The first thing I would like to open with is that Oren Cass is anti-establishment. It doesn’t matter that his book got praised by venture capitalist J.D. Vance, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Mitt Romney, he’s fighting the power!
That was one paragraph I could keep on the sarcasm. Longer than I thought I could to be honest.
Anyway, Oren Cass, another member of the right-wing populist sphere, has decided to create a new organization entitled American Compass. One would think they’d wait at least a full month after the launch of Jared McNeil’s America First Students to make sure this idea isn’t dead on arrival.
Over at National Review, Cass has already written what could more or less be considered the founding document of this organization. Here is how this organization views economic freedom:
“Why don’t we look at a policy and just ask, does it expand economic freedom?” suggests Heritage Foundation vice president Jack Spencer. Because there is more to life than economic freedom. Also, there is more to economic freedom than economic freedom. A society that attempts to maximize everyone’s freedom at every moment will fail miserably in preserving individual liberty and limiting government over time.
Am I the only one getting massive “freedom is slavery” vibes from this argument?
Do not worry, however, Cass also makes sure to quote two very smart people. Those being Senator Josh Hawley (no comment) and Senator Marco Rubio, who as a libertarian up until five minutes ago:
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) wrote recently that our “public philosophy says liberty is all about choosing your own ends. That turns out to be a philosophy for the privileged. For everybody else, . . . those whose life is anchored in family and home and nation, for those who actually want to participate in our democracy, today’s [philosophy] robs them of the liberty that is rightfully theirs.” Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) observed: “We have become defenders of the right of businesses to make a profit, the right of shareholders to receive a return on their investment, and the obligation people have to work. But we have neglected the rights of workers to share in the benefits they create for their employer — and the obligation of businesses to act in the best interest of the workers and the country that have made their success possible.”
To start off with, Hawley’s quote is complete nonsense — like most things Josh Hawley says.
The quote in question, according to the article at least, is from a June 2019 Christianity Today article entitled Age Of Pelagius. Apparently, the thing that bothered Hawley so much about Pelagius is that Pelagius dared to believe in freedom of choice.
But Pelagius was not satisfied. He took his stand on an idea of human freedom. He responded that God gave individuals free choice. And he insisted that this free choice was more powerful than any limitation Augustine identified.
Of course, the only true freedom on this planet is freedom to do whatever Josh Hawley wants. It reminds me of the quote from former Ugandan President Idi Amin. “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”
Rubio’s quote came from an article on Public Discourse entitled Common Good Capitalism And The Dignity Of Work.
I will say that I did not see this Rubio who cared about the working man back in 2015 when he and Senator Mike Lee tried to get rid of the capital gains tax. Nor did I see it one year earlier when Rubio tried to get rid of the earned income tax credit, a major tax break for the poor. And given the current wave of protection in groups like Cass’s, I feel like I must note that Rubio was considered a firm free trader when the Club For Growth (the same group of billionaires who funded Josh Hawley’s career) endorsed him.
I should note that, while I may still disagree with Rubio’s “common good capitalism,” my main issue is just how dishonest he is about it. Cass, for instance, has talked in the past about the need for the right to use the government for correct goals. But here is what Rubio says in the same article Cass links:
The idea that government can impose a balance between the obligations and rights of the private sector and working Americans has never worked. We have millions of refugees who came here fleeing socialism who can testify to that. A government that guarantees you a basic income is also one that controls where you work and how much you make. A government that promises you free health care is also one that controls who your doctor is and what care you’ll receive. A government that promises free college is also one that controls what school you must go to and what you are taught. And a government that seeks to control all our societal needs is one that tells churches what they can preach and tells community members how we can interact.
Of course, this then leads to the question of, if Rubio truly believes this, why isn’t he an anarchist capitalist? The answer is simple, because Marco Rubio doesn’t actually believe anything.
While I am currently unsure if the same can be said about Hawley and Cass, it would not surprise me. The age of populism is upon us my friends, and the most it seems like it’s going to do is cause people to contradict themselves.