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The future of American politics, Part I

January 8, 2022

One: The Future of American Politic

On January 6 Trump supporters gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds at Trump’s request and were urged by the President to affirm his charge that the election was stolen.

Something was afoot in American politics.

The United States is in a pre-revolutionary situation—not unlike that of Czarist Russia shortly before WW I—and may see a dissolution of legal limits placed by the Constitution on the Chief Executive.

Transfer of powers of hard and soft coercion to the Chief Executive will lead to a contest with other centers of power–mass media, organizations committed to agitation (Black Lives Matter), institutional social forces—schools and colleges—and politicized churches—the Vatican and most Protestant denominations.

Let’s go back to the defeat of Donald Trump in the Presidential election of 2020. That had been predictable ever since the by-election of 2018.

Donald Trump didn’t understand that, however, and ran for re-election thinking he would be re-elected. When he lost, he claimed that “the election was stolen” and organized an attack on the Capitol to delay certification of the election of Joe Biden.

Never in the history of the United States had a sitting President attempted to circumvent the process for election of a Chief Executive established in the Constitution of the United States. The future course of American politics had suddenly been saddled with a very big question mark.

Though twice Impeached, but not convicted, the future of American politics will turn on Donald Trump. If he fails to be elected in 2024, will he attempt another coup d’état.

Two: The GOP and the “New World Order”

Donald Trump won the 2016 contest because he correctly assessed that the policies of President George W. Bush, culminating in the invasion of Iraq, had fostered “war weariness” among American voters. Rejection of war and the “Tribalism” and divisions in civil society are aspects of American society today that are the end result of the “internationalization” of American foreign policy since the Administration of Woodrow Wilson.

Political stability in free societies is not only valued, but a necessary condition of representative government. Political stability of American government is grounded in a Constitution designed to assure limited government.

James Madison succinctly summarized the problem in The Federalist, #51.

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

The “enlightened” ideas that the Framers of the Constitution shared, rooted as they were in the “Social Contract” ideas of John Locke, were sufficient to establish a stable representative government in the United States –until the Civil War. That political crisis, accompanied by Darwin’s Origins of Species and the introduction of German idealist humanism by the American “Transcendentalists,” challenged a dominant political order founded on Protestant Christianity. Once that shared theological system was broken, the America of the 18th Century was flung into a cauldron of more “modern” intellectual currents shaped by political ideologies.

In succeeding centuries, many Americans sought ways to affirm tradition as a way to preserve and disseminate political and economic freedom. Most were believing Christians who understood that “salvation” was not to be found in this life, and thus they shared a political philosophy that rejected political and economic remedies that relied on the State. When confronted with “final solutions” of totalitarian movements they banded together to protect their way of life.

World War I and the Great Depression gave power to idealists, intellectuals and “experts” in the use of the powers of government, however, and wiped away many of the restraints placed on the national government by such 19th century institutions as Protestant churches and the many private colleges and universities whose purpose was threefold: 1) shape the character of educated Americans, 2) train the Protestant clergy, and 3) educate a class of attorneys at law committed to the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

That essentially Protestant Christian culture also prepared and trained a military elite to protect the nation and preserve the principle of civilian rule. By mid-twentieth century, however, each of the pillars of the former political culture that, in the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, sought to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” had been badly shaken.

The original system of the American written Constitution that placed limits on State power, after World War I and during the Great Depression, began to be replaced by an aggressive, centralized, bureaucratic, administrative State.

Other changes were visible.

Protestant and Catholic churches sought to assure salvation in this life through Social Justice. The Humanities and Social Sciences in American colleges and universities were transformed by rejection of classical liberalism of Adam Smith and putative “scientific” Behavioral studies.

In 2016 this social revolution was nearly complete American voters elected Donald. 

Already, I get ahead of myself.

I’ve said too much by using the word “State” without explanation to describe the administration of government by agencies led by “experts” who administer those agencies and nothing about a “civil religion” shared by those experts.

And by attributing President Trump’s election in 2016 to “war weariness” with policies that strove to achieve an “International order” that some call a “New World Order,” I use a term without explanation that evokes conspiracies surrounding the names “Davos” and “Soros.”

Three: Admiration of the Strong, Race and Immigration

In American politics, Donald Trump is unique, but if we look to England of forty years ago, we’ll find someone very much like “The Donald.”

In the mid-to late1960s, a British member of Parliament, Enoch Powell, commanded the attention of the British public by his stance against immigration and the British Labor Party’s Race Relations Bill.

Collapse of Britain’s empire after World War II generated a flood of immigrants from British India and other Dominions that threatened the racial makeup of England.

