Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

They Said It:

The designers must have felt in their bones what Tocqueville observed: Democracy has a tendency to slide into nihilistic mediocrity if its citizens are not inspired by some larger national goal.  If they think of nothing but their narrow self-interest, of their commercial activities, they lose a sense of grand aspiration and noble purpose.  “What frightens me most,” Tocqueville writes, “is the danger that, amid all the constant trivial preoccupations of private life, ambition may lose both its force and its greatness, that human passions may grow gentler and at the same time baser, with the result that the progress of the body social may become daily quieter and less aspiring.” . . .

So America was to strive upward.  But toward what?  Toward more wealth?  Greater scientific achievement?  Bigger buildings?  No, these were just steps along the way.  America’s mission was to advance civilization itself.  Americans and Britons of the late 19th century believed that, transcending human affairs, there is a universal order created by God.  Man’s duty is to strive toward that order, which precedes and controls politics, morals, history, economics, and art.  A phrase from Tennyson, selected by Harvard president Charles W. Eliot and inscribed in the library, captures the message: “One God, one law, one element and one far-off divine event, to which the whole creation moves.”. . .

But now, on the verge of the 21st century, Americans have discarded their pursuit of national greatness in just about every particular.

David Brooks, “A Return to National Greatness,” The Weekly Standard, March 3, 1997.

 

IS “CHANGE” POSSIBLE?

Almost exactly 12 years ago, we wrote a piece entitled “A Dung Heap Called the United Nations,” in which we noted that the UN was a cesspool of vile, predatory beasts, licensed by the world’s powers to ravage and abuse the poorest of the poor, all in the name of “peacekeeping.”  In support of this contention, we cited a column by the inimitable Mark Steyn, which read as follows:

Is the UN good?  Well, I’m not sure I’d even say that.  But if you object to what’s going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures – the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards’ porno fantasies – then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.

In Eritrea, the government recently accused the UN mission of, among other offences, pedophilia.  In Cambodia, UN troops fueled an explosion of child prostitutes and AIDS. Amnesty International reports that the UN mission in Kosovo has presided over a massive expansion of the sex trade, with girls as young as 11 being lured from Moldova and Bulgaria to service international peacekeepers.

In Bosnia, where the sex-slave trade barely existed before the UN showed up in 1995, there are now hundreds of brothels with underage girls living as captives.  The 2002 Save the Children report on the UN’s cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa provides grim details of peacekeepers’ demanding sexual favors from children as young as four in exchange for biscuits and cake powder.  “What is particularly shocking and appalling is that those people who ought to be there protecting the local population have actually become perpetrators,” said Steve Crawshaw, the director of Human Rights Watch.

Following Steyn’s advice and example, we Googled the UN’s penchant for promoting sex abuse and found, among other articles, a February 2002 piece from London’s (leftwing) Guardian newspaper, which noted the following:

The report (made for UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children UK) says UN peacekeepers sexually exploited very young girls in refugee camps in West Africa, making them pose naked for pictures in exchange for biscuits, cake powder and other food. They are also accused of pooling money so that groups of them could have sex with the same girl . . .

Sexual exploitation was defined by children as “when them big man go loving with small girl for money.  Them big men can go loving to small girls, they can call girl when she walking along the road and then the girl go and they go in house and lock the door.  And when the big man has done his business he will give the small girl money or gift.”

The majority of children said they knew of at least one child who exchanged sex for money or gifts.  Most were aged between 13 and 18 but some were younger and girls aged four to 12 had reported sexual harassment.  Most of the allegations involved male staff recruited within the country trading for sex with oil, bulgur wheat, tarpaulin, medicines, transport, ration cards, loans, education courses, skills training and other goods.  A girl in Liberia said: “It’s difficult to escape those NGO people; they use the food as bait to get you to sex with them.”

We went on – with a handful of other stories – but we imagine you get the picture.  Way back when, the UN was indeed a dung heap.

But that was then, and this is now, you say.  Well . . . no.  That was then, and that is now as well, as it turns out.  A couple of weeks ago, we happened upon a story about the U.N. and its now year-old report on “sexual exploitation” by “peacekeeping” forces.  And needless to say, things haven’t changed much in the decade-plus since our dung heap article.  The new right-leaning news-site Heatstreet provides the (truly) gory details:

UN Peacekeepers have been raping children in the Central African Republic.  MINUSCA, the mission resulting in nearly a hundred allegations of child sexual abuse, gave soldiers the mandate “to protect civilians and support transition processes” following the devastation of war.

