The most enduring cliché of every presidential election is that it is the most important in history. The nominees proclaim this because, for them, this is certainly true. They also hope that it will motivate their base to vote.
That said, this time it could be true. America is having a political nervous breakdown. It’s overdue, and a good thing. Out of the chaos a profound transformation will likely ensue. What might that look like?
There are two antagonistic although potentially complementary dynamics underlying American politics. They go by – surprise! – “republican” and “democratic.” What emerged from history, spontaneously and organically, evolved into these two dominant parties.
Republicans, however imperfectly, champion a classical liberal (i.e. conservative) republican world view. The Democrats, however imperfectly, promote a radical egalitarian (i.e. progressive) democratic world view. The nominees of each compete for votes on the basis of which philosophy and program is deemed most promising by the voters. Regardless of all the sound and fury, the system continues to function and function well.
The 2016 election will be transformational because it will, irrespective of outcome, clarify matters that have become obscure to the political class. From that clarity a novus ordo seclorum – a “new order of the ages” – is likely to emerge.
(Let those who consider this vaguely un-American check the base of the pyramid on the back of any dollar bill if they have any left after paying their health insurance premiums and estimated taxes. As a member of the Illuminati, I say high time!)
The presenting problem with our political system seems to be that the GOP has grown vague as to its core identity as the authentic party of peace, equitable prosperity, and human dignity. While both parties have lapsed from ideology to dogma, the Democrats are much clearer on what they are about.
The GOP has grown so vague with respect to its core mission that when I point out the historically incontrovertible facts of its values to my progressive friends, they look at me, bewildered, to see whether I am pulling their leg.
Let's exonerate the GOP for having lost its way. The GOP takes its cue from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy which has lost its unity and focus.
Conservatives are not quite culpable either. In 1988, as reported by the LA Times, one of President Gorbachev’s key advisors gave away the game. “Our major secret weapon," said Georgi Arbatov, director of the Soviet Academy of Sciences' Institute for U.S and Canada Studies, "is to deprive you of an enemy.”
The perp? Mikhail Gorbachev. Perp, however, does not do him justice. Gorbachev's motives were noble, and although it has taken decades to play out, what he unleashed inside American politics may finally break down the GOP's dogma and allow it to find its way again. This would be of incalculable value.
It is an open secret that there is immense friction within the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
The NeoCons, with their devotion to the use of military force to project American values, really detest PaleoCons for their opposition to regime change. PaleoCons are conservative about deploying force except when America’s security or interests are directly threatened. PaleoCons return NeoCon disdain.
The libertarian members of the right wing coalition make others uncomfortable, especially their arcane devotion to legalizing heroin and prostitution. Assuredly, though, the TheoCons and Social Conservatives with their propensity for legislating morality earn the libertarians' ire.
Meanwhile, we Supply Siders (all dozen or so of us), with our devotion to cutting tax rates and advocacy for the gold standard, make the rest of the Conspiracy queasy. Especially since we so often get our way and are proved right about the crucial importance of, and means to, equitable prosperity.
On December 26, 1991, Gorbachev dissolved the USSR, thereby deploying his secret weapon: depriving us of a common enemy, the only thing that has ever allowed the right to firmly cohere. The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy promptly began to fray and it has now almost completely unraveled causing the GOP to drift.
The outcome of the 2016 election is likely to reunite the right, one way or the other, and put the GOP back on track.
If Trump keeps to the fore his authentically sweet side, he very well may go on to victory. If he keeps his promises, he could easily unite the bulk of the center right without alienating the independents and centrist Democrats. Trump, albeit imperfectly, has made plausible commitments to an agenda that offers substantial goodness to all of the factions of the right without alienating the center.
Trump clearly leans more PaleoCon than NeoCon in proclaiming a realist “peace through strength” foreign policy. He will focus our military power against our real enemy, Daesh (a/k/a ISIS), while pursuing good relations with Russia and China. Neither represent inveterate enemies.
Trump is also committed to refurbishing America’s national defense, an objective dear to NeoCons. One can easily imagine Trump appointing as Secretary of the Navy arch-NeoCon William Kristol, directing him to christen America's next aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Irving Kristol. Peace can be made.
Trump has promised to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court. This is the most devout desire of Social Conservatives and the Religious Right. There is every reason to believe if elected he will fulfill this promise.
Trump has already captured the allegiance of leading Supply Siders such as Larry Kudlow, Steve Moore, Arthur Laffer, Steve Forbes , and Jeffrey Bell (notwithstanding some lingering concerns over trade and immigration policy).
In short, there are sufficient rewards in play to persuade the members of the right to move to their respective corners. There they could be happily occupied for the next four to eight years (and in the event of a successor Pence presidency, twelve to sixteen).
In this way a Trump victory could very easily unite the right and bring the GOP back to its core values of peace, equitable prosperity, and human dignity. A Hillary Clinton victory would be likely to unite the right in even more fundamental ways. Stay tuned.
Originating at Forbes.com