My country, the greatest in the world with an unbelievable diversity in culture and citizens will soon be faced with an impossible choice for its next leader, or so it would seem
The Republican Party started out with 17 candidates running for the nomination. Five withdrew before the primaries even started while another 11 have since dropped out of the race. This leaves Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. On the Democratic Party side, we started with what could be called five viable candidates and are now down to two. Of the two, Hillary Clinton, is the choice of the party elite, and barring unforeseen problems or an indictment, likely the nominee.
Donald Trump was considered a side show and a joke. Coming with what many considered a ton of baggage and no political background, all he had was name recognition and a lot of money. The power elites and the political pundits saw no future in his candidacy and down played early victories. Hillary Clinton on the other hand was the anointed one. In the beginning she had what was seen as a clear path to the nomination, since none of her announced opposition had the money, standing, name recognition or power base that she did.
So what went wrong? Trump beat all of the political professionals while Clinton faced, and may still face, an unexpected challenge from an unlikely source, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Following the primary in Indiana Trump defeated Sen. Ted Cruz, his closest rival, by double digits, Sanders then beat Clinton. Up until the week before, the polls had Cruz winning and up until the day of the primary Clinton was in a tight race but still leading. Even with this victory Clinton is still on track to win the nomination based on her past wins and a large number of “Super Delegates” in her pocket. Still it was not the cake walk/ Coronation she was expecting.
Again, what went wrong? While the main stream media ignores the plight of the democrats there is no end to the death notice for the GOP. Within its own ranks there is talk of the end and the need to find the soul of the party. Maybe this is not the end of either party just a restructuring and/or an update.
From time to time there are upheavals in the body politic, such as the recent advent of the tea party on the right and the new progressive movement on the left. In the tumultuous ‘60s we saw Barry Goldwater on the right and George McGovern on the left rise, and then go down in flames. The existence of political splits is not new in America. The Progressive Party of the US, better known as the Bull Moose party split from the republican party over policy difference between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Then there was the Native American Party also known as the Know-Nothing-Party, which formed to oppose immigration. The immigrants where mostly German and Irish Catholics. Any quick study of these parties will show that many of the issues then are the same as now.
Why then is the world coming to an end for the Republicans and what are the problems being faced by the Democrats. Historically these types of movements die out quickly. Neither of the parties above lasted long and neither of the reform movements of the left or right held power come the next election cycle. The difference today, if there is one, is 24/7 news coverage and social media. The political elites and the talking heads/pundits have not caught up with the change. The ascendance of Trump and the intransigence of Sanders campaign have caught those who should know better off guard. Rather than the party controlling the people the people are controlling the party. I am very concerned about the reaction of the power elites. From the beginning the Democratic National committee has made no secret about their desire to see Clinton the nominee and has manipulated the process to ensure that outcome. Sanders has managed to challenge the status quo and has made a fight of it. The advantage the Sanders insurgency has over Trump is that he cannot be challenged over his position relative to the political spectrum, he is a liberal. The republican leadership however is having a hard time reconciling their definition of conservative and Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz continued to tout that he was the only “true” conservative in the race. Going so far as to call Trump a New York liberal.
Since Trump has apparently vanquished all others he is now facing a revolution of the republican leadership because he does not fit the ideal. Recently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in an interview the reasons he is having trouble backing Trump is that he does not understand “conservative values.” Among these values and principles Ryan pointed out was limited government, the role of the executive, and adherence to the Constitution. These points and some others have been used to show Trumps lack of orthodoxy. I would point out to those conservatives gathering feathers and melting tar that the one overriding principle of the country is the voice of the people. I must tell the Republican elites that Trump won the primaries and the people may be changing the definition of conservatism.
Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor for the National Review in a past article quoted a conservative stalwart of the past, Russell Kirk, author of such books as “The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Elliot,” stating “Russell Kirk, who could not define conservatism in a paragraph, much less a sentence, would consider it folly to even try. Kirk wrote, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma.” Rather it is a recognition that life often pits some values against others, and that men are not always brilliant at sorting out which value should trump which in any given situation. As Edmund Burke noted, “The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man’s nature or to the quality of his affairs.”
In a similar vein William F. Buckley was asked in an interview if he agreed with the following: Q. Book publisher Henry Regnery once said, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the times.” Buckley agreed whole heartedly. So what’s up with today’s conservatives?
Nothing is the answer, it’s the so called conservative leadership that is the problem. While Clinton fights the “true” liberals of her party in her march toward the nomination we hear of many on the left bailing out and promising, at the least, not to vote. The well-known conservatives are doing the same and much worse, they are actively seeking an alternative candidate to run as a third party conservative. In other words, they are doing everything in their power to elect Hillary Clinton. The logic is that she will be so bad that they get to pick the candidate in 2020 after a disastrous four years of Clinton.
The irony of this is that major conservatives such as Bill Kristol are talking to Mitt Romney as a possible savior of the conservative cause and third party candidate. You remember Romney, he lost as the republican party candidate four years ago because 3 million conservatives sat out the election, as they are threatening to do this year. Romney is also the person who refused to run during the republican primaries. The Romney who held so much sway over the republican rank and file that after he came out and attacked Trump no one listened and Trump just continued to roll forward.
Many writers are asking what has happened to the party of Lincoln and saying things like Clinton is more conservative than Trump. I will remind those that the party of Lincoln was a third party that was considered the left wing progressive party of the time and stayed in power until FDR. The democrats did not begin there swing to the left until FDR and still were mostly conservative until JFK in the 1960’s.
What we are seeing today then may be nothing more than another swing and realignment of ideals. The stance conservatism of Goldwater day’s finally giving way to a more pragmatic branch of conservative. The beginning may well be traced back to Reagan and the Bush’s. The democrats on the other hand are holding to dogma at least 50 years out of date. What we are then actually seeing is what has always made America great, the people are taking charge and making changes. Power elites should not worry, they will adapt to the changes and once more be in charge as the people go back to their lives, with the warning that they can do this again, as they have done before.