Restore the Republic!

The Emperor Claudius supposedly annoyed his courtiers by frequently suggesting Rome restore the republic. In The Next Conservatism, the book I presented to Donald Trump, Paul Weyrich and I issued the same call. People may still say the United States is a republic, but in fact it has become an oligarchy controlled by monied interests and the politicians they openly and legally buy. Many office-holders come to Washington poor, but few of them leave that way. Paul and I quoted Governor Jerry Brown of California, not normally one of our favorite people, who said, “Unless you have recently given a politician a check for at least $1000, you don’t count.” Paul, who knew Capitol Hill as well as anybody, added, “Yes, they sell their votes,” for the legalized bribes called “campaign contributions”.

If the American government is to recover its legitimacy, we need to reform the system. That includes taking the money out of politics. Not only must we ban campaign contributions, we must also block the many other ways Members of Congress and senior administration officials line their pockets, including having family members work for a lobbying firm you must use to reach the Member and going to work once they leave government for the interests they served when in office.

How to fund campaigns without permitting bribes to politicans is a conundrum. Paul opposed public financing of campaigns, I support it. But if it is to create a level playing field, the challenger must receive several times as much funding as the incumbent to even the advantages of incumbency. What sitting Congress will ever vote for that?

Tough as that will be to acheive, it alone would not be enough to restore the republic. The Next Conservatism suggests additional reforms, including term limits and limits on the length of Congressional sessions. As used to be the case, the real lives of Senators and Congressmen should be back home in their states and districts, not in Washington.

One of our favorite reforms would be putting “None of the above” on every public ballot, with a rule that if it wins they have to call a new election with new candidates. Nothing would do more to raise the quality of candidates the parties put forward. Interestingly, Russian voters have this option and have used it, sending all the candidates packing.

Conservatives have often been leery of ballot initiatives and referenda, but The Next Conservatism calls for making them legal in all states and at the federal level as well. Swiss voters regularly overrule their government through referenda, and they kept the Swiss federal government small and respectful of the people’s liberties.

Perhaps the most important reform is ending the abuse of federal government power to shove political correctness, which is really cultural Marxism, down the throats of the American people. America was never supposed to be an ideological state, a country where the government forced a certain set of beliefs on the public. Now, we see it suing states and withholding education funds to demand, in the name of “equality” that men be allowed to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms! Our ancestors would have met such demands with torches and pitchforks.

Were I writing a new edition of our book, I would go beyond demanding an end to state ideology (any ideology). Both conservatives and liberal need to recognize that our country is culturally divided. Millions of Americans now accept the counter-culture of the 1960s as the valid, mainstream culture. Millions of other Americans reject that culture and adhere to our old Christian, Western morals and culture.

This division has the potential to destroy our country, the United States of America, to fragment it the way we see other countries fragmenting in other parts of the world. No conservative wants to see that happen. Without the state, life is, as Hobbes warned us, nasty, brutish, and short. We do not want America to go the way of Syria or Iraq.

Fortunately, our Constitution offers us an easy answer to this problem; federalism. Our Founding Fathers never imagined that life in Massachusetts and life in South Carolina would be the same, much less that the federal government would try to make them the same. They would rightly have considered that tyranny.

Perhaps the most important reform to restore the republic is then this: allow some states to reflect the post-1960s culture and others to retain our traditional culture. Stop trying to make life everywhere the same. If we allow cultural variety once again on a state-by-state basis, which we once had, people can move to a place where they feel comfortable, where their values are affirmed instead of persecuted. This would allow us to live together in one country regardless of how much we differ in our beliefs and our behavior.

Reforming the corrupt, ideological oligarchy in Washington and restoring the republic are fundamental to the next conservative agenda. They must be, if that agenda is to be more than eyewash. Should it succeed, Americans might once again be able to say the Pledge of Allegiance without the uncomfortable feeling that much of it is no longer true. favicon

8 thoughts on “Restore the Republic!”

  1. Agreed. A couple of other points though.

    You talk about getting money out of politics, yes, agreed, but increasingly it’s no longer about campaign contributions. It’s about the corporate press, which is now largely owned by a handful of people and basically just repeats the same script over and over. We need to break up the big media monopolies (created by none other than Bill Clinton), prevent foreign nationals or dual citizens (with divided loyalties) from owning American media outlets (thank you Carlos Sims), and so on.

