At first glance, conservatives might view the rise of Europe’s far-right like a refreshing counterbalance to years of socialism run amok. In truth, these reactionary parties endorse eerily similar economic policies as the left-wing they so despise. Fiscal conservatives need to recognize that the European right doesn’t reject the fundamentals of big government — they embrace it, making them more “faux-right” than actual right.
This Sunday, France will vote in the first round of its presidential election, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen one of the leading candidates. With far-right parties like Le Pen’s rising across the continent with recent or upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy, Time magazine declared 2017 to be Europe’s “Year of the Populist.”
The Netherlands’ recent general election provides a prime example of this faux-right phenomenon. Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom took second place, gaining five seats in the country’s House of Representatives.
The Dutch provocateur has enjoyed extensive support in American conservative circles, with trips to the United States sponsored by organizations like the Gatestone Institute, International Freedom Alliance, and David Horwitz’s Freedom Center to sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, controversially voiced his support for Wilders’ tough stance on immigration in a tweet last month, claiming that “Wilders understands… We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
For all his popularity among American conservatives, Wilders’ platform is embarrassingly scant on details. During the campaign, he promised to “lower rent” without providing any sort of explanation as to how this will be achieved. When reading further proposals, such as returning the “age of retirement back to 65,” providing “pensions for everyone,” and reversing “past budget cuts involving care,” it’s easy to see that his Freedom Party is very keen on government interventionism and increasing welfare spending.
Continue reading at The Washington Examiner
Since the ignominious failure of the Obamacare repeal effort, President Trump has been lashing out at the Republican House Freedom Caucus on Twitter. “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast,” he tweeted in a remarkable threat to members of his own party. President Trump’s frustration with legislative obstruction overlooks the fact that that obstruction is itself one of the greatest strengths of the American system of government.
The beauty of the American system is that it enables not only members of opposition or minority parties like today’s congressional Democrats, but also members of governing or majority parties, to curb executive power. What happened last month was an example of that phenomenon. Unlike the way things work in British-style parliamentary systems like that of my home country of Canada, with their fusion of the executive and legislative branches of government, Congress is elected separately from the president. Members of both chambers of Congress are accountable primarily to their constituents at the ballot box rather than to party leaders.
Republicans in the House were thus free to resist whatever pressure the Trump White House and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan exerted on them to vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contrary to the president’s incensed tweets, the AHCA went down to defeat not only thanks to the House Freedom Caucus, but also thanks to the so-called “Coverage Caucus” of more cautious Republicans who balked at the prospect of depriving millions of their constituents of health insurance. Freedom Caucus members and their allies refused to support the bill because it was not enough of a departure from the Affordable Care Act for them; “Coverage Caucus” Republicans opposed it because, in effect, it was too much of a departure from Obamacare.
Continue reading at The American Conservative
Last fall, Young Voices launched our Campus Pundit Program, rewarding students for advocating for free speech on their college campus. Thanks to the talented work of our applicants and editing team, 18 op-eds were placed in student newspapers across the U.S. at notable schools including Berkeley, William & Mary, the University of Michigan, Clemson, and the University of Alabama.
Young Voices is pleased to announce that we are bringing the program back in the spring with a focus on investigative journalism. From speech-stifling administrators to spendthrift student governments, there is a lot that goes unnoticed at universities today. Young Voices will reward any student who can successfully place an article promoting transparency in their student or local newspaper with $50.
Click here for more information, including how to apply.
Paternalists don’t always have nefarious designs when they place bans on unhealthy activities, but a “take your medicine” attitude toward improving people’s health has unintended, sometimes deadly consequences. And, too often, there is an illegitimate purpose to legislating lifestyle politics: ill-gotten gains for rent-seekers.
For those who thought the baptists and bootleggers coalitions of yesteryear disappeared along with Prohibition, consider its longevity.
Bans on Popular Activities
Rent-seekers and anti-fun lifestyle enforcers (still) make strange bedfellows. For example: The State of New York taxes cigarettes at a rate of $5.85 per pack, banned Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for twenty years, and has an Attorney General obsessed with shutting down Fantasy Sports. And in nearby Pennsylvania, century-old Blue Laws prohibit hunting on Sundays and limit liquor sales to government-run stores.
On the federal level, the FDA announced that it would begin to regulate e-cigarettes. So we have the baptist, in this case, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murphy calling for tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes, despite the evidence that youth smoking has declined and that “[r]educing youth access to e-cigarettes appears to increase youth smoking rates.” Then, we’ve got the bootleggers, tobacco companies whose profits are threatened by e-cigarette manufacturers.
Similarly, in Pennsylvania, anti-alcohol activists, or “new prohibitionists,” joined hands with government-liquor-shop unions to halt Blue Law reform.
Only through collusion could those new prohibitionists and their legislative allies manage to keep otherwise popular activities illegal. Before the legalization of MMA in New York and the modest reform of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, both changes had overwhelming support.
If the politician and the rent-seeker can line their pockets while simultaneously keeping competition out of the market, why wouldn’t they?
Continue reading at FEE.
That’s the number of young people that Young Voices provided writing training to over the sixth months since our incorporation as a nonprofit organization. That’s more than one young writer per day.
As the end of the year approaches, I’d like to ask for your support helping hundreds more pro-liberty writers with a tax-deductible donation to Young Voices.
Each one of the 259 young writers we’ve helped has a story to tell. Here’s just one:
“Young Voices has genuinely changed my life. Working as an advocate and remote Editorial Assistant from the UK helped me acquire the skills and contacts necessary to launch myself into the American liberty movement. Their team has helped me get published in outlets where I would not have otherwise, honed my op-ed writing skills, and provided low-pressure media training through the Young Voices podcast. If you aspire to become a journalist, pundit, writer, radio host, or work in communications more generally, I’d massively encourage you to become a Young Voices Advocate!” —Daniel Pryor, Young Voices alumni and Media Relations Associate at Students For Liberty
There’s only four days left to support young pro-liberty writers like Daniel in 2016. Make your deductible donation to Young Voices now.
P.S. You can learn more about all the work Young Voices did in 2016 by reading our Midyear Memo.