By the late 1960s, Indian Sikh’s were visible on British transit as bus drivers and Council Housing that had served a largely white British working class was roiled by the admission of non-white immigrants from the Dominions.

Enoch Powell’s stand against immigration attracted the support of British workers who had never supported Britain’s Conservative Party but felt threatened by the influx of immigrants. When the Conservative Party won the 1970 general election, Powell’s supporters claimed that Powell’s stance on immigration guaranteed the Conservative victory.

Enoch Powell, unlike Donald Trump, was an academic, a classicist and student of philosophy who early in his career was fascinated with the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. “Will to power” is a strong impulse in all politicians, but Enoch Powell’s identification with Nietzsche went beyond the pale of English politics and raised concerns that Powell had not learned lessons from Britain’s battle with Nazi Germany.

Opponents of Donald Trump express concern about his frequent verbal slights against women (the weaker sex), his failure to search for specialists in public policy who might inform and enrich his views, his self-confidence and absolute belief in his own intuition and judgment.

Those characteristics are compatible with Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman or Übermensch.

Trump’s appeal to strength against weakness is not necessarily Nietzchean, but we should not be surprised that a businessman, unprepared for public office, has found approval with Republicans after years of pursuit of the “Democratic Project” that drove the purposes of American foreign policy and embroiled the United States in “nation building” and military action since WW I.

Trump ran against the expansionist foreign policy decisions of George W. Bush and defeated candidates who drank “W’s” Kool-Aid.  Politicians motivated in the belief of their own superiority, however, are not likely to retreat from using force in any confrontation.

Whether the election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a passing phase, an accident, or more enduring, will be decided during President Joe Biden’s first term as President #46. And until Republicans assess and reach agreement on the reasons for their loss in 2020, recovery of the GOP is in doubt.

On this Republicans must agree: Though the Republican candidate lost the 2020 election his policies were not rejected—only Donald Trump lost that election.

The Presidential election of 2016 revealed a desire of Americans not to move in a radical “international” direction but to affirm priority of the national interest. The Republican Party must now ask whether it understands that lesson. Finding answers will be painful because every Republican President from Dwight Eisenhower through Bush 43 supported the ideas embodied in Woodrow Wilson’s political religion[1]—until the election of President #45, Donald J. Trump.

Election of a political novice whose overall actions defended traditional Republican Party principle, in contrast to advocates for imposing “democracy” abroad by military action, set Donald Trump apart from John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, John McCain and a host of others like them.

At the core of Trump Administration policies was espousal of “Nationalism” versus “Internationalism.”

The “Internationalist” aspect of Republican foreign policy is well-established, however, and began when Republicans chose Dwight Eisenhower at the 1952 Republican National Convention over Senator Robert Taft (R-OH). Successful military leaders will always be chosen to lead, but though Americans “liked Ike,” Eisenhower’s election assured continuation of the Internationalist tradition of democratic idealism founded by President Woodrow Wilson.

That assured domination of American politics by a stream of “Internationalists” from John Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

Transmission of this series of “Internationalist” judgments was continued by Ronald Reagan’s choice of George H. W. Bush as his running mate in the 1980 election. Just as the hearts of political conservatives were broken in 1952, twenty-eight years later many Conservatives like Tom Ellis cried like babies[2] when Gov. Paul Laxalt was passed over in favor of George H. W. Bush.

This stream of Internationalist Presidents was shattered by the election of Donald Trump who proposed a return to a revitalized American nationalism.

The core eight policies of the Trump administration are grounded in the traditional principles and beliefs of the GOP:

First, President Trump’s rejection of the ideology of democratic idealism first fashioned by Woodrow Wilson and the recent presidents representing that Internationalis ideology.

Second, Trump’s nationalism visible in the theme “Make America Great,” and third Trump’s admonishment of our allies in NATO was long overdue.

Throw in a fourth attitude, his hatred of war, and five, six, seven and eight other policies–his tax cuts, restrictions on Muslim immigration, shutting down the reliance of material and goods from Communist China and judicial appointments–and President Trump has fashioned a platform of enduring policies for the GOP in the 21st Century.

The blame that no Republican successor to Trump has adopted them must be placed on New York Governor Thomas Dewey who engineered General Dwight Eisenhower’s victory over Taft, Richard Nixon who chose Gerald Ford as his Vice President, and Ronald Reagan who chose Bush 41 over Gov. Paul Laxalt (R-NV). The chain of errors leading to the election of radical Democrats in 2020 is Dewey, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.

[1] See Richard Bishirjian, “Modern Political Religion,” VoegelinView, Octpber 23, 2018.


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