Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
By Reed Galen
Quote by a Smart Person: “America, when it became known to Europeans, was, as it had long been, a scene of wide-spread revolution.” Francis Parkman
Welcome to the American Singularity.
The bouts of internecine angst at this week’s Democratic National Convention and at last week’s Republican conclave illustrated that America’s two parties now lack the elasticity necessary to contain the competing factions bouncing around within them.
In Philadelphia, we saw the pro-Bernie Sanders forces so upset they booed their own guy as he made the pitch to unite behind Hillary Clinton for the fall campaign. The confirmation that the Democratic National Committee had indeed always been the Clinton campaign’s pilot fish sent the Berners rightfully into orbit. They continued to cat call all the speakers who came to the rostrum to sing Kumbaya and screamed many of the same epithets about the Democratic nominee we heard in Cleveland last week.
Very young, very left wing or very disaffected, this new growth within the Democratic organism has passion and energy. Not yet broken down by the soul-crushing that takes place in Washington, they continue to hew rabidly to their ideals. Already distrustful of the Establishment and its too-cozy relationship with power centers like Wall Street had them crawling in the rafters.
Courtesy New York Post
The Democrats’ troubles appear to be a schism between reality and purity, though all parties endure this at some level. Democrats generally believe in the same things: pro-big government, pro-choice, pro-big labor, pro-environment, increasing the social safety net, and putatively anti-big business. But Bernie Sanders awakened a streak of liberal purity not likely seen since George McGovern in 1972.
They know that their brothers and sisters in the Establishment are willing to compromise, and are not really all that troubled by big business, after all, someone has to keep the wheels of the great politico-governmental machine greased. They’re socialists in all but name; and many of them would likely self-identify that way.
Like their quasi-counterparts in the Trump camp, they fervently believe that the system is rigged against the little guy, and like their black sheep cousins, on any given day, they’re probably right. But their idea of big government is strikingly different. The Sandernistas want government from cradle-to-the-grave.
Whatever it is you need, Uncle Sam is there for you. Equality is paramount, even if that means forced re-allocation of resources. They want a public option for health insurance but either don’t know or won’t accept the fact the insurance industry will never countenance another system that leaves them out of play.
As we saw eight years ago when Hillary Clinton consistently found herself to the right of then-Senator Barack Obama, she again had to fight her way left against Sanders in the primary. In today’s world, Clinton is no progressive — she’s a Blue Dog Democrat, and perhaps the last of them. She may well believe in the things she espoused to keep the enough long-time Democrats in her camp on the way to Philadelphia.
But she’s also a long-time pol who, like her husband, is willing to make a deal if it’s for the greater good in her mind. Her email troubles, her hawkishness (comparatively) and her ties to Wall Street drive the truly progressive wing of the Democratic Party to distraction.
The Republicans’ issues are much more immediate. As several have noted since last week, Trump’s convention was the first in recent memory where the three pillars of traditional American conservatism: hawkish foreign policy, small government principles and social conservatism were not tied to one another. While those three factions always had to find uneasy peace with one another, they typically bound together to try and win.
This year, time, demographics and the Trump phenomenon have ripped the old GOP asunder. Religion and morality were mentioned mostly in the context of law and order — Trump’s them of the week. Trump only mentioned social conservatives once during his speech, and it was to thank them for putting up with him. How can a nominee who has no known concept of right and wrong possibly carry the Cross for the heartland?
The neoconservative class of Republican hawks were dealt a double-blow by Trump. Not only does he espouse an isolationist mindset, he is anti-free trade and appears to have an affinity for Vladimir Putin’s management style. Trump’s comments about leaving NATO allies to perish under the tracks of Red Army tanks sent a shiver through a national security establishment in place since the end of World War 2. Where do the hawks go to nest now?
Conservartarians — that odd hybrid of conservative, Republican and libertarian also found no love beside Lake Erie last week. A foundational principle of modern American conservatism is individual liberty and the idea that government was not the answer, was almost always in the way, and should just leave citizens the hell alone. Trump’s vision is the antithesis of personal freedom.
Far from being a small-government guy, Trump called for the creation of a true national security state where he and his cronies will keep us safe from everyone (except them, of course) and we should be happy to have the warm blanket of surveillance laying over us. Trump has keenly utilized the levers and tools of government to lay his problems off on other people; he likes big, powerful things. Hard to believe he would sweep to office and shrink Washington’s power over its people.
The GOP has acquiesced to Donald Trump this year and we’re getting what we deserved. We thought he was a joke. We thought our best and brightest candidates would dismantle him instead of each other. We thought voters would be with us. We were wrong.
Now we are staring down the barrel of what all that ignorance, arrogance and complacency means. Trump is no Republican. He’s not a Democrat, either. He’s something both new to American politics and old to history. A demagogue, stoking fear and resentment and distance to achieve his own egomaniacal goals.
If he wins, it is impossible to say exactly what a Trump White House would do, but little of it seems good. If he loses, where does the GOP go from there? How does it recover from such blindness? And does it deserve another chance?