After the Republic, by Angleo Codevilla. A long but very thoughtful piece by an astute observer with a track record of noting trends early and accurately. Read it all. Applies to the US, but most of their changes show up on Australian shores soon enough. Not good for those of us not in the global elite.
This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back.
Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.
Both major parties teamed up since 2008, and the US Constitution is no longer sufficient protection for the Republic:
The overriding question of 2016 has been how eager the American people are to reject the bipartisan class that has ruled this country contrary to its majority’s convictions. …
The ruling class’s united front in response to the 2008 financial crisis had ignited the Tea Party’s call for adherence to the Constitution, and led to elections that gave control of both houses of Congress to the Republican Party. But as Republicans became full partners in the ruling class’s headlong rush in what most considered disastrous directions, Americans lost faith in the Constitution’s power to restrain the wrecking of their way of life. …
[T]hose in power basically do what they please. Executive orders, phone calls, and the right judge mean a lot more than laws. … Over the past half-century, presidents have ruled not by enforcing laws but increasingly through agencies that write their own rules, interpret them, and punish unaccountably — the administrative state.
As for the Supreme Court, the American people have seen it invent rights where there were none — e.g., abortion — while trammeling ones that had been the republic’s spine, such as the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. The Court taught Americans that the word “public” can mean “private” (Kelo v. City of New London), that “penalty” can mean “tax” (King v. Burwell), and that holding an opinion contrary to its own can only be due to an “irrational animus” (Obergefell v. Hodges).
“Discrimination” law now overrides the US Constitution, a tool to do as the ruling group pleases:
What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution.
Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. …
This arbitrary power, whose rabid guard-dog growls and barks: “Racist! Sexist! Homophobic!” has transformed our lives by removing restraints on government. …
The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that.
How power in the US works now.
In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens.
Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment.
If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.
And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America.
Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. … Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is [now] the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes” — possessed of special privileges and immunities — and everybody else.
Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories.
Look at the fundamental changes since the 1960s:
Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer.
Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions.
Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.”
In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism.
The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis — none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials — is enforced as if it had been.
Look what the ruling class has inflicted on the rest of America:
Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate?
Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society?
Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? …
What if Trump wins?
The character of an eventual Trump Administration is unpredictable because speculating about Trump’s mind is futile. It is equally futile to guess how he might react to the mixture of flattery and threats sure to be leveled against him.
The entire ruling class — Democrats and Republicans, the bulk of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the press — would do everything possible to thwart him; and the constituencies that chose him as their candidate, and that might elect him, are surely not united and are by no means clear about the demands they would press. Moreover, it is anyone’s guess whom he would appoint and how he would balance his constituencies’ pressures against those of the ruling class. …
Trump’s slogan — “make America great again” — is the broadest, most unspecific, common denominator of non-ruling-class Americans’ diverse dissatisfaction with what has happened to the country. He talks about reasserting America’s identity, at least by controlling the borders; governing in America’s own interest rather than in pursuit of objectives of which the American people have not approved; stopping the export of jobs and removing barriers to business; and banishing political correctness’s insults and injuries. But all that together does not amount to making America great again.
What would it take to make America great again?
[T]he United States of America was great because of a whole bunch of things that now are gone. Yes, the ruling class led the way in personal corruption, cheating on tests, lowering of professional standards, abandoning churches and synagogues for the Playboy Philosophy and lifestyle, disregarding law, basing economic life on gaming the administrative state, basing politics on conflicting identities, and much more. But much of the rest of the country followed. What would it take to make America great again—or indeed to make any of the changes that Trump’s voters demand? Replacing the current ruling class would be only the beginning.