A new coalition of right-wing organizations and leaders is working to steer the nation’s path forward from the pandemic shutdowns to the right. The Save Our Country coalition announced its formation Monday with press releases distributed by some of its convening organizations; the Tea Party Patriots describes Save Our Country as one project of the “Great American Reopening” coalition.
The coalition’s National Leadership Council and Steering Committee include prominent figures from the overlapping corporate right, Tea Party right, and religious-right movements, similar to the right-wing movement-spanning Convention of States group that was identified by reporters last week as an organizing force behind recent “reopen” protests. Save Our Country’s initial materials do not make it clear whether or not the coalition will be supporting the protests, which are part of a national right-wing political strategy to deflect critical attention and anger about economic disruption away from the Trump administration and its failures and toward the nation’s governors.
The coalition’s honorary chairman is Art Laffer, considered the father of supply-side economics, who has lavishly praised President Donald Trump and in turn was honored by Trump with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A key Laffer contention—that massive tax cuts will generate so much economic growth they will pay for themselves—has failed real-world tests, including the massive 2017 Trump-GOP tax cuts.
Among the right-wing luminaries included in the new coalition’s leadership are Ginni Thomas, right-wing activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; Reagan-era Attorney General Ed Meese; anti-media activist Brent Bozell; former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell; pundit and former Education Secretary Bill Bennett; Floyd Brown, the man behind Citizens United and the infamous “Willie Horton” ad; right-wing strategist and direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie; former senator and former Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint; and Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
The Leadership Council includes Lisa Nelson of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Adam Brandon of Freedom Works, and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots. Religious-right political operative Ralph Reed retweeted launch announcements by the Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks.
Other figures in the coalition’s leadership include: William Walton, vice president of the secretive right-wing Council for National Policy and a Heritage Foundation trustee; Gary Marx, former executive director of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition; Kelly Shackelford of the religious-right legal group First Liberty; Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez, promoters of anti-Muslim sentiments and conspiracy theories; and Sandy Rios, American Family Association radio host. The late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum is represented, as is the State Policy Network, a collection of mini-Heritage Foundations pushing right-wing policies at the state level.
The Coalition is promoting “five key principles to abide by in order to reopen US society and preserve the American way of life.” Unsurprisingly, the principles outline a longstanding right-wing policy agenda to cut taxes, deregulate businesses, and limit people’s access to the courts. Among the specific policies recommended by the coalition is a capital gains tax holiday.
The coalition’s website encourages people to enter their name and contact information to send a message to their governor and the White House to “reopen America.” It includes a Twitter feed of tweets using the #ReopenAmerica hashtag.
Here are the coalition’s stated principles:
- Immediately reopen the economy, while implementing the best workplace practices to protect the health of our citizens
- Restore the essential principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility by stopping the trillions of dollars of federal spending that is imperiling America’s economic future and dangerously escalating our national debt.
- III. Incentivize the rapid rebuilding of our economy through proven formulas: tax cuts, deregulation, and lawsuit reform
- Preserve federalism within the rule of law and respect the rights of the states in dealing with crises such as the coronavirus pandemic
- Protect the individual liberties of our citizens from unconstitutional power grabs by the federal, state and local governments