Memo 08.25.2020

Kill the Hydra


Big Biz, Big Tech, & Higher Ed are not your friends.

Republicans might be tempted to play it safe this week with their convention, especially after the Democratic debacle last week. But that reflexive risk aversion—indeed, that conservatism—is ill-suited for the many-headed crisis America currently faces. We don’t need politicians right now. We need champions who will do what it takes to kill the Hydra.

In 2016, the GOP managed to suppress one of its worst qualities, a tendency toward what Matthew Peterson has aptly dubbed “principled loserdom.” Led by an energetic septuagenarian with a penchant for the bold and brash, Republicans roused themselves from their semi-recumbent posture just long enough to win the presidency and seize control over both houses of Congress. It was an important victory. We prevented the plane from hitting its target.

But the Left didn’t miss a beat. Sensing the danger Donald Trump posed to their revolutionary march through the nation’s institutions, progressives went for the jugular. They unleashed a three-headed monster—an institutional Hydra—to seek our unconditional surrender of the American way of life.

The three heads work in concert to degrade the culture, dismantle law and order, stigmatize religion, enforce relativism over truth, and sow anti-American propaganda. One head, Corporate America, provides the political and financial support to various left-wing movements. A second head, Higher Education, indoctrinates and deploys the shock troops. And the third head, Big Tech, manipulates public opinion and silences those who might dare to fight back.

The Hydra has an army of defenders in the media, on K Street, and in Congress. These defenders, many of whom claim to be “conservative,” urge the GOP to make peace with the Hydra. And unfortunately, at least until recently, these defenders have been largely successful in keeping the Hydra safe. Republicans spent the early years of the Trump presidency dutifully feeding all three heads, only helping the monster grow more powerful.

Don’t forget: most of the GOP’s political capital from its 2016 victory was spent on passing the largest corporate tax cut in American history. How much of those tax savings was redirected toward BLM or more shadowy groups? How much went to leftist propaganda, struggle sessions, and more “woke” H.R. departments to keep their employees in line?

The GOP also defended Big Tech from regulation, all while the companies increasingly censored and deplatformed conservative advocates and activists. And GOP leadership made sure to budget billions and billions of dollars for America’s esteemed Higher Education institutions, who in turn mobilized the modern-day Brownshirt army terrorizing our neighborhoods and destroying our cities.

We will assuredly hear grievances against the Hydra throughout this week’s Republican National Convention. This is a significant and encouraging shift. More leaders on the Right are finally recognizing the threat that the Hydra poses to the future of our Republic. But if Republican politicians want to win elections in the short term and save America in the long term, they need to channel their inner Hercules and get serious about slaying the tricephalic beast. That means it’s time for Republicans (and specifically Republican convention speakers!) to name, shame, and outline specific ways to strike each of the Hydra heads.

Corporate America

If we can’t convince establishment Republicans to turn away from corporate shilling as a matter of principle, can we perhaps speak to their own political self-interest?

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment—was it Arizona in 2014? Indiana in 2015? North Carolina in 2016?—when Corporate America totally betrayed whatever alliance it once shared with the Republican Party. Despite absolute loyalty from the GOP, corporations have run interference for the Democrats nationally, thwarted conservative policy initiatives in the states, and embraced anti-American movements like Antifa and BLM. We are not friends. Not anymore. They sold us out and joined the Hydra.

So what does defeating Corporate America look like in a capitalist country that will always have a cadre of large corporations? Well, for starters, Republicans should stop acting like what are known colloquially online as “simps”—suckers who fawn fruitlessly over those who won’t even respect them. It makes little sense to go out of our way to pass unpopular pro-corporate policies while we’re simultaneously being stabbed in the back politically. Why bother supporting an immigration system that lets corporations import foreign workers to flood the labor markets and keep equilibrium wages low? Why continue subsidizing corporate profits with higher marginal tax rates on workers and families? Why let lobbyists from these multinational conglomerates into the Room Where It Happens at all?

Republicans have another thing going for them: it’s politically advantageous to employ negative rhetoric against corporate power. According to Gallup, nearly 60% of Americans are dissatisfied with the “size and influence of major corporations.” We’ve also watched trillion-dollar corporations eviscerate American small business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not very popular. There’s a lot to work with here, Republicans. Hit ‘em where it hurts.

Higher Education

Republicans have known Higher Education to be a problem for decades even as they’ve bought into the system, sending their kids to get fancy credentials at the expense of steep tuition and leftist indoctrination. But now that the classroom-to-street-riot pipeline is visible in plain sight, Republicans are going to have a harder time justifying support for such a disastrous and dangerous institution. And, as with Corporate America, they have plenty of popular ways to attack Higher Education—we aren’t limited to talking about how they’re all a bunch of Communists (which they are).

Tuition continues to skyrocket, as administrative salaries follow suit. Students and ex-students are graduating and not graduating burdened with six figures of unbearable debt. The Bachelor’s Degree has lost significant value in the labor marketplace, so now the credential racket (supported emphatically by Corporate America) would have you rack up more debt attending graduate school just to have the right to someday (maybe?) pay it all back. Meanwhile, the whole point of college—you know, the learning—doesn’t really happen anymore. America has completely forfeited its STEM supremacy to Communist China. The Great Books go unread. And our graduates, who become our elites, are becoming dumber and dumber each year.

Someone ought to do something! Fortunately, “someone” can. Republicans should start talking about decoupling the Higher Education system from the federal government. No more government funding. No more subsidizing consumer fraud. Maybe we’ll rethink the relationship when the Higher Education system starts churning out fewer experts in Critical Race Theory and more entrepreneurs and innovators who want to Make America Great Again. Maybe. But not before then.

Big Tech

Remember when we all loved Big Tech? The good old days of posting selfies and freely communicating with each other without a care in the world? All that changed after President Trump was elected. Progressive activists at Big Tech insisted that their companies join the Hydra, and so they did.

Now, corporations like Twitter, Google, and, increasingly, Facebook feel obligated to prevent conservatives from having too much influence on politics. Thus, overt censorship has become their weapon of choice. This year, President Trump has himself become a victim, as Twitter repeatedly inserts false “fact checks” into the body of his tweets.

In recent months, Republicans have done a great job at calling out Big Tech companies for suppressing American values like free speech and free expression. But it’s time to take the next step. Thanks to Section 230, a law passed in the 1990s, Big Tech companies enjoy near-complete immunity from civil liability for the content posted on their platforms. This subsidy has helped them become the largest companies in the world. They need it. They depend on it. Ultimately, that means Republicans have the leverage. What if they changed the law? What if Section 230’s sweeping protections were made conditional on adherence to a First Amendment-based standard for content posted on their platforms?

And for the largest companies, namely Amazon and Google, there’s a real case to be made for antitrust. Do Main Street-destroying monopolies really serve the consumer? Is it worrisome that one company might have near-total control over how all information is distributed? Should the government break them up? Should Republicans at least get serious about threatening it?

We can kill the Hydra, or at least subdue it, by exercising our political power. That’s a foreign concept to many conservatives. But in order for us to win, we must be willing to win. It’s simply not enough to graze them with floor speeches and press releases. All three heads benefit from the fact that the party has thus far failed to adequately challenge them. But all three heads can be defeated if we are willing to fight for the country we love.

Republicans must recognize the existential threat the Hydra poses, and act accordingly. Its very existence threatens our own. It threatens our lives and our liberty. It threatens law and order, prosperity, and the idea of America itself. We have no choice but to defeat it. We still can. But we must act. Now.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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