Instead, numerous Blue Helmets have used their position as an opportunity to engage in acts of rape and paedophilia.  This abuse of power is no secret: it first emerged over a year ago.  In fact, it is so widespread that the United Nations was subject to an independent report “on the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peace Keeping Forces.”

In exchange for the assistance they were deployed in order to provide, in exchange for basic necessities such as food and water, UN soldiers have been sexually exploiting children.  The Blue Helmets attacked the very people they were sent to protect.  Children as young as 7 have been targeted, with a girl forced to perform “oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies.”

Three girls reported being stripped, tied up, and forced to engage in bestiality with a dog by a French military commander.

Just over six years ago, in a May 3, 2010 piece titled “Whelping the Dogs of Wart, Redux,” we warned that the next several years of American politics would be dominated by an increasingly bitter and ugly war over limited resources.  This war would, we argued, pit government against taxpayer, blue constituency against blue constituency, and the Leviathan against common sense itself.  Specifically, we wrote:

Gird your loins, ladies and gentlemen, and beat the drums of war.  It is coming. As surely as the sun rises in the east and Bill Clinton digs interns, war is coming.  And as war always is, it will be ugly and destructive.  And when it’s over, everything will have changed.

This won’t be a war against a foreign aggressor or an existential and nebulous attacker.  It will be a war within the states, a civil war.  And like the previous civil war, it will pit brother against brother and father against son.  The hostilities will rage for years and will destroy families, friendships, and maybe even governments . . .

Like nearly all wars throughout history, this one will be about resources and their scarcity.  As the resources run out, competition for them will increase.  And as competition increases, hostilities will commence.  Truth be told, they’ve already begun.

The proximate cause of this war – or wars, really – will be the inability of government to sustain itself in its current bloated condition.  The fact of the matter is that government at all levels in this country has grown too large too fast and will simply be unable to maintain its massive girth.  At current levels of taxation, there simply are not enough resources available to maintain the bloat that plagues the federal and especially the state and local governments.  Something is going to have to give.

As for what will “give,” there are handful of possibilities. It is possible that the electorate will give (and give . . . …and give) in the form of substantially higher taxes.  If this is the case, then the war will rage primarily between the public sector and the private sector, between the bloated Leviathan and the productive economy.  Taxpayers will rebel. Governments will fall.  Businesses will move.  Jobs will be lost.

It is also possible that the operators of said governments will choose instead to make those within the public sector give, by compelling them to accept force reductions, lower wages, and reduced pensions and other benefits.  In such a case, the combatants will primarily be government bureaucracies, fighting each other and fighting elected officials for the spoils – though it should be mentioned that there will be a great many innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire as well.  Regarding this, we would do well to remember that Government exists to serve the community that established it, and when government suffers, as it most certainly will throughout this war, the community will suffer with it.

Late last month, we stumbled upon the following report by Walter Russell Mead’s crew at The American Interest from the front lines of the war.  Interestingly, though not exactly surprisingly, said front lines always seem to be located in the deepest of Blue Country, in polities run for decades by one party in particular.

Chicago’s public school system is on the verge of facing financial insolvency, and it’s not because selfish taxpayers have been starving it of revenue — both the Windy City and the state of Illinois have significantly higher than average tax rates.  Much of the school district’s acute fiscal distress can be chalked up to mismanagement, plain and simple — short-sighted decisions by blinkered public officials who chose to mortgage the school system’s future against pension benefits for current retirees.  Crain’s Chicago Business reports that CPS is finally drowning under the weight of interest on debt it has accumulated over the last decade:

CPS has papered over its annual shortfalls by borrowing vast sums from bond markets.  As a result, CPS bonds are now rated as “junk” and the district has to pay a huge premium to get anyone to buy them (three times the rate for benchmark government bonds).

What’s more, by failing to make the necessary pension contributions, CPS has borrowed even larger amounts from its current and former teachers through the pension fund — today the district owes the fund billions upon billions.  CPS owes bondholders and the pension fund more than $38,000 for every student, up from less than $10,000 in 2001. . . .

Meanwhile, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to adjust the retirement benefits of Chicago public employees, making it even more difficult for the district to avert financial catastrophe.  Chicago’s sclerotic public institutions are failing, and its children will pay the price.

