Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trump, Clinton, The American Republic & The Ides Of March

Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue shriller than all the music cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19

On the 15th of March, 44 B.C., the Roman Republic signed its death warrant when the Senators conspired to kill Julius Caesar. It was perhaps the most famous political assassination in history. It certainly was an inflection point in world history, marking the demise of the Roman Republic and its degeneration into rule by emperors. Somehow, I think we are seeing a variant on that history play out today on both the left and the right. The election of Trump could well spell the end our Republic. The plot to steal the nomination from him at a contested convention would surely be the end of the Republican Party. And the refusal to indict Hillary would be a de facto end to our nation as a nation of laws existing under the Constitution.

The nation has just suffered through nearly eight years seeing what rule by a progressive left ideologue looks like -- a combination of extra-constitutional rule, cronyism, and identity politics reaching to its ludicrous conclusions. We have an economy that is failing a declining middle class and has been propped up -- barely and only -- by a Fed running the printing presses non-stop and now considering negative interest rates. And Obama will leave the White House in 2017 with America in a much more precarious position in terms of national security -- his insane deal to give Iran a glide path to a nuclear arsenal being the suicidal cherry on top.

Much of what the Obama and the progressive left have accomplished has been enabled by a Court system whose progressive members consider themselves a politburo not bound by the Constitution or democracy, by closed public sector unions that pump incredible sums of laundered taxpayer money back into politics on behalf of progressives, an education system that indoctrinates for progressivism, a system of crony capitalism that operates to disadvantage the middle class and crush entrepreneurship, and by a progressive regulatory bureaucracy that operates outside of the Constitution, passing rules - none voted on by Congress yet still with the force of law -- that are working fundamental change to our nation.

I will admit to high hopes coming into the 2016 election. If you look hard at most of these issues, you will see that they are systemic problems that can only be solved by affirmative political action. Reining in the court system requires action by Congress, as does ending closed sector public unions and putting the regulatory bureaucracy wholly under Congressional control. And I had high hopes that this year, the pendulum would swing far enough to the right that we could elect a conservative for President who would address these systemic issues. Cruz, I thought and still think, understood all of these issues and would be most likely to address them. That said, we had 17 candidates on the Republican side at the start this year and almost all of them would have made decent presidents, if not as effective as Cruz. Rubio understood the national security picture best of all of them. Fiorina understood the problems with cronyism, regulation and Congressional accounting. Carson was an honorable man whose heart was in the right place. Even the weakest of the lot, Kasich and Bush, could have been expected to govern at least as milquetoast centrists, addressing none of the systemic problems but at least making none of them worse.

Instead we get Donald Trump, a narcissist megalomaniac and snake oil salesman extraordinaire. He is a progressive crony capitalist wearing the coat of a Republican because it suits his needs of the moment. He is Obama's mirror image in white face. He is the ultimate black swan. I do not expect a Trump, if elected, to address any of the systemic issues facing our nation. Indeed, his understanding of the issues seems about on par with a modern high school student, so what he will do in any particular situation is an unknown though his knee jerk seems to be to the progressive left. Nor do I expect him in any case to be any more of an effective leader than was Schwarzennager in California or Ventura in Minnesota. Victor Davis Hanson makes the point in a recent article that Trump is, at least, no more debased or worse than any other of the Democrats who have held the Presidency since 1961 and the ascension of JFK. True enough, and 20 years ago I would have broken out the popcorn for a Trump candidacy. But this comes at a time when the progressive left is pushing hard to take a permanent position of dominance and we are in a very precarious position on all fronts. I agree with Thomas Sowell (see here and here) that our nation no longer has the luxury of time to absorb another national leadership / political disaster:

The "Super Tuesday" primaries may be a turning point for America — and quite possibly a turn for the worse. After seven long years of domestic disasters and increasing international dangers, the next President of the United States will need extraordinary wisdom, maturity, depth of knowledge and personal character to rescue America.

Instead, if the polls are an indication, what we may get is someone with the opposite of all these things, a glib egomaniac with a checkered record in business and no track record at all in government — Donald Trump.

If so, the downward trajectory of America over the past seven years may well continue on into the future, to the point of no return. . . .

My fear is not that Trump will be an existential disaster as a President -- though I think he would be disaster. My real fear is that he will be ineffective, address none of the systemic problems, and yet be painted as the embodiment of all things conservative by a progressive media. After four years of Trump, I am afraid that it would be the death knell for the conservative movement and assure our national suicide with the ascendancy of the progressive left.

Having said all of that, there are various people talking about denying Trump the nomination at a contested convention. Indeed, Gov. Kasich, with all of a total of I believe it's 88 or so delegates at the moment, is justifying staying in the race under precisely that scenario. He is living in a dangerous fantasy land.

Perhaps if we arrive in July at a close delegate count without anyone having won the nomination outright with a 50% + 1 delegate count, then a contested convention might be justified. But if Trump is significantly ahead in the delegate count as seems likely and the Republican leadership denies him the nomination, that would be the end for a Republican Party already seen as being completely out of touch with its voting base. Indeed, the rise of Trump can largely be tied to the fact that Republicans in Congress have been completely ineffective in carrying out -- or even trying to carry out -- the wishes of the voters who elected them to office in wave elections. As much as I see Trump as being very likely the end for the conservative movement, shenanigans by the Republican leadership to deny him the nomination at the convention should he prove the clear favorite would absolutely spell the end for the Republican Party. It truly would be the equivalent of Rome's political class assassinating Julius Caesar.

