As Coronavirus death tolls are declining, many Democrat-run states are insisting on keeping their respective economies closed indefinitely. With every day that goes by, a legitimate government emergency intervention is marching toward fascism. Yet, President Donald Trump is accused of being a dictator for saying that he may force the states to give back to the citizens their constitutional rights. Is there a way the president can reopen the economy without being accused of authoritarianism? Monetary incentives may be the answer.
In 2008, Jonah Goldberg published his bestseller, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left: From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Goldberg shows how fascism was a leftist movement that inspired Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.
The critical element of fascist ideology, which has become firmly entrenched on the American left, is the notion that life is a continuous crisis, like a war, which requires chronic emergency law. In his first inaugural address, Roosevelt said:
“We must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline because without such discipline, no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.”
Roosevelt used wartime measures that economists today recognize unnecessarily prolonged the Great Depression by more than a decade.
In 1964, Johnson followed the same formula when in a speech on the Great Society, he declared a “war on poverty,” resulting in a dramatic extension of the welfare state. More than five decades later, the war is still being fought. Emergency law has been normalized.
Similarly, Nixon declared the never-ending “war on drugs” in 1971, which has allowed Mexican drug cartels to become extraordinarily wealthy.
While Trump has also appealed to war rhetoric when addressing the COVID-19 crisis, he has always emphasized that it must be an exceptional and temporary measure. “We have to open up the economy” has been one of his most repeated mantras through the crisis.
He has not used the crisis for a federal power grab. Instead, he has pushed federalism and left most of the decision-making to the states. It has been Democratic governors and mayors who have taken advantage of the situation to try to normalize emergency law and thereby bring Fascism to America.
Those who insist on keeping the economy closed have essentially argued that while even a single person is at risk of dying from COVID-19, emergency law must stay in place – which means forever.
In an Orwellian manner, Democrats and the media have accused the president of being a dictator for wanting to override the states and reinstate normalcy. Since this is an election year, he has been reluctant to force the states to respect the constitution because they will inevitably paint him as an authoritarian mass-murderer for doing so.
Fortunately, there may be a way he can reopen the economy without any force. It may not be a coincidence that those states who insist on keeping closed are also the ones who are suffering under decades of political mismanagement. If they remain in lockdown, they can blame their woes on the Coronavirus and demand massive cash aid from Washington D.C.
If it is true that they are motivated by the prospect of federal bailouts, perhaps the president should concede that every state can choose to reopen or not. The caveat, though, should be that, beyond a given date, any state remaining in lockdown forfeits any right to additional federal emergency aid.
While Democrats would not like this policy of earmarking aid for reopening America, they could hardly call it authoritarian. The states that want to commit economic suicide still have the option to do so, but they cannot ask the rest of the country to shoulder the bill.
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