Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
They Said It:
On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings, and which is as void of solid wisdom, as it is destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be supported only by their own terrors, and by the concern which each individual may find in them from his own private speculations, or can spare to them from his own private interests. In the groves of their academy, at the end of every visto, you see nothing but the gallows. Nothing is left which engages the affections on the part of the commonwealth. On the principles of this mechanic philosophy, our institutions can never be embodied, if I may use the expression, in persons; so as to create in us love, veneration, admiration, or attachment.
But power, of some kind or other, will survive the shock in which manners and opinions perish; and it will find other and worse means for its support. The usurpation which, in order to subvert ancient institutions, has destroyed ancient principles, will hold power by arts similar to those by which it has acquired it. When the old feudal and chivalrous spirit of Fealty, which, by freeing kings from fear, freed both kings and subjects from the precautions of tyranny, shall be extinct in the minds of men, plots and assassinations will be anticipated by preventive murder and preventive confiscation, and that long roll of grim and bloody maxims, which form the political code of all power, not standing on its own honor, and the honor of those who are to obey it. Kings will be tyrants from policy when subjects are rebels from principle.
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.
THE NEW NORMAL.
If you paid any attention to the political news last week, then you might be under the impression that the world has, once again, turned on its axis. Moderate Democrats won governors races in New Jersey and Virginia. Democrats picked up seats at the state level, particularly in Virginia, meaning that the Revolution of 2016 has been reversed.
Color us skeptical.
Yes, the election in Virginia in particular was devastating for Republicans. Not only did they lose the governor’s race with a somewhat milquetoast candidate, but they lost it in historic fashion. The Democrat, Ralph Northam, won in a landslide. His nine-point margin was the largest Democratic win in more than thirty years. Additionally, and more significantly, Republicans may have lost control of the Commonwealth’s House of Delegates. Before the election, the GOP held a 66-34 seat advantage. As of today, the Democrats hold a 49-48 seat advantage, with three races eligible for recounts or too close to call. Now, Republicans lead in all three of these remaining contested seats, so they may yet retain their majority. But even if they do, their advantage in the House has been all but wiped out. For the first time in many election cycles, the Democrats have something significant about which to crow at the state and local levels.
All of this in turn has prompted much speculation about the likely results in next year’s federal midterm elections and the impact that Donald Trump is having in the GOP. As Michael Barone, one of the best political commentators in the business notes, the election results have “led David Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s ace House race analyst, to say Democrats are ‘slight favorites’ to overturn the Republicans’ 241-194 majority in the U.S. House.” Given that we predicted a possible midterm wave election three weeks ago – two weeks before this election – we concur, although we’re not sure that we’d use the modifier “slight.”
As for Trump, nearly everyone seems to think that this was all his fault. Everyone everywhere is unhappy with him, and therefore the morning line is that he and his toadies are doomed. Writing from the Left, the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson insisted that the results were much, much more than they appeared. They should be interpreted not just as a message, but as a “righteous” message:
What happened at the polls Tuesday was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking that exposed the cynical fraud called Trumpism. Hallelujah, people, and let’s do it again next year. Perhaps Republicans forgot that Hillary Clinton — rightly or wrongly, a candidate distrusted by much of the nation — won nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. Or that bigger crowds came to Washington to protest Trump’s inauguration than to celebrate it. Or that voting trends in special elections since Trump took office were against the GOP….
I hope the message to the Republican Party is clear: If you embrace Trump’s angry, nativist, white-nationalist politics of division, you will pay a price….
Democrats do need a resonant message that connects with as many voters as possible. They do need fresh and appealing candidates for 2018 and beyond. But Tuesday’s election sent a righteous message about what the country thinks of the Trump presidency. Republicans can save themselves and their honor — or go down with the ship.
