Sunday, November 6, 2016

Woe unto the Vanquished! - What Happens if the Republicans Lose

When King Brennus of the Celts (pictured) led an army against the fledgling Roman Republic in 390 BC, the Romans fought bravely but were ultimately unable to defend their city against the barbarian horde. Soon six of Rome's seven hills had fallen to the invaders, and the desperate defenders, besieged on the Capitoline Hill, agreed to pay a ransom of 1,000 pounds of gold to save their city. King Brennus provided a balance to measure out the thousand pounds, but the Romans complained that he was using unfair weights. "Vae Victus!" - the Celtic King angrily exclaimed, "Woe unto the vanquished!" as he tossed his heavy sword belt onto the Celts' side of the scales.

 "Woe unto the vanquished!" - a phrase that will ring true to American conservatives if we lose Tuesday's presidential election. It makes sense for conservative ideologues to be lukewarm about Donald Trump - I need not list the reasons. But while it is fair to criticize some of Mr. Trump's ideas, it would be dishonest not to admit that he loves America and believes in defending many of the principles that our Republic was founded upon. This can't be said of Hillary Clinton - if she wins, then woe unto the vanquished! I'll devote the remainder of this article to a summary of what conservatives can expect if our party loses.

The consequences of defeat can be expressed in terms of two numbers, Four and Five. America will suffer four more years of President Obama's policies, and at least five liberals in solid control of the Supreme Court.

Four more years of Obama's policies may well be more than America can endure. Under Obama, the total national debt increased by about $8 trillion, and exceed the gross domestic product for the first time in our nation's history. Clinton will continue the trend. Right now, politicians can get away with this by making the Fed create artificially low interest rates on the order of 1 percent. But the world is continually placing less and less trust in American currency. Sooner or later, the whole rotting system will collapse, and faced with paying 3 or 4 percent interest (and making interest the largest federal budget item after Medicare), the current financial system will collapse.

Add to that Secretary Clinton's history of putting the interests of wealthy elites over ordinary Americans in her trade and immigration policies, as well as her general hostility toward American industry and business in general (except for her friends in the finance sector). Hillary openly boasts of putting coal miners out of business, because in Hillary's America, the only jobs that are allowed to exist are the politically correct ones.

And then there is four more years of the Obama foreign policy. The Islamic State will still be around in four years, carrying out its work of death with as little real opposition as it has faced during the last three. Meanwhile, expect Clinton's tendency to get involved in useless wars with countries that aren't really hostile toward America to continue.

The Russians have lost lives to ISIS just like the Americans, and ought to be our allies in this conflict, but the foreign policy establishment of which Clinton is a part regularly flirts with war with Russia. The cause will likely involve President Putin's support for Bashar al Assad. Assad is a dictator, but American opposition to his regime is nevertheless a foolish policy, as the only other power vying for control of Syria is ISIS.

But this is just the first four years. It is with President Clinton's other great act, appointing a fifth liberal to the Supreme Court,  that she will have Americans saying "Woe unto the vanquished" long after her own generation has gone to the dust.

Liberals have almost controlled the Court for the last five decades. In the early '70s, the makeup was 4-1-4: four liberals, one conservative, and four swing voters. Liberals won nearly all the time, since they only had to convince one of the four swing voters to take their side. The swing voters were amenable to striking down laws that they didn't like, at both the federal and state level, but were generally unwilling to do anything that would totally eviscerate the other branches of government. That is how, for example, they were able to legalize abortion by a 7 to 2 vote (with the Court's last principled moderate, Byron White, joining conservative William Rehnquist of Arizona in dissent), while an attempt to force the government to fund abortion against the will of Congress failed 5 to 4, in the 1980 case Harris v. McRae.

Meanwhile, other cases often left Rehnquist as the sole dissenter. In one of these, the Bob Jones University case, the eight-justice majority decided that a religious institution could lose its tax-exempt status for engaging in conduct which the government deemed discriminatory. Rehnquist's frequent dissents earned him a new nickname: The Lone Ranger.

Under the Reagan and first Bush administrations, things improved, but only slightly. Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice, and one swing voter and one liberal were replaced with conservatives, leading to a 3-3-3 balance in the early '90s. But all this came crashing down when Bill Clinton replaced Byron White with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, restoring the liberal faction to four members, where it remains to this day. Meanwhile, swing voters still decide the balance of the court, so its big decisions can generally go either way.

But all this will end if Hillary Clinton appoints a fifth liberal, something which, with Justice Scalia's seat vacant, she could do on her first day in office. The liberal voting bloc has almost no internal variation - statistical analysis reveals that it's more common for all four liberals to vote the same way than for any two of the conservatives to agree on a specific case. While Republican appointees often disappoint the party that chose them, Democrats never do.

Here is what the five liberals will most likely do: They will overturn Harris v. McRae and strike down the HydeAmendment, leading to full Medicare coverage of abortion. They will also get rid of nearly all remaining abortion restrictions, such as mandatory waiting periods and bans on late-term and partial birth abortions.

Justice Kennedy's  assurance, when legalizing same-sex marriage, that "it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate... that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned" will probably last only as long as Kennedy is the swing vote. With five liberals in charge, the Court will extend the Bob Jones ruling to sexual orientation, so that any institution that doesn't accept the Court's doctrine on marriage will be subject to heavy punitive taxation. This will break the backs of religious universities, making it impossible for them (and also perhaps religious hospitals that won't perform abortions) to continue to exist.

That the liberals will overturn D.C. v. Heller and dispose of the Second Amendment is beyond question. Also note that Secretary Clinton's litmus test for Justices is that they will vote against Citizens United, a landmark free speech case whose central holding was that a non-profit corporation could not be punished for showing a documentary that criticized Hillary Clinton.

Building upon the Hyde Amendment case, the liberal Court will continue to usurp Congress' power of the purse, deciding that more and more services (education, health care, etc.) are fundamental human rights, and that the government must pay for them whether Congress approves or not. They will order the bureaucrats in the Treasury to write the checks, and the bureaucrats, being the Quislings they are, will comply.

Most of our country's policy is already set by judges and bureaucrats, with Congress coming into the picture mainly at money-time. If Congress is stripped of its power of the purse, it will become almost entirely irrelevant in our political system. With our elected representatives entirely cut out of the picture while liberal technocrats extend their power without end, conservatives will come to know the truth in King Brennus' words: "Woe unto the vanquished!"

And what of the naysayers, those who insist that Trump is just as bad as Clinton? I have already addressed the issue of his womanizing, and do not intend to do so again. To the complaint that his fiscal policy is fantastical, it is enough to say that Trump is a dealmaker, and the deals he makes with Congressional leadership will feature some sort of compromise between Trumpism and ordinary Republican policies. In other words, they will be much better than what Hillary and the Democrats intend to do.

Finally, on Supreme Court nominations, some have questioned Trump's conservative credentials and complained that he cannot be relied upon to pick judges devoted to the Constitution. This was a legitimate argument in the primaries, but it falls flat when his opponent is Hillary Clinton. We know exactly what kind of judges she will choose - every Democratic nominee in the past fifty years has consistently ruled as a liberal.

Trump could break his promise to only nominate judges from the list of 21 conservative jurists that he recently provided. But he probably won't. He has no reason to fight his own party's congressional leadership to get a liberal judge onto the Court. Furthermore, history shows that Trump's promise is of the kind that generally gets kept. Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan made some poor choices for the Court, but his central promise - to appoint a woman - was upheld. Conservatives can probably expect the same thing from Trump. He has promised to appoint from one of the greatest lists of Constitutionalist judges ever assembled, and it would be politically reckless for him not to do so.

But if Trump loses, then from the moment of the fifth liberal's enthronement onwards, conservatives will have nothing left to do but plaintively repeat King Brennus' words: "Woe unto the vanquished!" 

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting essay.
    As we approach another crucial election ... what are your thoughts?