Not quite two years ago, near the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, we penned a piece called “Chaos and Old Night” in which we warned that the current state of affairs in the world was reminiscent of the state of affairs prior to the Great War.  And the Great War, of course, unleashed hell unseen before in human history, including not just the millions of war dead, but also the release of Bolshevism, the collapse of the colonial system, the rise of fascism, and the post-war madness that did not end until 1945, after some 12 million innocents had been slaughtered by the German fascists and millions more by the Japanese.  Among the lesser remembered but nevertheless devastating effects of the war, we noted, was the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, which killed somewhere between 3% and 6 % of the world’s population (50 -100 million people).  We warned – given the then-current outbreak of Ebola – that the world was not exactly immune from such pandemics today.  We put it this way:

We are lucky, we suppose, that the epidemic currently ravaging Africa is not airborne, as was the Spanish Flu.   Nevertheless, the Ebola outbreak, if not contained, can and will have significant economic impact on Africa at least, and possibly on other parts of the globe.   Imagine, for example, what would happen if Ebola were to spread to the Middle East, where war, refugees, and lack of sanitation suggest a public health disaster in the making.   Imagine further a different virus, one which might be airborne, spreading in that region.

And then imagine what that might mean, given the staggering number of refugees at present in the Middle East.  Just last week, for example, 50,000 Iraqi Yazidi were displaced from their homes by the advance of ISIS (The Islamic State . . .).  Just. Last. Week.   Currently, there are at least THREE MILLION Syrian refugees who have fled their country’s civil war.  Some of these have fled to Turkey.  Others have gone to Jordan.  But by far and away, the greatest number have gone to Lebanon, the population of which is now estimated to be roughly 1/3rdSyrian refugees.  Just over a week ago, officials in Tunisia – which, for the record, is an Arab state in AFRICA –closed their country’s borders because of the overwhelming numbers of refugees from Libya and Egypt, fleeing both civil war and famine.  Jordanian officials have likewise closed their borders to Syrians of Palestinian ancestry.

All things considered, if also one counts those Syrians and Iraqis who are “internally displaced,” which is to say that they are refugees but have not yet crossed international borders, the Middle East is home to some 10 million or more refugees.  Almost none of these have adequate food, shelter, or sanitary conditions, and almost all are crowded together in makeshift camps.

Now, consider that the Middle East is home to one of the least understood and potentially most dangerous infectious respiratory viruses around.  MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a potential mass killer.

New and exotic diseases, of course, are not the only threat.  The United Nations refugee agency, among others, is lamenting the fact that polio vaccinations among the refugees in Lebanon will be unable to continue.  The sheer volume of refugees, combined with the cost of the program makes it impossible to maintain.  And that, in turn, means that these masses of refugees, an estimated half of which are children, will remain vulnerable.

Lastly, consider the fact that the United States alone has nearly 20,000 military personnel deployed in the Middle East and Africa, with an additional 30,000 in Afghanistan.  And the Americans are hardly alone; Australian, British, and EU troops and aid workers join them in the region, as do countless NGO and UN employees.

Think, for a minute, what it would mean to the global economy – and especially to the energy sector – if any one of these highly contagious viruses were to metastasize among the refugee populations in the Middle East and then spread, as it inevitably would, to the aid workers and military personnel stationed there to help.

Two weeks ago, various news agencies reported on a new and yet perfectly predictable development in refugee camps throughout the Middle East, an outbreak of cutaneous leishmaniasis, a flesh eating tropical disease.  London’s Independent reported as follows:

A disfiguring tropical disease is sweeping across the Middle East as a combination of heavy conflict and a breakdown of health care facilities in Isis-occupied areas leaves swathes of people vulnerable to the illness.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is transmitted exclusively through bites from sand flies and can result in horrible open sores as well as disfiguring skin lesions, nodules or papules if left untreated.

Leishmaniasis has been endemic in Syria for centuries and was once commonly known as the “Aleppo evil”.  Until 1960, the disease’s prevalence in Syria was restricted to two areas – Aleppo and Damascus.  However, as Syria’s civil war continues the resulting refugee crisis has triggered a catastrophic outbreak of the disease, with the regions most affected under Isis control . . . .

Research published on Thursday in the scientific journal PLOS has found the disease is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people living in refugee camps or trapped in conflict zones.

Around 4.2 million Syrians have been displaced into neighbouring countries and Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have accepted most of these refugees.  As a result, cutaneous leishmaniasis has begun to emerge in areas where displaced Syrians and disease reservoirs exist side by side . . . .

