If I wasn’t busy with 2 young babies I would travel to El Salvador to see what the reality is on the ground. Good time to go given how safe it is now.

Hopefully Aaron or similar can make the trip in my place and report back!

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Isn't the problem that "populism" and American conservatism (at least what it has stood for the past few decades) are fundamentally incompatible? I've identified as conservative for most of my adult life since turning 18 in the 90s, but it is pretty clear conservatism has failed and everyone knows it. Building anything requires money and if conservatism has stood for anything the past few decades it's anti-taxing anything, so for "building" to take place from the right, the entire current right establishment needs to be destroyed. Trump basically was an attempt at that but...

Trump's "populism" is basically the attempted return of the Eisenhower wing of the party for a new era. He is by every measure--trade, immigration, foreign policy, deficits, taxes, infrastructure, social issues--from the Ike wing of the party even if everyone in the media labels him right wing. But when Ike came on the scene, the GOP had lost enough elections all the idea people glommed on and helped him in order to win for the first time in a long time. Trump showed up too soon after the Bush/McCain/Romney fiascos for that to happen; they needed to lose a few more elections. And you're right that Trump didn't accomplish much, but that is largely because while he won the White House the McConnell/Ryan wing of the party that controlled Congress blocked most things because they oppose what he ran on. Even now, the old GOP order is still fighting the direction most of the party's voters want to go. Since all the alternatives to Trump this time around (Haley, Pence, Christie, Desantis) hail from the Bush wing of the party and no one who might be superior (more competent) to Trump ran (Vance/Hawley/Who else?), Trump is going to be the nominee again even if everyone recognizes he's too incompetent to get anything done.

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Dec 1, 2023·edited Dec 1, 2023

The hydro project is interesting. It's not at all surprising that he's boasting of lower rates rather than some kind of green fantasy--what do you think matters more to his constituents?

Meanwhile, here in the Pacific Northwest, land of inexpensive, reliable hydro electricity, the drum beat to destroy our dams continues unabated.

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Here's what I think I hear you saying: "We want nice things, too. Why can't we have them?"

I empathize with that. When I visit other countries, or a handful of cities here, I come away wanting all the nice public amenities I see. We've had a serious downgrade in the quality of public goods over the last half-century, and perhaps longer. The public spaces and buildings built in my city from the 1880s-1920s is far superior to most anything in recent years. When we do build something new that's nice, it seems to be extraordinarily expensive - far beyond what I'd expect.

The question is, how do we get them without also leading to a bloated, corrupt administrative regime?

It seems to me we're in a populist moment now that is questioning the entire foundation of the administrative state we've built the last 100 years. I think that's good. Much of it is bloated and corrupt. But there's certainly a challenge implicit in your writings - what happens afterwards? If a lot of that gets torn down, what replaces it? Society will still need some sort of management of public space and shared spaces/features.

I think these are great questions to explore. So much of what we have today just flat-out doesn't work. It needs to be replaced. But what's the positive vision that replaces it all? I sense there are some good answers in much smaller-scale place management and localism. I think a wider embrace of decentralization of much of life will be good for us. But it's important for promoters of grass roots or bottom-up efforts, like myself, to articulate how we get to a society that provides really quality results for the majority.

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This article really drives home a potential fear of mine, and I’m glad it was brought up.

I’m not sure Republicans can truly access a populism that builds so long as Trump is president. President Trump started his presidency claiming and touting he had “the best people”, and I genuinely agreed. The cabinet he put together seemed to be first rate and like it could accomplish some pretty impressive things. But it seemed like over time, he lost them all through what can only be described as his own personal failings.

Now, Trump and the Heritage Foundation are really going to try to implement a form of populism, but I’m not convinced. Schedule F seems like a plan to overhaul many portions of our government, but I think there is a sizable chance it could be a disaster for the Republican Party and the country.

If we think about rebuilding from a pure resource perspective, I think it’s easy to think about money/materials, as referenced from the example of the plaza. But it’s also about attracting really intelligent/talented people to solve future problems. If leadership starts from the top, what will the new “foot soldiers” of Schedule F look like?

I’m worried that 7ish years of Trump has driven away many intelligent conservatives away from politics, and only drawn in half-rate people with a bone to pick with “the libs”. If Trump is re-elected, I pray I’m wrong.

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Nov 30, 2023·edited Nov 30, 2023

I definitely agree that conservatives in government should do a better job of tackling infrastructure problems, both with respect to physical assets and services, which directly affect the quality of life. Lack of attention to these things points to a deficit in leadership.

In fairness to conservatives, part of the problem is that liberals have become so captive to destructive ideologies that they are unwilling to even see problems in infrastructure. Instead they devote themselves to the ever-evolving impractical, foolish, sinful goals of that ideology. This devotion has reached such a fever pitch that practical concerns don't even register in their minds. Instead, they spend all their energy attempting to defeat whose who disagree with their world view. This wouldn't matter so much if conservatives had a reasonable margin of support, but they typically don't. As a result, with their thin or nonexistent majorities, conservatives are kept off-balance by the constant attacks from liberals on one hand and the need to keep rebellious members of their own party in line on the other. If conservatives had a clear majorities, they could more easily ignore the senseless attacks from the left, tolerate a few uncooperative members of their own party, and start making real, substantive changes for the benefit of the country.

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So are you saying the only things that people want are those paid for by theft? I always like to remind people locally that when you get "free" stuff from the government, people lose their houses. That's how property tax works. Other taxes have bad effects also.

I'm not saying you're wrong, people are incredibly greedy for "free" stuff and don't have a long term or big picture vision of how that actually works. The one thing the Industrial Revolution and the move to the cities generated was a surfeit of short-term thinking that helped propel consumerism. Remember, the only duty God gave government was "justice", all else was delegated to different spheres (individual/business, family and church), therefore any taxes for stuff that isn't "justice" is theft.

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