04 Oct 2016

What Prompted the Peasant Revolt in Presidential Politics?

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scaliaquote

Why did low-information, not-particularly-ideological Republican voters go loco this year, reject all the qualified and genuinely principled candidates in favor of a Reality TV clown and populist demagogue?

They were fed up and simply wanted to express their animosity toward, and contempt for, the holier-than-thou, we-know-better community of fashion elite that controls the national establishment and which, under Obama, has end run the democratic process and simply imposed its will on the larger majority it contemptuously ignores again and again.

Matthew Continetti explains that the nomination of Trump is the steam explosion that occurs when all the democratic pressure release valves on the engine of government have been sealed shut by its careless operators.

This is a moment of dissociation—of unbundling, fracture, disaggregation, dispersal. But the disconnectedness is not merely social. It is also political—a separation of the citizenry from the governments founded in their name. They are meant to have representation, to be heard, to exercise control. What they have found instead is that ostensibly democratic governments sometimes treat their populations not as citizens but as irritants.

The sole election that has had any bearing on the fate of Obamacare, for example, was the one that put Barack Obama in the White House. The special election of Scott Brown to the Senate did not stop Democratic majorities from passing the law over public disapproval. Nor did the 2010, 2012, or 2014 elections prevent or slow down the various agencies of the federal government from reorganizing the health care sector according to the latest technocratic fashions.

The last big immigration law was passed under President Clinton in an attempt to reduce illegal entry. Since then the bureaucracy has been on autopilot, admitting huge numbers to the United States and unable (and sometimes unwilling) to cope with the surge in illegal immigration at the turn of the century. In 2006, 2007, and 2013, public opinion stopped major liberalizations of immigration law. Then the president used executive power to protect certain types of illegal immigrant from deportation anyway.

Coal miners have no voice in deliberations over their futures. Only the courts stand in the way of the Clean Power Plan that will end the coal industry and devastate the Appalachian economy. Congress is unable to help. The president went over the heads of the Senate by calling his carbon deal with China an “agreement” and not a treaty.

There has been no accountability for an IRS that abused its powers to target conservative nonprofits, for Hillary Clinton who disregarded national security in the operation of her private email server, for the FBI that treated Clinton with kid gloves while not following up on individuals who became terrorists. The most recent disclosures in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., show the terrorist Omar Mateen was clearly motivated by devotion to radical Islam and to ISIS. We are only finding this out now because of a lawsuit filed by a news organization. What is the FBI afraid of?

Progressives disregard constitutional objections as outmoded artifacts of a benighted era. Who cares how Obamacare was passed or implemented, the uninsured rate is down. Why should Obama submit a treaty to the Senate when he knows it won’t be ratified; the fate of the planet is at stake. The absence of comprehensive immigration reform isn’t evidence that progressives failed to marshal a constitutional majority for passage. It’s reason for the president to test the limit of his powers. Nor does government failure result from overextension and ineptitude. It is caused by a lack of resources.

Is it really surprising that our democracy has become more tenuous as the distance between citizen and government has increased? A large portion of the electorate, it would seem, is no longer willing to tolerate a bipartisan establishment that seems more concerned with the so-called “globalist” issues of trade, migration, climate, defense of a rickety world order, and transgender rights than with the experiences of joblessness, addiction, crime, worry for one’s children, and not-so-distant memories of a better, stronger, more respected America.

These concerns are often written off as racism, or resentment, or status anxiety—as reaction, backlash, atavism, obstacles to universal progress. The same was said of McCarthy in the 1950s, the New Right in the 1970s, the Tea Party eight years ago. But in every case, including this one, the populist upsurge signified a genuine and not entirely irrational objection of a part of the electorate to its dissociation from the life of the polity.

[F]rom ..“Donald Trump and the American Crisis” by John Marini:

    Those most likely to be receptive of Trump are those who believe America is in the midst of a great crisis in terms of its economy, its chaotic civil society, its political corruption, and the inability to defend any kind of tradition—or way of life derived from that tradition—because of the transformation of its culture by the intellectual elites. This sweeping cultural transformation occurred almost completely outside the political process of mobilizing public opinion and political majorities. The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality.