Robinson, of course, has been predicting Trump’s demise since before the 2016 Republican primaries, which means that it would be wise to take his righteous indignation with a grain of salt. In this case, he is wrong about the special elections trends – which slightly favored the GOP – and merely recycles the same arguments for Republican doom and gloom that he has been selling for almost two years. Nevertheless, he is hardly alone. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait declared that “the anti-Trump wav has arrived, and Republicans can’t stop it.” Moreover, even conservative writers saw the defeat as a reflection of Trump’s unpopularity. Writing from the Right, Kevin Williamson wrote the following from his perch at National Review:
So, here’s the math: Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, won nine out of ten votes among Virginians who approve of President Donald Trump. He lost nine out of ten votes among those who disapprove. He lost by nine points. Trump’s approval rating in Virginia is 42 percent. His approval rating nationally is lower than that — about 38 percent. Trump partisans like to sneer at opinion polling and proffer the cliché that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. Virginia governor-elect Ralph Northam, a Democrat, surely agrees….
Trump came into Washington with a roar that quickly diminished to a whimper on Twitter. Gillespie, he tweeted, “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” He may or may not be right in that, but that isn’t how Virginia voters saw it. Republican Scott Taylor, who represents Virginia Beach in the House, said he heard from dissatisfied Democrats and Republicans both that this election was “a referendum on the administration.” Former Republican congressman Tom Davis told the Washington Post: “It’s a huge drag on the ticket. . . . Democrats came out en masse in protest. This was their first chance to mobilize the base. The lesson here is that Republicans have to get their act together.”…
Funny choice of words, there. Trump has an act. Republicans are supposed to have something else: an agenda, a platform, principles, a philosophy. For a long time, that philosophy was conservatism: limited government under the Constitution, property rights, free enterprise, the rule of law, moral and social traditionalism, an assertive foreign policy, fiscal sobriety, order. (Imperfectly realized, of course, as conservatives would expect.) Trump offered something else: “winning.”…
If “winning” isn’t winning — and it surely didn’t last night — then Republicans have some decisions to make. They did not win on Tuesday night. The question for Wednesday morning is whether they deserved to, and whether they might deserve to again in the future.
We will concede that Williamson makes some good points. He always does. Moreover, we’ll concede the basic premise of ALL of the commentary cited here (as well as countless articles not cited here): Democrats were motivated, energized, and excited to vote against Donald Trump. They hate him. They want him impeached or imperiled. Government agencies – which employ large swaths of the most populated sections of Virginia – have dart boards on their walls with Trump’s face on it. As nearly everyone notes, Trump “was a drag” on the ticket, in that he motivated Democrats to show up and vote against him.
But that’s only half the story. There was another drag, one which no one, Right or Left seems to want to talk about very much, as they dance on Trump’s grave. Kevin Williamson mentions, for example, that Trump supporters in Virginia voted overwhelmingly for the Republican, while Trump detractors voted overwhelmingly for the Democrat. What he doesn’t mention, however, is the breakdown between the two with respect to turnout. Virginia’s governor’s race drew the highest turnout in twenty years. That’s a big deal. But that turnout was elevated in primarily Democratic areas of the state, the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington especially. What that suggests is that not only were Democrats motivated, but Republicans were not. Countless observers have insisted that Gillespie tried to distance himself from Trump, but that it didn’t work. We’d argue that this is perfectly backward. Running from Trump may seem wise to a certain type of Republican, but then that type of Republican is likely a bigger part of the GOP’s new electoral woes.
Now, we understand why so many conservatives like Kevin Williamson are displeased with the President. They didn’t like him to begin with and they don’t like him now. He’s not their kind of conservative. And so be it. But the cold, hard truth of the matter is that Trump is not the problem with the GOP right now. The GOP is the problems with the GOP.
Yes, since taking office, Trump has sent a bunch of tweets that make conservatives cringe. Yes, since taking office he has picked unnecessary fights with everyone from the now-former Director of the FBI to several Senators in his own party. And yes, since taking office, he has continued to buck tradition and the norms that most conservatives have previously considered sacrosanct.
