The bulk of this essay was first written in 2010 when serious conservatives saw the GOP Establishment merely as shameless cravens, part- Stockholm Syndrome to their more masculine Democrat betters, across the aisle, and part what I’ve referred to elsewhere as “Rice Bowl Tories”.
2010 was when the GOP Establishment saw us as Hobbits, per John McCain, and had handshakes a’plenty for those across the aisle, but extended no hand for the voting masses who, as this letter requests, we asked them to extend..
But much has changed since May, 2010. First the people gave the GOP the House to undo Obamacare later that year, and then when nothing changed, the people the gave the GOP the Senate in 2014 to augment their firepower. And then when still nothing changed except possibly even more knowing smiles, the people changed course and gave themselves Donald Trump.
Then everything changed, especially those Cheshire countenances among the Establishment. Having no choice but to choose between the Crown and these awful Hobbits, the grins have disappeared.
Today, the Republicans, including a number of conservatives, are none too happy for having been put into this situation, especially by seemingly being unable to do anything about it.
For them, this really is the Devil and the deep blue sea…choices many Republicans really don’t like to have to make, a president they really don’t like, even when he shows flashes of genius, or squishes the media with his thumb as one would a cockroach, or exhibits a leadership they’d always boasted about themselves but never really had to perform.
He is not one of them, and that is reason enough not to like Donald Trump. And then there’s that rambunctious voter base, Hobbits, recently renamed “Deplorables”, who has absolutely no respect for the Establishment’s rank and title, instead judging them entirely on their performance as enemies of the Left, which, if this were 1952 and Adlai Stevenson were the face of American liberalism, might be passable. But not now, while our nation teeters at the brink..
So, if they choose wrong one way, their reserved deckchair on the Swamp’s beachside resort may be lost. But a wrong choice the other way, a rope may await them. Existential choices both, only who wants to have to make them?
Let me take you back to 2010 when first I tried to explain the essential handshake between the Republican Party and the people. And once again, I’m standing here, with my right hand extended, only now I’m holding a 2 x 4 in my left, just to get your attention.
In 2010, just after Obamacare, but before the midterms, I took note of political conditions in Virginia. I had a friend who was a long time Virginia GOP insider. A conservative only when the party is out of power, he was down-the-line all-politics when his party was in, as it was then with Bob McDonnell & Co. He believed they were in for at least eight years, with Bill Bolling the heir apparent, the deal already cut.
They never saw Obama turn the tide. So the VA-GOP could never imagine a Terry McAuliffe winning in 2013, nor a Ken Cuccinelli succeeding McDonnell instead of Bolling. It was all planned and neatly wrapped up. It was those grass roots social conservative Hobbits who screwed the pooch, because of the way Obama had dealt the cards his first term, pushing out the Establishment favorite in favor of an unapproved interloper. My friend is still bitter today and feels not the least bit of remorse that his own party assisted in Cuccinelli’s defeat, or enabling McAuliffe’s dexterity in possibly turning Virginia into a more permanent shade of blue using the full panoply of a Democrat Party playbook some other states may find unlawful very soon.
When we meet these days, we mostly talk about real estate, and not the loss of over 20% of the small business base in this area. It wasn’t Obama’s fault, he thinks. It was that damned Cuccinelli and those “social conservative deplorables.”
So you can guess how he feels about Donald Trump and his deplorables turning over tables in America’s political temple just as Ken Cuccinelli had in Virginia’s. Only Trump won.
So then, Virginia, in 2017, may well presage events in 2018 in the congressional elections, and the 2020 general, for it all falls on which side of the fence the Virginia political class will fall.
This is how the GOP always seems to keep one foot in the water bucket during a thunderstorm; never fixing that hole in the roof, because, when it’s raining, it too wet to go outside, and when it’s sunny, hell, there ain’t no leak.
For a century this view of politics has held sway in state capitals and Washington alike, but today, it doesn’t take into account that the Obamas and the Democrat Party always had every intention of turning Virginia, and the rest, into little more than administrative accounting units, or that the best defense against this kind of takeover will be a re-bridging of that divide between the Red and Blue GOP.
