The Game for the 2018 Elections

In a recent  stunt on the Senate floor, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) forced a vote on the use of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the law that at least two presidents have  leaned on repeatedly to justify a state of endless war.

Paul’s amendment failed in the end, but even in failure it was a success. The success is tied to the 2018 elections, and it shows that Paul has figured out the Trump game.

The whole effort was about more than ending the wars; it helped move us toward restoring the rule of law and reinstituting the separation of powers. And Americans are better off for that no matter the technical policy outcome.

Had the amendment passed and the uniparty recreated the AUMF to justify more war, at least Congress would have been responsible for it. Had the amendment passed but the AUMF not been recreated, the wars might have ended. Even had combat continued without an AUMF, the president would have needed to justify it on new grounds, forcing an important discussion.

Yet even with the failure of the amendment there is gain. The gain is in the exposure of GOP posturing.

Americans continue to see how the GOP establishment is all talk and no action. This was a clear case in which principles and circumstances aligned, yet still our most “principled” leaders in the GOP could not see the prudence of acting.

Rand Paul’s game is the game to play right now. Win or lose, he shows the weakness of the establishment. It is also, as my colleague Mike Sabo points out, the game President Trump is playing. After the debt-ceiling deal, Sabo wrote,

Trump is holding congressional Republicans’ feet to the fire. By making it clear to voters that he is the dealmaker-in-chief he promised to be on the campaign trail, he is allowing Americans to see just how feckless and broken the current Congress is and, by way of contrast, is showing them what he might be able to accomplish with a Congress that is even mildly sympathetic with his agenda.

In short, “By spurning the Republican elites, Trump is attempting to inspire voters to give him a new kind of Republican Congress in 2018.” In the cases of the debt-ceiling deal, Paul’s gambit, and probably even Trump’s potential deal with Democrats on Dreamers (since it will likely fail), voters see how feckless members of the GOP establishment in Congress are. This may be the only way to restore the rule of law and fix Congress.

If one takes Trump seriously and considers our current circumstances honestly, what other way forward is there? If the current Congress is incapable—actually incapable—of passing any meaningful reforms or legislation, what then? They seem to be incapable, if only because some are too imprudent while too many others are progressive or cowards (or both). Things may be worse than many of us originally thought; the wall, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare may all be impossible tasks for a broken Congress. If so, which is better for Trump in 2020 and the American people generally: passing some milquetoast legislation with establishment Republicans to call a “legislative win,” but that makes no real change, or pushing big deals that will probably fail while also working minor compromises that might succeed? The latter highlight the brokenness of Congress as a whole and the Republican establishment in particular.

Those of us who want to see the Trump revolution succeed need to think beyond the conventional measures of “presidential leadership” and “legislative wins.” The game has changed, and can continue to change. Success depends upon bold moves and risky endeavors.

So we could continue to adopt the progressive critique of the executive used by National Review that the president is a failure for not making all of government better, but that would be foolish. The president is not our king and we don’t need him to be. What we desperately need is “a president who will rein in the federal government and get Congress to do its job.” This does not mean he must tell Congress what to do or to lead Congress to weak deals. It means we need a president who helps the American people restore Congress to a functioning co-equal branch of government, accountable to the voters, and willing to exercise its own constitutional powers.

align=”left” We need to trade in the GOP establishment for people who are serious about this project. Primary season is the next battle ground for the soul of the country.

For that, we need a new Congress.

We need to trade in the GOP establishment for people who are serious about this project. Primary season is the next battle ground for the soul of the country.

This is a risky endeavor, but probably not in the way one might think. Is there really a risk that Republican voters are suddenly going to vote for Democrats? Maybe, but more so if they are forced to choose between weak GOPe candidates and Democrats (since there is not much practical difference). There is also a risk if Republican voters are not motivated to vote. Again, this is more likely with GOPe favorites on the ticket. The way to give voters a clear choice and to motivate them is to make this a fight about the future of Congress and promote a primary process against the establishment.

The risk of voting into office worse Republicans is low. If we accidentally elect more bad Republicans, are we any worse off? Simply voting out politicians who do not do what they say they will, and who do not have the best interests of the American people at heart, is a victory. This may be why we are seeing citizens across the country mobilize for this purpose. Groups like the Poor Richard Group—with their slogan to “Make Congress Great Again” and aim “to reduce the influence of incumbency on elections”—will probably become more prevalent in the coming months.

