Who Will Rule: The New Oligarchy — or the American People?

By | 2016-10-08T08:53:55+00:00 October 6th, 2016|
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pulling-down-king-georgeCarl Eric Scott urges those of us on the pro-Trump right to “grapple with real anti-Trump arguments,” and he points specifically to this, by Peter Spiliakos. Not one to duck a challenge, herewith my grapple.

Spiliakos, a columnist at National Review and First Things, begins with the common charge that Trump’s comments on libel law indicate a wish to abuse power. I admit that Trump’s comments had once also troubled me, and I have said so. But then I was pointed to scholarly work on the Founders’ understanding of the just principles of libel law and am no longer so sure. This isn’t the place to work the issue out. Suffice to say for now, I’ve moved from #NeverTrump on the libel question to “maybe.” At a minimum, the anti-Trump case on libel is “not proved,” while the charge that his position is a window into his dark soul seems overblown.

Spiliakos then makes great hay (not for the first time) of Trump’s claim that as president he would implement stop-and-frisk policies known to reduce crime. Spiliakos does not seem to object to the policy itself. I assume that, like me, he would prefer a president who vocally supports effective policing that saves the lives of people of all races, to an incumbent and a Democratic nominee who routinely slander the police and the justice system in ways that excuse and encourage violence.

But Spiliakos is less upset by Obama’s and Hillary’s reckless rhetoric than he is by Trump’s misstatement of presidential powers. According to Spiliakos, this shows Trump’s ignorance of the machinery of government and is more evidence of a wish to abuse power. Now, I’m sure the former is at least somewhat true: Trump’s technical understanding of the machinery of government is inferior to that of most (if not all) of his 2016 opponents.

Trump, however, seems to understand the bigger picture better than any of those opponents—and a fortiori better than Spiliakos. In another piece, Spiliakos disputes my claim that this election is about a reassertion of the rule of the people or continued rule of the few. It’s worth noting the imprecision of his language because it points to a deeper source of his confusion. He quotes me out-of-context as saying that the election is about the “many” or the few. Actually, I used that dichotomy not to describe America in 2016 but to characterize an argument of ancient political philosophy, according to which the core elements of politics are the many, the few, and sometimes a one. Most of the time, only one of these rules, without (much) input from the others. But all such unmixed rule is inferior to a mixture of participation by all which utilizes the strengths, and mitigates the flaws, of each.

“The Many” and “the People”

The American regime—which is larger than the Constitution—as originally designed and implemented attempts to build on this insight. The social compact encompasses the whole people—many, few and even sometimes a preeminent one (Washington)—and binds them not to simple rule of the many but to a government that responds to majority will while respecting minority rights. The Constitution is the formal apparatus that implements the social compact but is not itself that compact, much less the regime, and even less the nation.

Elementary civics, you might say, but Spiliakos apparently needs a refresher. He writes: “In 2012, Obama was elected with 51 percent of the popular vote. Trump, even if he wins, is likely to get a smaller share of the vote. Would Trump’s 49 percent represent the many, where Obama’s 51 percent represented the few?”

Spiliakos surely does not mean to echo Obama’s vulgar majoritarianism: “I won.” He means instead that I have framed the election’s stakes incorrectly. But that points back to his original mischaracterization: My change from “many” (Aristotle) to “people” (America) was intended to make a point. “The people” are not coterminous with “the many.” I am as opposed as any good Aristotelian to the unmixed rule of the demos. I am also opposed, like any good Lockean-Madisonian, to the co-option of the machinery of government by the few.

This is (part of) what I meant about the stakes, and all of what I meant by “the few.” America is now and for some time has been functionally, if not formally, an oligarchy. It doesn’t matter which party wins the White House by 51 percent. The government always does the same things.

That’s because majority opinion doesn’t matter. (Certain minority rights still do, but only certain ones—another discussion for another time.) Sometimes elected representatives (of both parties) themselves thwart the will of the people. Sometimes they prefer to let the courts and bureaucracy take the heat. Either way, on the really big questions—immigration, trade, war, and others—the ruling class gets what it wants.

Constitutionalism vs. Conservative Fecklessness

The problem is (at least) twofold: the majority are not allowed to exercise their just guidance of the nation’s direction (which is just when their will does not contravene minority rights). And the whole people are not allowed to decide political questions politically; those questions are decided administratively.

Spiliakos finds particularly outrageous my assertion that Trump mounted the “first serious national-political defense of the Constitution in a generation.” I understand his umbrage, in that my claim certainly sounds outrageous. But he does not appear to have fully grappled with the reasoning I provided. So I will try again.

First, credit where credit is owed. Spiliakos spends the first half of that other essay (the one in which he calls me a “coward” and a “barbarian”) saying some sensible things about conservative constitutional fetishism. (He also says some silly things, such as taking Alan Keyes seriously as a presidential candidate and praising Rick Perry for running on the 10th Amendment.) He observes, correctly, that conservative Constitution talk has lately served to paper over broader conservative fecklessness. For all their ostentatious Constitution worship, conservatives have defended the actual Constitution about as effectively as they’ve furthered the interests of the working and middle classes. I’m with Spiliakos to that point. Though I note that here is another conservative who claims to see how Republicans and conservatives have failed their heartland base, but who can’t bring himself to credit Trump with correctly identifying that base’s just complaints, or with forcing a formerly indifferent Party to begin to address them.

Spiliakos pivots from criticizing conservatives for talking too much about the Constitution to blaming Trump for not talking about it enough. That lack of chatter Spiliakos attributes to “indifferen[ce].” Perhaps—if what is meant is that Trump is simply less knowledgeable about and interested in Constitutional history and interpretation than (say) Ted Cruz. But what John Marini has shown is that Cruzian conservative constitutionalism does not grasp its own essential foundation. That foundation is, again, the social compact, of which the Constitution is a necessary but derivative instrument.

Now Pay Close Attention

What I am about to say, Trump may not understand. But he is acting as if he does, which is good enough for me, because no one else is. Before the Constitution can be the legal document that all the conservatives think it is, it must first be understood and accepted as a political document. Its political import is prior in time and prior in nature to its legal power. And its political power depends on the respect and recognition of all parties to the compact—many, few, and one—of the whole people’s sovereign right to participate in their own rule. That compact has been progressively (pun intended) undermined to exclude the people from said participation.

And in the process, even the Constitution’s secondary, merely legal purpose has been degraded. The branches of government do not function as the Constitution directs they must. The rights supposedly guaranteed in the text are either ignored, denied or selectively enforced. In actual practice today, the Constitution is merely an instrument used to confer legitimacy on the administrative state and on whatever the political branches want to do. Which means, in practice, the executive, since the legislative does not want to do anything other than get reelected and dream about higher office. The Supreme Court says it’s “constitutional”? Even required by the Constitution? Then it is, full stop. We’ve resigned, if not our whole government, then the last word on the biggest questions into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

The fix for this is not Cruzian constitutionalism. Absent a revival of the Constitution’s core political purpose, that is bound to fail. The fix (if there is a fix) is a reassertion of the social compact that returns to the people a real measure of participation in their own rule. There will still be elections, winners and losers, minorities and majorities, 51s and 49s. But it will be the whole people, deciding among themselves what to do, ruling themselves politically, not administratively, with a faux-constitutional gloss.

“Demagogue,” Rightly Understood

Back in that first piece, Spiliakos calls Trump a “demagogue.” Strictly speaking, a demagogue is a politician who seeks to arouse the demos against the few. Since democracy literally means “rule of the demos,” and democracy is today widely praised as the only just form of government, it’s hard to see how this is a bad thing. But Spiliakos clearly is following modern usage, in which it is held to be very bad indeed.

Why? One reason is that speaking up for the people threatens administrative, managerial rule. If this is what a demagogue is in 2016, then …

But Spiliakos appears to mean: a leader who rouses raw passion for wicked ends. That’s not the Trump I see. I think he is rousing a salutary political spiritedness in a people that rightly feels it has little or no say in its own government, and who can plainly see that their government not only does not serve their interests but often actively sells them out. If we’re simply going to rule out any popular—and, I stress, electoral—revolt against bad government as illegitimate demagoguery, then we really have resigned our government into the hands of that eminent tribunal, and to the administrative state which it currently serves as a handmaiden.

Trump says “no.” On this at least, I’m with Trump.

“Speedy Conservative Recovery” When?

None of the rest of Spiliakos’s objections caused me to think twice. He blows out of proportion one of Trump’s offhand comments about Angela Merkel to make a comparison to Kim Jong Un (!?), while dismissing Trump’s forceful rejection of Merkel’s immigration disaster. Meanwhile, Hillary still says Merkel is the leader she admires most, including the immigration disaster, and promises to do the same to the US. Spiliakos concedes that Trump might be better than Hillary but overlooks this highly terrifying—and clarifying—concrete example.

