The biggest weapon the so-called right-wing has in America is their innate optimism. It derives not only from a faith in the power of individual agency, or the faith in a divine and benevolent power that is far greater than ourselves. It also derives from its contrast to the American Left. Our leftist opponents are stricken with a pessimistic outlook in literally every aspect of life. They believe the planet itself faces imminent environmental catastrophe. They believe Americans are either villainous oppressors that carry collective guilt, or helpless victims of historical and systemic oppression. They are unhappy with the default setting for male and female, and despite eons of natural evolution that validates this default, they are determined to reinvent sex and gender.
In the future, the American Right will coopt many of the new buzzwords of the Left, not as a tactic, but because the most practical and realistic pathways to “equity, inclusion and diversity” come from the Right. Equity can only be achieved by the Left through government tyranny and universal economic misery. To the extent it is attainable in a free and prosperous society, equity depends on freedom of opportunity and merit-based, competitive free enterprise. Inclusion according to the Left has devolved into segregated “safe spaces” and mandated racial quotas. This is a recipe for tension and tribalism. True inclusion is colorblind, which today is a concept embraced by the Right, and stigmatized by the Left. As for diversity, the Left ruthlessly attacks anyone whose thoughts and ideology deviates from their pessimistic dogma. It is the Right that tolerates diversity.
This fact, that the seductive rhetorical aspirations of the Left can only be achieved by embracing the right-wing concepts of freedom of opportunity, freedom of expression, and color-blind, merit-based competition in a capitalist economy, is why the Left is doomed and the Right will eventually triumph. But to accelerate that inevitable triumph, the American Right needs to abandon ideologies that have been used to diminish American prosperity. Right-wing dogma left over from the 1980s, focused on free trade, lower taxes and limited government, are still essential values but cannot be embraced unconditionally. Misapplied adherence to these concepts has turned America into an oligarchy, and nurtured a corporate ruling class that is hostile to the interests of ordinary Americans.
The challenge facing the American Right is not the twisted ideology of the Left, because the American people are already rejecting that even without yet being offered a coherent alternative. The challenge is to define that alternative. How can “America First” be defined in a way that sets an inspiring example to other nations, instead of alienating them? How can an all-of-the above approach to ongoing development of water and energy resources be pursued in a way that is practical and sustainable, and delivers more economic opportunity? How can government be right-sized while still fulfilling its obligation to regulate the excesses of globalist corporations and invest in genuinely productive infrastructure?
The solutions to these challenges are not mysteries. All the American Right has to do is express a vision of the future where the alternative policies they offer have created a nation where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Exposing the pessimistic and futile fixations of the Left is a necessary prelude. But expressing the optimistic essence that defines the character of the American Right is what will drive the national electorate, in numbers too big to cook, to evict leftist politicians en masse and realign America.
This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness as part of a symposium celebrating their fifth anniversary.
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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