Marini refers to institutions such as the family, church, and school, institutions charged with forming the character of a citizen, of instructing him in codes of morality and service, in the traditions and history of his country, in the case of the church directing him spiritually and providing him a definitive account of the cause and purpose of life. These are precisely the institutions that have been brought under the sway of bureaucracies and courts heavily insulated from elections, from public opinion, from majority rule. And as the public has lost authority over decision-making in the private sphere, as the culture has become more alien, more bewildering, more hostile to “the old morality,” as President Clinton keeps saying rather fatuously that the fates of Kenya and Kentucky are linked, is it any wonder voters have sought out a vehicle for their disgust and opposition?

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17 Feedbacks on "What Prompted the Peasant Revolt in Presidential Politics?"

RICK

The paragraph from Marini speaks volumes. All of what he says can reliably be looked upon as the explanation of why the people have risen to oppose the so-called political leaders.

If the rapidity of this cultural exchange is not enough, it is that it has come about without the voice of the people. The change has severely ripped at the basic ideal of what it is to be an American. Perhaps unintended, the lesson here is don’t f with Americans. Heads will roll before this is over. Whether it is the right heads is the question.



JDZ

I think you (and other Trump supporters) are kidding yourselves. All that happened is you threw away what ought to have been a sure chance to elect a principled conservative Republican in order to run Trump as a great big FU. Trump is not serious about ideas or principles. Trump is not ethical. A lot of us wonder if Trump is even sincere in running for the presidency. His entire candidacy may just be a Clinton-arranged ploy to elect Hillary. Even if Trump is sincere, he is lazy, spoiled, unstable, and incompetent. He may very well lose. If Trump is elected, I guarantee you that he will A) renege on major promises and B) prove ineffective and incompetent. And his election would almost certainly deliver the White House to the democrats in four years.



KARL VINCENT

You discount us from your elitist throne. You have gone from my favorite blog to my least viewed. How about this: For once the voters wanted to own their own candidate, not the elitist globalist people like you. Again, sir, you discount us from your throne of the “holier than thou.” Count me in your basket of disappointed in Zincavage.



BrianE

“If Trump is elected, I guarantee you that he will A) renege on major promises and B) prove ineffective and incompetent. And his election would almost certainly deliver the White House to the democrats in four years.”- JDZ

Hold on there Sparky. As conservatives, we believe that laws originate in Congress and the executive branch carries out those laws to the best of their ability.

You sound like you hope the next president acts like the previous one, as ruler rather than a part of a functioning government.

And the reality is we don’t have a functioning government– at least one that conservatives recognize.

Conservatives are fed up with Republicans and consider them barely more trustworthy than Democrats. At least you know you can’t trust the word of a Democrat.

Will Trump disappoint supporters? Sure. But the bar is so low now I can’t image how we won’t be an improvement over Obama or HIllary. Don’t lose sight of the fact that she is just as much a leftist as he is, but with hawkish tendencies to use the military for global governance.



Scullman

Unfortunately for you and the rest of your “Jeb!” cabal from Yale, these principled, conservative Republicans you flacked for; guys like principled and conservative Scott Walker, a man as attractive and exciting to national Republican voters as a fart in a space suit, or as robotic, stiff and as scripted as Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz?..Really? Do we even need to go there now? Ft. Lee Christie? Kasich? (now there is a man with all charm of a train wreck) Carson? Huckabee? Jindal? Santorum? Perry? Paul? Really?

Bong hits are fun but every now and then it’s good to give it a rest.



margot darby

I didn’t see any able, moral, principled candidates out there in the GOP lineup, just a bunch of party hacks and cucks. And then the outsider “clown,” Mr Trump, whose message resonates so deeply with us clowns in Amerique profonde.

These Americans are not dazzled by Trump’s bling or his fame. Nobody confuses him with perfection or saintly modesty. But he’s the closest thing we’ve seen to an honest candidate. And in a country poised on knife-edge of mass insurrection, he’s the preferable alternative to chaos and civil war.



DP

Don’t worry, JDZ. Trump is not going to be elected, of course.



Cactusjack

Judean Peoples Front Suicide Squad, attack!



