The election verdict is in. No blue wave, but the Democrats took the House of Representatives. Conservatives have some homework to do if they want to retain the White House and the Senate, not to mention re-taking the House. Doing so will require conservatives to modify or to shed some ideas that may once have appealed to most of the American electorate, but no longer do so.
The Republican Party is widely viewed as the party of war. While national defense is clearly a core function of government, it does not necessarily follow that every budget item labeled “national defense” is a good idea, nor does it necessarily follow that the United States must get involved in every trouble spot around the world. At the risk of stating the obvious, armed forces are not free. Tanks, guns, warships, and warplanes do not grow on trees. Unfortunately, there are some people who call themselves conservative who are eager to be skeptical of Democrat social engineering schemes, but who will give a free pass to anything that is even vaguely related to national defense or law enforcement. This attitude needs to go. It’s time to return to the wisdom of President Eisenhower, who took seriously the threat from the Soviet Union and yet limited military spending. President Eisenhower’s farewell address warned about the growth of the military-industrial complex.
The next problem is Prohibition. True, alcohol prohibition ended with the 21st Amendment. I’m referring here to the prohibition of drugs, the prohibition of commercial sex, and the restrictions on abortions and contraceptives. Let’s look at all of these.
Drug prohibition is a failure. Despite the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), many counter-drug units in state and municipal law enforcement agencies, and many, many busts large and small, drugs keep coming in. This is because many people want drugs, and will go to great lengths to obtain them. We can say that drug use is self-destructive until we are blue in the face, but that doesn’t make any difference. When the government prohibits the open sale of something that people want, guess who supplies it? That’s right – gangsters. This is exactly what happened during the Prohibition Era. Al Capone would probably not be a household name today if it wasn’t for Prohibition. The drug war has led to the corruption of officials in the United States and in other countries. The chaos caused by the drug cartels, who are the bastard offspring of drug prohibition, does not serve the security interests of the United States. Furthermore, the chaos of the drug war is a driver of illegal immigration. Want to cripple the drug cartels and secure the border? Make all drugs legal. It’s the price premium that prohibition places on drugs that gives drug cartels the power to buy their weapons and buy off officials.
Certainly, the open sale of alcohol comes with problems – namely, that many innocent people are killed and maimed thanks to drunk drivers, and that some people commit crimes, or just make asses of themselves, because they won’t stop drinking. However, notice the problem we don’t have: shooting in the streets over the production and sale of alcohol. Because alcohol can be openly produced and sold, there is no need to fight over it. The alcohol trade is handled by peaceful entrepreneurs. No one needs to fear violence caused by alcohol sales. Furthermore, government levies taxes on the consumption of alcohol. In other words, the government makes money from the open sale of alcohol instead of wasting money on futile efforts to interdict alcohol. The same can be true on drugs. It’s time for government to broaden the tax base instead of wasting money on warrantless surveillance and the militarization of law enforcement. My fellow conservatives, the drug war is not limited government. It is bloated, out-of-control government.
Next is the prohibition on commercial sex, aka prostitution. No, prostitution is not and will never be the same as a real relationship. However, the demand for sex without a relationship isn’t going to go away, just like the demand for drugs and alcohol isn’t going to go away. And just like with drugs and alcohol – attempts to drive it underground mean that the demand will be supplied by gangsters, who really do abuse women. Let’s have an end to the anti-sex puritanism of the feminists and the religious fanatics alike. (Where do these people think they came from?) Away with euphemisms such as “escort services” or “massage parlors.” Instead, let there be brothels, openly established in properly zoned areas, where the workers have all the protections that workers in any other job would have. Let these establishments be regularly inspected to ensure a safe environment for workers and customers alike. Women might even own or manage some of these establishments, just as Christie Hefner managed Playboy for a long time. Again and again: take away the prohibition, and you take away much of the danger and violence.
Last is the complaining about the availability of abortion and contraceptives. I ask religious conservatives the following questions: If God hasn’t bothered to stop war and crime and fraud, what makes you think that God cares about abortion and contraceptives? (The same question could well be asked about the legalization of commercial sex and of drugs.) How come abortion providers or contraceptive manufacturers haven’t been turned into pillars of salt, or into something of more strategic value, such as platinum or uranium? Furthermore, making abortions and contraceptives easy to get at home and abroad may mean some reduction of crime, illegal immigration, and terrorism. You don’t have to fight or arrest someone who isn’t born. Someone who isn’t born isn’t going to join a caravan in an attempt to overwhelm the Border Patrol. I ask religious conservatives to consider how different U.S. history would have been if Osama bin Laden’s mother had aborted him.
It is time to recognize that many of the young people who might be attracted by the conservative message of strong national defense, secure borders, deregulation, and liberty are going to be repelled by the image of conservatives either as warmongers or as busybodies who interfere with sex, contraceptives, abortion, and the choice of whether to get high. Clinging to an obsolete vision of conservatism will ensure that the GOP becomes a party mostly of the elderly. Here’s a hint: This is not a winning formula.
It would be far better if conservatives forgo the culture wars and pointless foreign adventures, and instead push programs that really will empower families and strengthen the nation. These include the following:
1) Make U.S. infrastructure resistant to electromagnetic pulses, whether natural or artificial. I warn religious conservatives that an EMP, which would wreck the telecommunications and electrical grids upon which we all depend and result in lawless chaos, would be far more destructive to families than sex and drugs. Furthermore, strengthening the United States at home means that the United States will be stronger abroad – a key conservative goal.
2) Mandate that the Federal Reserve target for inflation be 0%. 2% each year, while not horribly destructive like that of Venezuela or Zimbabwe, nevertheless represents a hidden theft of the money earned by working Americans. The constant debasement of currency, and the resulting need for most families to be two-income families and to work harder and harder to keep up, is more destructive to families than sex and drugs.
3) Pay down the national debt. The national debt is almost $22 trillion; in 2018, the interest on that debt is $523 billion dollars. This is money that could be going to achieve objective 1) above, or simply returned to the people. To reduce national debt, the government needs to spend less. Two easy ways to spend less money: End the prohibition of drugs and commercial sex, and reduce foreign adventures.
4) Create prosperity. This means cheap energy, resources, and freedom. To get the first two, it’s time to restart High Frontier. Returning to space will be far more inspirational — and pay off a lot more — than culture wars and foreign adventures. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force is an important first step. Conservatives, we must keep this momentum going.
Conservatives, the choice is clear: Jettison the culture wars and the puritanism and return to the core messages of strong national defense, secure borders, deregulation, and liberty, or be consigned to the wilderness. Let’s stay relevant by staying out of foreign adventures and out of people’s personal lives.