While the disease is treatable, Syria’s present condition has seen the number of leishmaniasis cases reported to the Ministry of Health double from 23,000 before the start of the civil war in 2011 to 41,000 in 2013, according to the PLOS research.

Neighbouring countries, which have received millions of refugees are also reporting many leishmaniasis cases.  In Lebanon, cases rose to 1,033 in 2013 from six in the previous 12 years. Hundreds of cases have also been reported in Turkey and Jordan.

The good news is that leishmaniasis is not transmissible via human-to-human contact.  The bad news is that the next disease may be.  And there WILL be a next one.

Now, we mention these specific problems today not because they are the worst that the United States and the rest of the world currently face, but because they are representative of quite-literally scores of other similar catastrophes-in-residence or catastrophes-in-waiting that share several common elements.  And these common elements make them particularly worrisome in this day and age.

The first of these elements is that these problems are not exactly new; their ominous presence has been widely known or anticipated for decades, slowly and patiently worsening, as they await the time when the threat they pose gets bad enough to merit them a place on the world stage with such disasters-de-jure as terrorism, Iranian nukes, a deeply corrupt IRS, a murderous VA hospital system, and, of course, “global warming.”

The second element they share is that the various governmental institutions upon which the public is relying to address these particular problems in an efficacious and sane manner are either causing the problem or making it worse by pretending to address it.  If there is one thing everyone should have learned over the past nearly sixteen years, it’s that government is every bit as wasteful, sclerotic, and inadequate as we conservatives have been saying for decades.  If you want toxins released into your river in Colorado or excessive levels of lead in your drinking water in Michigan, then government can help.  If, however, you want nascent global problems addressed in a timely and safe manner, well, good luck with that.

And that brings us to the third element they all share, which is the fact they all have had terrible misfortune of becoming dangerous enough to merit their own large, bureaucratic champion in either the United States government, the United Nations, or some quasi-private initiative that acts as a front for politicians and their parasitical backers.  Unfortunately but inevitably, when this happens, the problem solvers become dependent on the continued existence of the problem.  In fact, their importance is enhanced by their failures, which they always cite as a need for more “resources” to bring to bear on the problem.  One thinks of the large numbers of black and white race baiters who have become rich by scratching scabs off of that wound so they could pretend to heal them.

In our estimation, the worst aspect of this dilemma is that the there is no readily apparent cure for it.  Or to be more precise, there’s no cure within the current political establishment, including the conservative establishment.  For decades, conservatives have been the sole hope of citizens who wish to end “business as usual” in Washington and Turtle Bay.  And yet even we concede that this conservative establishment has delivered little more than ill-tempered rhetoric, leaving the concerned citizens discouraged and desperate.

All of this, we’re afraid, leaves us wondering even more about the motives of said conservative establishment with respect to the Trump-Clinton presidential matchup.   As you may recall, several weeks ago, we questioned the excuse offered by one of the leading NeverTrumpers, that while “Clinton may be unfit to be president . . . she’s unfit within normal parameters,” while Donald Trump is “unfit outside normal parameters.”  In fact, we more than questioned this, we described as pure “nonsense.”  Given the persistence of some of the world’s most serious and potentially most serious problems, even in spite of the establishment’s “best” efforts, we can’t help but wonder what these conservatives hope to accomplish with their adamant and aggressive opposition to Trump, especially in light of the fact that this opposition will all but certainly ensure that Hillary Clinton is elected president.  Do they think that she’ll be less bad at addressing the problems facing the world than her former boss has been?  Do they think that she’ll be less bad than Trump?  Or do they think that maybe, if things get bad enough, their brand of conservatism, which was roundly rejected by Republican voters this election season, will somehow become more popular?

We’ve really struggled with this, for a variety of reasons, and so this week, we poked around, reading everything we could by the conservative establishmentarians, who are still touting their adamant opposition to Trump (and thus tacit support for Hillary).  Naturally, we started at National Review Online, NRO, the Hôtel de Ville of the conservative establishment.  And we started with NRO’s biggest name, Jonah Goldberg.  Recently, Goldberg penned a column about conservative revival post-Trump.  It is an interesting piece about the need for and the potential makeup of a conservative revival.  This, we thought, would help us sort things out.  Here’s a taste:

Perhaps it’s time to bring back the American Liberty League.