Like so many on the right, Spiliakos talks himself into some magical thinking:

If Clinton wins, her center-right opponents will be united in opposition, and will be able to continue (begin?) the contentious process of building an alternative message and agenda. Clinton will begin her presidency as an unpopular and distrusted figure who takes office more than seven years into a recovery that has most people feeling dissatisfied. Clinton will be able to do a great deal of harm in four years, but there will exist the potential for a speedy conservative recovery that could undo some of that harm.

Read that again. Maybe three times to really let it sink in. He really says “speedy conservative recovery.” On what exactly does he base that hope? The bang-up job conservatism did in opposing Barack Obama? All the victories Republicans secured after their blowout victories in 2010 and 2014? 

Note also the wistful speculation that this “speedy conservative recovery” may be able to undo “some” of the “great deal of harm” that a third Clinton term would inflict. That’s before we even get to Obama’s harm. Another “speedy conservative recovery” such as this, and we are done for.

Spiliakos continues that “some”—that would be me—argue that, “because of demographic change, this our ‘last chance’ to stop the Left.” What I actually said was that it’s our last chance to stop administrative state consolidation that would give the managerial class permanent control of the government—at least, for as long as this next stage in America’s development could last. Much of the flavor of that control—and surely all of the cultural and regulatory elements—will be leftist. Others will serve to perpetuate oligarchical rule, which is not leftist by any definition I typically use. But the current oligarchs find it useful to ally with the left and even to profess leftist beliefs, which is one reason why they defer to the left on cultural matters.

However, it’s fine if you want to call that hair-splitting. I did say that a Clinton victory would spell the end of the constitutional republic, would make it impossible (or so unlikely as to be nearly impossible) for the people to reassert the social compact in the manner described above.

Decius the Optimist

Spiliakos counters that if I’m right, it’s already too late: the demographics are already baked into the cake. Maybe. First, let me just say that I’m not used to being the optimist in debates like this and I thank Spiliakos for giving me the opening.

I’m not convinced it is too late. A central conservative dream for a generation has been to find a way to overcome the Democrats’ divisive identity politics by unifying those receptive among all races around some vision of conservatism we can share. The right has failed miserably so far because we try to sell conservative ideas on the terms the left sets for us. Yes, America is racist. Our solution? Enterprise zones! Trump has broken this mold by reversing it. His “right” half is unafraid to be called “racist’ for not following the left’s rules, even as his “left” half sells an economic message that most “conservatives” find appalling but that the working classes seem to like.

It may work, it may not—either as a matter of electoral politics or as policy. But if it does, Trump’s trade, globalization and immigration agenda offers a better prospect of actually realizing the dream of a multiracial Republican Party, united around a core economic patriotism, than anything any Republican has offered since Reagan.

Whereas, if Hillary wins, this possibility expires. The minority population will shoot up by millions, at least. Then the Democrats, aided by administrative state social engineering—Section 8, refugee resettlement, etc.—will work to steer those future Democratic voters into purple states which their presence will tip blue. No Republican would ever win the White House again, except maybe a Schwarzenegger-Bloomberg once a generation or so. And what difference would that make?

Spiliakos takes for granted that Trump will betray his supporters and enact some kind of amnesty. I don’t. Perhaps I am naïve. If it happens, I will be the first to say he told me so. Even so, I do not think the consequence would be what Spiliakos predicts:

[T]he opportunists and the party apparatchiks will stick with President Mister Trump and tell us that we are traitors, and that we will get even worse judges, amnesties, and guest-worker programs with the Democrats.

Some might say that, but no betrayed supporter will be cowed or fooled. Trump would instantly destroy himself and his administration with such an action, and become the lamest lame duck of any president in history. Sure, he’d still get to live in the big house, but he already has a lot of big houses. A failure from inexperience rather than perfidy is much more likely—a fear I cannot dismiss. But I do say, again, that a choice between certain doom and possible failure is no choice at all.

This is just a doozy:

The downside risk of Trump is not just that we get the worst of Trump. It is that we get the worst of Trump followed by a president from a radicalizing Democratic party—and probably another overwhelmingly Democratic Congress. Then, you shall see national transformation.

Stop Trump now so that we don’t have to face a liberal Democrat in four years! (Has Spiliakos noticed that, if Trump loses, in four years the incumbent will be a liberal Democrat?) As for stopping the Democrats now, oh no—that’s too radical. They’re not so bad. Yet. But in another four, look out! Has any political party, or its affiliated intellectuals, ever openly advocated their own side’s defeat and the other side’s victory?

Ready for Reconciliation—or a Reckoning

Spiliakos says that a Trump win will bring about a conservative civil war. Is he paying attention? The war has already started. There’s a much greater chance to bring it to a speedy end if Trump wins. Personally, I would advise a Trump administration (not that anyone’s listening) to make use of suspect men. Or at least some of them, the lukewarm anti-Trumpers. First, such an administration is simply going to need people and there aren’t enough gung-ho Trump Republicans to staff it. Second, there’s a lot of policy expertise among the conservative and Republican elite, however suspect their practical judgment and political effectiveness has recently been. Third, embracing the lukewarm would be the quickest and most effective way to reunify the Party, and President Trump could do so from a position of strength.

On the other hand, if Trump loses, we conservatives are going to have to keep fighting about everything: personnel, politics, policy, philosophy, all of it. The conservative intellectual movement is already over. The Republican Party still exists and is, mercifully, no longer the party-of-(tired)-ideas that its intellectuals so long insisted it be. It now has a chance to be transformed into a vehicle for conservative substance—people, places, institutions. A new intellectual movement could inform that, but first we have to have the argument, to get rid of the bad blood.

Spiliakos ends with a call for reconciliation. I’m for that in certain cases—as many as possible. As many as realistically possible. But the truth is that the argument is going to open up divisions. Many have already left the Party over national security. Others are insisting that they should stay and kick the rest of us out. There are going to be irreconcilable differences over war, trade, immigration and much else.

And then there’s the non-trivial matter of forgiving, if not forgetting, those ostensibly in our party who will have, or will be seen to have, worked to ensure the victory of the other. Personally, I might be capable of reconciliation in more than a few instances. Not everyone will be. Spiliakos should be more realistic about that.

About the Author:

Publius Decius Mus
Publius Decius Mus, or "Decius," is a Contributing Editor of American Greatness.
  • jack dobson

    So much excellence here. Two key points:

    “America is now and for some time has been functionally, if not formally, an oligarchy.”

    Thank you. The entity that governs us is quite similar to a Latin American junta save less overt human rights violations. The United States arguably could become worse than Argentina given the presence of nuclear weapons. Hugo Chavez was more or less democratically elected, too, and also exerted his power through an unelected dark state.

    “Spiliakos says that a Trump win will bring about a conservative civil war. Is he paying attention? The war has already started. There’s a much greater chance to bring it to a speedy end if Trump wins.”

    Spiliakos’ side is in denial as it retreats toward Appomattox. There will be dead-enders even after a formal surrender at the courthouse. You are generous in your intent to reconcile. I don’t share it and find it irrelevant, anyhow. This is or will be the last attempt to stop our final transition from democracy to tyranny. Those who realize it and still refuse to support Trump due to cosmetic and largely fabricated reasons do not merit forgiveness. If we lose this one, chanting over the constitution’s grave will not bring it back to life as it is dead now. The loss will be the loss of America, which as you note is not the same as its governing document.

    “And then there’s the non-trivial matter of forgiving, if not forgetting, those ostensibly in our party who will have, or will be seen to have, worked to ensure the victory of the other. Personally, I might be capable of reconciliation in more than a few instances. Not everyone will be. Spiliakos should be more realistic about that.”

    Spiliakos knows. He’ll either live in post-America where there will be no need for any conservative alliance and functional opposition party or he will live in a Trumpian polity trying to reclaim its nationhood. If, God willing, the latter prevails, there will be more like me who are less generous to his type than you will be. For us, the divorce is final.

    Great work again. Thanks.

  • Severn

    Libel – I don’t understand why the right of the press to lie with complete impunity is the hill certain so-called “conservatives” have chosen to die on.

    On the other hand, I’ve learned to take all the objections to Trump from his foes with a huge helping of salt. For the most part they don’t mean the things they say, and they reflexively attack Trump regardless of what he says. (I saw Trump being harshly attacked on another “right-wing” web site for supporting the principle of federalism. The site in question, with wonderful irony, calls itself “The Federalist”)

    The difficulty in having a serious debate with the anti-Trump “conservatives” is that they usually do not tell you what their core objections to Trump are. This is because their core objections to Trump are rooted, not in conservatism at all but in progressivism.