The Jefferson-Hamilton Handshake, and a Brief History
If you don’t already know, Jefferson and Hamilton didn’t like one another. At all.
Modern conservatives (of the Burke, Kirk and Buckley National Review school) liked Hamilton more than they did Jefferson, who they considered to be a romantic, and also a little too rural agrarian in his sensibilities. For many Jefferson was a little too much the aristocrat; landed upper class, best schools, renaissance man, inventor, philosopher and intellectual, architect, builder of universities. And didn’t hang out in taverns with small farmers. Hamilton, on the other hand, was self-educated, of questionable parentage, rags-to-riches, also intellectual, though less lofty and more pragmatic, viewing the world though the eyes of urbanity, and was killed in a gun fight. Hamilton was a low-born man of ambition, when “ambitious” was a term of scorn by the upper classes, as one who, in the English sense of the day, was always trying to rise above his station…without the invitation by his betters.
What I know is that what Thomas Jefferson did do was betray his class, and knowingly, (which no Republican establishmentarian would ever do) just like other southern colonial leaders who put their John Hancock on the Declaration in 1776. They were all considered men who had betrayed their class, which these days does not sound like a very GOP thing to do. Charles Beard, a Wilson-era Progressive historian (who cost me an A my last semester at university because I told the prof on the final exam Beard was full of baloney, and why) attempted to show that these men started the American Revolution against the King for economic gain and nothing else, proving Beard was, in fact, full of baloney. Think about it. Imagine John Kerry deciding that he would risk all he currently owned, go into hiding for seven years, lose all his friends from Yale and down at the Filson Club, on the chance that if this new ragtag group he’d signed up with could actually defeat the greatest army in the world, then he would get a share twice that in Massachusetts than he already owned.
Yeah, think about it. What are the percentages…especially if you’re a Beta male? Beard was a progressive fool (but I repeat myself)…because he could never understand or even consider the great personal courage it required to look your own class(mates) in the eye and deny them…over a thing as trivial as the dignity and rights of a bunch of low borns….a thing, by the way, no left-winger has been able to do since Whitaker Chambers quit the Communist Party in the 1940s. Beard was a cynic about the nobility of human ideals, as are most leftists, but still, his constitutional views have been trolling around like little spirochetes in the venereal version of American constitutional history for two generations, at least. And we’ve all been infected in the normal social intercourse of time.
While intellectually I favor Hamilton more in Constitutional matters (which was his baby, not Jefferson’s, anyway) I will always measure Tom Jefferson for the unquantifiable courage required to place his ideals of human liberty and dignity over his comfortable station in life. And to my friends at NR, Jefferson also did (still does) a thing that no conservative or constitutional writer has ever been able to do since, and that is make intellectuals around the world weep over this little-understood and new-found notion of freedom. I’ve seen it, and know this to be so. With one simple phrase…”we hold these truths to be self-evident“…he answered a question scholars of the old Soviet Bloc had been seeking for over a generation. It was they who pointed this out to me, not the other way around, that the operative word of the entire preamble to the Declaration is “self-evident”, meaning that even Ivan Ivanovich could figure out how to “pursue life, liberty, happiness without permission of state.” I have since renamed that the “Homer Simpson Clause to the Declaration of Independence”, for it defines the primary purpose of the “more perfect union” laid out in the Constitution.
Consequently, Jefferson’s language also brought about the one and only handshake between himself and Alexander Hamilton, about which they both agreed. While I doubt they ever physically shook hands on anything, they would agree that the Constitution was written for the common man in his pursuits and not just for the social elites in their pursuit of theirs….when seems to be the more common political theme these days.
If you are Establishment GOP, tell me where I’m wrong here. This is the handshake we still offer today, in order to defeat the Left. All you must do is agree the Democrat Left is the common enemy…and the paramount enemy.
