As we noted long ago, back in 2014, the time is ripe for something akin to New Fusion. While we were not as articulate and not thorough enough in that call as we would have liked, the time is still ripe for something like Fusion most popularly promoted by Frank Meyer and National Review in the 1950s. Ironically, it was National Review that supported such endeavors. No longer does the magazine believe in forming electoral majorities. Instead, the money losing magazine of about 120,000 subscribers wants to make its brand of “conservatism” even smaller. They want the circle so small, that they will all be able to gather in a small room to pat each other on the back for a job well done. Since the magazine is losing subscribers, and those that remain have an median age of 66, it won’t be long before they are able to actually do just that. Indeed, National Review has pandered to the worst elements of the left by claiming Trump is either a racist (in fact or in just in speech) or campaigns as one. One bonus feature of NR is that the magazine also publishes columns by a “roving correspondent” who ridicule poor white Trump supporters for being racists, and then calls for their community’s death, all the while alleging his supporters are looking for a “father-furher.” At least we can thank Libertarian Nick Gillespie for calling out NR not only for contributing to Trump’s rise (and America’s weakness), but for also being hypocritical.
The same magazine that claims it is living up the ideal set by William F. Buckley forgets that Buckley also said: “As Franklin Adams once said, I think the average American is a little bit above average. And under the circumstances I rejoice over the influence of the people over their elected leaders since by and large I think that they show more wisdom than their leaders or than their intellectuals. I’ve often been quoted as saying I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.”
Ted Cruz has broken the 8th Commandment by thieving delegates and is doing so in full view and support of the Republican Party so as to thwart the will of the voters. This has led Cruz to engage in delegate harassment. In Colorado party elites were quite happy to engage in the theft. It seems Trump was right about Cruz being a Trojan Horse. Yet contra 538, those delegates will likely look to their party chairs, and state elites if the vote proceeds to a second ballot at convention. Cruz has no lock on this as he’s just as despised as Trump by party elites, and perhaps more.
Woe to the party that steals consent.
Let’s say that Trump is able to pull out a victory, many “conservatives” are pledging to vote for Hillary, or someone else (this alone should disqualify Sen. Sasse from any future leadership position since he has no interest in building the party he allegedly belongs). The party should rename itself “Electoral Deathwish.” And, no, national polls about imagined head-to-head matches do not count at this point. They never pan out in November. Never. Remember when Dukakis was 20-30 points ahead of Bush? Good times.
In the midst of writing this post, Decuis, at JAG, as usual, beats us to the punch. The JAG is keeping up a vigorous and excellent commentary by the week. As we noted, it is needed and necessary. The Declarationist friendly JAG asserts that the right and the left are converging. There are more similarities than dissimilarities. He could have added that, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats.” There are some significant differences, but in the face of someone who is offering the electorate a choice–in Donald Trump–the Republican Party has balked and is seeking to wrest the election from him.
This is a time for a “choice not an echo.” One of many things that makes Trump so popular is that he represents, for the first time in several decades, a real choice. All one needs to do is look at the numbers of his votes, and turnout to understand that he is single-handedly increasing the rolls of the Republican Party. Yet, it is the fact that he offers choice that so upsets Republicans these days. If you believe JAG that the parties are closer together than they are apart, then it is not so difficult to imagine that the reason Trump is loathed by the #NeverTrump folks is because he’s serious about his “conservatism.” I mean he’s really serious! The Horror. Can you imagine where we’d be if G.H.W. Bush was really serious about not raising taxes? We have already accounted in past posts how Trump is genuinely conservative in several respects, but the one that matters most is his appeals to the Declaration not in name but in principle: safety and happiness. We should be so lucky to have a candidate so serious about the regime, the health of the regime, and its perpetual longevity.
Harry V. Jaffa in his essay on “The Nature and Origin of the American Party System” notes that there are times when you want a party to offer a stark choice, but at other time you don’t, or shouldn’t. If a party was always offering a stark choice, then that party would be a permanent minority. When is the right time to offer a “choice?” Jaffa asserted, only in times of great need, when the principles of the regime are at stake. The Republican Party and and question of slavery was one of those times when a choice was necessary.
