Subject: What to do about a Republican Party that is so stockholmed with fear, fractured by ambition, tone deaf to its own people, culturally monochrome, buried in petty policy differences and sharing a personal dislike for the commander-in-chief who actually empowered them…that it cannot carry out a simple Commission given it by the People of the United States?
For the third time in American history the American electorate has taken over the political process and issued strict orders to its elected employees.
I need to emphasize this:
The first time was the Civil War, 1860-65, the second time, World War II 1942-1945, and this last time, today, moving forward, in each case to restore a survival-endangered plank of America’s existence as a nation of free people.
In each of these three cases America found itself at an existential crossroad and each of those times the American people, not the Congress, not the business-as-usual politics of the day, defined the terms of how the government would move forward and how it would all end.
For those few years, less than five, while life was changed, yet went on, in both home-town America and the political affairs in Washington, the Congress was entirely beholding to the will of the People, it’s primary duty, its directive, staring them in the face each and every day until it was over. Every other duty was secondary.
If you will look more closely at the Civil War years you’ll note that petty political life was more or less suspended for the duration. While there were still taxes to be levied and collected, businesses to run, the only purposeful business of America those four years was to build an arsenal of arms and men to fight a war with its own brethren in order to preserve the Union and, in the bargain, end slavery…which the people and the Republican Party who had won the national government in only its third try, considered an insidious evil.
And as long as Abraham Lincoln lived, he kept that mission in front of all others.
In that Cause, the combined peoples of the United States committed over 600,000 of their sons to die, with another 700,000 wounded, before the Union was finally preserved and slavery was ended. It was because of the citizens’ willingness to offer up their sons from the very beginning, that this brand new, just-in-town ruling Republican Party had no choice but to carry the war out to a final conclusion of total victory, with no half measures. Anything less would have been a sacrilege to the people’s sacrifice.
A day after Pearl Harbor, in 1941 a united America, almost by acclamation demanded the government of the United States the same thing; to dedicate all its resources, industrial and military, to the total destruction of the combined powers of the German Reich and Imperial Japan for what they had wrought…no if’s, but’s or maybe’s. And to seal that commission they committed millions of their own sons and daughters to the effort, both at home and the front lines, of which almost three quarters of a million never came home, and another 1.1 million came home scarred and wounded.
In both cases, unlike centuries of wars where men were impressed into service at the behest of their kings, the vast majority of these American men were the American people’s ante, their voluntary contributions, one household at a time, their guaranty that the war would be carried out as they had commissioned, to a righteous conclusion, of total victory.
We can only speculate how American history would have turned out had America been less successful on the battlefield, or had the Axis sued for an early peace and been able to retain their Emperor or their Fuehrer, or any of their seized lands as part of a peace deal. But from my reading that sort of outcome was never in any American politician’s thinking, nor, I suppose, would the People have ever have allowed it. Those government officials would have been selling pencils on street corner within a week.
Having the good sense to know the peoples’ humor from the beginning, the 1940s American political class, Democrats and Republicans alike, working class, wealthy class, progressives alongside capitalists, and “their men” in Congress, set aside all the trivial issues of pre-war politics and put their whole minds and being into winning that War.
The People had so decreed.
So, yes, the 2016 election was a war declaration, too. Actually a counter-declaration, a long-anticipated call to arms. I’m sure the English could up with a fit name for this new war, but some of us have seen it growing for a long time, since logic always dictated that it had to come to a final meeting-up someplace, sometime when all the all the cards would be laid on the table. The war on our Constitution was declared at least 40 years ago by the Democrat Party, but they cleverly kept the “war” part masked, wrapped in the guise of ordinary partisan politics, the long game kept even from their own rank and file, until, like a festering boil, it finally had to come to a head.
For thirty years I racked by brain trying to figure out why the pro-Constitution political class, i.e, Republicans, did not, could not, see where the actions of the Democrats, if successful, would logically take them. With each succeeding administration since Johnson, they played their cards more and more from the left hand and with each victory became more bold with their betting. (or bids, if your game is bridge.) But people on the working side of the aisle, where opportunity was pursued more than to find ways to take it away, so our sort of people were just naturally a more congenial, easy-going sort. Even Ronald Reagan, who even became angry at liberals at times, still could never allow himself to think the unthinkable about the Democrats’ intentions.
This is why, in threatening times, the People, who have a greater native sense in matters of imminent danger and survival than the barricade political class, undertake to make it clear to the political class that certain matters have t0 be attended to, no if’s, but’s or maybe’s.
