Did you see this dynamite monologue by Tucker Carlson last night? In it, he analyzes Mitt Romney’s anodyne op-ed piece attacking Trump, and what it says about the establishment Republicans and Democrats. Watch or read the whole thing here. Excerpts:
Romney’s main complaint in the piece is that Donald Trump is a mercurial and divisive leader. That’s true, of course. But beneath the personal slights, Romney has a policy critique of Trump. He seems genuinely angry that Trump might pull American troops out of the Syrian civil war. Romney doesn’t explain how staying in Syria would benefit America. He doesn’t appear to consider that a relevant question. More policing in the Middle East is always better. We know that. Virtually everyone in Washington agrees.
Corporate tax cuts are also popular in Washington, and Romney is strongly on board with those, too. His piece throws a rare compliment to Trump for cutting the corporate rate a year ago.
That’s not surprising. Romney spent the bulk of his business career at a firm called Bain Capital. Bain Capital all but invented what is now a familiar business strategy: Take over an existing company for a short period of time, cut costs by firing employees, run up the debt, extract the wealth, and move on, sometimes leaving retirees without their earned pensions. Romney became fantastically rich doing this.
Meanwhile, a remarkable number of the companies are now bankrupt or extinct. This is the private equity model. Our ruling class sees nothing wrong with it. It’s how they run the country.
At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone, too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live? These are the only questions that matter.
The answer used to be obvious. The overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. And yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.
The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would want if they cared.
But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.
Carlson then lays into liberals and conservatives alike who both think that there’s no connection between economics and morality. I’m not going to quote that part, because it’s so strong you should read it yourself. Because this is a blog written by a social conservative, for social conservatives, I do want to quote the part in which he attacks us:
Social conservatives, meanwhile, come to the debate from the opposite perspective, and yet reach a strikingly similar conclusion. The real problem, you’ll hear them say, is that the American family is collapsing. Nothing can be fixed before we fix that. Yet, like the libertarians they claim to oppose, many social conservatives also consider markets sacrosanct. The idea that families are being crushed by market forces seems never to occur to them. They refuse to consider it. Questioning markets feels like apostasy.
Tucker Carlson is right. More:
Both sides [liberals and conservatives] miss the obvious point: Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two. It used to be possible to deny this. Not anymore. The evidence is now overwhelming.
Tucker Carlson is just getting started. Here’s another excerpt:
And by the way, if you really loved your fellow Americans, as our leaders should, if it would break your heart to see them high all the time. Which they are. A huge number of our kids, especially our boys, are smoking weed constantly. You may not realize that, because new technology has made it odorless. But it’s everywhere.
And that’s not an accident. Once our leaders understood they could get rich from marijuana, marijuana became ubiquitous. In many places, tax-hungry politicians have legalized or decriminalized it. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner now lobbies for the marijuana industry. His fellow Republicans seem fine with that. “Oh, but it’s better for you than alcohol,” they tell us.
Maybe. Who cares? Talk about missing the point. Try having dinner with a 19-year-old who’s been smoking weed. The life is gone. Passive, flat, trapped in their own heads. Do you want that for your kids? Of course not. Then why are our leaders pushing it on us? You know the reason. Because they don’t care about us.
When you care about people, you do your best to treat them fairly. Our leaders don’t even try. They hand out jobs and contracts and scholarships and slots at prestigious universities based purely on how we look. There’s nothing less fair than that, though our tax code comes close.
Under our current system, an American who works for a salary pays about twice the tax rate as someone who’s living off inherited money and doesn’t work at all. We tax capital at half of what we tax labor. It’s a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of our rich people do.
There’s much more. He concludes that the only party in a position to save the country is the GOP, but it’s going to have to get rid of its bumper-sticker market fundamentalism if it’s going to recognize what’s happening in this country, and come up with policies to help ordinary people, not the Mitt Romneys. Carlson writes:
Socialism is a disaster. It doesn’t work. It’s what we should be working desperately to avoid. But socialism is exactly what we’re going to get, and very soon unless a group of responsible people in our political system reforms the American economy in a way that protects normal people.
Again, I urge you most strongly to read or watch the whole thing.
A man or woman who can talk like that with conviction could become president. Voting for a conservative candidate like that would be the first affirmative vote I’ve ever cast for president (as opposed to voting for the lesser of two evils). Donald Trump sensed in his gut that the time is ripe for a politician like this, but he’s too compromised by his own massive faults to articulate a vision and execute it.
In fact, I don’t see anybody on the GOP side who can. Yet, anyway — unless Tucker Carlson is ready and willing to run.
A more likely option: J.D. Vance is only 34 years old. Watch him.
UPDATE: Reader Rob G., on why he left the GOP, but remained a conservative:
In the summer of 2002, while still a good Republican, I was playing in a band that was called upon to perform at a fundraiser for a fellow named Larry Gibson, an environmental activist who was fighting against the coal companies who wanted his land. He refused to budge.
I made the trek from Pittsburgh to southern West Virginia rather doubtfully, expecting to find a nest of radical tree-huggers exaggerating things as usual. After driving up through the woods to the top of Kayford Mountain, the location of Gibson’s ancestral farm, he took us by foot to the mountain’s summit, in order to show us the surrounding territory. I was floored: there was nothing green visible no matter which way you looked. For miles and miles in all directions it looked like the effing moon.
My reason immediately told me that if the coal companies could pull off this sort of atrocity, big business couldn’t possibly be some universal good, as I had long believed. So I started reading, first about the coal industry, then about others. A pattern emerged: big business seemed almost universally, not so much evil, but woefully irresponsible.
As a result I came to reject GOP market orthodoxy, and to put myself intentionally in the other stream of modern conservatism, the which runs through the Southern Agrarians to Weaver and Kirk, and on to the crunchy cons and Front Porchers of today.
Lesson learned. It took almost 20 years, but I learned it, thank the good Lord.