The Modern American Conservative Movement Has One Ethos – The Divine Right of Wealth

The American Conservative Movement, as defined over and over by authors, pundits, spokesmen and politicians in publications such as The National Review or The Weekly Standard, or in the alt-right Shitlord Dens like Breitbart, or in the words of politicians like Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Mitch McConnell or Sen. Lindsay Graham, is one that espouses “small government, lower taxes, military strength and deregulation of business.” This movement is and always has been a scam, to one degree or another, the haven of hypocrites, bigots and classists. In the guise of ensuring “economic freedom for growth” for all, it claims all sorts of methods for achieving such growth, most of which ensure growth for only one narrowly defined group, that of the people who already have more than enough economic freedom with their current wealth. This gaggle of lying assholes has found its Uber-Asshole, its superhuman avatar of dishonest corruption in the personage of Donald Trump. Future historians will likely term this period of history as the Trump Age, if for no other reason than this gigantic, puffed-up manbaby who has stolen the Presidency seems, like a collapsing star, to draw all stories into his orbit so that nothing may exist without being interpreted through the lens of Trump.

To say, however, that the Conservative Movement has been distorted by Trump’s racist, nationalist rhetoric is to let the Conservative Movement off entirely too easy. In truth, if you distill all the bullshit the Conservative Movement has been spewing for over a century, remove any pretense at civility, intellectual rigor or responsibility to at least appear honest, you get Donald Trump, or something very like him. Republican politicians and pundits who have become “Never Trump” advocates are like a broken clock – they might be right this time, but the other 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day have been advocating the same sort of bullshit that led to Donald Trump gaining such political power.

What Donald Trump has exposed about the conservative mindset with his constant flailing policy shifts, his racist anti-immigrant demagoguery and with the policies he has enacted is simple. The Conservative Movement has no real goal other than the consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of the select few.

Gordon Gecko, himself a kind of fictionalized amalgamation of Donald Trump and the wealthy robber barons of the 1980’s opined that “Greed is good” in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Unfortunately, what was meant as an example of the evil of unbridled avarice by Stone was instead idolized by an entire generation of mostly white, incredibly privileged conservatives as justification for their own selfish desires.

Tax policy is one of the easiest ways we can spot this bullshit in action. Tax cuts can be used in all sorts of ways to incentivize behavior, or to aid particular groups. Republican policy, while claiming to be beneficial to middle class as well as big business, is often only truly, noticeably beneficial to one group – the already rich. Whether that be cutting capital gains taxes (which aids investors who have money to invest), cutting corporate taxes (which helps corporations increase profits which do not often make their way back to workers, but are instead used by executives to buy-back stock or pay down debt) or the inheritance tax. That last one is the real kicker. Inheritance taxes exist to remove the generational transfer of wealth that creates legacies of indolent power similar to the noble classes in our European ancestry.

The most recent set of tax cuts passed by the Republican majority under Donald Trump cut this inheritance tax a great deal, and in this is the real heart of the issue. This tax only affects the wealthy. Conservatives will insist that this will help family farms be passed down from generation to generation, but the majority of “family” farms in this country either are not big enough to be affected by this tax anyway, even at its new levels, or are large enough that they bear no resemblance to the image of the family farms the Republicans are attempting to conjure when they use this talking point.

The Jamal Khashoggi killing and Donald Trump’s reaction to it are the most obvious example of what I call the true ethos of the Conservative Movement. It has often been said (at least by me) that the problem the Middle East has is that many of its rulers and their people still believe in the Divine Right of Kings – that is the belief that the monarchy rules not because of the will of the people, but because they are divinely endowed by God with the right to rule as they see fit. In this light, these rules have no checks on their power other than that which they allow because God has ordained their rule. Their heirs are also imbued with this divine right to rule and to inherit all that their ancestors built.

The American Conservative Movement may talk a big game about individual freedom, but in reality they are believers in this same ethos, only altered slightly. No longer do they necessarily believe in the Divine Right of Kings but in the Divine Right of Wealth – that is, those with the money have been blessed with money because they are “good,” and those without are not as “good” and thus not as equal. This ethos shares a similar philosophy as that execrable Evangelical Christian movement, the Prosperity Doctrine.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had a journalist assassinated because he has the money to do so. Donald Trump has done all he can to give cover to this killing and has publicly justified it by saying that it’s ok because Saudi Arabia is spending a lot of money with American businesses (without ever mentioning that Trump-owned businesses are among those being showered with Saudi largesse). The Saudis have money; thus they can do what they like.

Republican dogma about the deregulation of business has been nearly as explicit as this. They continue to advocate for the removal of pollution restrictions and safety regulations on coal mining corporations, literally giving these companies license to poison drinking water and cause deadly mining accidents with no consequence. After all, these companies make money and provide jobs so why shouldn’t they be able to kill their workers? Where would those workers be without the coal company? Unemployed and starving instead of working and dead of black lung. At least with the black lung they made money, right?

The New York Times story that detailed the millions of dollars in inheritance and gift taxes that Fred Trump scammed the government out of in order to transfer more of that wealth to his children is just as much a sense of entitlement of the generational transfer of power as a king picking his successor based on primacy of the bloodline.

The Conservative Movement believes that wealth is good, that being wealthy means that your actions are “more good” than others and while they talk about economic equality, the net effect of their economic policies has always been to consolidate power in fewer and fewer hands through wealth. These people are not kings, but they sure do act like they should be.

November 23, 2018 at 9:14 pm | Politics | No comment

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