A last note on Trump. The progressive left seems to believe that they have the freedom to shut down all speech with which they disagree. They have been able to get away with this most notably on progressive college campuses because the administrations agree with their positions. They are now seeking to export their tactics into society at large and shut down Trump -- with grandiose plans for much bigger disruption in the future. They succeeded in Chicago, with Trump cancelling his appearance there because of security concerns. And to the extent that there has been some violence involving protestors at Trump rallies, some have sought to blame Trump for this. That is utter horse manure. Trump is not responsible for progressives who believe that they are entitled to disrupt his speech, nor for the response of Americans who refuse to acquiesce to these progressive tactics. As David French wrote recently in National Review:

It will be impossible, over the long term, to maintain peace and even national unity if elite media and the Democratic party continue to condone and even encourage political violence and the systematic violation of individual rights by its radical progressive base. From Occupy to Ferguson to Baltimore to the unrest on campus, Americans have watched the liberal establishment trip over itself to express solidarity and sympathy with protesters who’ve burned, looted, shut down roads and parks, and violated the fundamental rights of American citizens.

. . . For the better part of two years, millions of Americans have watched as violence and disruption actually work. At college campuses, radical students and allied professors and administrators will shout down dissenters, intimidate fellow students, disrupt the educational process, and win. In the streets of American cities, protesters will riot, vandalize, block traffic, and invade shops and restaurants, and they win. When the narratives (“Hands up, don’t shoot,” or “It’s open season” on black males) are debunked by facts, protesters still prevail. Police tactics change even as the national murder rate seems set for its largest spike in 25 years. In the nation’s 50 largest cities, 770 more people were murdered in 2015 than in the previous year. Yet with the exception of a few courageous progressives, the Left largely hails this unrest. Even riots are excused or minimized by leading figures in the liberal intelligentsia, and mob actions that violate the free-speech rights of fellow citizens — by shouting down or shutting down events the Left doesn’t like — are whitewashed as “peaceful protest.” . . .

To try to paint violence at Trump rallies as Trump's fault is one hundred eighty degrees of wrong. One of two things must happen. Either the police must act to arrest these individuals and they be held accountable under the law or they need, in fact to be subject to real violence. The nonviolence of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. only worked because they were appealing to a moral people on the other side. There is no morality on the progressive left beyond a desire for power and control. If they are to be given free reign to act without legal consequence, than they must be made to pay a physical consequence. That or we must bow down to progressives who are willing to use quasi-violent tactics to achieve their goals. It is as simple as that.

And that is the perfect lead-in to the other layer in this crap sandwich, Hildabeast, the likely nominee of the left. This is a woman who should be indicted and facing a lifetime in jail for her utter disregard of our national security. I have held a security clearance. I have worked with classified material. I am quite familiar with the need to safeguard such material, the lengths to which all people who hold such clearances are required to go, and the seriousness with which it is treated. This is an issue that transcends politics. Those on the left who are willing to give her a pass on this are both an utter disgrace and traitors to our Constitutional system, predicated as it is on the foundation that no one is above the law.

There is enough information in the public domain now to say categorically that Hillary Clinton has violated multiple laws regarding the handling of classified materials and should be facing indictment. ANYONE else who had done what she has done would be, at best, out on bail and awaiting trial. That the FBI appears to be slow walking this investigation at the moment is doing a tremendous disservice to our nation. That the media is letting her off the hook by allowing her to continue to make the claim that, because the information on her server was not marked classified, that has the slightest thing to do with her criminal negligence is doing a tremendous disservice to our nation. If she is not indicted, then we are no longer a nation of laws and it is time for blood in the streets.

This year should have been an inflection point spelling the end of the progressive toxins built into our system of government over the past century. Instead, we are reliving 44 BC, when the Republic hung in the balance and Rome went down the path to its dissolution. God help us and our nation.


Blick said...

Wolf, A most excellent analysis of the political and cultural situation. I had higher hopes for Cruz and have concerns about Trump. However, I think that Trump may be the wrecking ball that is needed to dismantle the systemic progressivism. My greatest fear is the political establishment will commit the political suicide you describe by blocking the Candidate Trump or Cruz and or the President Trump or Cruz.

Bookworm said...

Your usual stellar work, Wolf. When you're not blogging, the internet is missing out on intelligent commentary.

billm99uk said...

I have to admit I really don't envy Americans having a choice between Trump and Clinton. Scylla and Charybdis indeed...

IGotBupkis said...

Cruz'successes since the writing of this (post ST, anyway) show a gimmer of hope. They are exposing the "loser Donald" face to people, and building distaste among all but the LIV that were always his main support anyway.

Your characterization of him is SpotOn, though. I've been calling it "Playing the LIV Right the song of 'Hope and Change' in the key of 'R'" for several months now. It really is no different than that. It's the same playing to perceptions that Obama did, just aimed Rightward, and with exactly as much sincerity.