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John McGinnis on Trump vs. the Socialists

Can the President be a better spokesperson for classical liberalism?

I was careful not to be too dour in my “Progress Report for Liberty: 2018,” noting that many subtle victories for liberty were achieved at the state level while the vitriol of national politics raged around us like a storm. Classical liberals should be cheerful about the ongoing reforms to our drug laws, the forward march of technology, and some notably positive developments in the Supreme Court (including the landmark decision of Janus v. AFSCME).

However, I also noted the frightful prospect of a national political scene in which Elizabeth Warren scores points for proposing full-on socialism sneakily disguised as the “Accountable Capitalism Act.” John O. McGinnis, the George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law and author of Originalism And The Good Constitution (among other books), has an even more pessimistic take in his recap article, 2018: A Gathering Storm for Classical Liberalism.

He notes, first, the ominous trend toward populism, and the popularity of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who promise to “protect” Americans from the very same forces of competition and free-market dynamism that have built America into the most prosperous nation on earth.

Second, although President Trump has ostensibly done some good for free markets, his persona has contributed to what Gene Healy calls “the Cult of the Presidency,” and placed government right at the center of American social life. Based on these dual forces, McGinnis forecasts a gathering storm, in which aggrandizement of the state acts as the engine for a future collectivist revival.

McGinnis joined me this Sunday to discuss how the President’s recent emergency declaration sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations. Your calls are welcome on the show of ideas, not attitude.

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