‘Anticollectivist, anti-Communist, anti-New Deal, passionately committed to limited government, free market economics, and congressional (as opposed to executive) prerogatives…’
Historian George Nash described
the Republican party
‘L’état, c’est moi.’
Donald J Trump (channeling Louis 14th)
Yesterday, we suffered through the recent Democratic National Convention…
Now, we turn to the Republicans’ convention. Another sad affair. But this time, not because Republicans are sticking with the ideas of the past; they’ve abandoned them.
The last Republican to run on a law and order campaign was Richard Nixon in 1968. Neither ignorant nor oafish, Nixon was a skilled lawyer. But he was a political opportunist. It was his administration that killed the real dollar, putting a fake one in its place, and made possible the catastrophe now unfurling.
But Nixon did not kill the Republican Party. That job was left to a reality TV star 52 years later.
So, hang the black crêpe. Say an Ave Maria. Draw the curtains and light a candle. The Republican Party is dead. Herewith, an obituary.
Party of Trump
Last week, we explored what happened in Argentina. In a move familiar to the ancient Greeks, democracy gave way to demagoguery…and the ideas and principles of the old land-owning classes gave way to the Big Man from Buenos Aires, Juan Perón.
Various forms of ‘Peronismo’ have been in control in Argentina ever since — for the last 70 years. The country, meanwhile, has slumped from the world’s sixth richest to number 80.
Donald Trump is no Juan Perón. And the US is not Argentina. But watching the Republican Party convention last week, we thought we heard a tango beat.
The most remarkable thing about the Republican National Convention was that there were no Republicans there. Instead, the crowd was composed mostly of dimwits, Trump idolaters, and neo-socialists.
As we forecast three years ago, the Republican Party has become the party of Trump.
Republicans gone AWOL
The Republican Party was forged by Abraham Lincoln and then bent in one direction or another as the years went by…including a disastrous twist toward empire under Teddy Roosevelt.
But the Republican Party of Eisenhower, Robert Taft, and Ronald Reagan was hammered into its pre-Trump shape during the new deal. Whatever else Republicans might believe, they agreed that they didn’t want the Roosevelt administration lording over every detail of American life.
The creed, often honoured in the breach, was simple: No meddling abroad. No meddling at home. The federal government’s proper role was to protect the rights of the people — as outlined in the Constitution — not to increase its own power by taking their rights away or trying to improve the world.
But none of this old wisdom was evident at the Republican National Convention last week. The ideas and principles that once distinguished Republicans from Democrats were AWOL. And our guess is they’re not coming back.
For more than 50 years, for example, Republicans said they believed in free trade. But no mention of it was made last week. And their main man is against it; he wants the government to control who trades with whom and on what terms.
For more than half a century, Republicans claimed to believe in balanced budgets. But they nominated a candidate who had presided over the most unbalanced budgets in history, with more than twice as much spending as had been collected in taxes…and a deficit now estimated at $4.1 trillion.
And where were the Republicans who believed in small government? Mr Trump is a Big Government guy…ready to mix it up at home or abroad. In his speech, he actually boasted of having murdered a citizen of a foreign country (Qassem Soleimani) and of having delivered the biggest bundle of freebies to the American people in history — the ‘greatest national mobilisation since World War II.’
In the Second World War, real Republicans — such as Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft — mobilised to defeat Germany and Japan. Now, the fake Republicans mobilise to cover up the damage they inflicted on the US economy.
President Reagan’s summary of Big Government economic policy was direct and simple:
‘If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.’
What Reagan didn’t realise — because it was unthinkable back then — was that you could expand the power of the federal government without increasing taxes. All you had to do was ‘print’ the money you needed.
Washington — with an ersatz ‘Republican’ in the Oval Office — stopped the economy from moving. But instead of dumping the Big Man for meddling, the ‘Republicans’ lauded him, and he lauded himself, for the most aggressive money printing in US history — including about $3 trillion spent subsidising everyone…and a $3 trillion print-a-thon by the Federal Reserve.
Yes, dear reader, the Republican Party is defunct. And last week, accepting the nomination, with its blood still on his hands, was the killer himself, a socialist of the Peronist persuasion.
By the time Mr Trump stepped up to the podium, the folks in the cheap seats had been warmed up with the familiar bugaboos and hobgoblins…as well as a heady dose of Trump worship.
For now, the born-rich New Yorker is no longer aspiring to be a decent president, but the ‘bodyguard of Western civilisation’ with a whole new deal.
Whoa! Big job. How to do it?
With more money printing, of course. More money dropped from helicopters — more than a trillion dollars.
And more meddling, too. More regulation of trade…more sanctions…more giveaways…more debt…more market manipulation (keep interest rates low)…and more interventions by the Army, not just overseas, but at home, too!
List of lies
Typically, by the fourth night of this hullabaloo, this would be the moment to reveal the program for the next four years. Spectators held their collective breath.
Mr Trump began his speech. It began with an homage to Melania, as if she were Evita Perón…and it continued…all 71 minutes of it…as if it had been delivered in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires.
But no…no ideas…no principles…no thoughtful analysis…and no recognition of the central insight of ‘conservatism’ — that there are limits to what government can do.
Instead, it was a long list of lies, gripes, threats, and fear mongering…followed by heady promises…most of which would be equally at home with the Democrats:
‘We will create 10 million jobs in the next 10 months.’
Biden only promised five million.
‘We will protect Medicare and Social Security.’
Biden: Ditto. Social Security is ‘sacred’, he said.
‘We will always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and that is a pledge from the entire Republican Party.
‘We will END surprise medical billing, require price transparency, and further reduce the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance premiums.’
More meddling in the medical industry, in other words.
‘We will greatly expand energy development, continuing to remain number one in the world, and keep America energy-independent.
‘We will win the race to 5G, and build the world’s best cyber- and missile-defense.’
More meddling in the energy and communications industries, too.
‘We will launch a new age of American ambition in Space. America will land the first WOMAN on the moon — and the United States will be the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.’
Wow! The sky’s the limit.
But why not let Elon Musk do it with private money?
‘This is the unifying national agenda that will bring our country TOGETHER.’
Apparently, not. Mr Trump is the president now. He, more than anyone, is already in charge of the national agenda. But the country is more divided than ever.
Mr Nixon may have kidnapped the Republican Party. But Donald Trump stabbed it in the back.
And now, with no Republicans in sight, the coast is clear. No matter who wins in November, you can expect bigger government, more subsidies, and more money printing…
Either way, Trump or Biden, the US will probably not get what it wants. Or needs.
But it will get the president it deserves.
For The Rum Rebellion