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Assault on America, Day 467: Post COVID-19, is the GOP still the home of limited government?

Corona Virus Taskforce
With the Easter “break” (from what?) now in the rearview mirror, focus returns to the pressing political matters of the day. Debate continues as to the severity of the coronavirus conundrum with a growing number of voices now speaking out on the failure of numerous “expert” entities to get the statistics right -- or even to land within the ballpark of respectability.

Cases continue to skyrocket as additional and more accurate testing comes online. But contrary to many doomsday predictions, except for a handful of designated hotspots in the country, hospitals have not been overwhelmed or rendered ineffective by the crisis. The situation in Italy -- where medical authorities at one point (still?) needed to designate certain classes of people as untreatable (so as to reserve scarce resources for those with a higher likelihood of recovery) -- hasn’t found its way onto American shores. Sick patients aren’t being left in the streets and hospital hallways to perish without life support. Not even in New York City or New Orleans has the situation become so dire.

It also appears the “apex” of contagion has either been reached or passed. As a result, more and more responsible folks are wondering whether the COVID-19-inspired panic and the government’s frantic measures to counter its spread -- and deal with the catastrophic economic consequences -- were really prescient or proportional under the circumstances.

Or were they just poorly-disguised excuses to impose greater ruling class government control over individuals’ lives? The Constitution’s taken a beating in the past month or so and the liberal elites don’t appear to give any credence to their callous and haphazard rescissions of freedoms.

There’s little doubt that President Donald Trump’s program (30 days to Slow the Spread) has succeeded in reversing the rapidly advancing transmission of the virus -- and therefore, has saved innumerable lives -- but it’s also clear that treatments such as hydroxychloroquine (which Trump consistently touted to his critics’ chagrin) have proven effective in treating those who’d already contracted the virus. We should all be thankful Trump followed his “Right to Try” instincts and for the knowledge that better days are ahead.

At any rate, with conditions seemingly stabilizing, attention turns to how the unique coronavirus response may have permanently altered the landscape of the Trump-dominated Republican Party. Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review last week, “[A]s the Right gears up for either a Trump win or a lame-duck presidency amid a hard period of recovery, it’s possible to glean some contours of post-pandemic Republican politics.

“Trump was always going to be the nominee, but his set of issues has been reshuffled entirely. He was all set to run on a roaring economy, pitting himself against ‘socialism’ — even though his preferred foil, Bernie Sanders, was sidelined on Super Tuesday. Now, the economy has headed south, and our anti-socialist president is ordering businesses to do the government’s bidding and handing out direct payments to millions of Americans.

“Trump’s vacillation between the need to clamp down on the virus and his desire to open up the economy is somewhat symbolic of the broader divides on the right. Longtime MAGA consigliere Steve Bannon tells the New York Times that the GOP’s commitment to ‘limited government’ is gone forever. Others in the Trumpist orbit, such as Donald Trump Jr., are still pushing the idea that the corona-hype is overblown and just part of an effort to take down his dad.”

Far be it from #NeverTrumper-to-the-core Goldberg to be a negative Nancy raining on everyone’s parade, but he makes some interesting points here. Trump was indeed gearing up to run on the roaring economy and the wonderful stats emanating from the various government departments. It’s basically unfathomable to think that just a couple months ago the American jobless rate was at a 50-year low and the president could begin every political appearance flaunting the good news about practically full employment and incomes rising in all earnings categories.

It’s true -- African-American and Hispanic job figures were the best the groups ever experienced. There was much discussion about the administration’s opportunity zones and the gradually improving standard-of-living in poor urban communities. Crime was being managed and the situation at the border steadily progressing as wall construction chugged along. Even the media stopped bellyaching over how poorly illegal migrants were being treated. It’s not like the issue went away, but attention instead turned to a shinier object -- the Democrat presidential race.

Just imagine -- it was more fun for establishment journalists to concentrate on Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren than to delineate the purported sufferings of people who were desperately hoping to break into the country.

That’s not to mention the impeachment farce which everyone knew wouldn’t result in any tangible changes yet consumed public resources and media hours by the bucketload. For what? Quick quiz: anyone remember the full list of “witnesses” Adam Schiff called before his committee to lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment? Where is Colonel Alexander Vindman these days? What’s “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella doing now that all the DC bars are closed and he can’t find any takers for his anti-Trump dirt?

What’s the status of the Durham investigation into the origins of Russiagate? Is everyone working remotely and nothing’s being done?

All of it has either vanished or placed on semi-permanent hiatus thanks to coronavirus. Not much holds the American public’s attention for any appreciable length of time anymore, so it’s not likely that the issues that dominated the discourse prior to March will have much bearing on the campaign later this year. Everyone knows the economy is now in horrible shape and the statistics likely won’t find their way into political conversations. Even Joe Biden won’t make a big deal of the unemployment rates lest he be labelled an opportunist and insensitive to those who were forced out of work through no fault of their own.