The People of the United States decided that 2016 was the time to make just this declaration, commanding a final victory against this revolt against their natural right to live free.
My question today, to the men and women of the modern Republican Party, having had the apparatus of government piece-by-piece-by piece handed to them by the People of the United States, for the specific purpose of restoring to them what is guaranteed by the Constitution and natural law to be theirs…and to end the dictatorial scourge that has blighted this country for over fifty years in the process…
…why are Republicans quibbling as if they were still debating a tax break for ethanol producers? Why are Republicans behaving as if this most recent change in government is just a natural phase in an ebb-and-flow process of give-and-take, as if peeling away entire portions of the US Constitution has been an ordinary occurrence throughout American history?
In matters of the Constitution our history has been one-step forward and three steps back since the death of John Kennedy(Ronald Reagan managed two steps forward.) Inexorably the People and their Constitutional freedoms continued to lose ground as the Democrats dealt more and more from the Left, especially after finding there was no one across the aisle to break their fingers. Jimmy Carter’s election hallmarked the end of liberalism as it had once been known. And the power tasted good, so except for a few successes by Ronald Reagan, most of them internationally, i.e, bankrupting the Evil Empire, the New Left Democrats were primed to return to power by 1992. Every time there was an external threat the People had to bring in a Republican to clean it up, but by 2004 the (greying) New Left Democrats had learned how to profit from being on both sides of an issue, thus taking power again in 2006 in the Congress, and then the White House in 2008.
That’s when the dam broke.
So for the last 8 years the American people had been able to witness with genuine pain the loss of freedoms, not just paper freedoms, but genuine hurt, as one shoe after another was dropped, finally enabling them to see with clarity what was being done to their lives and homes, and what was in the dock to be done in coming adminsitrations.
This had to end. And it had to be ended.
When a man can hear prowling in his yard he may react in various ways, but when armed men break into his house, there is no longer any doubt what their intentions are. It’s time to grab the 12-gauge in the closet.
So why did Republicans not see any of this?
America reached its shotgun pivot in 2016, in part because, for seven years, the Republican Party had been promising them that they also saw it, begging the people to let them make it right.
Now suddenly the Republican Party is blind to the full nature of this commission that the People have issued. What part of “finish it” does the Party not understand? The game is afoot, only the GOP are not supposed to the hounds sniffing out the scent of treason, but rather that huntsman with the double-barrel who’s supposed to gun it down.
For eight years, staring down the barrel of naked admissions by the Democrat Party that they and their constituent alliances no longer have any truck with this human dignity, man’s pursuit of life, liberty, happiness and property without the permission of the state claptrap, (and they haven’t for at least 25 years)…what part of this transformation aay from the Constitution did the Republican miss?
Have the Republicans been so ass-deep in paperwork and fundraising, and endless political small-talk and green-eyeshade trivia that they hadn’t time to notice that the houses almost everyone else in America lives in have been ransacked?
Are they only CliffsNotes Republicans?
It’s a fair question, really.
(At this point, I try to leap from detailing the clear understanding of the People to trying to make sense of why the GOP doesn’t, or maybe even can’t, see America the way the People do.)
Just five years ago I penned an essay, CliffsNotes Marxists and CliffsNotes Atheists and only yesterday I noticed that someone had visited my site to read it. So I reread it and it put me in mind of a more topical homily for today, of the stigma-that-won’t quit stigmatizing the Republican Party and it’s inability and possible unwillingness to lead….especially as it pertains to a fight-to-the-finish, where someone wins and someone loses, which the American people have clearly decreed. The CliffsNotes article linked above is directed at people who, by their own training and education, are conditioned to think small, so, by nature, play small ball. This may apply to many Republicans it seems.
If this is so, they’ll have to go, after a short probationary period which, be advised, the Republican Party is already in.
(I said “lead”, not “manage” for a reason, so stay with me here.)
You see the Democrats aren’t going anywhere soon, no matter what the Republicans do, short of going over to their side. The Dems have become a regional party, and while their youth like to dress up in Marvel Comics masks and break car windows, unless they can raise a mercenary army by forging power-sharing alliances with drug cartels or ISIS, their road back to power via the electoral process does not look bright. (I’m trying to think the unthinkable from their point of view, which is how I at one time made my living.)
