By Lawrence Sellin Ph.D. ~
On August 5, 2015, I wrote:
The two most important issues of the 2016 election are non-partisan.
(1) The federal government and the media are, as institutions, hopelessly corrupt.
(2) The United States has elections, but we no longer have representative government.
None of the problems facing the country can be solved effectively without first confronting those two issues.
Those words still ring true and any candidate addressing those issues directly could capture the majority of voters on both sides of the political center.
Many Americans now believe that we are no longer citizens of a republic, but subjects of a reigning oligarchy composed of a self-absorbed permanent political class, which services the interests of wealthy financiers at the expense of the wider population. They maintain their authority by an ever-expanding and increasingly intrusive government and use a compliant media to manipulate public perception and opinion in order to maintain the illusion of democracy.
To maintain control, both Democrats and Republicans have fostered a culture of dependency. Democrats create dependency by expanding federal mandates and increasing entitlements. Republicans promote dependency by limiting voter choice and co-opting or crushing independent candidates and grass roots political movements.
To sustain itself, the corrupt political-media establishment has the power to suppress the truth or interfere with honest inquiry by false authoritative pronouncements or by manipulating the news through the release of misleading information.
On January 2, 2014, I called for a “political insurgency” because there are no untainted elections, there is no rule of law, there is no means to petition elected officials or the courts for the redress of grievances and there is no independent press to challenge governmental abuse. In other words, all the traditional avenues to fight the corrupt practices of political expediency and crony capitalism have been blocked.
Democrat pollster Pat Caddell recently noted that the 2016 election “is not about ideology, not about issues, it’s about insurgency… The system is on the verge of coming apart…The politicians in Washington aren’t going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle.”
According to Caddell, such conditions are largely responsible for the rise of non-political-consultant-class candidates like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders as well as the weakness of those considered establishment candidates.
The political insurgency feature of the 2016 campaign would also explain the fragmentation of the conservative moment.
Like the Republican Party in general, American conservatism appears to be fully and openly untethered from any principles. Like the Constitution, conservatism is now whatever you want it to be, and for most but not all, whatever is politically expedient in the pure pursuit of power.
The internal conflicts within the conservative movement have widened the already existing fissures, roughly dividing it into three groups: status quo, zealots and anti-establishment nationalists.
Status quo conservatives are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican establishment. They are the inhabitants of the House of Representatives Freedom Caucus, who provide a convenient venting mechanism as a substitute for meaningful political reform or opposition to Democrat legislation. They are the political pundits ensconced in the hallways of the National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, who, during every election cycle, help dress up Republican establishment candidates in appropriate conservative clothing.
Conservative zealots tend to espouse a multitude of widely varying conservative “values,” but, in practice, often consider Constitutional principles as optional and disposable components, when political expediency requires it. In an effort to resurrect Ronald Reagan, the zealots tend to produce candidates that more resemble Frankenstein.
A growing constituency of the fragmented conservative movement is the anti-establishment nationalists, which comprises the largest fraction of Donald Trump supporters. These voters are more insurgents than conservatives and are unlikely to respond to classical conservative or establishment Republican arguments. It is this constituency that is most likely to attract disaffected Democrats and has the greatest potential for disruptive political innovation.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of “Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution “.