The presidential election of 2016 has been at the top of the minds of politically concerned men and women for a long time. Indeed, this could be a make-or-break moment for the cause of liberty, and the tasks and opportunities with which the new president will be faced are monumental in scale. Accordingly, the ever-fractious GOP has seen the largest and most diverse field of primary contenders ever to assemble. They numbered 17 at their peak, and even now they include five senators, seven governors, two CEOs, two surgeons, and the brother of a former president.
The question of who to nominate is vitally important, and no evaluation of the candidates would be complete without consideration of the type of election that the nominee will face next year. History ought to be our foremost guide in these matters, and accordingly history has shown that the status of the incumbent party – this year, the Democrats – is the best predictor of the election’s outcome.
I will give the full details of my analysis in a later essay, but suffice it to say that the future bodes poorly for the Democrats. Not since before the Civil War has one Democrat been elected president while a different Democrat was in the White House. The American people may not always vote the way conservatives want, but there are some mistakes they never make twice in a row.
So unless a sudden stroke of misfortune befalls our current Leader, and a suddenly rejuvenated Joe Biden rides a wave of well-deserved sympathy to victory in November’s election, this one electoral trend predicts a sure win for the GOP. The question, therefore, is a question of what kind of Republican to nominate.
Will we nominate a true conservative as committed to defending the Constitution as the liberals are committed to tearing it down? Or will we choose a Republican who looks with disdain upon any attempt to roll back the growth of the central government, and instead measures his success in terms of compromises with the Democrats, giving them half of what they want at each new turn, so that, in the end, he accomplishes in eight years what the other party would have done in four?
Republicans voters have come out in force in 2010 and 2014, not asking for more from the government, but for less. Less taxation, less regulation, less intrusion into local affairs, and an end to the reckless accumulation of debt. Knowing this, how can we choose a business-as-usual Republican who, like the Democrats, measures his worth in terms of the amount of legislation he has passed?
How can we choose a politician who often sees the protection of life, liberty, and property, not as the true end of all government, but as some minor annoyance that must not get in the way of the supernal business of governing? Such was the attitude of Republican congressional leaders who voted to continue funding Planned Parenthood rather than jeopardize the budgetary process by making a move that Democrats would not approve of. The fact that Democrats have no such qualms is much of the reason why they have been the ultimate winners of every major political battle in the last century.
And what a century it has been! Once the indomitable leader of the free world, our nation is now hedged about with existential threats on every side. For the first time in our history, the national debt has exceeded the gross domestic product. Entitlements now account for two thirds of the federal budget, so that even as spending grows uncontrollably, our military is choked out, and we find ourselves unable to project power abroad. Our enemies are proliferating in the Middle-East, Iran is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon, and Vladimir Putin is now ranked by Forbes as the most powerful man in the world.
The situation is dire at home as well. The liberal intelligentsia has perverted our free system of tripartite government, wherein the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary once checked each other’s excesses, into one where each branch of government exercises independent initiative to destroy the liberties of the people. Free enterprise is being crushed by the regulatory burdens of a bureaucracy so vast that only those who are wealthy, powerful, and well-connected can compete.
The Supreme Court has established oligarchical rule over many of the most vital areas of our society and culture. The autonomy of the states has been violated, and the democratic process rendered void, as the Justices go about taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, altering fundamentally the forms of our governments, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
The year 2016 is a make-or-break year for the cause of liberty. When the next president is sworn in, three Supreme Court justices will be over the age of eighty. These are Antonin Scalia, the Court’s leading originalist; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, most prominent among the liberals, and Anthony Kennedy, who for twenty years has cast the deciding vote in almost every landmark case. If a conservative president appoints their successors, the Court will likely surrender the powers it has been usurping since the 1960s and return to its proper role as a guardian of liberty, allowing conservative principles to flourish everywhere. But if the vacancies are filled by liberals, we will find ourselves in the end game of the long struggle by liberal elites to remake America in their own image.
The next presidential term may also be our last chance to reign in the debt. Interest on the $18 trillion debt now amounts to $223 billion, or 6% of the federal budget. In order to sustain this absurdly low, 1.2% interest rate, the Federal Reserve has engaged in reckless manipulation of the money supply, providing obscene amounts of currency to big banks and big businesses even as ordinary Americans suffer stagnant wages and record levels of underemployment.
Eventually other nations will see that the emperor has no clothes, and the US government, in order to keep its currency viable, will need to borrow at a reasonable interest rate. A rate jump of as little as 2% will add half a trillion dollars to the deficit, entirely erasing the pitiful cuts made by the current Republican Congress and, in the absence of extreme fortitude on the part of our leaders, placing us well beyond the point of no return. As a nation, we will end up like Rome in the third century, or Germany in the 1920s, neither of which would long retain its former degree of prosperity or freedom.
The time for Republicans to turn our nation away from its dreadful course is now or never. It will not be easy, but it is still possible, provided that we, as a party, choose the right man. The Democrats can trust their own, but we conservatives must always be watchful. Consider the recent spate of Congressional budget battles, which Republican leaders always resolved by persuading a minority of their own party to vote for legislation universally supported by the Democrats.
If, in the upcoming presidential election, we nominate a true conservative, one who has devoted his life to defending the Constitution, and has the strength of character and rhetorical prowess to persuade a majority of Americans that conservative principles are good for the common man, we will probably win. If we pick another moderate, we would likely lose, and if we win we will gain no lasting benefit. The pundits will say that the opposite is true, but they ignore history. Ronald Reagan won against nearly-impossible odds in 1980 because a large bloc of Reagan Democrats supported him. But in 2008, there were no McCain Democrats. In 2012, there were no Romney Democrats.
The election of 2016 may be our last chance to reclaim our nation’s destiny. And Republicans can afford to nominate no common man. What we need is the bravest of the brave and the strongest of the strong, one who fought for federalism before it was fashionable, and one whose deeds never vary from his words.
For the next few weeks, I will devote my blog to essays on each of the candidates now seeking the nomination, their background, their strengths and weaknesses, and where their true loyalties lay. I hope that, by doing this, I may shed some light on this vital question, and perhaps help to find a path that that the conservatives of the future may take, a conservative path that will bring our nation, not to a perfect future, but one in which at least some of the principles that made American great can be restored.