Consider the conditions that will help make all of this a reality. If the Left continues to be hate-filled, violent, and adolescent, they will remain weak. All evidence suggests they are not changing. It also helps Republicans if Democrats embrace the culture war and obstruct. Trump has already shown that he can make this happen with a few well-placed tweets.

But most of all, citizens must realize they need change and realize they can make the change. So far, the Rand/Trump game highlights the first part. The president and his radical flank outside the White House are also highlighting the second part.

In an insurgency, these elements might be called “mobilizing structures” and “framing.” And perhaps this is the proper way to understand Trump and the movement we are seeing today: an insurgency. After all, even though Trump holds the Office of the President, the rest of government, including most of the executive branch, and all of the levers of power in our society (e.g., Hollywood, the media, etc.) are still against him. He, and the American people, do not control the government, which is still firmly in the hands of the “political eunuchs” born of the administrative state.

align=”right” To restore self-government, which the establishment stands against, and some believe Trump stands for, will require time, energy, and using the one power left to the people: voting. 

To restore self-government, which the establishment stands against, and some believe Trump stands for, will require time, energy, and using the one power left to the people: voting. There is no choice between Democrat and Republican, since the Flight 93 Election argument still holds true. But there can be a choice between establishment and serious Republicans. President Trump should continue to reject conventional politics and make it clear that he will remain neutral in the primaries but support whomever wins each GOP nomination. In short, he should promote a vigorous primary process and self-government.

Trump made the point before being elected in 2016 that this movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by the American people. As he said,

The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you, the only force strong enough to save our country is us, the only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.

The election of Donald Trump has always been more about politics than policy. Restoring the rule of law requires restoring the Congress to a functioning branch of government.

There is only one way to do this: show Americans just how useless and enamored of the progressive administrative state the establishment Republicans are, and motivate Americans to take back their Congress and restore it to its constitutional aims. Senator Paul and President Trump seem to understand this, and this is what the 2018 election is all about.

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About Bill Kilgore

Bill Kilgore is the pseudonym of a writer serving in the United States military. It should go without saying that the views expressed in his articles are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

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26 responses to “The Game for the 2018 Elections

  • The author identifies the three key elements of the ‘insurgency’: voting, primaries and candidates. Since the Ross Perot campaign 1992, the Globalist Uniparty has stage-managed the political options available to voters such that all major party candidates could be counted on to perpetuate ‘globalist’ policies. Those Perot/Reform Party voters morphed into Tea Party voters who, ultimately, became Trump voters. With Trump, the Republican wing of the Globalist Uniparty (RWGU), was primaried. (The same thing was tried (for a different political agenda) by Bernie Sanders, but failed.)

    With the emergence of Trump, nationalist-populist voters — both Republican and Democratic — counted. The RWGU did everything in its considerable power to avoid such an outcome and failed. Nationalist-populist voters smell blood in the water. This is affecting the Republicans more than the Democrats precisely because the nationalist-populist voter has historically been a Republican voter, including ‘Reagan Democrats’. This is what has put the fear of God into the RWGU.

    Mouthpieces for the RWGU are already trying to create reasons why primarying RWGU candidates is a bad idea (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/11/bannon-senate-republicans-primaries-242573). The problem is, of course, that their suggestions are utterly self-serving. If the GOP wants to avoid spending money opposing Deplorable insurgents, all they have to do is not oppose the insurgents. As for the suggestion that Deplorables should concentrate on defeating Democrats, the Republican Party is the majority party in most of the US and the nationalist-populist is a Republican voter.

  • In 2016, Deplorables defeated the Democrats. In 2018, Deplorables must defeat the Republicans.

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  • I’m not sure I trust Trump anymore. We should be looking for someone to primary Trump as well.

    • You’re probably not sure if you’re a boy, or a girl, either way, you don’t count.

      • It doesn’t matter. Either way, he/she is irrelevant. He/She most likely needs a nice soft Trump monogrammed hanky.

      • And if your still sure of Trump then your as dumb as every other juggie who ever lived.

      • Yep, which makes me about ten times smarter than you. Do you need a nice soft Trump monogrammed hanky?

  • I thought author Kilgore was going to come right out and say what I believe: Most Congressmen and the entire leadership are blackmailed or otherwise illegally owned: “Nice little career you’ve got there … shame if anything wuz to happen to it.”

