Two Americas, More Clearly Defined Now than Ever Before

Recently, Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post asked readers if Republicans and Democrats are talking about the same country, and proceeded to provide evidence that they may not be. 

This is, of course, a wildly asinine question to ask.  The fact that it is even being posed as relevant inquiry signifies both the rudimentary nature of current political discourse in mainstream venues and the disrespect that mainstream pundits have for American audiences’ intellect.

Have Rucker and the other tuned-in media pundits asking such lofty questions just not been listening or paying attention, or do they assume that we haven’t been doing so?  Barack Obama answered his question just days before his election back in 2008:  “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  His wife Michelle was even more forthright.  “We are going to have to change our conversation,” she said.  “[W]e’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” 

Not sure how the clever pundits could miss this, but when you have one faction outwardly professing a desire to transform our nation into something entirely new, while another faction outwardly professes to either retain our identity, or return our identity to something it was once before, the simple answer to Rucker’s question is: No. Republicans and Democrats are not currently talking about the same nation, and the paths sought by each have very little in common.

The United States Constitution is, without question, a document which secures the rights of self-governance among the States and the People, while bestowing minimal authority upon the federal government to oversee very specific elements of governance. 

Republicans -- generally speaking, and especially when compelled by conservatives to do so -- seek to preserve the integrity of the Constitution by maintaining its fixed restrictions upon federal power.  Because if the integrity of this fundamental principle of the republic is not observed, the republic will cease to be the republic our Founders created.

Allow Thomas Jefferson to explain:

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States of the People.”  To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.

We are well beyond that “single step.”  In the past century, Democrats have led our nation miles beyond the “boundaries thus specifically drawn around Congress,” transforming the republic by implying that some unobserved mandate exists in our Constitution which gives the federal government the right to exert its authority over the States and the People in realms outside of the jurisdiction granted it by the Constitution.    

Sometimes this has been achieved by the enactment of unconstitutional laws by Congress, protected by judicial activism that has been either coerced (FDR’s “court packing” scheme, which led to the upholding of the Social Security Act) or wildly imprudent judgments that disregard Constitutional restrictions upon the federal government’s power (the upholding of the “individual mandate” provision that requires the purchase of health insurance under Obamacare).  Other times, this has been achieved by simple judicial edicts meant to function as law, despite the clear fact that the Constitution affords no such right to the judiciary branch (Roe v. Wade, for example).  And perhaps most insidious -- if one circumvention of the Constitution can be deemed more insidious than another -- this has been achieved by the arbitrary creation of unelected politburos which are granted authority not by the Constitution, but by federal fiat, administrated by the executive branch.  The Department of Education, Transportation, Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency -- all are examples of such politburos which exert authority upon the States and the People at the behest of the executive branch, despite no allowance for such authority in the Constitution.

This is nothing short of a revolution against the republic that conservatives wish to preserve. 

Who, in their right mind, would not imagine this dichotomy to be the source of profound conflict?  As the revolutionaries seeking to transform the nation become more and more aware of the practical impediments posed by an energized conservative movement that seeks to conserve what this nation once was, is it any wonder that these two factions are pulling to the ideological poles?

Both sides are fortifying the ideological bulwarks for the upcoming battle of 2016 because it has become clear that the twains cannot meet in the center.  How do we, as a nation, decide to both increase and decrease federal spending on social entitlements, for example?  How can we preserve our alliance with Israel while engaging in diplomatic surrenders of power and money to an enemy that vows to destroy it?  Would it be possible, in any realistic sense, to believe that we can continue indiscriminately allowing foreigners to violate our laws and enjoy benefits paid for by taxpaying citizens, while also cauterizing that influx which threatens Americans in terms of both economic and national security?

And in the most fundamental sense, it is impossible to increase the scope of the federal government’s power while also relegating it to the limited scope of power intended by our Constitution.

Which of these paths our nation takes is of vital importance for the future of our country.  And as the desires of either party cannot be achieved by an amalgamated path somewhere between, they are positions from which there can be no retreat.

And make no mistake -- these are circumstances that make the left very afraid.  Hillary has been helming a sinking ship, embroiled in scandals and protected by the media and DNC from inquiry or debate.  As a result, many among her base are hopping in lifeboats and veering hard-left to support Bernie Sanders -- an outright socialist.  Others are staying put for the time being and bailing water, hoping gaffe-machine Joe Biden will enter the race.

None of these options bode well for Democrats, barring some extraordinary event like the instant suffrage of ten to twenty million non-citizen, criminal voters (yes, if you broke federal law to enter this country, you are a criminal regardless of intent) who will vote for more social entitlements irrespective of the candidate.  Hillary is proving toxic, and Joe is much too closely tied to the Obama administration that has driven the current popular uprising which, in 2014, won Republicans a landslide electoral victory.  The only energy among the left seems to be for Bernie Sanders -- who, again, is a socialist.  And while socialist policies have indeed been introduced in this country, Democrats imposing socialist policies have historically denied that their policies amounted to socialism, knowing the detriment of such identification in America.

Meanwhile, it would be difficult to imagine more public interest in the Republican field. 

The leading contenders are Washington outsiders.  Say what you will about Trump, but his appeal among the base is undeniable, and he is drawing support from the most unthinkable of places.  Like many, I was amazed to see that he’s drawn 25% of the black vote in some early polls -- a demographic prized by Democrats, and which voted for Barack Obama to the tune of 97% in 2008.  Ben Carson, though perhaps a bit bumbling at times, has broad appeal as an honest and intelligent man, seemingly fearless about offending politically correct sensibilities.  Carly Fiorina has debated well, has taken some very popular stances on social issues, and (let’s not avoid this) garners genuine interest as a woman candidate, without scandal after scandal hamstringing her. 

Of the Washington class, Ted Cruz has shown time and time again his conservative bona fides, and has proven his conviction to fight for the American people and constitutional principles with furious gusto -- and despite the media’s efforts to marginalize him, he remains relevant. (I personally hope he remains so, as he has, in my opinion, proven himself to be the best of the field at this point.) Marco Rubio likewise has broad appeal for his charisma and conservative pedigree, though garnering energetic support among the base will be difficult given his past embrace of negotiations toward amnesty in 2013.  But that is nothing compared to the difficulty (an impossible task, really) Jeb Bush will have in earning the support of the conservative base for his open support of amnesty and Common Core. 

Despite being the mainstream media favorites for the Republican ticket, Bush, Kasich, Christie, and the other Republican establishment heavies (read: moderates) are fading into obscurity in early polling.  Karl Rove, who orchestrated McCain ’08 and Romney ’12, is undoubtedly flummoxed.

So forget the preconceived notions you may have had over the years about the measures of viability for a Republican candidate.   The mainstream pundits will insist that appeal as a centrist or a moderate is a prerequisite for viability, but to believe in that nonsense requires a misunderstanding of the cultural and ideological divisions that have become more prominent these last seven years.

Which candidate can convincingly capture and disseminate the ideas of individual liberty and limited federal authority, returning power to the States and the People?   These are the core principles of classical liberalism, conservatism, federalism, libertarianism, and ultimately, the core principles of America. 

Whoever can do that will win the Republican ticket, and with it, a great chance at restoring those very principles in national governance.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.