JDZ

Scott Walker dropped out early, but he is obviously a real conservative with an impressive record of fighting the power of state employee unions (a primary source of democrat party power & funding) and winning. Ted Cruz is a genuine conservative a brilliant debater, and has a serious record of principled conservative opposition to GOP establishment sell-outs. As Solicitor-General of Texas, Ted Cruz argued and won District of Columbia v. Heller case confirming the Second Amendment’s recognition of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as an individual right, and effectively recalling an important part of the Constitution from exile. Even Jeb Bush has some real conservative accomplishments as Governor of Florida. Meanwhile, Donald J. Trump switched parties five times since 1987, has a lengthy record of financial support for left-wing democrats, is a notorious crony of every major democrat politician, and shares lots of liberal positions, including opposition to free trade, support for a universal federal healthcare entitlement, support for special LGBT rights, and a belief in the power of the president to control the movements and operating locations of American Corporations. Trump has taken some conservative and pseudo-conservative nationalist positions, but he is consistently vacillating and erratic and frequently retreats and revises his positions to the point that he is totally unpredictable. Honest? Trump lies even more shamelessly than Hillary. He lies with downright glee and takes obvious pride in his own mendaciousness. What puzzles me in particular is why does anyone believe that Trump actually means any of the stuff he is spouting?



Scullman

Good points.

So I guess we’re just a nation full of Republican Primary voting assholes.

Fourteen million of us.

More than ever before to vote in a primary.

So excuse all of us for not getting so freaking excited about your “genuine conservatives.”

I guess we collectively just don’t give a shit.

Shame on us all.



Scullman

By the way, on Walker? “Dropped out”?

I think you meant to say, “After getting his ass completely kicked in the Republican Primary, Mr. Walker thought it best to go home and continue his battle with the Madison campus elites.”

Yeah. That’s what you meant to say.



JDZ

“Shame on us all.”

Damn straight. You people blew off all the qualified and actually conservative, real Republican candidates because they were not loud, noisy, vulgar, entertaining television celebrities. They simply failed to interest and amuse you. Instead you decided to support a Reality TV clown wearing a groundhog on his head, precisely because he behaved rudely and obnoxiously and was vulgar and uninhibited. Trump is a modern day P.T. Barnum. He does not give a rat’s ass about political ideas or you. He is just a narcissistic self promoter. He blew some smoke up the collective rear ends of the great American tv audience, and you now all believe he loves you and is on your side. Right! Sure, he is.



Scullman

My, my.
For someone so convinced he’s unelectable in The United States of America, we’re a tad unnerved aren’t we?

Go and cast your early vote for Hillary and relax.



JDZ

Haven’t I made it clear that I have no intention of voting for Hillary or Trump, or Gary Johnson for that matter either?



BrianE

Quite frankly I’m not sure a Cruz could be elected in our current culture of superficial, scripted reality TV stars.
Walker, for all his experience and conservative accomplishments, didn’t project an image. Same with Cruz. I personally would have supported Kasich, given his previous federal budget credentials.
I don’t these types of people can get elected.
Even Bush, the dufus eastern establishment cowboy, had more charisma than these folks.
It’s the narrative, the created image that matters. And Trump, for all his faults, has the reality TV star persona….wait, he was a reality TV star!
Certainly an indictment on our culture, but what do you expect when journalists now only talk about the horse race and never about the issues. At some point Americans might even believe that IS the criteria for a president.



RICK

JDZ, your comment time stamped at Oct 5th, 1:02 pm is insulting.

The characterizations of ‘…loud, noisy, vulgar’ you assert as attractive qualities is admittedly of great concern. Why a person of your intellectual stature should squat to such low posture is, at best, bizarre. Such contemplations, as haphazard as they are, could not be further from the truth.

I’ll state it this way; my support of Trump is evolutionary in that he became the default precisely because of the unacceptable and inexcusable faults of the other candidates.

While yes, there is that part of my reasoning which is the giant FU to the establishment-again, because of their continued dismissal of the constituency, aka the little people, which has acted with a heavy hand to curtail the Republic-it is chiefly that the other candidates either lacked the personal integrity or philosophical bent congruent to my own, or that they were known to be susceptible to the sleaze which we are trying to rid ourselves.

There is no further need to provide a litany of the problems attendant to each candidate for these are well known. But I will say that while Cruz seemed he has ‘it’ going for him, the fact is he appeared mealy mouth and overly influenced by the globalist cabal. That in itself is worth of utter contempt. And this I say having been initially excited by his candidacy.

I find no need to be apologetic for Trump, let it fall as it may. But my decision is not confined to only wanting to expose to the elite my middle finger nor is it of the crass celebrity of Trump.



RICK

Now having reread my comment I spy a glaring fault. Here we are huffing spitballs at each other while we should be lobbing cannon shot at the other side. It is war yet we appear agitated at the cribbage table.



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