Friday, April 22, 2022


Earlier this week, I devoted way too much time to reading another deep-thinky feature story on the New Right, or National Conservatives, or whatever we're supposed to be calling them this week. This story was in Vanity Fair, and, once again, J.D. Vance was treated as among the deepest and thinkiest of the new class of cons. He was presented as a champion of the common people.
Vance believes that a well-educated and culturally liberal American elite has greatly benefited from globalization, the financialization of our economy, and the growing power of big tech. This has led an Ivy League intellectual and management class—a quasi-aristocracy he calls “the regime”—to adopt a set of economic and cultural interests that directly oppose those of people in places like Middletown, Ohio, where he grew up. In the Vancian view, this class has no stake in what people on the New Right often call the “real economy”—the farm and factory jobs that once sustained middle-class life in Middle America. This is a fundamental difference between New Right figures like Vance and the Reaganite right-wingers of their parents’ generation.
Nearly every journalist who's encountered these folks comes away with the belief that they're the future of Republicanism. But as Politico notes today, actual Republican officeholders have very different ideas:
Congressional Republicans continue to talk tough about confronting China economically, echoing the populist rhetoric of former President Donald Trump. But with Trump and the political cover he provided gone from Washington, GOP senators are turning away from some of the most restrictive China trade policies his administration instituted.

... Republicans are balking at the protectionist trade provisions included in House legislation to help the U.S. economy compete with China, which passed the lower chamber with only one GOP vote.

Instead, Republicans are pushing to approve the Senate version of the legislation, which would roll back some of Trump’s tariffs on China — something the Biden administration has been reluctant to do....

The embrace of more trade-friendly policies is a welcome development ... for major corporate advocacy groups, a traditional GOP constituency, who scrambled last year to keep trade-restricting provisions out of the Senate package, only to see a number of them revived in the House.

The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which the Senate passed by a vote of 68-32 last June, would actually make it easier for many firms to trade with the world’s second largest economy. That’s because it would reinstate more than 2,200 exceptions to the tariffs on China that the Trump administration imposed, allow refunds for firms whose exemptions expired at the end of 2020, and direct the U.S. trade representative to allow new companies to apply for exemptions. Thus far, the Biden administration has refused to remove the Trump-era tariffs and only awarded exemptions on a narrow set of 359 products.
This is the real Republican Party. It's not anti-corporate. Even Ron DeSantis isn't anti-corporate -- he's anti-Disney because demanding that companies bend the knee is how fellow autocrats like Putin and Orban operate. But if you play ball, you get to make money. DeSantisism is probably the future of the GOP -- fat cats still operate as fat cats as long as they mollify (and kick money back to) the autocrat. Right-populist anti-corporate rhetoric fools naive voters (and reporters), but it will never be a dominant strain of GOP thinking -- not as long as we still have the campaign finance laws we have now. And since no Republican would be caught dead agreeing with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on that or any other subject, and our Supreme Court has a corpratist supermajority, those laws will be with us for the foreseeable future.

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