Summary: Who has the momentum in US politics, Republicans or Democrats? Who is most likely to mold America during the next generation? A brief comparison gives a clear answer.
“Victory belongs to those who believe in it the most and believe in it the longest.”
— Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, in the film Pearl Harbor (2001).
Soon we will get the big match. Only one side can win.
The Republicans: party of the Right
The leaders of the Republican Party have simple wants, as we saw during the first two years of the Trump administration – when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress. They quickly pact dealt with the essentials. They cut taxes for the rich and businesses. They worked to suppress unions and deregulate corporations. They boosted military spending. They are loyal servants of the 1%, who have small dreams – and prefer a slow pace of progress.
But that is not an attractive election platform. So although obviously a conman (proven by his history), Trump wrapped himself in populism and won. His platform appealed to the politically active people on who are the GOP’s core voters. They want the borders protected, abortion limited (or stopped), their taxes cut, regulations reduced on their lives and small businesses, veterans well-cared-for, a strong military but few foreign adventures, and being allowed to keep their guns, These are small goals, mostly defensive.
In my thirty years of political activism, I have talked to thousands of these people. Their most common characteristics are resignation and defeatism. They know that the GOP’s leaders do not share their dreams and values. They believe that America is moving away from them. They are passive and apathetic, often dreaming of the coming Revolution in which They Will Arise and Smite Their Foes – or the coming Armageddon (cultural or economic collapse) after which the survivors (they, the pure of heart) will thrive in the New World.
Speaking to them of responsibility is like throwing holy water on vampires. Speaking to them of the need to defend America at the cost of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” brings forth passionate defeatism. Any discussion about reform – social, economic, military – ends with a recitation of their mottos: “It’s Not My Fault” and “It’s Not My Job.”
Side note: Trump quickly abandoned most of his populism promises (this was obvious from his first appointments). The rest he pursued in a desultory manner, with almost no support from the Republicans in Congress.
With such leaders and followers, what is the secret of the GOP’s success? First, a large fraction of America hates the Left’s agenda. That was, perhaps, the biggest factor in Hillary’s defeat (she did not adequately hide her agenda).
The second reason is even more basic. The powerful forces running (owning) the Republic Party have a well-conceived plan for reversing the New Deal. They have spent decades building organizations. The lavishly funded think-tanks, such as CATO, Heritage, and the Hoover Institute. The conservative academic institutions, such as the U Chicago Economics team and its satellites. The web of organizations that locate, recruit, train, and support people from the grassroots, such as the Young Republicans (the SHAME PROJECT biographies show how this network works). They have invested and reaped a thousand-fold. See The 1% build a New America on the ruins of the old.
The source of their power is fundamental.
“It’s all about power and the unassailable might of money.”
— E. P. Arnold Royalton, the great 21st-century industrialist in Speed Racer (2008).
The Democrats: party of the Left
The political forces powering the Left, like those on the Right, have spent decades building institutional supporters. Academia and the news media are their core, supported by a host of lavishly-funded non-profits. They recruit young people and launch them on careers like the Mormons do missionaries. But unlike the Right’s loyal employees, the Left has built a mass movement.
The two most recent mass political movements show the differences between Left and Right. The Tea Party was little more than a series of fun block parties, quickly coopted by the GOP’s leaders like errant sheep (born in opposition to Wall Street, they became activists for tools of Wall Street). Occupy Wall Street was a movement of people onto the streets, inchoate politically but showing the untapped energy of the Left.
This year’s presidential debates show the state of the Democratic Party’s activists. They crackle with energy, overflow with ideas, among a wealth of candidates eager for action. Many of their ideas are wild, even mad – but their supporters love them. That rule by Democrats has ruined so many cities does not bother them.
By comparison, the 2016 GOP debates were like those of Boy Scouts running for Senior Patrol Leader: mild, well-behaved, offering small goals, boring speeches.
The Democrats are the opposite of the Republicans. Republicans love our society and want to preserve it; Democrats hate much of our society and want to destroy and rebuild it (they nod benignly at even wild violent rhetoric). Republicans have small dreams; Democrats have big dreams. Many Democrats consider the Green New Deal too much, too soon – but it describes their vision of a new society. Republicans are mostly apathetic and pessimistic (letters to the editor are the most extreme action for most); Democrats have a passionate intensity and optimism. Talk to each group about climate change to see the difference!
The Democrats have found a slate of issues that might put them in power.
- Giving free money for their followers (political crack, since one dose is never enough).
- Opening the borders (irreversible demographic change, a new underclass, social destabilization).
- Breaking America’s social cohesion, inciting hatred among countless fractures.
The Left’s multi-generational propaganda campaigns are effective beyond anything seen in Western history. They have reshaped millions of American’s vision of their history, convinced them that the world is doomed unless radical changes are made, and made them despise their society and its core institutions. These have created a pre-revolutionary condition. We lack only the spark to set off a conflagration. Like a dry forest in the summer, a spark – natural or deliberate – will occur. See the Scary lessons for America from pre-revolutionary France.
We are seeing a conflict like that between herds of sheep and buffalo. Unless something changes, the likely outcome over time is obvious. No matter who wins in 2020.
“The Second Coming” by Yeats.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. …
Another possible outcome: a third way
The Founders built America on lessons from the Roman Republic. The conflict between our two great political alliances eventually might bring America to a similar end, with neither winning and the Republic falling. It is too soon to do more than guess about this future. See the books at the end of this post for more about Rome’s story.
- The middle in American politics has died. Now extremists rule.
- America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s worse.
- Rome’s last citizen warns America: don’t repeat our mistakes.
- After Independence Day, look to America after the Republic.
Both Left and Right have turned against us, putting the Republic in peril. But the political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders remains decisive, needing only our energy to set it in motion. You can help re-start it. See some ways to reform America’s politics.
For More Information
Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let the GOP remember its great betrayal.
- 2016 revealed the true nature of America’s left & right. It’s bad news.
- Left and Right use race as a way to divide America.
- The Left crushes the Right. The counter-revolution will be ugly – Final victory is rare. There is usually a second act.
- The Left crushes the alt-Right, but Darwin might bring them to power – an alternative future, if the Right comes alive.
- Trump promised to rebuild America but did nothing – The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.
Rome’s history shows us a third path to the future
The Founders looked to the Roman Republic for ideas and inspiration. In this time of peril, we too can do so. See two books about the people who were the poles of the forces that could have saved the Republic, but instead destroyed it.
Caesar – a biography by Christian Meier. He wanted to reform the Republic, but destroyed it.
Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni – The life and legacy of Cato, the mortal enemy of Caesar. He loved the Republic, but his greater loyalty was to the 1%.