    Think of all the illegal data collection we know about, all the million-gallon-a-day leaks that have been detected. How could anyone imagine that none of the info collected by NSA, the FBI, the CIA, the Awan brothers, the Clinton server, the DNC ‘insider’ leaks, Obama’s machine, and probably more isn’t being used to control what deals and laws get made? Even policy statements?

    The only story that covers all of what we see is a government that has been sold off at a flea market and now belongs to various extra-legal power players.

    I don’t think we can undo this mess. The only answer is — as Kilgore DOES say — a wholesale flush of Congress as rapidly as possible. AND WE MUST FLUSH REPUBLICANS LIKE RYAN FIRST because until we do, President Trump will never have any support: All our top officers bosses hate him.

    Trump made a mistake at the start by bringing with him ‘The Art of the Deal’ rather than reading ‘The Prince.’ He relied on an outsider’s understanding of politics — we elected him because he was an outsider, remember, so what should we have expected?

    His understanding was that his party would mostly support him because most of them would be glad to ride the coattails of someone who We the People liked. And that most all government officers and civil servants would do their jobs whether they liked him or not because that’s what they traditionally do.

    He thought “I can make great deals that will work for everyone.” In a usual time he would have been right.

    Where we actually are is his own party hates him worse than the Democrats do because he’s likely to disturb their power to route whatever government money Republicans can dispense to people who will pay them bribes. And the top government employees hate him with a passion because they’ve been committing treason and various felonies left and right for a decade or more and all of a sudden there’s a chance they might have to explain it to a judge.

    Trump should have thought “I have to quietly and privately TERRIFY the Republican Congressional leadership; if they don’t walk out of our first meeting with a dark stain on their pants I’m going to have trouble.” And his cabinet officers needed to start off understanding that anyone who spends a week in office without shooting a swamp critter in his department won’t be in that office two weeks later.

    Because Trump didn’t terrify the top dozen in Congress and fire half of his first
    six cabinet picks they’re not scared of him and they’re withholding support. The blackmailed (whatever) leadership needed to be able to claim force majeure to its handlers. He — like the rest of us — didn’t see that quickly enough and here we are.

    However Trump is nobody’s fool; if WE can figure that out then he has already done so and my guess is he’s going to use terror more effectively in the future.

  • I would very much like to think all this is true – but what good reason, during the course of the past 10 months, has
    President Trump given his supporters to trust him?

    Personnel is policy.

    During the election campaign Ivanka and her husband were hardly anywhere to be seen. Persons such as Corey
    Lewandowski and Steve Bannon, who were ardently in agreement with the Trump campaign policy positions, were around Mr Trump as his active team and making the plays.

    Since winning, more and more of those people have left or been let go; and Jared and Ivanka have emerged from the
    shadows as Dad’s No. 1 advisers – and they are New York liberals.

    He has put all sorts of similar types (from Goldman Sachs, from the military-industrial complex) into positions of authority and kept out the likes of Kris Kobach who has been a trailblazer against open borders, mass immigration and voter fraud for years.

    Donald Trump was heroic to take on the election campaign and endure the 24/7 vilification he got from all the powerful, June 2015-November 2016 (and ever since!). He counter-punched magnificently like an ideal street-fighter. Yet
    there is little sign of his now being doggedly committed to the campaign-themes he stuck to then.

    Are we really to go on trusting this man until it’s all much too late and America has indeed entirely become Mexico?

    The Republicans are completely discredited and everyone now sees they are absolutely useless, deliberately unreliable, worthless.

    The Democrats have nowhere to go, because they have unleashed a force they cannot control and everyone perceives
    them as owning it – thug-mobs attacking people in the cause of suppressing the First Amendment. Furthermore, with Hillary looming over them, blighting them like a mushroom-cloud which constantly rains radioactive fallout down on them, they have not the strength to rise from their Bed of Death.

    And the current President is only one signature (legalizing DACA) away from universal detestation.

    Surely there has never been a better moment of opportunity, in the entire history of the Republic, for a Third Party
    to emerge and succeed against all these spent political vehicles.

    • Personnel is NOT policy. E.g., He uses personnel in specific areas of their strength. He ignored Tillerson and Cohn in pulling out of Paris. Look at ehat Trump has actually delivered – all good. Killed TPP, nominated Gorsuch, approved pipelines, pulled out of Paris, rolled back Obama
      anti-energy regs and school transgender regs, up ped border enforcement and deportation of criminal illegals, started renegotiation of NAFTA. Congress and courts have stopped his other policies. He’s only 8 months in. You expect everything already – with a hostile Congress, bureaucracy, judiciary and media?

