Josh Hammer, At long last, 2020 is about to end.
This year, one unlike any other in my lifetime, was uniquely terrible. We faced a once-a-lifetime global pandemic, which brought to heel our entire economy and put an abrupt halt to hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans’ very way of life. We endured a once-a-generation national “dialogue” about race, which was unfortunately characterized, in part, by months of intermittent anarchic mayhem the likes of which no first-world country should ever experience. We had a national reckoning about the maturation and rise of an arch geopolitical foe, the Chinese Communist Party. And in perhaps the most important presidential election since 1860, in which the American regime was itself seemingly on the ballot, the American regime lost.
Next year surely cannot be worse than in 2020. So, with the expectation that Joe Biden is our next president and Republicans win at least one of January’s two Georgia runoff elections to retain control of the Senate, here is a political wish list for 2021.
No. 1: End COVID-19 totalitarianism. The draconian lockdowns and lifestyle restrictions ushered in by COVID-19’s onset, and their stubborn perdurance despite the March-era plea of a mere “15 days to slow the spread,” now collectively amount to our most pressing domestic issue. Without our most rudimentary lifestyle liberties, such as the ability of children to socialize with their peers at school and the ability of religious adults to pray at church or synagogue, little else matters. It is unclear whether the Founders would have even bothered to fight a bloody independence war against the British Crown if they had known that their progeny would, centuries later, so docilely submit like lemmings. Our anticipated vaccination rollout simply must end this insanity.
No. 2: Confront the rise of Communist China. Just as ending debilitating COVID-19 lockdowns is the most pressing issue on the homefront, confronting China’s rise is the most pressing issue on the geopolitical front. China all but assuredly poses a greater threat — militarily, diplomatically, economically, culturally, technologically — to America this century than the Soviet Union posed to the U.S. at the height of the Cold War. We have never faced a foe so thoroughly determined, in every conceivable way, to subdue and subjugate us. The early stages of COVID-19, with our shortages in personal protective equipment, shined a spotlight upon the pitfalls of our decades-long strategy in neoliberal outsourcing to get the cheapest labor and lowest consumer prices possible — no matter the noneconomic costs. Here’s hoping populists and nationalists of both parties unite around a comprehensive China containment strategy affecting every issue from U.S. Navy buildup to pro-manufacturing industrial policy to cybersecurity to intellectual property fortification.
No. 3: Continue President Donald Trump’s Middle East breakthrough. Trump became one of the more unlikely champions of Middle East diplomacy, helping to usher in unprecedented Israeli rapprochement with the broader Islamic world and bolstering the security positions of our Sunni Arab allies against the region’s nonpareil threat, Iran. Trump did so by ditching the outmoded consensus of “inside-out” diplomacy, centered upon coercing Israel to give up precious land for an elusive peace with the Palestinian-Arabs, in favor of an innovative “outside-in” diplomacy that centered upon finding areas of overlapping concern shared by Israel and America’s Arab allies. The temptation will be strong for a Biden administration to reverse Trump’s gains and return to the Obama-era status quo ante of pro-Iran, pro-Palestinian, pro-Muslim Brotherhood appeasement. Such an impetuous move would be enticing, but it would also be calamitous.
No. 4: Push for solutions that defy the stale neoliberal consensus. We are in the midst of a rare political realignment, in which Democrats are emerging as the party of the college-educated elite and Republicans are emerging as the party of the working class. But while this realignment remains in flux, neoliberal elites of both parties, for now, have more in common with one another than they do with the core voters of their respective parties. The upshot is that there is at least some potential for bipartisan initiatives on any number of working-class prerogatives that could push back upon the economically and culturally deregulatory excesses that have characterized most of post-World War II neoliberalism. Conservatives should not be content to merely play the role of dedicated opposition; when possible, we should seek to be constructive in attaining mutually desirable ends.
Thank God the year 2020 is about to end. Maybe, just maybe, 2021 won’t be as utterly terrible.