Trump and an era of Neo-Republicanism

Neo-Republicanism is a conservative offshoot that has moved away from traditional, conservative preservationist philosophies toward an anti-domination, individual empowerment agenda.

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WASHINGTON, March 30, 2017 — U.S. foreign policy is complex and contradictory, both tentative and a juggernaut. It has the capacity to terrify our friends and to comfort our enemies.

It is essential to global stability and prosperity.

Neo-Republicanism is a conservative offshoot that has moved away from traditional, conservative preservationist philosophies toward an anti-domination agenda. It eschews American unilateralism in favor of a lasting, cohesive policy that serves the goals of a community of nations, not just America’s. It sees a global society as the mainstay of freedom, not just American power.


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The aim of the neo-Republican program is to rethink issues of legitimacy and democracy, welfare and justice, public policy and institutional design. It is a program for research into the moral and policy implications of ideas associated with the right to personal autonomy.

Under the Trump administration, will the U.S. remake the globe for the better? Can it foster a free market economy given the extensive changes occurring in public policy, information and biomedical technology, space exploration and other areas?

Neo-Republicanism isn’t just about foreign policy. Jobs were the most talked about issue in the recent election. The new Congress has passed three out of 158 jobs-related pieces of legislation, which have been signed into law by President Trump:

  • Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent Act of 2017 (Rep. Kevin McCarthy R-Ca)
  • Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (Rep. Elizabeth Esty D-Ct)
  • Inspiring Next Space Pioneers Investors Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (Rep. Barbara Comstock R-Va)

The stock market boomed under President Obama. Why then does America need “jobs” legislation? A booming stock market does not always produce a vibrant labor market. There are several reasons for this. For instance, once a company has trimmed its bottom line and decides to capitalize in an effort to promote growth, it has to walk a fine balance: too many new employees too soon will boost costs without boosting revenue; and if the firm doesn’t have employees trained and in place when market demand rises, it may lose customers to competitors.

In addition, productivity and efficiency are sometimes at odds. Producing a product does not ensure producing the optimal product. Many companies have managed to get by in a market of stagnant demand and weak growth, to the point that the accelerated growth and expansion projected by the Trump Administration seems inconceivable. Company projections are often limited to past performance and not based on true market demand.

American businesses and workers need to make more efficient use of technology. This starts with things as basic as reducing the flow of physical documents in the age of cloud sharing and email. Government is far behind the productivity curve, something Trump may be trying to address in his meetings with tech icons like Bill Gates.

The neo-Republican agenda in the economy is about changing our assumptions of what is possible and effective in the public sphere. As government shifts its behavior, so will business. Companies that can adapt and advance faster will push the rest of the economy, as other firms try to preserve profit margins.

Under the Trump administration, immigration and trade are hot issues, and crucial in an age of accelerating global economic expansion. The Neo-republican strategy calls for preserving an environment of non-interference. This should make it easier, not harder, to incorporate new markets into the world trade structure. It would ensure the sustainability of a free market system as one of its benefits.

The robots are coming; your job is at risk.

Last year Uber started testing driverless cars, with humans inside to make corrections in case something goes wrong. If the tests go well, Uber may replace their present army of drivers with fleets of the new cars.

Unfortunately, a Tempe, Arizona accident, which was the human driver’s fault, has set progress back, and Uber has suspended its self-driving-car tests in Pittsburgh and Arizona after a big accident over the weekend. But this is a delay, not a shift in a trend that is probably irreversible. Apple, Google and others are already experimenting with driverless vehicles, and autonomous trucks and drones will deliver goods to stores and your home, sooner rather than later.


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Change isn’t just coming to trade in physical goods and services. Money, the medium for all this trade, is itself changing. Countries from Iceland to India are moving to paperless currency, a change which can create jobs and wealth via a seamless flow of commerce.

Trade increasingly involves issues of branding, which is as important as the physical attributes of the product itself and where it was produced. We don’t buy cars from China, and we aren’t likely to just because it’s cheaper to make them there. In fact, it’s not necessarily cheaper to make cars in China and ship them here, even when accounting for labor costs and other costs of production; a tariff structure could easily absorb those profit margins. The real issue is product image and brands.

People view Trump’s tariff policy as a tax on Americans. Tariffs increase the price of goods, but they also add revenue from external sources because the tariff is paid whether the goods are bought by American consumers or not. More importantly, they will shift some consumption from foreign to domestic producers.

They can also push foreign producers into the United States. Toyota, for instance, has a subsidiary headquartered in New Jersey. A tariff on imports only means producing more Toyotas domestically.

The Republican party has a global focus, and its plans for educational, social and justice program reforms have been overshadowed by foreign policy agenda items. But they are still important to the Trump administration.

American public schools don’t compare well with the schools of other developed nations when the comparison is on the basis of student performance, and they have never been forced to explain their own role in poor student performance. Administrators put the blame on society, parents, low funding and the kids. Yet we have no good metric to measure school performance taking into account these other factors.

No private enterprise could survive without creating solid measures of its own success or the performance of employees, nor could any survive by blaming the client for the poor quality of its product.

Asked a college student in New Jersey, “How has Trump’s Presidency affected your life? This was his response.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is an outsider who understands how firms secure positive outcomes. Preserving a well-educated workforce starts at the fundamental level of understanding what schools are supposed to do and measuring how well they do it. Changing the way schools do business and creating meaningful achievement standards is the only way to close the achievement gap.

Finding a person from outside a system hobbled by proven shortcomings is the best way to fix that system. This describes the public schools, a system that most within it accept “as is.” They see outsiders as the opposition. Outsiders see shortcomings and solutions that those in the system are unable or unwilling to see.

With a director like DeVos at the helm, no longer will parents be told by the government that they have no choice about where to send their child to receive the best education and no input into what that education should be. Ensuring that people can make choices without fear of others exercising arbitrary power over them is the essence of neo-Republicanism.

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