I was at a party this weekend and as this is a political season, discussions of family, children and plans for the future pivoted to the presidential race. Some of my friends are conservative, some liberal. They are also intelligent, established, patriotic and I respect all of their views. So I was keen to divine a common thread among them.
It is best summed up thusly: “A pox upon both your houses.”
Despite competing views over specific policy or social issues, there was universal agreement that the prospective candidates offered up by the parties of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are the most disappointing choices in our lifetimes. We will most likely be faced with a Hobson’s choice of a snake oil salesman or a snake.
Image credit: Nevada Policy Research Institute
How did the oldest political party on earth and the party that ended slavery in America fall so far? Who is to blame?
It’s easy to pin Donald Trump’s ascendency on his tapping into nativist predilections to put it nicely. That certainly seems to be the Democrats’ relentless race-baiting approach to discrediting the GOP front-runner. But that is a slur against his many supporters who care about the rule of law not the color of one’s skin.
If anything, Trump acolytes are rebelling against balkanizing identity politics and what they see as unfair special treatment for select ethnicities who are given a pass on laws their own immigrant ancestors had to obey. They see that both parties, the Democrats who see illegals as a crop of new voters and Republicans who see cheap labor, are complicit in permitting this mass lawlessness to continue despite the decades of lip service paid to “comprehensive immigration reform.”
But who really made Donald Trump? The answer is obvious to everyone but his creators themselves.
The very establishment that loathes him cleared the way for the braggadocios, crude, loose cannon billionaire who has taken the GOP primaries by storm. Conservative bastions from CPAC to the National Review remind us that Trump is not a “true conservative.” They are right.
But I have news for them: I am 48 years old and I've never once had the opportunity to vote for a true conservative. Like anyone under 50, I am too young to have pulled a lever for Ronald Reagan. For many younger than myself, the “Reagan Revolution” is about as relevant to their daily lives as the Gadsden Purchase. Today it is but a nostalgic term thrown about at M Street cocktail parties; it has symbolically closed its long dénouement with the death of Nancy Reagan.
The so-called three-legged conservative stool has not been faithfully adhered to in my voting lifetime, even when the Republicans were in power. The party of small government always leaves us with bigger government and expanding entitlements; the party of strong foreign policy drags us into unwinnable wars; the party of socially conservative values sits idly by as the nation becomes ever more socially liberal and culturally decayed.
Say the editors of National Review: “Trump has shown no interest in limiting government, in reforming entitlements, or in the Constitution.” Okay. So who among the chosen ones of the self-declared keepers of the conservative flame have been faithful to the mission? Well, since the GOP has only managed to elect two presidents since 1988--both named Bush--we only have their records to go on.
While breaking a campaign pledge to not raise taxes at home, one-termer George H.W. Bush 41 abandoned the Kurds to the slaughter of Saddam Hussein, showing the U.S. to be a most unreliable ally.
His son, George W., waged a disastrous war in the same region, wherein the “Modern Guide To Politically Correct Occupations In Hostile And Primitive Hellholes” replaced Sun-Tzu’s “Art Of War” as our military playbook…leaving thousands of dead U.S. servicemen and women and tens of thousands maimed with little to show for our losses. On the domestic front, his first reaction to September 11 was to create another bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. He also signed into law a massive unfunded prescription drug mandate blowing a hole in the budget so large that even supporter Ted Kennedy could squeeze through it. With friends like these "conservatives" in charge, the right needs no enemies.
And what of the other side of the political divide? The Democratic party is as corrupt as its scandalous standard-bearers Bill and Hillary Clinton. Just as conservatives are rebelling against the insular GOP establishment, so too is a tidal wave of resentment rising in the Democratic party against the unholy alliance of the Clintons with entrenched corporate interests and foreign power brokers in the person of a left-wing radical socialist who never saw a tax too small or a government too large. The same level of desperation for genuine change and breaking the hold of the donor-political complex that fuels the Trump movement is also prevalent with Bernie Sanders.
Both sides start on opposite ends of the track but meet at one common finish line: a belief that those in charge of the political process are ruining this country while enriching themselves in the process. Left or right, something has to change. Such feelings of helpless anger make for dangerous times. First world nations far more erudite than modern America have fallen for appeals to nationalism, populism or collectivism. I am more than a bit concerned.
It wasn’t always this way. In 1800, the American people were given a choice between two intellectual and political giants: Federalist John Adams or Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson.
Not only were these men among the most brilliant of their age, they also presented a clear choice of competing visions for the country. The campaign, by the way, was as dirty as any we have seen with propaganda smears leveled by partisan operatives that would make Trump blush. But the issues were well-defined by each candidate, and the voters could rest assured that whomever they picked would advance their agendas.
Today the only vision for government that is clear to the establishment candidates of either party is that politics is a wonderful career choice for the obtaining of power and wealth. If the country goes to hell in the process, well, it's a crummy system but whatterya gonna do?
Is it any wonder that Trump and Sanders have come so far?
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