    This consolidation of the media also means that journalists really have to toe the corporate line, because if they are fired there are so few independent outlets and they can be easily blacklisted – and they know this.

    I mean, imagine we are both running for senator. We each have a million dollars to run our campaigns. But the big money likes me, and I get glowing coverage and am treated as a serious person, and you are at first slandered and then ignored (except for occasional hit pieces about your erosional defects on page 37). You would lose, even though you have the same amount of money to run your campaign.

    Internet outlets like the drudge report etc. have to some extent counterbalanced this, but they simply do not have the resources to do real investigations or check records like a traditional news outfit used to. They can show us news that has not been given prominence by the mass media, they can point out contradictions, but they can’t really dig and find anything new.

    Donald Trump has (for now) beaten the system by making such (apparently) outrageous comments that the corporate press just can’t help but give him coverage, but this comes at the cost of very high negatives and does not seem like a stable long term solution.

    Break up the big media monopolies, and let’s go back to the days when journalists were journalists and not corporate/government propagandists.

  2. Mr Lind is spot on when commenting on the corruption of the current political process. However, the amount of money that can be or should be allowed to be contributed to any person standing for Congress is irrelevant in curbing that corruption. The corruption is not how much money is given to a politician. One could give Senator X from Florida a million dollar contribution but if Senator X was legally prohibited from taking money from one American and giving it to another the contribution would be a waste of money and would not be given. The Constitution of the United States prohibits this type of practice from the Federal government. Unfortunately, the majority of Federal courts and Federal politicians only pay lip service to the Constitution. They have no intention nor do they wish to follow the letter of the Constitution. To do so would inhibit and erode their power. Their power and privilege are worth more to them than the long term interest of their country. This corrupt practice of crony capitalism, state capitalism,oligarchy,call it what you will, will never change unless the real money is taken out of the political arena. The Founding Fathers called for a separation of State and Church and a separation of the State and the economy. Although the latter is not explicit in the body of the Constitution it is certainly implied in the content of the Constitution. We have still to separate the economy and the State and until we do nothing will fundamentally change. As long as politicians can legally steal from one and give to the other the corruption will only get worse.

  3. I like Bill Lind. I like many of his articles on military history, culture and the Frankfurt school. I think he’s a smart guy. But…

    Federalism? The Constitution? Really? There is no Constitution. If a federal judge can rule that there is a “right” to abortion, f@ggot marriage, cross dressing and whatnot, you really don’t have law, much less a Constitution. If it can be literally anything a judge wants it to be, it doesn’t exist.

    Federalism simply can’t compete with cultural marxism. The left isn’t constrained by the law, fact or even reality. They will do whatever they can get away with to advance their cause – communism. Does anyone really think Jeb Bush’s “new majority” of blacks and mexicans care about “federalism”? If you can’t eat it, smoke it or screw it, they really don’t care about it and would gladly trade it and any other abstract “right” for a cash payment.

    Despite Bill’s admonition, the fragmenting of America may be the only option to save what can be saved. If the last 50 years has shown us anything, it is that even overwhelming political victories have no effect on the march of cultural-marxism. The GOP is essentially the party of the rich and their corporations and they gladly sell America out for a paltry 30 pieces of silver.

    Bill should turn his thoughts to how best to gain the most during a breakup, how to protect it and how to expand it. All other thoughts, Trump or no Trump, are pointless.

  4. No. Limited republics become mass democracies, and these become libertine, decadent, and bankrupt as the proles vote themselves money out of the pubic fisk. Plato told us that 2500 years ago, and he has yet to be wrong. The Republic is a lost cause, and the sooner it dies the better. To quote one alt-right Tweeter: Classical liberalism created the conditions for professional civilization wreckers to thrive, and it doesn’t have the means to purge them. We have to tear out the entire poisoned legacy of the Enlightenment, root and branch. Only then will we have a chance at survival; as a culture, as a faith, and as a race.

  5. I agree with that wholeheartedly, but reading some of your commenters confirms my suspicion that there are many authoritarian types in this country who just can’t stand the idea that someone somewhere is living in some way that they find offensive. I very much wish (while simultaneously doubting) that Admiral Ackbar and his cohorts would be willing to leave New York, Boston and San Francisco in peace. There is an Evangelical, I must save you from yourself attitude in too much of America.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *