From American Vision:
As long as there are party hacks in both major parties who profit from one form or other of big government, it will not change. The two party system was created for and protects a corrupt system. As insider (and mentor to Bill Clinton) Carroll Quigley wrote,
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. . . .
But either party in office becomes corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.(2)
The irony is that I went to find that quotation, and then recovered this in Quigley’s very next paragraph:
The capture of the Republican National Party by the extremist elements of the Republican Congressional Party in 1964, and their effort to elect Barry Goldwater to the Presidency with the petty-bourgeois extremists alone, was only a temporary aberration on the American political scene.(3)
In Quigley’s view, this “petty bourgeois (lower middle class)” was driven to support Goldwater due to its “clinging to its particular version of the middle-class outlook” and “passing it on to its offspring in an even more intensified form” while the rest of the middle class was disintegrating around it.(4)
Ring any bells about “cling to their guns and religion”? And in Quigley’s day, the establishment right was just as exasperated about Goldwater as the left was.
The establishment, left and right, has not changed.
From Gary North:
Democrats and Republicans think of Presidential candidates as “their men.” They think that these men represent them. In what way? Not their ideas, surely, which Presidential candidates share only randomly with hard-core party members, which is why they invariably ignore their party’s platform once they are in office. The platform is never mentioned again. The faithful party member nevertheless thinks, “he’s my man.”
The suggestion is ludicrous. He is the Council on Foreign Relations’ man. He represents either CFR Team A or CFR Team B. This year, he is also Skull & Bones’ man. This is a first for Bones. In the past, Bones has been content merely to represent half of the voters, always Republicans: William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush. This year, Bones cannot lose. When you think about this, it is amazing. An oath-bound Yale University secret society that inducts only 15 people a year has picked off both candidates. Isn’t democracy grand? It is the voice of the people.
Voters are confused about political cause and effect. They think of a Presidential candidate as their man. In fact, they are his people. They exist so as to get his branch of the CFR elected. Fanatically loyal party voters are the party’s hip pocket voters. The party can safely pay no attention to them. The party must court voters who are not committed to the ideals of its core supporters, who in turn overlook the fact that their man will sell them out on every major issue that did not have support from the CFR. Most of them have never heard of the CFR.
Most labor union members have gritted their teeth and campaigned for every Democrat, despite the fact that every Democrat since Kennedy has been a low-tariff man. The industrial trade unions have been gutted by low-price imports since 1961, leaving them without power or influence nationally. Kennedy pushed GATT. Clinton pushed NAFTA. But labor union members still vote for Democrats. So, being safely in the Democrats’ hip pocket, Democrat Presidents skewer them mercilessly. They are expendable. The more loyal they are, the more expendable they are.
Republican anti-abortionists and fiscal conservatives suffer the same fate. Nobody in the Republican Party takes them seriously. Toss one bone to them per term — no stem cell research, or a one-shot tax cut — and that satisfies them. Like lap dogs, they come when they are called.
And, again from North, in 2004 (but it could as well be written today):
Forty years ago, Phyllis Schlafly wrote a little paperback book, A Choice, Not an Echo. That was the year of the paperbacks, which marked the arrival of conservatism: Haley’s A Texan Looks at Lyndon and Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason.
Today, four decades later, the choice is between Skull & Bones Member A and Skull & Bones Member B. Some choice.
This year, it’s Yale vs. Yale. In 2000, it was Yale vs. Harvard. Some choice.
I HAVE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS
The good news is that we are seeing the erosion of state power. It is happening slowly. Politicians gain votes by promising to make things better. The fact is, there is very little they can do to make things better. What is even more amazing, there is progressively less and less they can do to make things worse.
The state’s loss of economic influence, one way or the other, upsets the socialists who write the textbooks. They prefer to ignore it. Meanwhile, the loss of state power seems unbelievable to anti-socialists, who have spent their lives battling the socialists who write the textbooks. They cannot admit that the system of government spending is in autopilot mode, no matter who wins elections.
Here is the amazing fact: if Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008, it won’t make much difference in the way the economy works. The Federal government’s influence over markets is steadily declining because of the growth of world trade and the free flow of capital across borders. This process is unlikely to be reversed. It is going to accelerate.
To say such a thing is anathema to political conservatives, who think politics really does matter, and also to political liberals, who think Hillary really would make a difference. When compared to the difference that Franklin D. Roosevelt made, Hillary Clinton is an echo, not a choice. The election of Hillary Clinton would make far less difference than the three-time non-election of William Jennings Bryan.
This means that the Federal government cannot protect most Americans from the economic consequences of their individual actions. This is bad news for socialists, who believe in the creative power of the state. It is also bad news for people who are not able to compete economically.
As a reader of odd-ball economic reporting, you are not among the broad masses of people who go about their daily lives in a kind of trusting fog, hoping for the best, and unaware of larger trends around them. You are probably able to compete. Your job is not on the line, and even if it is, you are flexible enough to jump ship before it sinks.
But for tens of millions of American voters who still think that politicians are in a position to protect them from economic forces that seem to threaten them, a Presidential election year offers what they think is hope. The bad news for them is that it doesn’t. Yet that is really not bad news. It’s very good news. But it takes economic understanding to recognize this.
I think Jacques Barzun and Martin van Creveld have got it right: we are seeing the decline of the nation-state. Barzun, who has been writing for over six decades, argued in the Epilogue to his masterpiece, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), that the state can no longer defend its citizens from rising crime. It will go bankrupt when the bills come due for state-funded retirement and medical programs. Van Creveld made the same two points in his 1999 book, The Rise and Decline of the State.
Voting will not reverse this process. That’s good news. But it’s bad news for those citizens who have bet their economic futures on the ability of the state to deliver what the politicians have promised.
After 40 years (or is that 60 years?) of failure, there are sure to be delusional Christians who believe that somehow, voting Republican – instead of doing the hard work, and building a local political base, grounded in the county level – is going to turn the country around.
There is only one real reply for such delusions.