But he has also slashed regulation. He has also nominated very good and very conservative judges to the federal bench, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He has also pushed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act – the very piece of legislation that created the Republican majorities in the first place. He has also proposed and pushed serious and very conservative tax reform. He has also decertified Obama’s much-ballyhooed and very dangerous Iran nuclear deal. He has also rebuffed the global warmists. Heck, he even withdrew the United States from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, one of the most damaging and treacherous of all of the one-world institutions. Steven F. Hayward, a conservative stalwart not prone to hyperbole, recently took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to call Trump’s agenda “the most conservative…in a generation.” He even went so far as to place Trump among the most hallowed of Republican presidents. “This hitherto ideologically unmoored man,” Hayward wrote, “has set in motion an administration arguably more conservative than Ronald Reagan’s.”
And what, pray tell, has the mainstream GOP done to help him? Not a damn thing.
Ask yourself this: If you were a Republican voter in Virginia – or New Jersey or anywhere else for that matter – why would you go out and vote, especially for a candidate who has explicitly distanced himself from President Trump? What would be your motivation? What about their agenda and their accomplishments would make you think, “Heck. I’ll go stand in line to pull the lever for them?”
In the six years after they retook the House majority, the Republicans voted some 70 times to repeal or cripple Obamacare. (And yes, we know that this is something a distortion). In the first two post-Obamacare election cycles alone, Republicans and Republican-affiliated interests groups ran more than a quarter-billion dollars in ads slamming the law. For the last three-quarters of the Obama presidency, undoing his signature accomplishment was the GOP’s very raison d’etre. The only thing standing in their way, we were told, was the president himself. So the people went out and elected a Republican president. And what happened then? Well…Nothing.
We don’t mean to pick on these people, but the GOP Congress has been worse than useless. It has done very little of any significance. It has not kept its promises on health care, much less any of a host of other conservative priorities. If we were betting men, we’d bet that they won’t be able to get tax reform figured out either. They’ll continue, as a collective, to ensure that President Trump doesn’t succeed in any appreciable way. They are actively and, in some cases, intentionally thwarting the will of their own constituents, if not the American people more generally.
Given this, we ask this question in all seriousness: what in the world would motivate anyone to vote for the mainstream Republicans right now? What do they possibly have to offer?
It is worth remembering here that the very story of this Revolution – the country class vs. the ruling class revolution – began with conservative voters’ frustrations with Obama administration AND with the mainstream Republican Party. The Tea Party, recall, sprang from the country class’s anger and frustration with the ruling class’s response to the Great Crash – e.g. TARP, the auto company bailouts, “stimulus” directed at favored and connected constituencies, etc. Much of this was pushed by Republicans just as enthusiastically as it was by Democrats. TARP was Bush’s baby, after all. It may have been necessary under the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that the circumstances weren’t frustrating and exasperating to the average folks who suffered unduly for the mistakes made by the ruling class. Eventually, of course, the Tea Party shifted its focus, turning its ire on Obamacare, but that was NOT how it all started. It all started with JUSTIFIABLE anger at BOTH parties.
To be sure, this anger gave us non-mainstream Republicans like Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, each of whom bucked the party establishment and beat back establishment primary opponents. It may seem like centuries ago now, but once upon a time, Rand Paul won the Republican Senate nomination in Kentucky, and then won his seat, running on an anti-Mitch-McConnell platform.
And the Tea Party contingent in House is even bigger. When he ran as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, now-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was considered a radical conservative and was portrayed as such by the media and the Democrats. Now he’s a tepid conservative at best – or at least he’s considered so by of those who once supported him wholeheartedly. And the story is much the same for the rest. They all remain good conservatives and strong supporters of liberty, but they’re not especially effective advocates of same. They’ve been swallowed by the swamp monster. And their screams and cries can hardly be heard above the monster’s din.
What this tells us is that the Revolution is ongoing, that 2016 is indeed the new normal, though not in the way many observers believe. Last week’s off-year election results were as much the Republican establishment’s fault as they were Trump’s. There is no way to tell if Ed Gillespie would have performed much better in Virginia if he had forsaken the conventional wisdom and embraced Trump, both in terms of policy and personally. But he certainly wouldn’t have performed worse. The country class Revolution persists. And this time around, it was demonstrated in abstention.
Now, that’s not to say that the GOP establishment is the only faction of the ruling class with whom voters remain perturbed. They are just as annoyed, frustrated, and angry with the rest of the elites and especially the media. If you don’t believe us, you can just ask the voters of Alabama, where Judge Roy Moore is, for the time being at least, the Republican Party’s nominee in the special election to be held next month to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat.
We are not sure how much play the Judge Moore saga is getting outside of the political realm, but within that realm, it has become almost an obsession with some in the press – and understandably so. You see, Moore is something of a hero to many people in Alabama and throughout the country. But he is also the embodiment of all that is wrong with America to many others. Moore is probably best known for commissioning and then refusing to remove a Ten Commandments statue from the Alabama Judiciary Building. For his trouble, he was removed from his position as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was elected to that position again, ten years later, and then was removed from office again, this time for directing Alabama probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on gay marriage.
To be blunt, we are not big fans of Moore. We prefer politicians who are less willing to harness the massive power of the state to direct the behavior of their constituents. But then, we’re not the people to whom he has made his pitch. We’re not his target audience. The Republicans of Alabama are. And in September they decided overwhelmingly that they would prefer Moore to the more establishment candidate, Luther Strange. That’s their business, of course. And given Alabama’s overwhelmingly conservative predisposition, that should have been the end of it.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about Moore and his erstwhile predilection for girls much younger than himself, at least one of whom was a little TOO young by any measure. To wit:
Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore. It was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.
“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”
Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
The story was well researched and well corroborated. Numerous sources went on the record and did not hide behind anonymity. They all confirmed contemporaneous accounts of Moore’s behavior. The Post had a heck of a tale to tell, and they told it in a clear, precise, and candid fashion. From all appearances, they had Moore dead to rights. He was done.
But he wasn’t. As it turned out, a majority of Alabamans told pollsters that they would vote for Moore anyway. Indeed, 29 percent of Alabamans and 37 percent of Alabamans identifying as “evangelical” Christians told pollsters that the charges against Moore made them MORE likely to vote for him. Countless Alabama Republican officials came to Moore’s defense, some comparing him to Joseph, the step-father of Jesus whom some evangelicals believe was considerably older when he took the teenage Mary as his bride. The entire episode appeared only to make Moore a stronger candidate.
How did this happen? Are Alabamans pro-pedophile? Do they think that it’s no big deal for men in their thirties to be attracted to young girls, much less to act on that attraction?
Obviously, Alabamans as a whole are not in favor of grown men acting coercing and abusing pubescent girls. What they are in favor of, however, is sticking it to the national media, and especially the Left-leaning folks at the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The fact of the matter is that Alabamans – like Pennsylvanians, and Nebraskans, and Kansans, and so on – distrust and dislike the mainstream media with all their hearts and all their souls. They believe – correctly – that press has an agenda and will do whatever it can to skew the perception of reality to advance that agenda. JD Rucker, a conservative blogger, spoke for many on the right when he wrote:
When the story broke an hour ago that Roy Moore was being accused by multiple women of inappropriate sexual behavior when they were underage teens, I thought, “uh oh.” Then, I saw the source: Washington Post. A short wave of relief came over me before the real dread of our current situation took hold.
I don’t trust the Washington Post. They are among the worst journalistic predators in the country in that they claim to be the beacon of truth while constantly spinning facts to match their liberally approved narratives. They adamantly protest accusations of being biased while demonstrating pure and unadulterated bias with every political story they post. What’s worse is that they have, for several years now, allowed their “news” stories to be editorialized. They are a propaganda machine. They should not be trusted.