    The Constitution – there are several different interpretations of “the Constitution” at large in the country, and even among conservatives. There’s a useful discussion to be had about the constitution and what it should mean, but the anti-Trumpers show zero inclination to have that discussion. Again, I suspect this is because they know that their own particular constitutional philosophy is at odds with the majority of Republicans and conservatives.

    The problem with the anti-Trump “conservatives” is that they are either blind, indifferent, or actually appreciative of the existential threats the country faces. America the nation is a under a two pronged attack. It’s under attack “from above” by the desire to subordinate nation states to supranational bodies. This desire exists among the “conservative” chattering class and leadership just as much as it does among the progressive left. See such initiatives as TPP, the North American Community and so on.

    The other attack on America as conceived by the Founders comes “from below” – from those who wish to destroy the whole notion of American identity and replace it with a more feudal era understanding of identity. You’re not supposed to think of yourself as American, but as black or Hispanic, Jewish or Asian, Muslim or atheist, feminist or homosexual. (Logically in such a world people would also be encouraged to think of themselves as “white” or “Christian” or “straight” is that’s what they happened to be – the fact that those particular identities are treated as unacceptable shows the fundamental bigotry at the heart of the whole project)

    What does the Professional Conservative Movement as exemplified by National Review and writers like Spilakos have to say on these topics? Essentially nothing. I did read an article in First Things several years ago arguing against the idea of “the melting pot” on the grounds that it’s wrong to expect Jews, Muslims etc to have to give up their own specific identities.

    The Professional Conservative Movement is anti-nationalist and anti-populist. Within the context of historical conservatism in the West, the Professional Conservative Movement is anti-conservative. It’s vision for the future is one virtually identical in most respects to that of the modern cultural-Marxist left. That is why they never seriously objected to Obama – indeed many of them have praised him extravagantly. That is why they recoil with such horror from Trump. And that is why they are working, not terribly covertly, to try to help Clinton win the White House.

    • John Ash

      I’m anti-Trump and I can explain the Constitution to you, especially the Naturalization clause which has nothing to do with immigration. You can’t save the Constitution by promising to break it.

      • Brother John

        What you can’t do is save the nation or the Constitution by flooding said country with millions of third-world “refugees,” Muslims, and others belonging to hostile cultures and with no pressure to assimilate. But I’m wasting time with you, aren’t I?

        • John Ash

          Yes, because whatever you feel, we have a Constitution there to prevent you from implementing it. If you don’t like immigrants, get an Amendment. If you don’t like hostile cultures, stop blowing up their weddings.

          • Brother John

            Yeah, I know: Constitution-as-suicide-pact. We did it first. Wasting my time.

          • John Ash

            There was never any type of risk of suicide while the Constitution was in force. We had only defensive wars and no terrorism. Your point is made up bullshit.

          • Brother John

            We also had a much more homogeneous and well-unified population, no welfare state, and were well protected by two oceans. Bullshit, indeed.

          • John Ash

            Please. We’ve always had people coming here who didn’t speak the language and with different cultures and everyone still integrated. You seem to not understand that Europe isn’t a culture. Nor is “white”.

          • Brother John

            You seem not to understand that defending a nation’s borders is the first job of any legitimate government. I don’t know what personal beef you’ve got, but it’s pathological and verging on the insane.

            Since I have to keep pointing out the blindingly obvious to you, let me illustrate a few of the differences between the Great Wave of immigrants of c.1880-1924, when we wisely shut off the spigot, and today’s invasion crisis:

            * In the past, we took comers from chiefly Northern and Western Europe, and later from Eastern, the most closely related to the existing population.

            *Those immigrants came to the USA knowing they would never see their homelands again. Today, Mexico’s chief export is Mexicans, and its chief source of income is remittances from its citizens living, often illegally, on our soil.

            * At that time, what we received was typically the best of what another nation had to offer because of the cost of getting here. Now, we function as a release valve for Latin America’s surplus population that cannot be supported in corrupt, no-growth societies.

            * In the past, we had an American president say, rightly, that there is no room for “hyphenated-Americanism.” We assimilated those who arrived and tried to make Americans out of them. Now, we can’t stop talking in hyphenated, disunified terms. Balkanization, absimilation are the order of the day.

            But this requires more recognition than you’re capable of, more than simply shouting, “Bigot! Racist!” the way all leftists do. If we decided to forbid one religion, or one race, or one sex from entering, we can. And all the hysterical squealing about racissss!1!! doesn’t change or remove that absolute right.

            I wish you would go away. There are grown-ups attempting serious discussion on this domain here, and between your trolling, your name-calling, your lies, non-sequiturs, and outright bullshit, you are way beyond tiresome.

          • John Ash

            “defending a nation’s borders is the first job of any legitimate government.”

          • John Ash

            Maybe you can tell me an historical example of government trampling human rights and creating a black market has improved life.

      • Severn

        You can’t explain anything to anybody, least of all the Constitution.

        the Naturalization clause which has nothing to do with immigration

        That’s akin to saying that the Second amendment has nothing to do with the right to own weapons. Try reading Federalist 42.

        • John Ash

          Don’t be dumb. Saying the Naturalization Clause is about immigration is like saying the Second Amendment is about pick up trucks.

          In English, we have different words for different things. You can be a US citizen without ever moving to the US or setting foot on it, you can immigrate without ever becoming a citizen. The relationship is not direct and the N&P Clause doesn’t apply.

          • Severn

            Saying the Naturalization Clause is about immigration is like saying the Second Amendment is about pick up trucks.

            You’re an illiterate cretin. Or, perhaps, incredibly dishonest. Where you leftiies are concerned the two conditions can be difficult to distinguish.

          • John Ash

            I’ll give you $1B if you can show me delegated Federal authority for immigration.

            To the contrary, I can read, and I know the meaning of words.

            Did you know that we almost had a rebellion over the Alien Acts as they were considered to be so entirely unconstitutional, and aren’t even as obviously unconstitutional as immigration law.

    • John Ash

      Prooper conservatives are anti-nationalist and anti-populist for a reason. Read Federalist 39.

      • Bill Kristollnacht
        • John Ash

          Wow, that is amazing.

      • Severn

        You’re not a conservative of any sort. In some dark corner of your mind you are vaguely aware of this, which is why in some of your comments you call yourself a libertarian instead.

        Read Federalist 39 yourself. You clearly don’t have a clue what’s in there.

        It is ESSENTIAL to such a government (a republican government) that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.

        • John Ash

          Of course I am. A proper American Conservative is precisely a Natural Right classical liberal.

          Way to miss the entire point –

          “On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that the Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America, given by deputies elected for the special purpose; but, on the other, that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State, the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing the Constitution, will not be a NATIONAL, but a FEDERAL act.

          That it will be a federal and not a national act, as these terms are understood by the objectors; the act of the people, as forming so many independent States, not as forming one aggregate nation, is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from the decision of a MAJORITY of the people of the Union, nor from that of a MAJORITY of the States. It must result from the UNANIMOUS assent of the several States that are parties to it, differing no otherwise from their ordinary assent than in its being expressed, not by the legislative authority, but by that of the people themselves. Were the people regarded in this transaction as forming one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the United States would bind the minority, in the same manner as the majority in each State must bind the minority; and the will of the majority must be determined either by a comparison of the individual votes, or by considering the will of the majority of the States as evidence of the will of a majority of the people of the United States. Neither of these rules have been adopted. Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution.

          The next relation is, to the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived. The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America; and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the legislature of a particular State. So far the government is NATIONAL, not FEDERAL. The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress. So far the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL. The executive power will be derived from a very compound source. The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters. The votes allotted to them are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and coequal societies, partly as unequal members of the same society. The eventual election, again, is to be made by that branch of the legislature which consists of the national representatives; but in this particular act they are to be thrown into the form of individual delegations, from so many distinct and coequal bodies politic. From this aspect of the government it appears to be of a mixed character, presenting at least as many FEDERAL as NATIONAL features.

          The difference between a federal and national government, as it relates to the OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT, is supposed to consist in this, that in the former the powers operate on the political bodies composing the Confederacy, in their political capacities; in the latter, on the individual citizens composing the nation, in their individual capacities. On trying the Constitution by this criterion, it falls under the NATIONAL, not the FEDERAL character; though perhaps not so completely as has been understood. In several cases, and particularly in the trial of controversies to which States may be parties, they must be viewed and proceeded against in their collective and political capacities only. So far the national countenance of the government on this side seems to be disfigured by a few federal features. But this blemish is perhaps unavoidable in any plan; and the operation of the government on the people, in their individual capacities, in its ordinary and most essential proceedings, may, on the whole, designate it, in this relation, a NATIONAL government.

          But if the government be national with regard to the OPERATION of its powers, it changes its aspect again when we contemplate it in relation to the EXTENT of its powers. The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things, so far as they are objects of lawful government. Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature. Among communities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general and partly in the municipal legislatures. In the former case, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects. It is true that in controversies relating to the boundary between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle of the case. The decision is to be impartially made, according to the rules of the Constitution; and all the usual and most effectual precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. Some such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be established under the general rather than under the local governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.

          If we try the Constitution by its last relation to the authority by which amendments are to be made, we find it neither wholly NATIONAL nor wholly FEDERAL. Were it wholly national, the supreme and ultimate authority would reside in the MAJORITY of the people of the Union; and this authority would be competent at all times, like that of a majority of every national society, to alter or abolish its established government. Were it wholly federal, on the other hand, the concurrence of each State in the Union would be essential to every alteration that would be binding on all. The mode provided by the plan of the convention is not founded on either of these principles. In requiring more than a majority, and principles. In requiring more than a majority, and particularly in computing the proportion by STATES, not by CITIZENS, it departs from the NATIONAL and advances towards the FEDERAL character; in rendering the concurrence of less than the whole number of States sufficient, it loses again the FEDERAL and partakes of the NATIONAL character.

          The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.”

          • Severn

            The phrase “natural rights” appears nowhere in the US Constitution.

            The phrase “natural rights” appears just once in the entirety of the Federalist Papers – in Federalist #2, when John Jay states that people must give up some of their natural rights in order to vest government with its requisite powers.

            In the nine volumes of James Madison’s writings, spanning the period from 1769 to 1836, “natural rights” are mentioned just 15 times – and in the majority of instances where Madison mentions “natural rights, he is talking about the natural rights of states and countries, not of individuals.

            Your claim that the concept of “natural rights” is fundamental to America and to conservatism is simply false.You talk more like a French Revolutionary – a Jacobin – than like any sort of American conservative.

          • John Ash

            That’s because Natural Rights was covered extremely well in the Declaration of Independence and it was so well known amongst the Founders that many thought the Bill of Rights was entirely redundant including Jefferson as I recall. Thankfully the more paranoid people won out, or we’d have already lost all of our rights long ago. No guns, no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, not security from government invasion or torture, no limits on government at all.

            Please quote where Madison says natural rights apply to states and government. WTF do you think “inalienable rights” are? Why do you think the Bill of Rights exist? To what do you think the 9th Amendment refers? You are clueless and ignorant.

  • minnesoter

    Forgive? Hell’s bells. This is a fight to the finish. Total RINO eradication.

    • Stick

      LUSTRATION.

    • John Ash

      Please. Anyone who votes for Trump is as big a RINO as those who object to him.

      • minnesoter

        If that were so, RINOs & the Elites would be singing his praises. Trump is bringing Yuge! numbers of Democrats and minorities into the party. The GOP base loves the Trump Revolution. Finally our concerns are being voiced by a strong leader.

        • John Ash

          RINOS can and do disagree. The intellectuals think they are Constitutionalists, but aren’t, while the neo-cons are just worried about controlling the world, and the socio-cons are worried about the one thing they can’t change, abortions, and the populists are hopped up on the anti-immigration meth and think it’s time to treat the Constitution like their beyotch. There are 4 types of RINOS right there.

          I would call this group the sub-ethical, sub-intellectual populists, which is kind of funny, because the main split seems to simply be that the iintelletuals hateTrump’s pedestrian, 3rd grade orations and behavior, while the sub-intellectuals love it for some reason. I can’t figure it out, but whatever.

          • minnesoter

            Anti-immigration meth? Have you no eyes?

          • John Ash

            I have two. You?

          • minnesoter

            Yeah, I have two. Our borders and our Visa stay programs are absolute sieves. We have no clue who is entering. As we saw in France, just one man in a truck can slaughter many dozens of unsuspecting civilians. We are no different. Bottom line: we MUST know who is coming and going.

          • John Ash

            First it isn’t even supposed to be a sieve, it’s supposed to be free.

            Second, why do foreigners want to kill us? They never used to want to kill us before.

  • And How to Get It

    Excellent article as usual. I would argue though, all for naught. The NR/Kristol gang KNOW all your arguments and refutations. They don’t care. They KNOW what they say makes no sense, they don’t care. They KNOW every bad thing that will happen with a Clinton presidency, they don’t care. ALL they care about is their money, power, and place in the game-all courtesy of their big donors. Everything else is window dressing. They know it, they don’t care. If you want to keep arguing with them, fine, but I wouldn’t waste another minute on these poltroons as it will never do any good. You can’t enlighten or change minds that have been bought by the donors. You have 30 days. I would argue spending that time attacking Clinton and promoting Trump. One more minute spent arguing with the NR/Kristolian Insidious Minions is a minute wasted. Fill the Unforgiving Minute with sixty seconds of distance run…

    • John Ash

      As a libertarian who hates Kisitol, his argument makes more sense then “Decius'” argument.

      This argument is just pure fantasy. The only argument for Trump is that he MIGHT not suck as much as Hillary. But that isn’t a given.

      • Rosie 73

        “But I do say, again, that a choice between certain doom and possible failure is no choice at all.”
        Decius made that argument. He just used words that were too big for you to understand.

        • John Ash

          But he rationalizes a lot of his bullshit and Constitution breaking ideas. Claiming he is some sort of Constitutional white knight is beyond laughable. Further, a Clinton Presidency won’t doom the country, that is a gross exaggeration. It will simply not fix anything and it will be another painful 8 years.

          Most of this is about immigrant bashing. You guys can’t even make an argument for Trump without bashing immigrants.

          • Rosie 73

            Try using some precise language. Exactly which of Trump’s ideas are constitution breaking and which ones have been rationalized. Stop pointing and spluttering and try to form a coherent argument.

          • John Ash

            Well, all Federal immigration law, agencies and actions are unconstitutional. ICE, Border Patrol, the wall, certainly evictions. That’s a fact. Waterboarding and torture. Also unconstitutional. I’ll think of more. I don’t take his proposals very seriously, but he just throws crap out there.

          • Rosie 73

            So your position is that anyone in the world who wants to move to the United States has a constitutional right to do so and that American citizens have no moral or constitutional right to object.

          • John Ash

            Correct, unless they are here to overthrow the government or specifically to commit violence. If you don’t want to employ or do commerce with or rent to a peaceful immigrant, that is your right, buy you have no right to kick them out over my objection.

          • Rosie 73

            I want some of what you are smoking. It must be good.

          • John Ash

            That’s not an actual argument.

          • Rosie 73

            You haven’t made an argument. You made a rambling statement of personal beliefs most of which are demonstrably false. I gave it the answer it deserved.

          • John Ash

            No, I stated what is and isn’t in the Constitution. If you can find delegated immigration power in the Constitution, please quote it. There’s a $1B bounty.

          • Rosie 73

            I will refer you to Article 1 section 9, and I will have some of what you are smoking please.

          • John Ash

            Hahahaha, amateur attempt. I will ridicule it tomorrow for you.

          • Rosie 73

            Please don’t bother. I am busy arguing with the homeless person who tells me that we are all living in a computer matrix.

          • John Ash

            Oh, but I insist. The slave importation clause is specifically there to prevent Congress from using its new international commerce authority to block slave importation for 20 years. And what was the first thing Congress did at the end of that 20 years? Write an immigration law? Nope. Made the importation of slaves illegal.

            If you have any questions, I believe the relevant date this was discussed in the Constitutional Congress was August 22. The transcript notes that the word slave or slavery was used 50 or 60 times, but the word “migration” was only used once, to proclaim that slavery was a great evil that prevented Europeans from coming because slaves were taking away jobs from…….immigrants.

          • Severn

            I stated what is and isn’t in the Constitution.

            Go ahead and state where exactly in the constitution it mentions “natural rights” at all, let along the “natural right” for anybody in the world to come and live in American if they wish to.

          • John Ash

            I’ll add Natural Rights, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and general American history to the list of things you do not understand.

          • Rosie 73

            If you are talking about your version of American History where there was no Civil War, then yes, I guess that I don’t understand it.

          • John Ash

            There wasn’t. Civil War™. The CSA and the USA were two separate countries and the South had no desire to take over the US. It doesn’t remotely fit the definition of a civil war.

          • Rosie 73

            Good to know. Why don’t you make sure to notify every historian that has ever written about the conflict so that they can change their language.

          • John Ash

            There are plenty of historians who agree with me already. The history is being understood for the first time.

          • Rosie 73

            It only took 150 years to understand it for the first time. Good Grief!

          • John Ash

            Victor writes the history.

          • Rosie 73

            Really? And you have the gall to call other people on this thread racist?

      • Severn

        “Libertarian” is what leftists call themselves when they are trying to sell progressive policies to republicans and conservatives. Your ideas, to the extent you ever bother to elaborate on them, are pure left-wing socialism.

