dog on economic issues, many populist voters end up choosing the third option and blackpill and drop out of politics altogether. This is what I did in the 2020 election.

As things stand today, the third party route seems like the most promising option. I would rather vote for a third party and lose or give up on politics altogether than return MIGA to power.

Note: Biden's version of the MAGA agenda looks interesting. I never bothered to take a look at it though because of the Antifa and Black Lives Matter chaos. I'm sure that I wasn't alone in this. It is hard to look beyond cities in flames and insane liberals screaming about "white supremacy."

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  1. Brad, the Democrats have been promising to do something for American industry for decades, and, they have done nothing! We are talking 40 years of nothing, but, talk.

    Biden has had plenty of chances to do something, and he has done zero.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting.

  2. We need to be economically liberal and socially conservative, like the National Socialists were. And anyone who says that the Republican Party can be wrested from the Big Business/Wall Street/Israel First crowd is either a fool or a Fuentes-style con-artist.

  3. The only person that could make the Working Class think that Conservatives care about them is President Donald Trump. I don’t believe a single Conservative could have ever done that and make Workers believe. Why is that? Because Trump ran 1,000% against the ordinary Conservative / Republican Party. He ran as a Civic Nationalist / Populist / and really even a right wing Moderate. He lost those voters. Simple as that. It’s very obvious that Conservatives are for the Super Rich. They spend every second of everyday defending the Super Rich on every single issue. It’s the Super Rich who drive down wages by hiring Illegal Immigrants or outsourcing jobs to China. It’s those people who’ve created such a horrible Work environment where people can say 1 thing wrong or miss work for 1 day and be fired. Say you want higher wages, health care, more sick / vacation days, and Unions. You’ll be fired in a second by a Conservative Republican who makes up the soul of the Super Rich. It’s these issues and my support for Environmental Protection and Public Land that turned me against the Republican Party shortly after 2016. Really even before. I already didn’t like the Republican Party because the establishment Republicans would also remove Confederate items on a regular basis. Such as how the Mississippi Flag was changed this Year. When I combined that with how Republicans are for the Super Rich and the enemy of the Working Class…it really made Nationalism and Third Party voting more interesting for me. Deo Vindice !

  4. The Republican Party, like their predecessor, the Whig Party, need to follow Trump into the wilderness, never to be seen or heard from again, they are poison.

  5. I’m not familiar with the American trade system, but maybe the best way to fight for the working class is to push for ongoing high tarriffs against Asian nations with cheap labour, production costs, as well as substandard safety regulations. With trade barriers in place, their unfair advantage is effectively removed. When people work hard, they have a right to wages that at least covers the cost of living. They have a right to arrive home in one piece. They have a right to expect this without the fear of losing their job to China or Thailand.
    In my nation, all our manufacturing has disappeared to China. We have no tarriffs on their cheap rubbish, yet China has imposed tarriffs on our imports(mainly food, wine and raw materials) because we said a few things that ‘angered’ them. Yet, the things they really need, like iron ore, have been left untouched.
    To summarise, fatcat CEO’s have abandoned our workers, and our worthless politicians have failed to stand up to Beijing bullying. Most people here want no association with China in any way, and want other trade partners to rely on. We also want our manufacturing back.
    My hatred of China is intense. The entire world hates these animal torturers. We share no values with this regime………yet they’re our No.1 trading partner.

    • You are correct, complete tariffs would be the solution to our problem but it’s corrupt businessmen who buy corrupt politicians in the U.S. to prevent that from happening. That’s the way it works in a true democracy like the U.S. The businessman is completely amoral, worse than immoral; he is indifferent to right and wrong. The corrupt businessmen carry around the equally amoral politicians like pieces of lint in their back pockets.

      The U.S. businessman is concerned with maximizing profit, that’s all, and if workers in Bangladesh lose some fingers or an eye because an 18 inch piece of protective shielding costing $5 was missing in a dangerous machine well that’s too bad, learn to code. If U.S. workers get laid off and towns and cities become impoverished because of factory closings, too bad, learn to code. The money saved by globalist companies to increase the bloated pay of the executive class is all that matters. Shipping products 8,000 miles from China to the East Coast or 5,000 miles to the West Coast of the U.S. is expensive so wages and safety have to be minimal.

      In theory the U.S. political system would represent the interests of workers and prevent big, globalist businesses from getting away with their depredations like paying third world wages and charging first world prices but the political class is irredeemably corrupt. Both political parties represent the same groups on important matters, differences amount to a quibble over nothing. The U.S. political system is both irreformable and unsustainable, something big is going to break, probably the dollar first through inflation then the country will descend into anarchy as the economic system breaks down. When that happens it will be best to be at least 20 miles away from any of the ‘diverse’, colored people in urban areas.

      Things will have to be rebuilt out of the ruins, if possible. There is no stopping the train wreck that is the U.S. now, that opportunity was wasted time after time.

  6. @12AX7
    Well said. It’s complicated, yes. We need to multi task and blame and expose everyone who plays a role. Politicians and businessmen never explain to the nation how moving jobs offshore improves our society.
    Deport the jobs, and import the hordes! Not sure how we benefit from this….
    As consumers, we at least have the power to not buy this cheap imported shit.

  7. “My U.S.-Israel Security Act authorizes $3.3 billion annually to help Israel defend itself”

    If they’re doing it at the expense of hapless American taxpayers, the Israelis are not really defending themselves, are they?

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