By the same token, is Steve Bannon correct (that the Republican Party’s commitment to limited government is gone forever) about permanent damage being done to the GOP’s image? Perhaps a more succinct query is whether today’s GOP was a proponent of small government to begin with. With the swampy establishment in firm control of party leadership there hasn’t been a serious push to shrink government since Ronald Reagan presided in the White House.

George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand points of light” philosophy wasn’t exactly a concentration on keeping government out of people’s lives, and his son (George W.) was openly contemptuous of the conservative movement (if he even recognized what it stood for). Anyone who’s paid attention to politics knows most conservatives are Republicans but not all Republicans are conservatives. I’ve often heard people say about Congress, “They’re all corrupt,” lumping in the good with the bad. But this isn’t true.

There were conservatives in Congress before coronavirus and they’ll still be there when the country extricates itself from its coast-to-coast panic tizzy that’s gripping millions everywhere. Freedom Caucus co-founder Mark Meadows resigned his House seat two weeks ago to assume his role as the president’s official chief-of-staff. No one would accuse Meadows of being conservative-lite. Neither would they label someone like Jim Jordan or Louie Gohmert as being less than enthusiastic advocates for the cause of liberty.

Likewise, there are a good many solid principled conservatives in the Senate. Senators Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (Texas) remain in the upper chamber and they’ll continue speaking out on spending and accountability as long as they draw breath. Promising newcomers such as Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) and Rick Scott (Florida) reinforced the others and are working to move the party in a more conservative direction as well.

President Trump himself has gravitated towards conservatism, though he was never considered a fiscal hawk. But gone are many of the establishmentarians that once populated his administration and the purge of those hangers-on will accelerate if/when the New Yorker is reelected. Trump deserves credit for choosing Mike Pence to run with him four years ago, too, when the swamp rats were pushing a “consensus” choice such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or gulp, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker (what a disaster they would’ve been).

Pence isn’t likely to convert to big government intervention-ism and neither are the aforementioned congressmen and senators. Still, only a fool would suggest it will be easier to push the limited government message in the weeks and months ahead -- but it’s a little early to declare fiscal conservatism stone-dead in the GOP. If anything, with debts mounting by the minutes and hours, the responsible contingent will receive greater recognition as someone needs to provide sanity and act as the voice of reason regarding the astronomical spending that’s taking place.

Put it this way -- after all of this, it’s highly doubtful Trump will campaign on the need to spend more money. His recent ruminations over infrastructure are merely a continuation of one of his main 2016 themes, the need to fix and restore the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and ports. Decades of decay and neglect have created a huge problem. How to solve it will be a major issue in the next four years. Would people rather have Joe Biden and his politically correct transgender pushing union cronies at the helm?

Democrats promise big hikes in spending, higher taxes and more government control (through the regulatory state) of the private economy. Someone will need to manage all this spending and debt. Who should preside?

Not Democrats. They even want to give “relief” funds to illegal aliens. Dominic Mastrangelo reported at The Washington Examiner, “California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state is working on legislation that would provide economic relief to illegal immigrants not eligible for assistance under the federal aid package passed by Congress last month.

“’Californians care deeply about undocumented residents in this state,’ the Democrat said, according to the Associated Press, adding his state is ‘not just waiting for the federal government to do that for us.’…

“Only citizens who pay taxes and social security are eligible for the [federal] funds. Part of the legislation passed by Congress also provides additional financing for state unemployment benefits, another chunk of money unavailable to people living in the country illegally.”

Hmmm. Coronavirus hits with gusto, millions of American citizens get thrown out of work because the government tells businesses to shut down and now Democrats clamor to devote taxpayer money to people who reside within our borders without documentation… or justification. Something’s not right here.

If the whole reason for tolerating illegal immigrants involved “needing” their labor -- which is no longer the case with mass unemployment -- then why would any American politician advocate for sending them checks? Besides, how would the money be distributed? Would a pay wagon pull up to a corner in an area suspected of harboring a large illegal population and just start handing out gift cards?

If, as Goldberg claimed above, the coronavirus panic has changed the GOP, it hasn’t done squat to alter the giveaway-the-store mentality in the Democrat party. Anyone who cares in the least about spending restraint could never choose a Democrat.

With many in the nation questioning the basis for further sequestering the workforce -- and causing more damage to the economy -- calls will increase to get people back to work. Both parties deserve blame for drastically boosting spending in the midst of crisis. Now it’s time to figure out how to return to normal.

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