By comparison, the future for the Republican Party is bright and can be for at least a generation. Without getting sworn at by Richard Brookhiser about this allusion with George Washington, I see Trump plowing the row for a term or two, setting fertile ground for new-risen America, then handing the ball off to more ideological successors who can carry out a string of substantive conservative changes in not only the political culture but the moral and academic spheres. (Make Virtue and Morality Great Again.) This is what Washington did for the four presidents who followed.
I made my switch to Donald Trump in the early days of the campaign almost solely on the way he connected with the People. I hope much of that rubs off, for the Republican Party is generally a morose and dull lot. In general they seem to be stuck in elementary school about recognizing the fundamental purposes of this particular united states of America being created in the first place. I’ve found the Cliffs Notes version of college freshman American Government at a flea market and it’s true, there’s not so much as a tip of the hat to the natural right of man to pursue life, liberty, and property, without the permission of the state, but is filled with “knee bone connected to the thigh bone, thigh bone connected to the hip bone” descriptions of how the Constitution organizes our government. All the important test questions.
Far too many Republicans look as if they studied just enough to pass the test, and this is far more evident once they went onto law school, a clearer sign of Cliff’s Notes poor potty training. In my day almost every law school had a Bill Clinton, a Hillary, a Charlie Schumer, and a screechy debutante named Pelosi, but far more evident were the armies of Republican novitiates standing over in a corner pulling on a briar stem pipe, stroking non-existent chin-whiskers and discussing US v Southwestern Cable (which I’d like to see overturned) as if they were discussing Aristotle’s Prior Analytics.
My last regional bar association meeting, just before I left for the USSR in 1991, was a backward glance at that just-described memory from 1970. Two thirds of the attendees wore the same “uniform”, solid grey suits, some with skirts, some with trousers. What I remembered most were two things: At a long table during a break where I was pouring coffee, on the other side stood a handsome grey-clad young man, say 30, standing next to a pretty grey-clad young woman, and he was openly asking, in a tone more akin to asking if she’d filed her brief, about whether she would be available for sex on Wednesday, a nooner, I think. Without looking up she opened up her day-planner, scrolled her finger down the page and said, “Sure”. Sigh. I’d always thought of afternoon delight as a sort of spiritual thing myself, and a “cloud descended over my spirit”.
The second event was half-way through the presentation on Legal Ethics, which was a mandatory 3-hour segment, when a lawyer perhaps ten years older than me, (I was 47 at the time) walked in and sat on the back row close to me. Unlike the rest of the gathered lawyers, he was wearing what was clearly golf attire, Rodney Dangerfield plaid trousers, knit open-collar shirt and untied brown and white saddle-oxfords. I even peeped to see if they had cleats. And of course, he got a lot of stares, and probably even glares. Disapproving looks. At the end of this three-hour snoozer, he just got up and marched right back out through the same door. Without a single backward glance he just flipped off the entire room. My dark cloud lifted and my chest swelled in the simple knowledge that this type still existed.
I don’t congregate with those types of people any longer, so can’t say what the make up of a similar gathering might be today, but I have met with Congressmen in small groups, even a presidential candidate (who encouraged me since he once grabbed me around the neck and gave me a noogie). And that golfer-attorney reminded me of a photo array sent to me by a well-known Phoenix-area attorney, himself an iconoclast, of the people standing to see Donald Trump at one of his early 2016 events. “And nary a front-office Republican could be seen.”
The Republican Party needs to understand that the distance between itself and the people is not inherently professionally-based. And the class gap widens with each and every graduating class.
So, beyond professional, the culture-class gap between front office Republicans and the People is wide. I wish I could recommend a list of books, or old films (black and white mostly) for some sense of historical perspective. Hollywood in the Great Depression is very instructive. I wish I could tell Republicans where to buy seedy clothes and then, how to wear them so that they won’t look like Urkel. I’ve never been a fan of slumming, which is what New York socialites called visiting dives during the Depression, especially in Harlem, but it wouldn’t hurt to acquaint themselves with the haunts, smells and cadence of a life I doubt they’ve ever experienced for even a few hours in their lives.
I don’t care about how or where the GOP were raised and now live, and I know I may be painting with too broad a brush here, in fact I know a few Members who don’t fit this profile at all, but are also not MBA’s or lawyers. But in all matters political for the next few years (the People will let the GOP know when they can return to normal programing) the GOP will have to learn to wear their solidarity with the people in the way they talk (especially to Democrats) and the poses they strike while doing so.