      No one else would have delivered anything. Trump has ALREADY justified his presidency. (Did I mention the beating Hillary part?) I find those turning against him unrealistic, petulant ingrates. What have YOU done personally to save America?

      Re DACA: I believe there is no public political will to deport non-criminal illegals, nor is it logistically feasible. Finding them, separating families, holding them, transporting them and then to where. Not feasible for tens of millions. Think of outcry over single boy, Elian Gonzales. Multiply by millions. Add violent opposition by illegals and antifa types. If you think it can be done, explain logistics to me.

      My question Is not depirtation but rather why does “amnesty” or “legalization” necessarily mean either benefits, and most important, path to citizenship? Everyone assumes path to citizenship. In debates, Rubio asked incredulously, “You mean no path to citizenship?” Well yes. That would seem to me rather obvious and certainly appropriate. Yet no one – other than Trump – is raising this. He said in Florida legalization didn’t mean citizenship.

      Suppose he gets wall, good border security, ends anchor baby status, ends family reunification, ends right to benefits, and grants limited legalization with no right to citizenship and dependent on no criminal record and tax compliance. Suppose he got all that? Wouldn’t that be spectacular? Would you really complain? Well, he won’t get all, but it appears he can get some. Why are you already turning on him before you know what he will get? Your ilk is, again, unrealistic and ungrateful. (Vote for Bannon next time.) And hysteric.

      • Please be so kind as to explain to lesser-brained persons with inadequate insight, such as myself, the sane sound logic of the President’s new Afghanistan initiative; and his employing to date no less than six Goldman Sachs personnel in his team (Bush “only” had 3 in the White House).

        ANY DACA means millions come, not the – sufficiently large, in all conscience – 800,000. The USA is having its Dunkirk moment, as a culture.

        Either the country does very drastic things; OR it becomes Mexico. Soon.

      • DACA

        Deporting non-criminal illegals not logistically feasible. Finding them (how?), separating citizen children from illegal parents, arresting them (which law enforcement force big enough?), holding them (where?), transporting them (how?). And then to where? Not feasible for hundreds of thousands, much less tens of millions. Think of outcry over single boy, Elian Gonzales. Multiply by millions. Add violent opposition by illegals themselves and antifa types. If anyone thinks it can be done, explain logistics to me. Certainly, there is no public will for such a massive operation.

        My question Is not deportation but rather why does “amnesty” or “legalization” necessarily mean either benefits, and most important, path to citizenship? Everyone assumes path to citizenship. In debates, Rubio asked incredulously, “You mean no path to citizenship?” Well yes. That would seem to me rather obvious and certainly appropriate. Yet no one – other than Trump – is raising this. He said in Florida legalization didn’t mean citizenship.

        Suppose he gets wall, good border security, ends anchor baby status, ends family reunification, ends right to benefits, and grants limited legalization with no right to citizenship and dependent on no criminal record and tax compliance. Suppose he got all that? Wouldn’t that be spectacular? Would anyone really complain? Well, he won’t get all, but it appears he can get some. Whether by dealing, or if it comes back to him, by doing nothing – or by executive action, which Congress itself says they want him to take (extend DACA). To yell “Deport” is unrealistic and diverts away from most important things: no citizen, no family reunification and wall. Hopefully one day soon, no anchor babies.

        Afghanistan

        I believe we are stuck with decades, maybe generations, of having to fight to deny safe havens. Because big attacks not being planned now, doesn’t mean we allow any safe havens we can deny. And there will never be a victory, only continual self-defense. But we fight smarter and more strategically – which is what Trump’s policy is all about. With “gloves off,” ability to continue actions into Pakistan I hope we will do much more damage with far less casualties to our guys. Trump is trying a whole bunch of new things where he hopes to change actions of other countries which may lead to situation on ground where we don’t have to do very much of much of the actual fighting. We do strategy, teach, “advise” and do special raids into Pakistan.

        There is also something else: danger Pakistan increasingly poses. This is as much about Pakistan as Afghanistan. Trump didn’t say much about that – he can’t. But I bet anything, there are plans to force Pakistan to change its policies. Note Trump talked about aid to Pakistan we give, and he made India a participant. I think there is much planned he didn’t say anything about. Trump may have figured out how to make things so untenable for Pakistan, it will stop supporting terrorists both internally as danger to Pakistan, and in Afghanistan. Don’t forget, a terrorist nuclear Pakistan is a danger – one we never talk about.