Forgotten by everyone save a few history buffs, primarily on the libertarian right and the Marxist left, the League was formed early in Franklin Roosevelt’s first term by John Jakob Raskob, a former head of the Democratic party.  Its leadership comprised mostly conservative small-government Democrats, including the party’s two previous presidential nominees — Al Smith, who ran in 1928 (the first major Catholic presidential candidate), and John Davis, who lost to Calvin Coolidge in 1924.   It received considerable funding from some industrial titans, but it was also a legitimate grass-roots educational and political organization with more than 100,000 active members.

The League saw itself as a platform for constitutionalists and classical liberals who felt estranged from both Roosevelt’s Democratic party and Herbert Hoover’s Republican party. . .

They were passionate champions of economic liberty.  “There is one very clear lesson to be learned from history — namely, that governmental disregard for property rights soon leads to disregard for other rights,” one of its pamphlets declared.  “A bureaucracy or despotism that robs citizens of their property does not like to be haunted by its victims.”

Alas, the League was a boon to FDR . . .

Americans interested in neither nationalism nor socialism are once more entering an era of political homelessness.  Trump won partly because too few took him seriously for too long; the “movement” needs to get moving and make fresher arguments for timeless principles.

Yes, alas.  As you can plainly see, this column is indeed interesting, but it is also pedantic punditry at its worst.  Maybe Goldberg doesn’t quite get this, but Donald Trump won the Republican Party presidential primary by winning more votes than any Republican in history.  He didn’t win because the establishment chose him.  He didn’t win because he was next in line.  He won because the voters chose him.  Moreover, they chose him over a host of really very good politicians and very capable constitutional conservatives, the kind of people the American Liberty League would have loved.

Despite this, Goldberg thinks that adopting the principles of this group that wasn’t even especially popular 80 years ago, when people still believed in things like individual responsibility and the importance of markets, will somehow lead to a revival.  A revival among whom, we wondered.  Goldberg thinks that the “movement” needs to “get moving,” and that the way to do so is to revive an archaic group “forgotten by everyone save a few history buffs.”  That’s nuts.  Heck, it’s worse than nuts.  It’s unhinged.

Likewise, a couple of days later, the social conservative author Maggie Gallagher also contributed a piece to NRO, explaining why conservatives should oppose Trump and what a “true” conservative candidacy would look like.  To wit:

So Paul Ryan, John McCain, and others have now endorsed Trump.  The GOP is unifying around a brilliant, talented nationalist who hurls insults, dances openly with racism, and changes his promises at the drop of a hat. . .

The slim hope that a hero will emerge to define an alternative vision for the conservative movement is fading day by day.  But while there is hope, there is a duty to define what this conservative movement is about.

What would an independent or third-party conservative campaign be about?  I have a suggestion: Make America good again.

Good for people who work hard for a living.  Good for families trying to raise decent kids.  Good for entrepreneurs who create new goods, products, and services.  Good for investors who do actual investing rather than currency manipulation or deals with Washington. . .

How do we re-create an America that is good, that values creativity and procreativity?

Putting our faith in a corrupt Democrat or a corrupting Republican is not going to do it.

More important than victory in 2016 is defining a movement we can believe is good and will do good.

“Make America Good Again?”  Say what?  Where has Ms. Gallagher been for the past few months?  Does she really believe that this is the slogan that will appease or console the electorate, nearly all quarters of which is as discontented and angry as it has been in decades?  John McCain wanted to make America good again.  And where did that get him?  Mitt Romney did too.  Jeb Bush may have been the nicest guy in the Republican field this year, the best suited to make things “good.”  How did he fair with the angry electorate?  For that matter, Jeb’s brother, the former president, ran on the promise to make the country good again, a platform of “compassionate” conservatism.  And as swell a guy as he may have been, did he solve any of the problems that most vex the nation?  Did he address the concerns that appear to motivate establishment conservatives.  Did he make us good again?

Gallagher states – openly and unapologetically – that “defining a movement we can believe is good and will do good” is “more important than winning.”  Does she or does she not know that the next president will likely appoint a handful of Supreme Court justices, including the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the Court’s former conservative anchor?  How, exactly, would letting a Third Wave feminist like Hillary Clinton fill these vacancies make the country “good” again?

All of this, we’re afraid, is mind-numbingly bizarre.  We’ll grant – readily! – that Donald Trump is less than the ideal standard-bearer for a nominally conservative party, but is this silly slogan really the best conservatives can do in response?  Do they not realize that slogans like this are a big part of the reason we’re in this predicament in the first place?