The Blue GOP Diaspora, from “the Doctrine of Liberty” to Something Else
Take a look at the most recent Red-Blue political map of the United States, better still a county-by-county view after the last election (2016). Take note of the blue, for what you see as the wellspring of liberalism in the United States today, the northeast, was until around 1914, the home of the intellectual soul of the Republican Party as it was defined by the Doctrine of Liberty, (that term belonging to a fellow named George William Curtis, a founder of the Republican Party, and from a speech he gave to Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard in 1863.)
Curtis’ Doctrine of Liberty was a principal source of teaching material in American public schools from the end of the Civil War up through the beginning of the Vietnam War, at least in fly-over country. It was instrumental in the assimilation curricula during the immigration 1nundations in the early 20th Century. It was the Republican Party’s original brand and while the Party leadership surrendered it almost a century ago, the people and their schools never really did until the federal government took over public education in the 1960s. My generation was the last to have been educated under the Doctrine so you should not find it surprising that our generation is the one who has saddled up for one last ride to spare our grandchildren the expense of taking this all back with blood forty years hence, by putting an end to this downward spiral far too many Republicans seem content to ride along with.
We are that brick wall the GOP Establishment ran into in Virginia in 2013, and the national party in 2016.
The Handshake, Redux
I’m not a Catholic, but when I can find an old cathedral I will worship there on Sunday just so I can watch one of the most ancient of handshakes, the Eucharist, take place, a process that is over fifteen hundred years old, but is still no different than the original handshake that goes all the way back to St Augustine, and through them all the way up to both Jefferson and Hamilton…and now, to we few which first begat, and now protect those ancient ideals of human dignity and liberty.
In 2010 I didn’t write this to accuse the GOP Establishment of actually being in bed with the Left. But now, in 2017? I’m not so certain. For today, being simple folk, we lump class-consciousness with ideology if both eat at the same table where laws are made.
So no sense in splitting hairs any longer.
Today, I’m only about making hard choices.
Just look down at those shoulders you stand on, before you do. What you see could be outcome determinative. Begin with your principal gripe against Christianity. Hell, there’s a Christian in there somewhere. Even Canadians will admit that…as much as it pains them. It’s from those Christians the entire ideal, the Prime Directive of the Republican Party is found, which is that those up the hill will always reach back down and offer a handshake, a reciprocal handshake, to those at the bottom, just beginning that upward climb? After all, all you’re doing is shaking hands with your own ancestors.
Ashamed of them? The Left is. This is what defines them.
We conservatives consider it our duty to offer that handshake because someone, somewhere offered it to one of those shoulders we stand on, thus putting us where we are. It’s that simple. The Republican Party stands for gratitude if it stands for anything…and as we grapple with tax policy, health care, the environment, we never lose sight of that simple foundation, someone else’s shoulders, and the simple, even easy (for most) duty to always extend that hand.
The Hook, Redux
The Constitution is and always has been a live-and-let-live document and doctrine of governance, cut off at the state line. And as such we are certainly willing to forgive the GOP Establishment the narrowness of its vision and ingratitude, if it will only forgive us our inability to remember which is the salad fork, just so long as so we can get about destroying a common enemy.
This assumes we share the same purpose.
So here’s the deal. Help us beat the Left, after all, most of what you have to do is not try to double deal and stab us in the back. Then when you look around to find all the Democrats have gone, you can become the new Democratic Party if you want to, or even call yourselves something else. Even Republicans. We don’t care. We can even be the Whigs. Anything but the Greens.
We just have to get rid of this insidious evil amongst us first.
And then we can get down to fighting our political (and cultural) differences under the original Constitutional rules, Republicans vs Hicks. Whatever. Then, just like 1856, you can start showing us which fork to use for the salad course, and we can show you how to tell a horse from a mule. Imagine the giant leap forward we will have made toward the original purpose of the Founders, and the giant leap we’ve taken the Republican Party away from the abyss it now teeters over?
And if you don’t?
Well, we will likely win anyway. Without you. That’s the catch. It’s your choice. But, as I keep saying, “You ride with criminals, you hang with criminals.” And we keep rope handy.