        • John Ash

          *cough*. So you think Thomas Jefferson was a leftist. Wow.

          • Rosie 73

            So libertarians are in favor of slavery and rape. Who knew?

          • John Ash

            Jefferson didn’t rape anyone, nice try. And he wanted to end slavery. You must be thinking of Bill Clinton.

          • Rosie 73

            I guess it isn’t rape as long as she is your slave? Is that the libertarian viewpoint?

          • John Ash

            Nope. She was a slave in name only. Where you see a rapist and a victim I see one of the greatest love affairs, that crossed race and societal boundaries. The clearly loved each other at a dangerous time and it was a wonderful thing. I guess you just think black women can’t consent.

          • Rosie 73

            “A slave in name only.” Right. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are not funny. If he loved her so much why didn’t he set her free? Or maybe even free the rest of his slaves?

            You sound like a peeper/stalker claiming that the victim really does love you and that you are just checking up on her safety.

          • John Ash

            Because, dummy, it would be dangerous to free her. As long as she was “property”, she was safe, because an attack on her was an attack on Jefferson. Break that bond and she was vulnerable to actual rape, kidnapping and worse. Have you never seen Twelve Years a Slave?

          • Rosie 73

            You realize that movie was about being a slave not a freed slave? If being a free black person was so horrible what was the purpose of the Underground Railroad? You sound like Kathy Bates in “Misery”. “It is too dangerous for you out their so I have to keep you tied up in this house and break your legs for your own safety.” Geez.

          • John Ash

            Okay, so you missed the part where he was a freeman and was kidnapped and taken down south and how he was lucky to ever escape. As I said, you clearly don’t get how being someone’s property at that time actually provided you with more real protection under the law than being a freed slave. For the same reasons, gays had sham marriages, in order to provide them safety from criminals and the government.

          • Rosie 73

            If being free was so dangerous, why did slaves bother to escape? Seriously, is all your knowledge of history based on a few scenes from a movie?

          • John Ash

            Was Sally trying to escape? You know Twelve Years was a true story, right? This stuff happened all the time. A black person on their own had almost no protection, but the slave of the Founder of the US was safer than most white folks.

          • Mark Talmont

            The particular point relevant here is that at the time freed slaves had to leave the state within a year; accounts at the time state Sally was granted a status above that of a common slave, an unusually complete yet succinct account here (way better than what is at loc.gov) This let her stay at what had long been her home, note in the particular the strong suggestion she could probably have passed for white:

            https://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/sally-hemings

            often left out is the part about the Woodson clan’s long-held claim of descent from TJ disproven by the famous DNA test showing the 7th-born had it.

      • Samuel Adams

        What metric are you using to judge Hillary? Since, assuredly, your comparison appears unduly biased against Trump and naively trusting of Hillary. Or the Congress to mitigate her worst impulses. Why wouldn’t a GOP Congress be able to restrain a Trump just as easily?

        • John Ash

          Well, for one thing, Republicans will fight Hillary left and right, as they did with Bill, and therefore, very little will get done. They were shamed for being “racist” against Obama, perhaps because to an extent, it is true, but I doubt they will be as reticent about fighting Hillary. Trump? He’s filled with terrible ideas, and throwing out millions of immigrants and imploding the economy is something he can do without the help of Congress. His desire to use executive orders to make bad things happen is pretty scary.

          • Samuel Adams

            So…you think the Republicans have traded their principles for the “fear” of being called “racist? And what about their fear of being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging misogynists? Ever hear that one about Republicans fighting a war against women?

            Your belief that Republicans impotently stood by while our republican form of government was disassembled for fear of being called bad names is about as ludicrous as your trust in a newly revived Congress fighting the First Woman President™

          • John Ash

            Well, I remain hopeful that they aren’t complete surrender monkeys, but if they are that pathetic, why should anyone vote for any Republican?

          • Samuel Adams

            A profound (and troubling) question. The results of this next election (or subsequent actions thereof) should provide something of an answer…

          • John Ash

            Hence my fear. As I’ve said to others, The only thing that would apt about “decius'” Flight 93 analogy would be if James Bond were on the plane and every said “no, thanks, we have this, we’re fine with disaster”

          • WalkingHorse

            Precisely. We have the experience of republicans cowering because they feared offering any opposition to The First Black President™. To think they will grow spinal columns to oppose The First Woman President™ is the height of magical thinking.

          • Mark Talmont

            Bill Clinton set us up for what will be a one-party Frankenstate monster when he deliberately hindered immigration enforcement in every way he could. He sure got that done. Recall that the 1986 amnesty now brandished as evidence that “even Reagan” was for it contained strong enforcement provisions, none of which were implemented.

            You can never trust the left with a microgram of administrative discretion. In California they sweet-talked the electorate into supposedly easing up on “non-violent” drug offenders and now possession of crystal meth is the same as a traffic ticket (they’re back for more with a new initiative this year).

            Take a look at the cop killers in the two most recent cases from SoCal. Both repeat offenders, never should have been on the street in the first place; both plead down and let out sooner than they should have been.

    • Sam

      “I would argue spending that time attacking Clinton and promoting Trump.”
      I agree with you on the NR/Kristol gang but it is absolutely vital that they are attacked and forcefully. They are the reason the conservative movement has gone nowhere. The left is the enemy but they don’t have to respond or care about hard non-left arguments because they own the microphone and because the NR/Kristol gang are the Washington Generals/Collaborators. It is more crucial to clear our the nest of vipers because only then can the liberals be defeated. One must never forget that until 2008 the received wisdom of the Neocon led conservative movement was that the post-Reagan era led to a “conservative moment” in the 90’s and 00’s only reversed by Obama. Your cause/movement/ideology has truly lost when it has adopted the rhetoric and core beliefs of your opponents without knowing it, and declared their victories for yourself. This reality is to painful so naturally there is a retreat into economism(Think Paul Ryan) as “real” conservatism.

      Definition of establishment:
      1)To close ranks when one of your guys gets the nomination
      2)To break ranks when of your guys does not get the nomination

      The fissure caused by Trump is needed. The problem is not (merely) the Republican establishment but as the Alt-Right has said the Conservative establishment. The latter must go or reform dramatically and only then will the opportunistic Republicans cower.
      First conquer the Altar(ideological/rhetorical power) and then the Throne(secular power).

      • Mark Talmont

        Note the first thing the Democrats did when the “alt” term popped up was immediate escalation to the nuclear weapon of accusations of racism. They are well aware that it is precisely the “alt” that has the ammo to take them down, and they are truly alarmed when a Breitbart associate gets close to Trump. The Birchers were the original alt, and look what the media and academic establishments did to them.

        BTW this tactic of constant attacks is now the norm at the colleges, TheFire.org has reported on it for years and now we have TheCollegeFix and CampusReform on the same turf. All should view them and note how the official media totally edits this insanity out of the picture save for a few token mentions on Fox (you can submit items to them, Brit Hume gives an email link at the end of his show).

    • Brother John

      Quite so. I think, however, it’s deeper than simply a matter of having been bought, sold, and paid for. The trouble for them is that it forces them on some level to confront their own complicity, cowardice, malfeasance, constitutional infidelity, and stupidity — not just over the past 15 years or so, but back into the 1930s. Once FDR’s vote-buying, precinct-by-precinct, was proven hugely successful in 1936, they became “me too!” — and, but for the likes of Robert A. Taft, Goldwater, Reagan, and a relative handful of others, they have been unwilling loosen the ratchet even one notch, instead tightening it thinking they could do better or slow it over time.

    • John Ash

      To a libertarian, or real American conservative, both groups are hilariously off the rails.

      • Severn

        You are neither a libertarian nor a “real American conservative”, and it’s past time you dropped this charade,

        • John Ash

          To the contrary, I am both. I want to preserve the liberal Natural Rights Foundation of America. But thanks for playing.

    • Mark Talmont

      Trump got it right when he said the thing Hilary has on her side is the media. After the Wikileaks material there can’t be any shred of doubt left that the mediots (I also like Paul Craig Roberts’ appellation of “presstitutes”) are an arm of the DNC.

