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The Coming Realignment, Part 2

October 19, 2017

We struggle to find adjectives to explain the 2016 Presidential election, but “watershed” comes to mind.  A “watershed” is “a crucial dividing point,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary that has been operating since 1828.

That election split the Republican Party into two parts, the Establishment branch and a Nationalist branch. At the time, I suggested that we now faced a realignment of our two Party system. What is involved in that?

The GOP Establishment can be described as “internationalist” in foreign policy, pro-business defined as “big” or corporate business, and “Liberal” in political philosophy. There are no “Tea Party” leaders in the GOP Establishment and none that is inspired by social or religious concerns.

A “Nationalist” faction, guided by a media entrepreneur, Steve Bannon, and led by a real estate investor from New York, Donald Trump, secured the GOP nomination for President of the United states and against all odds defeated the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton.

One of my colleagues describes this as a “rescue” of the conservative movement from its capture by the Establishment. That claim requires a bit of explaining since the modern conservative movement reveals three historical moments: the revolt of Western states against the Eastern Establishment in 1964, Ronald Reagan’s successful struggle to become President in the 1980 election, and the 1994 takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives led by Georgia Congressman, Newt Gingrich.

That was the political side of the conservative “movement.”  But movements are Leftist events driven by ideology or political religion and what occurred in 1964, 1980 and 1994 was not a movement. It was a gathering up of a community of political, economic and social “conservatives” who believed that it was now time to put America first.

The history of that uprising has been recorded by Dr. Lee Edwards in A Brief History of the Modern American Conservative Movement published by the Heritage Foundation in 2004. There are some great names in that history including Calvin Coolidge, Westbrook Pegler, Bob Taft, Bill Buckley, Friedrich Hayek, Whitaker Chambers, Barry Goldwater, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk and Ronald Reagan.

The names of George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush are not included in that history and the reason we face a realignment of the American political party system today is because Reagan’s successors were not political conservatives and because President George W. Bush destroyed the Republican “brand.”

That permitted a committed revolutionary socialist, Barack Obama, to secure election as President of the United States, not once, but twice, and gave Donald Trump the opportunity to step in and engage in a hostile takeover of the GOP.

Against Trump stands most of corporate America, all print and electronic media, organized religion, and the American system of higher education.

Since the French revolution when a revolutionary ideology that Alexis de Tocqueville called “esprit revolutionnaire” destroyed the ancient regime in France and attempted to control not only Western Europe, but the entire world, politics in the West is a confrontation between revolutionary ideology and traditional order.

What Donald Trump demonstrated in 2016 is that there is still an order, traditional in nature, rooted in love of country and its institutions, particularly the Constitution of the United States. Remnants of the historical conservative “movement” can be found in every state in the Union, and in voluntary organizations that heal the sick, feed the poor, and instruct the young. A vast “citizens” media has arisen to combat the Left including Talk Radio, print journalism and electronic, Web-based media. An Australian, Rupert Murdoch introduced advocacy journalism and created Fox News, and a handful of conservative and Christian leaders have attempted to establish a presence in higher education to counter the Left University that dominates  higher education. Jerry Falwell (Liberty University), Pat Robertson (Regent University), the Presbyterian Grove City College, the conservative Hillsdale College and the Catholic Thomas Aquinas College are just a few of dozens of colleges and universities fighting the Left’s control of the minds of college youth. Others have succeeded in establishing Charter Schools and advocating the use of “vouchers” that enable children of every social class to escape the American system of public schools.

My friend asks, “Can Bannon and Trump transform the GOP so it can keep its congressional majorities in 2018 and the White House in 2020?” Much will depend on what exactly Donald Trump believes and what motivates Steve Bannon. Those are open questions. Trump is not a political conservative nor is Steve Bannon, but they are better than anything the Left has to offer.

What enabled Donald Trump to be elected in 2016 will not decide the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. And whether he will be challenged by indictments for illegal activities during and immediately after the 2016 election is an important, unanswered, question. But, it seems clear, if there is still a conservative movement that believes in traditional order, its leaders must organize themselves beyond the Freedom Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives. My suggestion is and has been formation of a national Conservative Party.

 

 

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