Senator Josh Hawley writes (abridged):
For decades, the ruling elite who controls the country’s commanding heights—the media, academia, Hollywood, and of course government—have embraced priorities starkly at odds with the values and needs of the American middle. They favor globalism over national solidarity; social change over community; skepticism over faith.
Washington has followed their lead, avidly promoting a politics of elite values and elite ambition.
For thirty years or more, the policies of both parties have favored the wealthy and the well-educated who live in our mega-cities, and those who aspire to join them. But if your ambition is not to start a tech company but to work in the family business, to serve not on a corporate board but with the local PTA, Washington tells you that you don’t matter and you’re on your own.
As a consequence, the great American middle is facing a crisis—a loss of respect and work, the decline of home and family, an epidemic of loneliness and despair.
This is the defining crisis of our time.
We need a new politics of national renewal.
We must begin by rejecting old orthodoxies—unfettered trade at any cost; a permissive immigration system; a tax code that favors corporate tax shelters and corporate offshoring; economic policy that rewards concentration—and put American workers first.
That means we must think more carefully about what economic success looks like. GDP growth is important, but it cannot be the sole measure of this nation’s greatness. And so, it cannot be the only aim of this nation’s policy. For our purpose is not to make a few people wealthy, but to sustain a great democracy. That means sustaining the workers and families who make democracy possible. And for that, we need not just a bigger economy, but a better one.
We need a labor market that offers dignified, rewarding work to every worker who wants it, wherever they are from, whatever degree they have, whether their ambition is to start a business or simply to start a family.
We need to encourage business investment in workers rather than capital hoarding, investment that will drive new opportunities to the towns and neighborhoods of the American middle class.
After decades of neglect, we must strengthen the associations that give working Americans control over their lives: neighborhood councils, schools, churches, and co-ops.
We must repair the torn fabric of our civic life. We need a politics that prioritizes strong marriages and strong families, where children know their parents and are nurtured by their love. That means parents and families should be rewarded and prioritized by our tax code. Because the best way to improve a child’s future is to provide them a stable home.
And we need a better understanding of liberty. For in the end, liberty is more than selling or buying or the right to be left alone. It’s the ability to have a say, to have a stake, and together, to set the course of our own history. That is the promise of our founding revolution, and that is the promise we must renew for this day.
Josh Hawley is a U.S. senator from Missouri.
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