Because of Donald Trump the GOP has as many as twenty years, if they become good at it, to carry out the People’s mandate. And in an orderly manner. But the GOP can’t scuttle Trump (only Trump can scuttle Trump), for it is the overwhelming assessment of the People who elected him, completing this Republican trifecta, that earned the Republican Party this commission in the first place. And we all have great history of how well the GOP has boldly battled the Democrats when they were in charge. (So recheck the probationary clause in the People’s commission. It’s not only to the Partym, but to individual members.).
This is what the people have commissioned the Republican Party to bury: Authoritarian statism, going by any name. That is the scope of the war the GOP must win, or find itself out of a job, one district, one state at a time.
The threat to the People’s right to exist as a free people must be killed and buried, and as I said, the GOP, if they are up to it, can take as many as 20-30 years to complete that, for every victory, every piece of the Democrat jigsaw that is buried, will only earn them more voters. (I know the math.)
Repealing Obamacare, an instructional tool
Obamacare is at the top of the list, but just not because of specific green-eye-shade issues of premiums and deductibles but the overwhelming bitterness that our government could summarily take charge of almost 20% of citizens’ annual income as if it were never theirs in the first place (Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton).
The failure of the first Obamacare Repeal offering from the House points out weaknesses in the GOP’s overall understanding in just what the people commissioned them to do, as outlined above.
Trump’s out-front persona has a lot to do with the Peoples’ intractability, for the people clearly want to see fewer green-eye shade, hair-splitting boring lectures, as Paul Ryan gave us when he unveiled the House Leadership’s 17% solution to Obamacare. A fine presentation, actually, the only problem is that no one can figure out who he was talking to; members of his party, the other party, the media, the forty-fifty people back home that make up his inner circle? But clearly not the People. Pure front office booshway at exactly the wrong time
There’s a lesson here, Republicans. During this wartime period if you’re going to fall back on that old dodge that you’re just doing what the folks back home want you do to, expect to be living back there amongst them in the near future. The people will let you know when you can play small ball again. But not until.
The people are looking for leaders, not corporate managers or lawyers, who, no matter where they congregate, always bunch among themselves. No matter that this is not always so, this is how professional Republicans are perceived, and while they are indeed role-models to people who want to be just like them (I’ve attended too many state bar association meetings not to take notes of this) this is the first thing that pops into ordinary people’s minds when they see such a ham-fisted attempt at repealing Obamacare flop so quickly, and so deservedly.
The House leadership broke several of their own rules of collegiality, especially about mutual disclosure to the membership, and they broke almost all their promises to the voters, whose support they had been begging for 6 years. (McConnell’s Senate will no doubt get its own chance in due course.)
But there was also the House Freedom Caucus, as many as half of whom were/are certified #NeverTrumpers. I was a Cruz guy myself early-on, and philosophically still am, but I had the good fortune to spend a decade in the Fortune 500 manufacturing sector so I know things about Trump few Congressmen know.
I stand behind the Freedom Caucus members who seem to “get” their commission and understand the existential elements of “big ball” versus small ball. But a few Freedom Caucus NeverTrumpers, who, in priortizing their positions and their votes, not unlike the Democrats, the Media and a few sad faux-conservatives, seem to have denying Trump as their default position with a vote, while burying the Left should be. Or so it has been decreed. This is clearly in contradiction of the Peoples’ Commission, and all I can advise, if they insists on playing small ball in a big league war; expect to be benched.
Irony of irony, we’ve seen this symptom before as it once resided inside the evangelical Christian one-issue voting bloc since the Reagan days. Then suddenly it evaporated close to a year ago, when, with the help of Jerry Falwell, Jr, religious conservatives decided to strap on the full body armor of the American theology by placing their narrow legislative agenda behind that of first getting rid of that existential threat of their being able to keep their religion at all. Thanks to Mr Falwell they were the first large voting bloc to understand the full scope of this war that has been waged against Americans.
It’s disturbing to me that so many modern conservatives and Republicans don’t, or can’t.
To the extent that we have time to cajole with argumentation, then issue warnings, and Democrats don’t sign that power sharing agreement with ISIS (they need an army badly) we have a little while to settle this without hanging people.
But rest assured, Republicans, come 2018 and 2020, the American have resolutely held onto a theme of restoration for over 6 years, and they are not going to let any Republican small ball detour them.
Get ready for a rough ride if you don’t agree.
Publications: Famous Common People I Have Known and Other Essays
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