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Why I am going to Davos
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Why I am going to Davos

To regain trust, Davos must accept the moral virtues, practical benefits, and natural rights of nations, families, and individuals to govern themselves. The World Economic Forum needs to hear that message.

I don’t typically go where I’m not wanted, but I do tend to go where I’m needed.

So I was intrigued by the invitation to attend a globalist sleepaway camp in the beautiful Swiss Alps — some pop-up utopia called Davos. At first, it sounded as dreadful as a road trip with the New York Times editorial board.

The infamous hypocritical self-avowed Marxists, private-jet environmentalists, and genocide-adjacent humanitarians want to hear from the Heritage Foundation how they can “rebuild trust” with everyday Americans against whom they have weaponized their institutions.

The biblical principle “cast not your pearls before swine” came to mind. But a deeply meaningful part of my role at Heritage is to represent the voice of millions of forgotten men and women across this country. We are the everyday American’s outpost in Washington, D.C. So I could happily — while admittedly dreadingly — hop across the Atlantic to the land where leftist elites indulge fellow insufferable elites and be a voice on the world stage sharing inconvenient truths.

And here is what I’m going to tell them.

First, trust must be earned. Global elites have not merely failed on that score. They have squandered the vast reserves of credibility they inherited from their institutional predecessors. The media, the academy, government agencies, international organizations, corporations, and the arts have traded in centuries’ worth of public trust in exchange for unaccountable, ideological exploitation of the people they claim to serve.

Sooner or later, the everyday citizens, workers, and families who shoulder the burdens of Davos-style global elitism will reclaim their individual rights and national sovereignty.

National leaders at this conference openly reject the nation-state. They refuse to secure their own besieged borders. Scholars and journalists openly subordinate facts to serve partisan ends that undermine transparency and choice for their citizens. Generals promote woke politics over military readiness. Corporate executives ship jobs overseas to tyrants like China’s Xi Jinping while lecturing their own countrymen about “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Artists and entertainers celebrate each other's sneering contempt for the people and values that fuel their privileged lives.

There is no mystery here. Around the world, people distrust global elites because they hate us. They use their power to disempower us and their cultural influence to smear anyone who questions their self-serving corruption.

This is the common virtue of constitutionalism, republicanism, nationalism, and free enterprise, as they are traditionally practiced in the United States. They subject elites’ ambitions to the authority of the people instead of the other way around. This arrangement is good for the world and for every person who has ever embraced it. But it is uniquely frustrating to elites, who resist checks on their power and resent accountability to “the unwashed masses” — which, of course, is the point.

Unchecked, centralized power leads to tyranny. And the disasters compound the farther the power drifts (or is untethered) from the people.

To regain trust, then, Davos must accept the moral virtues, practical benefits, and natural rights of individual nations (and, ultimately families and individuals) to govern themselves. No serious person believes that the global elites' grand moral stands over the last generation — bowing to China, erasing borders, worshipping climate extremism — just so happened to serve their class interests at the direct expense of ordinary people’s democratic sovereignty and economic opportunity.

Our fractured and fractious world doesn’t need any more lectures about “openness” from the people who covered up COVID-19’s origins and then locked down people’s lives for a year. Or about “disinformation” from people who spent weeks defending Harvard University’s plagiarist president. Or about diversity from a hermetically insulated claque of race-hustling, anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic bigots.

What we need is nothing more than the freedom to govern ourselves.

That is what Brexit, Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Javier Milei, Geert Wilders, and the rising global tide of populist, patriotic conservatism represents. Nationalism — love of one’s own nation and culture and a policymaking preference for one’s own people and customs — cannot be erased and will not be trampled. It must be respected.

Trust is a choice.

Sooner or later, the everyday citizens, workers, and families who shoulder the burdens of Davos-style global elitism will reclaim their individual rights and national sovereignty. The only question is whether our elites can pivot their corrupt institutions back toward trust and trustworthiness before “We, the People” take matters into our own hands.

Those attending the World Economic Forum need to hear this message. And that’s why I’m going to Davos.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts

Dr. Kevin Roberts is the president of the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America.