      Trump is making a huge mistake even talking about Ryan or any other RINO. The media is rotten, even anti-American in their unwillingness for example to spotlight the alarming malfeasance inside the FBI. They maintain the fiction that there is no widespread voter fraud too–who covered this? http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/11/video-nyc-democratic-official-i-think-theres-a-lot-of-voter-fraud-video/
      They ignored a similar video in 2012 showing Cong. Jim Moran’s son bragging how easy it is to do the same thing:http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/10/24/new-okeefe-video-shows-dem-congressmans-son-apparently-advising-how-to-commit-voter-fraud/

      Same story with respect to crimes committed by illegals. It’s like because Trump said that such crimes are a problem all evidence of them must be suppressed; interesting how the only mainstream coverage is at the web site for Fox News Latino; there are many horrific instances but only occasionally are they covered on the Fox TV programming, similar to the way Drudge will occasionally include links to crimes like this this but notably not every time, no matter how bad they are; it’s like telling the whole truth is prejudicial. The sheer throw-weight of the negativity involved in itself somehow degrades the credibility of whoever dares to report it. The mind control regime rolls on; the last thing they will ever inform you of is the 100,000 + “non-deportables” who have been released into the country. Like this guy:

      http://hotair.com/archives/2016/09/09/child-rape-attempted-murder-yep-must-another-criminal-illegal-alien-story/

  • Stick

    Decius, thanks for this missive. To have a Left – Right polity, you first have to have a nation. With 350 plus Sanctuary cities it is clear we don’t have one. Trump is America’s Amos. Should he fail, we will merely become an auction for the Globalists.

  • John Ash

    The problem with your argument for Trump is that it is terribly insulting to anyone who might even consider it as a last ditch effort. Even using the words “Constitution” and “Trump” in a sentence is almost impossible to do without insulting the former.

    Please stop. OTOH, maybe keep going. Let’s destroy the Republican Party and all trust remaining in it. It’s time for a do over. 150 years of failure is enough.

    • Bill Kristollnacht
      • John Ash

        Nice anti-semitism. Good job proving you aren’t deplorable.

    • Severn

      You’re stupid. Please stop being stupid.

      • John Ash

        Wow, what a brilliant retort.

      • David Warner

        At least we’ve got him here in captivity and not out in the wild where he’d be making lefty converts left and right.

        • John Ash

          You are the ones promoting a liberal democratic Constitution.

    • Rosie 73

      So you consider the abolishment of slavery a failure… Good to know. It is interesting that it comes from somebody who likes scream “racist” as much as you do. Must be a bad case of the projections.

      • John Ash

        Please. My comment had nothing to do with slavery. Lincoln was a racist and was willing to continue slavery ad infinitum. All he cared about was that he was President of the whole country. He didn’t want to be “that guy” that broke up a federation. And he got 750,000 people killed for his vanity and war mongering.

        • Rosie 73

          You really can’t be as dumb as you sound. You would forget to breath if you were.

          • John Ash

            It’s “breathe”.

          • Rosie 73

            A racist and historically illiterate spell checker. Now I have seen it all.

          • John Ash

            What is historically illiterate is not knowing that we never had a civil war.

          • Rosie 73

            So 600,000 people just died from lead poisoning for no reason at all? Do tell. This is entertaining.

          • John Ash

            To conquer another country. The South had legally left, there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal government the authority to invade a state that peacefully leaves, having already broken the Constitution and therefore, the deal. You obviously don’t know what a civil war is.

        • Samuel Adams

          That may explain the civil war…but not the Emancipation Proclamation.

          • John Ash

            There were some successes, but the cost was absolutely brutal. Would you murder 750,000 people on a principle? If Lincoln were half the legendary statesman people claim, he would have negotiated peace and found a way to carrot and stick the South out of slavery.

  • Haga Akane

    On the Reconciliation after A Trump Loss, I’m personally against it; it’s bad enough having to cope with libtards constantly calling me a knuckle dragging racist idiot. I really can’t envision going into the future hand in hand with NeverTrumpers who used the same rhetoric to get their way.

    • jack dobson

      Reconciliation will be pointless, anyhow. If this is lost all is lost. Just don’t lift a finger for them at home or abroad when the wolves tear them asunder.

    • John Ash

      You could always start a new Demagogue Party.

  • SarahAnne

    Decius, can I ask you to write an article about how, in real terms, we push back on attacks against us for the -ism and -phobia accusations?! From the overused “racist” epithet to “Islamophobia” to the now-ubiquitous “xenophobia” (who ever really used this word before Brexit?) et al, these accusations in the political and media worlds are not just plain wrong in the vast majority of cases, they are deeply offensive, they have cowed the Right, and they are the primary weapon against conservatives in the Left’s accelerating usurpation of power. We have to attack back on this narrative of theirs. I believe it is literally killing free speech, free thought, free association and freedom in general. This strategy on the Left has now virtually blown up an entire political party. If there is anything eloquent and/or practical to be written about this toxic problem, please write it, and fast…

    • Shep

      Own the terms the Leftists toss at you and laugh.

      • SarahAnne

        Sounds smart and tough and all, but not working and not sufficient. It’s past time for a concerted aggressive intelligent response to this problem. In my opinion, this is THE tip of the Left’s sword right now and we need to shut it down (if there is any conceivable way). If we can’t mount a defense to this problem and republicans keep caving, we lose, period. Donald Trump is not the best messenger and may even be making this problem worse by not being articulate enough when counter-punching. His poor use of language and failure to articulate simple concepts is a huge source of heartburn. He’s got the fortitude, but maybe not the “best words” that he originally promised. So sad at this pivotal moment when so many have put hope in him. Here’s to hoping for a good debate on Sunday!

        • John Ash

          You can’t keep bad ideas alive unless the youth embrace them, and they don’t. Every election year is going to get tougher. A better argument for bad policy isn’t going to be sufficient.

          • Samuel Adams

            Pardon me for being a little paranoid {adjusts tin-foil hat}…but…when things understandably get worse as the consequences of past actions take their toll…older people who foresaw the breakdown of our society and somewhat prepared for it will be the “low-hanging fruit” of younger people who will seek to forcibly relieve them of their property and wealth.
            There will be a lot of Dr. Zhivagos who will watch their property be turned over to the indigent and aggrieved…

          • John Ash

            Well, that’s a good argument for doing the right thing, all the time, right? Not just claim an emergency and try to save people from themselves of force religion down their throat and otherwise at like leftist totalitarians?

          • Samuel Adams

            My point being that our educational institutions, from grade schools to universities, are hopelessly progressive and are turning out little, uneducated socialists in vast numbers. They are chock-a-block full of bad ideas: living wages, global warming, social justice nonsense, micro-aggressions, etc. They embrace them with gusto because they believe it gives them a measure of control over others and their environment.
            When society decays further, they won’t have the intellect or capacity to understand why things are going the way they are…much like the people of Venezuela. The solutions they dream up in their own minds…or that get placed there by people they mindlessly trust…will undoubtedly make things worse. They won’t even have the foundational knowledge to explain why the government’s future solutions are profoundly evil and bankrupt.

          • John Ash

            That’s why we need to allow immigration, to combat the stupidity and ignorance created by government. I assume you will vote for Gary Johnson as he will do that and also eliminate the Dept of Education.

          • Samuel Adams

            I have no great love for the Dept. of Education. It’s elimination could have some nice outcomes…except it’s pretty clear that parents have long ago abdicated most of the responsibility for their children’s upbringing.
            I never had a problem with immigration. Fans of John Derbyshire know the labyrinth-ian process previously in place (or maybe still) that required little more than repeated bribes to navigate the halls of naturalization. I would prefer we allow in people who have something to offer this country alongside a willingness to assimilate our best ideals…not fight against them in favor of their own third-world preferences and expectations.
            Not throw the gates wide open and grant privileges to everyone who walks in…even our enemies.

          • John Ash

            No one is advocating throwing the gates open. That should be the goal, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t happen over night. So we should start by letting anyone who gets a masters or doctorate here stay here. Anyone who has a work sponsor,, etc, etc. And expand over time. And untie business so they can create jobs, more than we have people.

          • John Ash

            BTW, thanks for coming off as actually reasonable.

      • John Ash

        “I’m a bigoted racist and I’m xenophobic and homophobic too! Hahahahahhahahahahaha!!!!”

        Weird, that didn’t sound as cool and brave as I’d thought.

    • John Ash

      You can’t, because they are valid.

      • SarahAnne

        Are you kidding me? Really? So I’ll ask you…If I believe in law and order at the border as matters of national security, safety, fairness and the importance of rule of law, does that make me “xenophobic” (to use the word of the day), or could that possibly be a valid good-faith opinion based on my own judgement, reason and sense of compassion for the impacted parties?

        • John Ash

          If the law is so important to you, why isn’t the Constitution, which prohibits this?

        • John Ash

          I can start pointing out the bigots right here. Several are anti-semitic, one says he isn’t racist, just “pro-white”, others make vague assertions about “hostile cultures”, others say that immigrants are all liberals, others cite the threat to “our culture”.

          This is blatant bigotry and xenophobia. You can’t just argue that it isn’t. No one believes that.

      • David Warner

        John,

        Incontinent, rude, and shopworn is no way to go through internet life, son. Doing so under your own name can be hazardous to one’s reputation, and not just on the internet.

        Perhaps best to start on the incontinence – brevity is the wit of the soul.