Jaffa beings by contending that parties are necessary for the “functioning” of “free government.” Yet, as he notes, the parties are supposed to represent interests in society. The successful party is one that represents a “majority” of “interests.” (see also Federalist #10) Any party worth its salt tries to secure political power by appealing to a majority of Americans. In that sense, Jaffa states, we usually have, more or less, “consensus” between the parties.
But what if the parties reject or stop trying to secure a majority of the interests in whatever combination, in society? What if the parties try to subvert the will of people and rig the game to choose one that is contrary to the majority? What if both parties seek to disenfranchise the votes of those in their respective parties?
Jaffa again offers an answer: parties that offer a choice, like the Republicans did in ’36, lead to defeat. For the party to offer that choice a second time to the voters, would spell sure defeat. Yet, this is exactly what happened in three elections between that year and 1948. And yet, “Once a party has demonstrated a winning formula in American Politics, then the opposition to survive, must recast itself.” Once again, the Republicans are balking at this and seeking the status quo in the form of McCain, Romney, and this election cycle, Bush (who was the original establishment choice). The rejection of Trump is suicide for the party, especially since it is seeking to keep that which it has in a field—an unvictorious field. the current state of the party is no different from that of McClellan’s when he was head of the Union Army of the Potomac.
We are no less in a moment where choice is needed. Indeed, we are confronted with another “Slave Power” but not one identical to the 1800s version. Jaffa notes that “free government” includes being “ruling and being ruled in return.” What the party (parties) is/are doing is throwing off the being ruled part and trying to secure their position as rulers. The Party of Lincoln rejects the notion of “enlightened consent” bypassing it for something we’d call “imposed consent.” There is nothing enlightening about the party’s attempts to thwart the will of the public’s consent through trickery and disenfranchisement. In fact, it should be expected for when parties cease to persuade, when they cease to build electoral majority coalitions, they only have undemocratic means to effect their ends.
If Jaffa is right that parties are interests (not factions) then a party to survive ought to appeal broadly to interests that will ensure its election. The Founders, and Hamilton specifically, tried to create a “national economic interest” that was nonetheless local, and served the interests of the community in the Union. As JAG has aptly pointed out, this has not been done, or it has been lost, in the last 30 years.
Here the Federalist Papers are actually quite instructive. JAG makes the argument that the Union was not formed to benefit abstractly some over others, it was also meant to simply work. In other words, the Union was supposed to provide something for all its citizens to live in a stable and hospitable environment. In terms of economics, and the ability to live in a safe and stable political environment, both parties have lost their way for the end of abstract ideology (free markets) or because they have some ties to the Davosie.
Federalist #1 and #2 speak to the fact that a people to be free must “deliberate” in order to “secure” the “prosperity of the people.” Indeed, Publius notes that the “wisest citizens” should be “directed to that object.” Now of course, there’s more going on in the early pages of the Federalist Papers than this, but the point is it is all connected. At the end of #2, Publius notes that a “blind approbation” is never to be desired, and that anything “imposed” would be anathema to the citizens. Before the public concern is not only “public liberty” but also “prosperity.”
It is this liberty and prosperity that makes government work. It is largely the failure to secure safety, liberty, and prosperity that has caused the rise of both messgrs Sanders and Trump. Republics would not work if the “prosperity of America” was upended and as Publius admits, continuance in the unstable and economically unfeasible confederacy under the Articles could have meant the “Union [would be] in the utmost jeopardy.” Quoting Cardinal Wolsey, Publius asserts that if these aims are not secured then we can shout “FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS.”
Trump understands this and hence why he wants to “Make America Great Again.”
Trump may not get the nomination. However, the door has been opened to revisit all of these problems that have been brought by the two party system in its current form, and under its present representatives. We are quickly coming to the conclusion that the only way out is a wholesale turn over (or nascent recreation) of not only the present parties, but the people who have overreached and doubled down on their indefensible positions.
All this to say, so many have been written out of “conservatism” it might be high time to revisit the destruction that has been wrought. Libertarians feel disaffected, and yet offer the most persuasive view of the economy, especially in terms of monetary policy. Traditionalists have been adrift for decades now, and yet there is must we could find in common with them on the need for institutions and temperament of anarcho-capitalism. the Declarationists are a natural fit in Trump’s America and within Trumpism largely defined. The fusion of these old wings under a new formation of conservatism such as is now ongoing would make up for a formidable electoral coalition that in turn can double as a governing coalition.