Rucker and countless millions of other Americans think that the media will stop at nothing and will stoop as low as is necessary to advance their agenda. And they think that a big part of that agenda is destroying Republicans. The media, for their part, have done this to themselves. They have made such fools of themselves and demonstrated so unabashedly their willingness to skew the “news” to suit their purposes that they have no standing whatsoever among much of the country and no one to blame but themselves.
To repeat, we are not particularly fond of Roy Moore. More to the point, we tend to think he is creepy and that then allegations against him – made first by the Post but by numerous others since – are deeply disturbing.
At the same time, though, we understand why many people would instinctively reject the mainstream media’s accounts out of hand. We get it. We distrust the media too. We know that they have more than earned the distrust the American people feel for them. The country class hates the media, because the media are part of the ruling class and, as such, are a big part of setting political and social agenda to which the country class is opposed.
Last year, a few weeks before the presidential election, our old friend Angelo Codevilla, the man responsible for identifying the “the country class vs. the ruling class” paradigm, penned a piece suggesting that the “revolution” had only begun and that it would end in an ugly fashion. His conclusion is one we’ve quoted more than once in these pages:
We have stepped over the threshold of a revolution. It is difficult to imagine how we might step back, and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about. Donald Trump did not cause it and is by no means its ultimate manifestation. Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation.
What we’ve seen over the past week are two specific examples of how this revolution turns ugly and leads to a nasty, bitter reckoning. In the off-year elections, Republican voters essentially boycotted their own party’s candidates, largely because those candidates represented a political establishment that has done nothing with its power and seems content simply with maintaining the sinecures of status.
To the best of our knowledge Ralph Northam, the governor elect of Virginia, is a normal, stable, moderate Democrat, which is to say that he’s hardly someone to fear in an existential sense. But that is mere luck, a fortunate roll of the dice. Virginians could have wound up with someone far more threatening and far more sinister. And the Republican establishment would have facilitated that through its fecklessness and selfishness.
In Alabama, more and more women have been telling more and more stories about Roy Moore, which will, we suspect, seal his fate. But his doom isn’t inevitable, and it certainly wasn’t inevitable last week, after the initial story broke. It is not that Alabamans don’t care. It is that they don’t believe it, or, even if they do, they are appalled by the hypocrisy among the Democrats and the mainstream media, who have spent the last three decades ignoring the gutter morality and ethics of people like Bill and Hillary Clinton. Two rights don’t make a wrong, obviously, and this is the crassest and worst type of “whataboutism,” but that’s really beside the point to many Alabama voters. We predict that even if Moore is forced from the race or even expelled from the Senate, a great many Alabamans will remain resentful for a long time. The idea that the Washington Post could come down there and upend their prerogatives will simply further stoke the hatred for the media and its ruling class comrades.
Over the years, we have, more or less, been at least tacit supporters of the country class rebellion against those who presume to be its “betters.” We know full well that the modern administrative state exists primarily for the benefit of the ruling class and thus enjoys the full support of said ruling class. We know that in order for a republic to function, the people’s interests must be shepherded by a ruling class that is honest, selfless, and intelligent. And our ruling class is none of these things. As we have said before, we have the worst ruling class ever – or at least, perhaps, since the court of King Louis at Versailles.
That’s not to say that this revolution will end in the same way that the revolution against Louis, with everyone losing their heads. But it is worth keeping in mind that these sorts of things tend to take on a life of their own. Or, as the great British statesman Edmund Burke said about the chaos that followed the French revolution (keeping in mind that the “popular general” doesn’t have to be a military man):
In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who understands the art of conciliating the soldiery, and who possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account.
Or, if you’re not partial to that warning, consider Nietzsche’s famous prediction, made in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, that the mediocrity of the majority, whom he compared to herd-animals, would give rise to the Übermensch, the so called “leader animal,” who would replace God for the unbelieving masses.
Copyright 2017. 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.