Charlie's Blog: Travails of the Grand Old Party


Travails of the Grand Old Party

The Republican and Democratic parties both feed out of the same bag provided by the monied system, and where the list frequently differs the same interests are represented.

To say the rise of Donald Trump has caused some concern among the Republican establishment is to understate the seismic shift that has happened in the Grand Old Party. The simple fact is that the GOP has been deluged by a gang of party crashers who will break the furniture, bust out the windows, drown the cat, and leave the toilet backed up and overflowing as the living room and front lawn are littered with beer cans and liquor bottles. Trumpism has arrived like a judgment from Almighty God, and the Republican Party has no one to blame but itself.

How did things get to this sorry state of affairs? The answer can be summed up in two words--Mitt Romney. Mitt was a terrible choice back in 2012 and blew an election that should have been won easily. In that defeat, the Trump campaign was born. Donald Trump had supported Mitt Romney, but Romney lost mostly by his own incompetence. He didn't even try to win. So, Trump decided to do what Romney could not do. Trump decided to win.

It is important to keep these two in mind because their fight is ongoing even as I write this. Bill Kristol is practically begging Romney to run third party to ensure that Trump loses to Hillary. The fact that someone like Kristol would rather see Hillary as president instead of Donald Trump says a lot. Forgotten in this melee are Ted Cruz and his supporters who lost this round but will continue to fight on.

There are essentially two camps within the GOP. The first and most powerful camp is the Establishment that is comprised of mostly big government Republicans and neoconservatives. They are best represented by the Bushes, a dynasty of Establishment nasties. This Establishment group goes way back in the history of the GOP before Goldwater and Reagan. Their main interest is money. That's about it. Policies that advance the interests of these moneyed factions are what the Establishment is all about.

The second and less powerful camp are the conservatives. These are the Goldwater/Reagan people. They care more about ideas and liberty and religion than they do about money. You have a smattering of libertarians, Ron Paul types, and Pat Buchananites, but they tend to ally with these true conservatives. These people found a place in the Republican Party primarily because of the disgrace of Richard Nixon and the humiliation of Gerald Ford who pardoned him. This made it possible for Ronald Reagan to come in over the hackles of the Establishment and to literally change this country and the world. Reagan remains the greatest president in my living memory. His greatest mistake was in picking George H.W. Bush to be his running mate as a way to keep peace in the party.

When Bush the Elder became president, he allowed the Establishment to get back in charge.  Despite having the Reagan legacy behind him and a fresh victory in Desert Storm, Bush was a popular president that could not lose but managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This was not because of a philandering governor from Arkansas so much as the efforts of Ross Perot.

H. Ross Perot was the proto-Trump. He was Donald Trump before there was a Donald Trump. If you,listen to Perot's speeches, he touches on the same issues as Trump does today. Perot would cost Bush the election and do similar damage to Bob Dole in 1996. These same people who supported Perot would also go on to support guys like Jesse Ventura and Pat Buchanan. As third party candidates, these Perot people could not win a national election, but they had the numbers to spoil that election. This is where Donald Trump comes in.

Trump tapped into these people who tend to be blue collar and anti-establishment. The genius of Trump is that he convinced these people to vote in Republican caucuses and primaries. Most Republicans don't want Trump, but they couldn't stop fighting amongst themselves to support a better candidate like Ted Cruz. Now, at this stage of game, they are stuck with Trump. He is going to be their guy whether they want him or not. Where did the Republican Party go wrong to end up with this clown?

In all of this lurks the ghost of Ronald Reagan. The simple fact is that the GOP has not seen a man like him since he left the White House. Every presidential candidate since has been an Establishment candidate. Establishment candidates provoke hostility and a sense of frustration among those who are conservative. The Tea Party was an outgrowth of this frustration. Tea Partiers are the true conservatives, and their guy this time around was Ted Cruz. Cruz is the closest thing the GOP has had to another Ronald Reagan. He should have beaten Trump, but the Establishment refused to embrace Cruz in much the same way they never embraced Ronald Reagan. Now, they are going to pay for it.

There is actually very little difference between Trump and the Establishment types. That is the irony of it all. Ultimately, they are about money. The difference is in perspective. Establishment Republicans are global in their thinking. Trump, like Perot before him, is a nationalist. If you consider the three groups together, you have globalists, nationalists, and patriots. What's the difference?

Globalists are married to an agenda that sees the USA as either the leader or a prime component of a global empire. This is why neoconservatives find common cause with the Establishment and explains Bill Kristol's man crush on Mitt Romney. These people want to run the world. Without a doubt, these people are evil. They are the Empire.

Nationalists want to retreat from the world stage and concentrate effort within the borders of Fortress America. This is why Trump keeps talking about that wall on the southern border. That wall is a potent symbol of what Trump wants. It is also why he finds so much sympathy for Vladimir Putin. Basically, Trump wants to put America first. This is why that slogan about making America Great Again is so catchy because it is about America. It isn't about the UN or the American Empire.

Patriots are different. There is a key difference between nationalism and patriotism. Nationalism is wedded to a country. Patriotism is wedded to a set of principles and ideas. Nationalism and globalism are merely flavors of fascism. Patriotism simply believes in liberty. Conservatism is patriotism which is a belief in limited government, free enterprise, Christian virtue, and ordered liberty. These are the things which actually made America great. Unfortunately, the one guy who talked about these things just dropped out of the race.

What has consumed the Republican Party is a form of political nihilism that has rejected patriotism. The GOP has not really stood for anything since Reagan except to pay lip service to a few conservative issues like abortion which they ignore once in power. This cynicism amongst the Establishment was all that a guy like Trump needed to walk in and crash the party. As C.S. Lewis put it, "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." Trump is that traitor that their mockery of honor has produced.

Where does the GOP go from here? That is simple. They will dance with Trump. Trump will hurt them in their most sensitive spots--their wallets. I prefer nationalism to globalism, so I am willing to go with Trump over the Establishment. But I really want to see the GOP become the party of conservatism and patriotism again. Sometimes, you need a nightmare to wake you up. Trump is that nightmare.