The Republican Party Is Already an “America First Caucus”

The caucus’s platform mirrored Trump’s rhetoric towards restrictions to slow the coronavirus’s spread as dangerous and counterproductive. It called for direct economic support for struggling businesses and individuals even though every would-be member of the caucus voted against Biden’s relief package earlier this spring. And while more than 560,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 over the past twelve months, the platform said the caucus would work “to make sure we do not overreact to a pandemic in this same way again.”

On the environment, the platform denounced “globalist, vague, and irrelevant policies being pushed under the guise of combating climate change,” such as the Paris climate accords and the Green New Deal. Its approach to environmental policy lauded “fishermen and hunters” for their “legitimate, and culturally deep, ties to the land” and praised “gold mines, copper mines, and oil wells” that “contribute to our modern lifestyle.” Those interests, the platform argued, should be balanced with “with preserving opportunities for hiking, camping and enjoying the visual beauty of our lands.” It’s a vision of climate policy where the most important stakeholder resembles Donald Trump Jr. and the highest priority is his hunting expeditions.

Perhaps the strangest portion of the platform is its discussion of infrastructure. Republicans criticized President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan in recent weeks for including things that they don’t consider to be infrastructure, such as broadband internet and at-home caregivers. The America First Caucus platform adopted the same “bridges and roads only” mindset, but then took it in a different direction by focusing on the aesthetics of the bridges and roads themselves.

“The America First Caucus will work towards an infrastructure that reflects the architectural, engineering, and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom,” the platform stated. “As the Romans demonstrated with aqueducts, walls and roads, function and beauty are not at odds. Federally funded infrastructure, including roads, buildings, airports, seaports, bridges, should demonstrate a pride of workmanship. A bridge is not merely something to cross from side A to side B, it is a connection among peoples.”

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