        • John Ash

          Why are you anti-immigrant?

          • David Warner

            That’s progress on the incontinent front.

            Now work on the shopworn.

          • John Ash

            Nice dodge.

    • David Warner

      You can find some useful strategies here:

      https://www.amazon.com/SJWs-Always-Lie-Taking-Thought-ebook/dp/B014GMBUR4

      As you can see with John, the first step if recognizing bad faith (and that it is not bad manners to withhold a good faith response from those acting in bad faith).

      • SarahAnne

        I’m on it David Warner, thx for the book referral!

      • John Ash

        And how is this going to help you debate intellectual conservatives or libertarians? We aren’t SJWs and we still detest racism and bigotry. When we say it, we mean it.

        • David Warner

          You call what you’re doing here debate?

          Debate requires good faith on the part of both parties.

          You have yet to demonstrate any.

          • John Ash

            Good faith is reserved for those that earn it. Sorry.

  • John Ash

    The reason “Decius” has to ramble so much is that he has no coherent message, no coherent ideas, no coherent plan. Its just like he took all his grievances and puked them on to a piece of paper. Sorry, computer screen. Like an angry old man with dementia, hitting random people and things with his cane.

    The Republicans have always claimed they cared about the Constitution, while never actually caring about it. Maybe Republicans should actually try actually caring for a change, sucking up the fact that the Constitution doesn’t allow them to imprison people for drugs or crossing lines in the sand or to force religion down people’s throats, maybe they’d finally start to get some traction and find a unifying theme.

  • disgusted_by_the_elites

    the republic is dead, the question is when do the states break off into their own little countries.
    It’s almost as if the founders knew the day would come when the republic is no longer viable, so instead of creating a country with only one government, they permitted the states to maintain their own governors, legislatures and judicial branches, so much more the easier once the break-up occurs. I personally give it 50-100 years.

    • MrLynn

      Well, there’s the outside strategy of an Article 5 Convention of States, which could in theory make the States the instruments of re-establishing the Constitutional basis of the American Republic. It’s an end run, to be sure, but preferable to submission, dissolution, or outright revolution. /Mr Lynn

    • jack dobson

      I suspect if Clinton wins and tries to enact onerous gun control and perhaps some wild social engineering, a few states will begin dissolution in relatively short order. It is under serious discussion in Texas already. I would hope whatever happens cool heads prevail. We are in a post-constitutional era as it is, so some new arrangement between D.C. and the states certainly isn’t unreasonable to expect.

    • Carl Eric Scott

      Secession will be very, very, very hard. The leftist administrative state and MSM will fight it tooth and nail. And while there is social contract rationale for it, there is no legal,constitutional path to it. But some minimal recognition from the USA that it has accepted the departure of say TX, ID, and UT would be required if an armed conflict–which the secessionists would lose within two days—is to be avoided. It would require a political movement within the said states that must stay rigorously unified in the face of intense opposition internal, external, and turncoat, including opposition from sincere patriotic types.

  • waverip

    Decius, whoever you are, I certainly hope you are on the SCOTUS list Trump has committed to!

    • John Ash

      Good grief. The man clearly doesn’t understand the Constitution.

  • MrLynn

    As between Trumpeters and Never-Trumpers, there are ‘maybe Trumpers’, ‘reluctant Trumpers’, or maybe just ‘resigned Trumpers’, those of us who—initially dismayed by this boorish, flamboyant ignoramus who excited the rubes with more than a smidgeon of snake oil, spouting whatever he thought they wanted to hear—have come round to the possibility that (a) the Ruling Class needs this kick in the butt, and (b) that The Trump (as I call him, with grudging respect) might just have the ability to take the reins and actually change the direction of country. He won’t demolish the administrative state, nor make much of a dent in its bureaucratic fortresses, but he might at least get the some of termites scurrying out and looking for better employment.

    I came to this conclusion after watching a video of The Trump testifying in the Senate against the boondoggle of the UN Building reconstruction. If you’re still not quite ‘never’, you might find it worth a look:

    “What Donald Trump’s 2005 Senate testimony tells us about the man and his potential to serve as President.”

    https://walkingcreekworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/trumped-by-the-trump/

    /Mr Lynn

  • Gene Schwimmer

    The Constitution is not a “political document.” It is a legal document, a written contract between the states, the people and the federal government. It should be “interpreted” the same way a deed, an employment contract, a will or any other legal document is interpreted.

    • John Ash

      This^^^^^^^ Conservatives and Republicans need to stop with the temptation to becoming constitutional liberals that feel they can bend it to be a broad permission slip to do was they wish. And just as importantly, they need to directly apply the document, either by getting Amendments for current unconstitutional activity, or by voting down and vetoing unconstitutional laws, without exception.

      This war over how to properly break the Constitution is suicidal.

  • Samuel Adams

    If I may be so bold, what Decius is, I think, trying to say is that there is no longer a “political” fix for the mess we are in.
    What has to happen is a change in the understanding of the citizenry on their responsibility and the benefits of participating in selecting and controlling its own government…for the good of all.
    As long as too many think government is a means for getting more of their neighbor’s production or the government is a crude club to force other people to march to their rhythm, then we are doomed.
    Either the representative already in office have to see the extreme danger and act accordingly or we have to quickly replace them with principled men and women who seek to protect everyone and ensure the liberties of everyone regardless of ethnicity or social grievance. And to forcefully suppress, if not punish, those who seek to rip a common society into an endless series of enclaves and fiefdoms.

    • John Ash

      This is very well said, and I think it makes sense to at least conditionally apply this to immigrants as well as they are protected by the Constitution the moment they step on US soil, and there is not *federal* authority to prevent them from doing so, nor to build walls on state land. The States don’t have that restriction, short of SCOTUS applying the 9th Amendment unless we are at war or under the threat of war.

      IOW, we need to stop grouping people across the board and start treating everyone as American citizens and residents and visitors.

      • Samuel Adams

        You might want to do a little more research.

        Inasmuch as the Constitution establishes legal institutions and proscriptions that apply to everyone, it also prevents the government from stepping on the rights and liberties that all men have as mortal agents.

        On the other hand, the Constitution most certainly directs the government to administer the borders of this sovereign nation and establish the protocols for becoming a citizen thereof.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Border_Patrol

        Guarding our borders by any and all means has been a responsibility of our government for quite a while. This includes whatever gates and barriers and law enforcement personnel are needed to accomplish that.
        Furthermore, there have already been cases decided by the SCOTUS that have struck down state’s attempts to enforce federal laws regarding illegal aliens and the national border they cross.
        I have no antipathy against residents and visitors and whatever visa programs are in effect…at least in principle. I do object, however strenuously, to our government’s incompetence and bad faith in administering such programs and the limitations in effect for such persons. Your “can’t we all be friends” attitude towards illegal immigrants is naïve at best since it presumes these people avail themselves of public services and civic actions that are reserved for and PAID by citizens through government taxation and the assumption of a social contract which such people are either ignorant of or in opposition to.

        • John Ash

          I really don’t need to do any more research, though I’m always willing to accept any uncovered evidence, the evidence no one seems to be able to find.

          “for quite awhile”. What that means is “not since the beginning”, which means at some point it “became” a “duty”. Can you point out what the legal change was? I see no such Amendment. The Supreme Court suddenly decided in 1875, with no foundation in the Constitution, that the Feds had authority over immigration. Weird, the Federal government saying the Federal government has the authority and if you don’t like it, “tough”. Of course, the activist decision, at the time, seemed moral, because California had tried to ban Chinese immigration and the Federal government had a treaty with China supporting immigration. But in doing so, they “gave” the Feds the power to eliminate immigration if they wanted, despite the Constitution expressly forbidding it via the 10th Amendment.

          The only authority the Feds have is to protect the State governments from armed uprisings, coups and armed invasion. Ostensibly at their request or when the situation is dire. Not any time they choose.

          And, you must realize by now that SCOTUS has made dozens of AWFUL decisions by now that vastly increase the power of the Feds without rationale. Wickard v Filburn, Dred Scott, Kelo, ObamaCare, Chy Lung, Roe v Wade, etc, etc, etc. This is ongoing and common. SCOTUS works directly for the Federal government and have no cause to err on the side of individuals or states and regularly are full of shite.

          If you are worried about federal dollars going to immigrants, you should protest the unconstitutionality of these laws.

        • John Ash

          As further evidence of the Constitutional insanity furthered by the Court, I bring up the “General Welfare Clause”. This is a misinterpretation of the Power to Tax Clause, in which the Power to Tax was limited to 1. Pay debts, 2. Defence, and 3. to save money in the treasury for delegated authority of Congress for the general welfare of the Union of the States.