With respect to the electorate, we’re reminded of the rationale that many conservatives came up with to justify the Bush nation-building efforts in the Middle East.  We have, conservatives like Victor Davis Hanson lamented, tried everything else to tame the Middle East.  We’ve tried being nice.  We’ve tried being cruel.  We’ve tried propping up dictators.  We’ve tried fighting dictators.  We’ve tried everything else we can think of.  And nothing has worked.  Maybe, in the words of “Animal House’s” Otter:  “this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”  And so it is with Trump.  He may constitute a futile and stupid gesture on the voters’ part, but at this point, what other choice do they have?

With respect to the conservative establishmentarians, those at risk of being overthrown by the electorate’s futile and stupid gesture, we’re reminded of a story told by the late Italian author Umberto Eco.  The crippled beggars of Touraine, Eco noted, would run when they saw Saint Martin approach.  They feared the Saint would heal them, thus depriving them of their source of income.

As we noted recently, one of the few big-name, bona fide conservative intellectuals we’ve seen who has the guts to try to fix the Trump platform from the inside, rather than griping from the outside, is our friend Steve Moore, who has signed on to be the candidate’s economic adviser.  If Trump wins and Steve is able to get him to listen to economic reason, he’ll be a true conservative hero.  If Trump wins and Steve canNOT get him to listen to reason, then at least he will know that he tried.  In either case, all the NeverTrumpers get is the satisfaction of knowing that they maintained their seat at the groaning table of American politics.

And all of this brings us – sadly but inevitably – to another story we wrote, this one just last year.  In an October piece titled “Nihilism and Spree Shooters,” we wrote the following:

Psychologists who have studied violence in young men and especially young men’s willingness to forsake everything they know, everything they’ve been taught, and everything they might otherwise believe about right and wrong, say that there is a set of shared circumstances and “revelations” that link spree killers and self-radicalized terrorists.  Faced with emptiness of their own lives, isolated from many of their contemporaries, and desperately in search of something substantive to give their lives meaning and purpose, young men – and especially young men who find refuge on the internet and in social media – tend to create fantasy lives for themselves, alternate realities in which they not only find the meaning and purpose they crave, but do so in heroic fashion.

The blogger and journalist Robert Beckhusen has written on this subject often, noting that the ties that bind spree shooters and self-radicalized terrorists are both numerous and consistent.  Young men confronted by the social and spiritual emptiness of their lives and society, default to what is often called “heroic modeling,” or “heroic doubling,” which is to say that they take on a symbolic cause and kill not just to slake their own bloodlust, but to exact revenge for a whole class of people with whom believe they find common cause . . .

This process of heroic doubling is fairly pronounced and consistent, among both spree-shooters and Westerners who join terrorist causes.  Whether its Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris taking revenge on the “jocks” of the world; Christopher Harper-Mercer waging a personal war against Christians; Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams, a “grievance collector,” fighting back against perceived repressors on behalf of his race and his sexual orientation; Dylann Roof trying desperately to start a race war; Elliot Rodgers specifically declaring his desire to seek “retribution” against the women who, in his mind, denied him love and sexual gratification; or radicalized Londoners attacking their own home city on 7/7/2005, the patterns and the fantasies are nearly the same.  Young men, lost in a world of meaninglessness, fashion for themselves a fantasy war in which they are the heroes and thus perpetrate all too real violence against those whom they perceive as symbolic of the “enemy.”

Twenty years ago, David Brooks and Bill Kristol teamed up at the Weekly Standard to propose a “new” form of conservatism, which came to be called “National Greatness Conservatism,” based on the notions that America is great, that it is unique, and the way to help average American was to revel in the country’s unique greatness.  Today, of course, these two are leaders of the NeverTrump movement and virtually spit the word “nationalism” out their mouths as if it were poison.  Their vision of greatness was super, never mind that it didn’t do squat for anybody but the two of them.  By contrast, Trump’s version of greatness can, at least in theory, do something for a great many people, even if he never does a damn thing other than give those people something to believe in again.

We’ve seen what happens to a country and a people that believe in nothing, and it isn’t particularly pretty.  If, in four years, the country remains adrift spiritually, beset by homegrown terrorists and spree shooters, bailing out failed cities and states and their pension plans, sending troops across the globe not to fight wars but to “build” nations, and supporting international organizations antithetical to the nation’s founding values, the NeverTrumpers will, in part, be to blame.  Meanwhile, the markets are, and should be wary.  The barbarians are not just at the gate.  They are inside the walls.

 

Copyright 2016. The Political Forum. 3350 Longview Ct., Lincoln NE  68506, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.