American conservatives learned nothing from last year’s election. A year after their dream team of ideologically-pure movement conservatives got trounced by a sleazy Democrat and reality TV star turned populist demagogue in the Republican presidential primary; cons of all stripes are still ignoring the scourge of Income Inequality.
Instead, they are advancing policies that seem designed to make Income Inequality worse in America. Republican leaders have moved heaven and earth in an attempt to pass a tax bill that Fast Company described as “Great If you’re A Rich, Jobless Heir.”
Around $1 trillion, or two-thirds, of the proposed $1.5 billion tax cuts would go to corporations and individuals, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated. If the bill is passed and the cuts stay in place until 2027 the wealthiest 1% of Americans will get 48% of the benefits.
Such a bill seems designed by Democratic spin doctors; yet the GOP Congress and a self-styled populist President are fighting tooth and nail for it. They are behaving as if Income Inequality does not exist and Americans are not upset by it.
Back to the 1920s
Conservatives should be scared to death because Income Inequality today is eerily reminiscent of the late 1920s right before some of the biggest Republican losses in history.
The share of America’s national income in the hands of the top 1% peaked at 23.9% around 1928, Income Inequality Org calculated. That was a pretty good time for Republicans they had large majorities in both houses of Congress, and a popular President (Herbert Hoover, R-California). Just eight years later in 1936, Republican Alf Landon (Kansas) carried just two states and received only eight electoral votes in the presidential election, 270 to Win calculated.
Republicans should be frightened because the share of the national income owned by the top 1% was around 22% in 2015, Income inequality estimated. Conservatives should be scared to death of the numbers, yet they are proposing and fighting for policies that can make the situation worse.
Why Conservatives should Oppose Income Inequality
Income Inequality is not only destructive politically — it is philosophically incompatible with conservatism. By its very nature, Income Inequality is inherently radical and disruptive.
High levels of Income Inequality; like those we have now, often drive radical social reorganizations that wreak havoc upon traditional institutions and lifestyles. A prime example of this is how low wages force women to work fulltime undermining the traditional family.
Another destructive phenomenon driven by Income Inequality is the decline of traditional religious institutions, because working people lack the extra income and time to devote to them. There is also the forced migration of people away from their traditional communities or hometowns created by the lack of jobs.
Crime and violence are also driven by Income Inequality. Persons with no money or property have little stake in society; so they have no incentive to obey the law, assist or respect the police, or report crime. Some of those with no money, and no hope, will undoubtedly lash out with violence.
We have already seen examples of this with the rioting of mostly young African-American men, and the increasing numbers of mass shootings and killings. Those incidents often involve working-class men trapped in dead-end low paying jobs — such as security guard.
A final development will be the popularity of political leaders out to take from the rich and give to the poor. This is already occurring, polls indicate that self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is the most popular politician in America.
New Conservative Thinking Needed
Conservatives need to take note of Income Inequality and start examining new policies to deal with it.
Some ideas conservatives might look into include increasing the minimum wage, tax credits or basic-income payments for stay at home moms, Medicare for All (single-payer health insurance) and increased Social Security. Yes, many of these ideas sound liberal, but some of them can be tailored to achieve conservative goals.
Basic income, single-payer health insurance, increased housing subsidies, taxpayer-funded college tuition, student loan forgiveness, better public transit, and reformed Social Security, might make it easier for more moms to stay home with kids or homeschool for example. Increased spending on infrastructure and public education, single-payer health insurance, basic income, higher minimum wages, housing subsidies, increased Social Security, and taxpayer-funded college tuition might strengthen small towns, rural areas, and traditional communities.
Something conservatives need to remember is that if they do not propose such solutions — progressives like Bernie will be more than happy to do so. Making such proposals will give conservatives some control and influence over the process, which is always better than no control or influence.
One thing is clear, if conservatives keep ignoring Income Inequality and proposing solutions like the current Republican Tax Bill; the success of politicians like Bernie, and Trump is guaranteed. A few more years of such Republican policies and the way will be cleared for a total leftist takeover of Congress and the White House.
Fighting Income Inequality is Vital for Conservativism’s Future
By ignoring Income Inequality, conservatives are making the kind of radical social and political change they will hate a certainty. Only a conservative movement dedicated to fighting Income Inequality; and strengthening traditional social structures and values, can resist the rising radical tide in America.
Unfortunately, we have a conservative movement blind to Income Inequality that is willing to throw traditional social structures and values away in exchange for short term political gain. Worse, many Republicans are willing to gut the government programs that support traditional society to appease a handful of libertarian fanatics, think-tank intellectuals, big-money donors, and other anti-tax zealots.
Therefore; it is no mystery why voters dedicated to traditional values are refusing to support conservatives; they understand that self-styled conservatives are promoting radical change in the form of Income Inequality that will destroy what is left of traditional American society. Many conservative Americans now see Republicans and organized conservatism as threats to their way of life and values.
Unless conservatives acknowledge the threat that Income Inequality poses to traditional society, and start combating it they will be doomed to failure. We have to wonder will it take loses of the magnitude that Republicans suffered in the 1930s, to get conservatives to finally do something about Income Inequality?
This story originally appeared at Market Mad House.