After the Republic

Below are a few excerpts from an excellent article by Angelo M. Codevilla posted at the Clairmont Institute’s website. It’s an excellent article, yes, but I don’t agree that we’re at the end of the republic. Many people disagree with me, but the growing public support for Donald Trump’s desire to shake up Washington gives me hope.

In recent years there have been other signs of hope. Republicans took the U.S. House in 2010. Now I realize that the GOP “leaders” haven’t done much leading. But holding majorities — like they do also in the U.S. Senate — is a good start. During the Obama presidency more Republicans have been elected to office at the state and federal level than any time in many decades. The rise of the “tea party” signaled back in 2009 that more Americans had had enough. The fact that the “tea party” has faded doesn’t mean that many of the people in it aren’t still engaged in other ways.

Here’s one more sign of hope: while I continually complain about our side’s failure to effectively fight the information war, the growth of the conservative press and the increasing experimentation by conservative organizations to reach more low information voters is encouraging. We have a long way to go, but we have begun the journey.

Here is the opening of Angelo M. Codevilla’s article:

Over the past half century, the Reagan years notwithstanding, our ruling class’s changing preferences and habits have transformed public and private life in America. As John Marini shows in his essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis,” this has resulted in citizens morphing into either this class’s “stakeholders” or its subjects. And, as Publius Decius Mus argues, “America and the West” now are so firmly “on a trajectory toward something very bad” that it is no longer reasonable to hope that “all human outcomes are still possible,” by which he means restoration of the public and private practices that made the American republic. In fact, the 2016 election is sealing the United States’s transition from that republic to some kind of empire.

As smart as Codevilla is, like so many other intelligent people, he gets things wrong. For example, the opening sentence of his next paragraph:

Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.

The writer says several things in the course of his article that are debatable or misguided. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get a lot of other things right. Here’s just one more paragraph:

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

You can read the entire article here.

Since this article posted, a response to it was written at The Atlantic here, and Codevilla responded here.

Image credit: FINDEEP / Shutterstock.