Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
A few months back I wrote a blog about the times we are experiencing right now and rejected the claim that we were, as a few pundits have pontificated, “a modern French Revolution”.
My feelings on this have not diminished as it relates to our instant situation but, upon further reflection, I think there may be some merit to the analogy…albeit with the dates being altered a bit.
We are definitely in the midst of a revolution, but I believe that revolution… and, yes, it does bear some striking resemblances to the French Revolution… began with the election of President Trump.
What we are seeing now is more analogous to the “Reign of Terror” brought about by Robespierre, the distinction being that the “Reign of Terror” is being foisted by the deposed regime in a counter-revolutionary action.
With the election of U.S. Grant, the United States developed a strong federal system at the direct expense of the States. This was more a result of practicality than political philosophy. The United States needed to both rebuild, as well as ensure the civil rights of all citizens of states, who were being readmitted into the Union.
This “bureaucratization of democracy” set the fundamental architecture in place for the explosive growth of government in the late twentieth century.
It also created what I call the “Mandarine Class”: “experts” who regulated others (usually being exempt themselves) for goals believed to be in the best interest of the State. This was the beginning of collectivization, something I feel is completely antithetical to the animating philosophy of our Founders.
It also allowed for the creation of “client constituencies”. Since individuals now were identified, first and foremost, as members of a sub-collective, interest groups began to form to allow for the lobbying of government for one of two goals: 1) To be left alone by the government, or 2) To seek largess from the government. (When it came to business, especially large business, the goal was to use government to create barriers for those seeking to compete against the established constituency.)
These activities require money, both for the Mandarines who are being pleaded with for dispensation (sometimes through campaign donations… sometimes through outright bribery), and for the organizers of the constituency group as well. After all… lobbying is a profession, and the managers need to eat too.
Over the years all of these people have made a tremendous amount of money.
This institutional program began to build upon itself. When it came to dealing with government, and the way we dealt with government, there was a way to do it and an expectation of results.
There was always an underlying problem though… many people, especially rural and suburban people, still had the politically inappropriate idea they enjoyed the vague, and often debated, idea of “freedom”.
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As the institutions of power became more and more calcified, the general distrust of collectivism began to grow. Education, however, acted as a bulwark against this growing dissatisfaction with governmental control. Children, as well as young adults in college, began to become steeped in the idea that collectivism was a moral impairment. Political philosophy, and the very idea of limited government, ceased to be doctrinaire to the younger members of our body politic. Even the idea of the dignity of the individual became something that had to be stamped out.
The legal system became willing accomplices in this march towards collectivism. Businesses, in an effort to shield themselves from the existential threat of continuous litigation brought upon by disgruntled employees, began to create HR departments, essentially private Mandarines who regulated human behavior within the workplace. Even the name is Orwellian. Individuals have lost all of their unique identifiers. They are now “Human Resources”.
(As a complete aside, I have always felt the explosive growth in the tattoo industry has been a foreseeable consequence to this forced artificial homogenization of society. People yearn for individualism… even collectivists it turns out.)
Then President Trump entered the stage.
He was anything but predictable. Moreover, I would suggest that had he entered the political scene 20 years ago, he would have been as summarily dismissed as Lynden Larouche. (Please do not equate the two… there is zero similarity in political philosophy… but I believe he would have been dismissed as Larouche was a marginalized political figure.) What he did do…and he did it with aplomb… is give a voice for those who had become completely disaffected and disgusted with the political establishment.
This explosion of populism had both good and bad consequences. For many good and decent people, there was finally a cheerleader who was unapologetic about American exceptionalism.
For others, the restraints were off to now openly voice racially divisive opinions. (To be sure though, these malcontents have always existed, and always will. They also represent an extreme minority and exist in both parties.)
While Trump was campaigning, so was Senator Bernie Sanders. His message of change was very, very different from Trump’s. Yet, he was also what modern economic theorists like to term “a disruptor”. And his message, like Trump’s, radiated with millions.
I remember distinctly as Sanders was on the verge of losing the Democratic nomination to Senator Clinton, a Sanders’ supporter was being interviewed. The reporter asked him who he would vote for if Sanders failed to achieve the nomination… his answer was Trump.
At first I found this to be incredulous… but as I have pondered on it over the years, it does seem to make sense now. This one voter was less interested in the person per se… he was more interested in revolutionary fervor… anyone who would bring forth that revolution was better than continuing with the status quo.
Then, on election day, the revolution was made manifest. The institutionalized Washington was thrown into chaos and liberal state governments suddenly, for the first time, became devotees of the Tenth Amendment.
Then the “Terror” began.
But, as I mentioned in my opening, the “Terror” was not the guillotine being waged by the newly-minted Trumpian bureaucrats. The “Terror” was being directed at anyone who looked askance at the fallen regime.
In a bizarre example of institutionalized counter-revolutionary zeal, the left went after anyone and anything that held up respect for President Trump. From kneeling during the National Anthem, to attacking Peace Officers, to the destruction of statues… anything that bore a relationship to Trump must be destroyed.
Orange Man Bad.
Then this last week we were treated (sort of) to the Democratic Convention. Its choice of speakers was telling, as is frankly their nominee.
Young Turks of the Democratic Party were given a whopping 60 seconds to kneel before the altar of their betters. Some chose to, others, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who really should take measures to rid herself of that racist post-hyphenated last name… if consistency means anything to her), refused to completely “bend the knee” and never mentioned Vice President Biden by name.
Instead, the honored time slots were left for institutionalized politicians. Even politicians from the Republican Party.
The revolutionary zeal, that had often been claimed by Marxists supporting the Democratic Party, now must be seen for what it really is: a bald-faced lie.
The Democratic Party is not (nor really has it ever been) a revolutionary party. It has become, in fact, a counter-revolutionary party.
I suppose that those looking for the heady days of yesteryear when faceless Mandarines made self-serving decisions at the expense of the electorate… well… you now have a candidate.