The word “spring” is often tacked on to political moments when a repressive status quo crumbles and a new era of hope emerges. The “Springtime of Nations” in 1848 was one of the largest political shifts in history, as European nations rebelled against monarchy and other traditional institutions, which they replaced with flatter, more-democratic structures. In 2010, uprisings against dictatorships and monarchies across the Middle East and North Africa were given the similarly optimistic name of the “Arab Spring.”
Now in 2022, a new “Conservative Spring” is beginning to sprout. The sense of defeatism that permeated conservatism for much of the recent past is finally lifting, and there is a sense that our time out in the cold may be ending.
The big signals of this Conservative Spring in 2022 include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a bill that stripped Disney’s special district status, Elon Musk buying Twitter with the mission of protecting free speech in the digital public square, and, now, the leaked decision from the Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
Each of these alone would be a major story. Conservatives are so used to living in a world where every meaningful institution is run by those who sideline us and our values, that victories like these have been few and far between. Apparently, though, times are changing.
To start with the first seismic shift, “woke” corporations pushing back on conservative states has been the norm for years. So, when a state passes something like Georgia’s voting bill, which does absolutely nothing out of line with other states and certainly doesn’t steal anyone’s right to vote, businesses like Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball, and Hollywood production companies threaten — and often do — pull out.
But what if the leaders of one of these state governments just told a company meddling in their politics to pound sand? What if instead of conservatives placating the companies, they hit back twice as hard? Well, DeSantis did just that, and it seemed to work perfectly.
Multiple sources now report that these CEOs are running scared, desperate to prevent the same kind of backlash happening to their companies. Conservative efforts like the Boardroom Initiative are now in place too to keep the pressure up, demanding that companies stay politically neutral and focus on their products and services instead.
The next seismic shift happened soon after, when it became clear that one particularly important company to the public discourse, Twitter, had upset the wrong customer — billionaire Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and the richest man in the world. Musk was clear from the beginning that his problem with Twitter, and the main reason he wanted to take over ownership, was that the company was not being politically neutral and needed to allow broader free speech. Well, Musk was able to accomplish his hostile takeover of the company and is presumably moving forward with his mission as the new owner. As the main source of news and information for the country’s elite, the importance of conservative opinions being given equal treatment as those from the left cannot be overstated.
The last major development may be the biggest. For decades conservatives have put their time, effort, prayers, and votes towards the goal of one day securing enough justices on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that mandated all U.S. states ensure a woman’s “right” to abortion. Well, these efforts paid off, as a leaked decision by the high court showed that the majority voted to overturn Roe and return the power to determine abortion law to the states.
These three earthquakes, together with polling that shows cratering support for Democrats, signals that the wind is at conservatives’ backs. But, if the social justice left begins to lose its vice grip over America’s institutions, it will be absolutely necessary to lay out a vision of what should replace the status quo.
In previous “springs” and cultural shifts, this vision was absent, and those nations ended up spiraling directionless. The Arab Spring turned to the Arab Winter because the power vacuum left by the toppled dictators and monarchs turned to chaos, not into new-and-improved institutions based on human rights, the rule of law, and freedom. The rise of ISIS and civil wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen (to name just a few) were the sad result.
Of course, the Conservative Spring mentioned does not involve toppling the government and military and starting from scratch, so actual civil war and unrest are not likely. But endless culture wars that make our institutions unable to function effectively are in the realm of possibility. To avoid this, each institution conservatives snatch back from the left must be given a clear, positive mission.
Universities should again provide practical professional training and traditional liberal arts, not nihilistic indoctrination pushing grievance and division. Conservative voices must be given equal footing on campus. With professors and administrators so uniformly on one side of cultural battles, though, that isn’t likely. Therefore, ideological diversity among staff in public universities should become a priority.
Health care should be completely rethought to incorporate basic economics. Singapore is a great example of a system that is able to provide top-notch health care for pennies on the dollar by following free-market principles, like incentivizing consumer choices through Health Savings Accounts and transparent pricing.
The K-12 public education system should be transitioned into a voucher system, where parents don’t need to worry about voting out extremists on the school board to improve their child’s outcomes. They can simply enroll their children at the school that best meets their needs, applying the money that was earmarked to educate their child wherever they wish.
Law and order must be reimposed, both at the border and in communities across the nation, as homicide and overdose rates continue to rise year after year. The case needs to be made to black, Hispanic, and other demographics being disproportionately impacted that conservatives have a plan to address the tragic numbers of people being found dead with bullets in their chests or needles in their arms. The plan starts with funding police to a level they can be effective and funding treatment centers so addicts can break free from deadly drugs like fentanyl.
The Conservative Spring of 2022 is a moment of hope, but like many other springs, it can be squandered and lead to chaos if a positive alternate vision isn’t put into place. Tearing down the old status quo — whether of corporations pushing around conservative states, Twitter curating the public discourse, or the federal courts preventing voters from regulating abortion — is only the first step. The burst of success in this effort is worth celebrating, but let’s not waste the moment. It’s time to go full speed ahead with a new vision of what America can be in the 21st century with conservatives finally in the driver’s seat.