          Madison laughed off the “General Welfare Clause” as the ranting of paranoid minds, as no rational person could EVER believe that the government was authorized to do anything it deemed to be in the General Welfare, and Jefferson repeated this argument against the unconstitutional formation of a Federal bank.

          AND YET, the “General Welfare Clause” is THE “fundamental” interpretation now used by 90-95% of judges. There is virtually no dissent at all on the subject. Even though the Founders said such a wild misinterpretation was ridiculous and flawed.

          And that brings us to the Commerce Clause, which had the original and sole purpose of ENSURING free trade amongst the state, with no intention to actually control commerce itself. Regardless of the open wording, that wasn’t enough for government and SCOTUS, who decided that “Commerce” was “any business activity at all”, and that “among” (between) meant “without or within” and that “regulate” no longer meant to regulate state law into uniformity, but to “DIRECTLY control” anything it regarded to not only BE commerce, but to AFFECT commerce.

          One of the more “amusing” of decisions being Gonzales v Reich, in which the Federal government was granted the power to control the personal cultivation and use of marijuana because it indirectly “affected” the interstate trade of marijuana, which was illegal, and even though it growing your own AIDS the government in its desire to stop marijuana trade across state lines, it defeated the government’s power to stop YOU from having a smoke of your otherwise perfectly legal and rightful marijuana you cultivated. You see, affecting it in the right way and aiding the ostensible purpose of the law isn’t the limit, see, if you actually help the government achieve its ostensible goals, you are a criminal. Because the Constitution is dead.

        • John Ash

          “Your “can’t we all be friends” attitude towards illegal immigrants is naïve at best since it presumes these people avail themselves of public services and civic actions that are reserved for and PAID by citizens through government taxation and the assumption of a social contract which such people are either ignorant of or in opposition to.”

          This needs to be broken down more precisely. What are you trying to say? That I did sign a social contract or that it does not exist? How does my belief in natural rights and fealty to the Constitution presume unconstitutional welfare programs?

  • vdorta

    Yet another great one by Publius. The anti-Trump race to the extremes already reached Plato. A WaPo article recently compared Trump to Thrasymachus.

  • WalkingHorse

    The social contract underlying this nation and its constitution came into being during a long period of “benign neglect” by the British Crown. In large parts, the culture that emerged had among its core principles that group decisions are to be constrained, and to the degree possible, be taken as close to those individuals affected by said decisions. This is otherwise known as the principle of Subsidiarity. That principle is diametrically opposed to what we now have – an Administrative State implementing a tyranny of experts co-mingled with the moral equivalent of an oligarchy.

    The reservations about Trump expressed by the establishment folk might have traction were it not for the fact that it is blatantly obvious that the movement for globalism pertains at most secondarily to “free trade”. We have the experience of the European experiment morphing from an economic collaboration to administrative tyranny as a clear indicator of what is afoot. Mrs. Clinton is clearly playing on that team, and further centralization of decision-making is unacceptable.

  • Party of Lincoln

    Publics Decius Mus, the 2016 version of Baghdad Bob.

    If Trump didn’t exist, one couldn’t manufacture a “Republican” candidate who not only virtually guarantees a Hillary Clinton victory but openly mocks conservative principles and constitutional norms.

    The catastrophe of Trump cannot be overstated.

    • John Ash

      This would be a 60/40 race had it not been for the nomination of Trump.

      • Party of Lincoln

        At least pretty close to 60/40. This is an election from which defeat was stolen from the jaws of victory, which many of who supported Kasich or even Rubio warned of before Trump’s nomination was virtually locked up by Indiana and made official in Cleveland.

        My concern now is that Trump’s personal foibles will be used as the explanation by the likes of Decius for Trump’s defeat in November. Humiliating defeat was baked into the cake long before his comments on Judge Curiel and the Gold Star family, the Miss Universe fiasco and when the vulgar video was released. This is a candidacy that repudiates the founding principles of the United States and of the Republican Party. The sooner Trumpism, and not just Trump, is disavowed, the better for conservatism, the Republican Party and, ultimately, the republic.

        • John Ash

          Very well said.

  • Carl Eric Scott

    Well, I’m proud to have helped provoke this article. The material on the importance of democratic say to the mixed regime of America constitutionalism really is fine stuff. Combine it with what James Allan teaches in Democracy in Decline.

    Decius remains, however, in denial about what Trump’s candidacy means for 2018, 2020, etc. Perhaps the shift in the winds being felt in these post-pussy-grabber days of the Trump saga might make him more hesitant.

    He also refuses to fully face what his conclusion that a single Clinton victory “would make it” –for all practical purposes–“impossible for the people to reassert the social compact” necessarily implies. Nor can he provide any decisive evidence for this assertion.

    Spiliakos can defend himself, but as his colleague on the–currently inactive but soon to reappear–group blog Postmodern Conservative, I again say what I spelled out there at much greater length:

    1) It is not a genuine emergency, i.e., a facing-a-Mussolini as the electoral alternative, situation.

    2) Nothing beyond such a situation could justify ditching the rule that we conservatives shall not nominate nor support candidates who are below the most minimal floors of ethical behavior, and regardless of what our opponents do. You ditch that rule, and you essentially are saying, politics never has any such rules. EVERY principle is governed by situational strategy.

    3) Even in raw practical terms that–most impractically–refuses to look at that rule, there is a very strong case that a President Trump would be the greater evil than a President Hillary. For conservatives and their goals. I made that case here: http://www.nationalreview.com/postmodern-conservative/438336/donald-trump-greater-evil

    • John Ash

      Unless you’re going to specifically endorse Johnson, your complaints are just one-sided bitching and you are no better than “Decius”. What is the point of being outspoken against one evil while ignoring the equally detestable evil, and worse, not getting behind an alternative. You’re as big a hypocrite as they are.

    • Severn

      It is not a genuine emergency, i.e., a facing-a-Mussolini as the electoral alternative, situation.

      You’re delusional. America is already a banana republic in which the rule of law is meaningless. And you just shrug complacently.

      Nothing beyond such a situation could justify ditching the rule that we conservatives shall not nominate nor support candidates who are below the most minimal floors of ethical behavior

      Trump has considerably higher standards of ethics than the average Republican, the majority of whom are wiling, even eager, to sell out the country and its people. But I suspect your notion of what constitutes “ethics” is rather idiosyncratic.

      there is a very strong case that a President Trump would be the greater
      evil than a President Hillary. For conservatives and their goals

      No, there isn’t. You can only make such an argument by fist devising your own definition of what “conservatism” is. If conservatives want to conserve America, the country and its people, Trump is infinitely better than Clinton. If conservatives want to conserve the rule of law, and the right to free speech, and the right to ber arms, then Trump is infinitely better than Clinton.

    • Severn

      we conservatives shall not nominate nor support candidates who are below the most minimal floors of ethical behavior,

      You say that in the course of an essay in which you explicitly endorse Hillary Clinton for President! You have no floor for ethical behavior.

  • MikeV12

    Wow, for someone who hides behind the name of a Roman consul, I’d have expected at least some awareness of the dangers that follow when we associate one man’s incontinent vision with the will of “the People.”

    But that would require reflection, and Decius offers only pretensious allusions in service of drivel.

    To be clear, Decius, I’m not a leftist, so I’ll never call you racist. I’m calling you stupid.

  • Mark Talmont

    Nobody ever mentions this but the John Birch Society got most of this right over 50 years ago. You can look up the JBS-inspired advocacy work “None Dare Call It Conspiracy” and it describes the basics of what is displayed now with the Kristol types thumb-sucking their way right onto the Animal Farm (BTW the leftists who run the colleges now hate Orwell and rarely include his books anymore–a few years back the BBC itself announced that it could not put up his statue in front of their HQ….because he was “too left wing”!)

    It turns out the JBS was targeted in the 60s by the KGB with false letterhead campaigns in order to manufacture an association with Klan and Nazi groups. This is described by British Prof. Christopher Andrew in his books “The Sword and the Shield” and “The World Was Going Our Way” based on the archives of Moscow-based KGB spy monitor Vasili Mitrokhin. This material, like an astounding volume of profoundly revisionist history that has emerged since the Iron Curtain fell, has been systematically avoided by the history departments in the universities; a fine narrative about this is “In Denial” by Haynes and Klehr.

    The JBS was subjected to perhaps the most extreme and unjustified smear campaign in post-WW2 history. It remains the case that anything associated with it is instantly contaminated by the mind controllers who run the corporate media; there has not been a “word in edgewise” anywhere since then-JBS chairman John McManus was permitted access to C-Span BookTV in the early 2000s to present his biography of William F. Buckley, who staked out the terrain of “official” conservatism and executed the condemnation of the JBS that has stuck to this day.

    If the Republicans were smart they would distribute copies of “Animal Farm” and “1984”. We’re living on the last page of Animal Farm already, and well on the way to the last page of 1984.