        Trump is first to bring in India. India, who may have bigger danger than us, was made a stakeholder and participant.

        Trump’s approach is new and very different. Critics didn’t listen, aren’t using their imagination and are wrong to decide Trump is stupid and a sell-out and secretly neocon. Give the guy a year at this policy before you decide it’s more of the same. Trump himself said it’s not open-ended and he will change if no results.

      • You make a very plausible case.
        The problems are
        [1] ANY kind of amnesty – even for one single individual alone out of the 40 millions of illegals now in the USA (the 11-million figure is a decade out of date) – will be a pathway by lawfare-users to keep and bring in millions of others. If you are right about amnesty and other things remain equal – if there be no supervening massive event which changes the whole picture/situation – then America is in the past and takes its place with Ancient Rome as a once-great culture that has disappeared. It is potentially and soon actually Mexico – with jihadi outbursts all over the place.
        [2] What is happening worldwide is another of the several attempts, during the past 14 centuries, to impose Islam on mankind by force. This happened to SW Asia, N Africa, Spain, the Balkans, during the 7th century & the Middle Ages; it was tried again in the 17th century (in which the Turks reached the walls of Vienna, Austria). It has been active afresh since the Fall of the Shah in Persia 1979.
        For this Islamic people have the direct sanction of their own sacred texts (in the Koran). There is no appeal, within Islam, against such initiatives. They are, from the Muslims’ point of view, God-ordained.
        There is no way in which they can be stopped by military operations within individual countries; whether Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else. For this time around it operates by slowly but steadily grinding the whole of mankind down in a relentless permanent urban-guerrilla campaign. (That such tactics work, brilliantly, was proved in Ireland 1966-99; where the men of violence, Protestant and Catholic, NOW ARE THE GOVERNMENT.)
        The Solution is very drastic but this is the only work that will work. – All Muslims on Earth, of whatever passport, place of birth or ethnicity, should be required to live in those 56 countries which are already explicitly Muslim states or have majority Muslim populations. All other persons should be required to dwell in the other 140 countries. A cordon sanitaire between those groups of lands should be operated by the armed forces of China, Russia, the USA &c; and all traffic between them interdicted.
        We should inhabit a binary world – where Muslims have nothing to do with the others and the others have nothing to do with the Muslims.
        Any other kind of tactic on our part will be a hopeless game of whack-a-mole.

      • I agree with everything you write. But I am focused on one thing: that it is not logistically or politically feasible to deport millions of non-criminal illegals. Hence, I want the deportation fervor to be channelled into possible achievable measures that will limit the damage and also serve as a deterrent. Chief among those is no path to citizenship – which is always assumed to be a necessary part of “amnesty” – why? And no family reunification. And end “anchor babies.” I said wall and border security assumed. Another thing no one talks about: visa overstays. We do nothing whatsoever about those.

    • Trump has done absolutely nothing to deserve our trust. in fact, he has earned our mistrust. he has defended Obamacare, inserted us further into foreign wars, is now working to legalize the DREAMERs, is expanding the debt, is defending the Iran treaty, and is moving to support Global Warming. He is a fraud.

  • Among Trump’s accomplishments – and along with killing TPP, pulling out of Paris and Gorsuch, the most significant – is exposing the GOP as absolute frauds. Ryan’s perfidy has been there to see since the last Obama budget. But now it is impossible for anyone to miss this and the entire GOPe’s membership in the progressive, open borders, globalist administrative state Uniparty. What do Republicans stand for? We now know -same as Dems.GOP has been a lying charade and we have been dupes.

    My fear: 1) Not enough primary challengers. 2) And Breitbart now on a Bannon-is-god crusade whipping up fury at each perceived Trump misstep/ “sell-out.” As well as Coulter, Levin and others. So will many Trump voters stay home? And if only candidate GOPe, who do they vote for?

    I live in Northern Calif. Before that in Manhattan. My vote has never mattered.

  • We need to trade in the Republican Congress for its clear lying to its base. The same applies to President Trump.

  • Primary the Pennsylvania Congressional RINO 3 and their Republican County organizations: Costello, Fitzpatrick & Meehan.

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