J.D. Vance's latest Fox News stunt is a far-left fantasy

Senator from Ohio, the candidate for Senate, suggests seizing assets of philanthropic foundations and distributing them.

J.D. Vance's latest Fox News stunt is a far-left fantasy

Long-standing evidence has shown that "populist nationalism", which is the most popular form of Republican populism, shares many of the policies of the progressive left. Even though the parties disagree about the intended outcomes of those policies, it is clear that both sides are familiar with the policy prescriptions. Modern right-wing populism has many similarities to 20th century leftism, including trade protectionionism, national "industrial policy", and rhetorical bombast about "a small number" of elites who benefit more from economic liberty than the rest. One of the greatest advocates for this philosophy has now strayed so far to left that he's fallen into Bolshevism.

Right-leaning websites picked up on a controversial issue involving an Arizona State University Ph.D. candidate who harassed white students with stickers promoting police reform. These sites found the harasser, an activist who was also a fellow at the Ford Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy and philanthropy organization. The author and Ohio J.D. candidate for the U.S. Senate continued his campaign to exploit the right's culture persecution complex for his own gains. Vance was a smuggler. Vance glommed on the controversy.

Vance and Tucker Carlson Tonight's Fox News Channel host asked each other why the United States allows Ford Foundation organizations to exist as tax-exempt, 501(c),3 nonprofits. Vance claimed that Ford Foundation and similar groups "pretend" to be charities, which allows them avoid corporate taxes. Vance continued to criticize American progressives who fail to punish their allies with political retribution.

Vance stated, "We're talking hundreds of billions in ill-gotten and accumulated wealth." Why are we giving tax preferences to the foundations and companies that are destroying our country? Why don't you seize the assets and tax the Ford Foundation assets and give it the people who have had their lives destroyed because of their radical open border agenda?" Vance then referred to a number of communities as the beneficiaries of the expropriated and redistributed largesse.

This is what Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (New York Democrat) calls "boob bait to bubba". It is not feasible or desirable. The social contract includes tax exemptions for institutions that dedicate themselves to advocacy. Contributors to these institutions can also take deductions. They are exempt so that they can't be punished by avaricious demagogues for their beliefs. Vance is adamant that this is the bait he believes his "bubbas will eat". He might be right.

Vance could be indicative of a more cohesive populist nationalism that the lifestyle brand Donald Trump promoted, and he and his supporters could represent the vanguard for a familiar kind of "conservatism," to which politicians of the right were predisposed half a century ago.

This "conservatism", embraced by President Richard Nixon pushed wage and price controls that sacrificed economic dynamism to pursue petty domestic popularity. This was supported by Harold Macmillan, the British Prime Minister. His "middle" admitted that the ideological battle over control of the economy's levers was over and that his side had lost. However, it was able to retain some political power. This right-leaning economic thought accepted natural monopolies as the best structure to regulate the growing number of public utilities. It recognized that confiscatory taxes were necessary to finance the state's sprawling apparatus and to prevent any private entity from gaining enough power to overthrow it. It was distrustful of markets and protected the social status quo at all costs, including growth and social mobility. It was, in other words, a slightly less hard-nosed form of progressivism.

This style of "conservatism," however, was overthrown by pro-market reformers. They challenged popular opinion and the sclerotic consensus among policymakers to end the mixed economies of 20th century. Margret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and others favored vigorous, disaggregating competition. They stood firm in defense of their visions and were able to displace their more capitulative colleagues on the left.

Vance and other populist nationalists who imitate Trump's grievance politics claim to be fighters. However, their preferred battlefields are almost exclusively cultural. Their causes are only political insofar that they attract audiences who view politics as a source of identity or entertainment. Their solutions to these elusive controversies are often unrealizable. Their ideas aren't necessarily harmless. Vance accepts the idea that property rights can be violated, provided they are not reserved for people whose prosperity has been retroactively deemed to have been misbegotten. This is modern progressivism's central tenet.

We are back in the past. We are faced with the dilemma of choosing between two competing value systems, whose programs are different in that they target domestic enemies to punish and demonize. Two options are presented to us: one that would place economic hardships on entire sectors of society in order to be fair, and another party that would seize the property of few ideological enemies and possibly manage the state's sprawling fall with slightly more aplomb.

Populist nationalists don't fight in this sense. They are surrendering. This is not an option American conservatives should accept.

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