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That Depressing-But-True Article Everyone Is Talking About

Posted by V the K at 6:58 pm - September 29, 2016.
Filed under: 2016 Presidential Election

Angelo Codevilla on why, regardless of who wins in November, America as a Constitutional Republic is over.

Over the past half century, the Reagan years notwithstanding, our ruling class’s changing preferences and habits have transformed public and private life in America. As John Marini shows in his essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis,” this has resulted in citizens morphing into either this class’s “stakeholders” or its subjects. And, as Publius Decius Mus argues, “America and the West” now are so firmly “on a trajectory toward something very bad” that it is no longer reasonable to hope that “all human outcomes are still possible,” by which he means restoration of the public and private practices that made the American republic. In fact, the 2016 election is sealing the United States’s transition from that republic to some kind of empire.

Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.




  1. The writer doesn’t indulge the notion that this is some new phenomenon, which I am grateful for. I’ve suspected that the Republic has been dead for a while now; when 10x the number of regulations are passed by unelected bureaucrats than laws by elected Congresspeople, how can we not? For decades, we have been like the Roman Empire, still playing at republic while being something entirely different.

    Of course, if this is empire, it’s not too bad. We’re still pretty well-off as far as the world goes. We enjoyed one of our most economically free periods in the mid and late 00s. And we have a very, very long way to go before we find ourselves in the company of, say, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. And push comes to shove, we could see if any members of the British Commonwealth would take us in as political refugees.

    Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Perhaps, instead of placing our faith in politicians, we should turn to something greater than them. Would we be here if people had started elevating politics to the level of religion? I think not.

    I for one am tired of it. I want something more substantive and meaningful. This Lernaean hydra of a government does nothing for me.

    Comment by Sean L — September 29, 2016 @ 7:24 pm - September 29, 2016

  2. Plato’s concept of kyklos suggests that we’re moving toward anarchy, and I have to say I agree. We don’t value the fundamental principles that our nation was founded upon. Free speech? Hah! Freedom of religion? Nope. And not just the freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights. We don’t value personal responsibility, duty to God and man, self-control, self-sacrifice, and on and on the list could go.

    It’s maddening, because I truly think that the US Constitution laid out a system of government that was in synch with human nature. That generation understand the essence of humanity, warts and all, and came up with a document that gave a free rein where it was possible and a short leash where it was necessary. We’ve lost our minds in the past 230 (or so) years.

    Our Republic is lost. I say lost on purpose. It wasn’t wrestled from us. We abandoned it somewhere that we’ll never return to. It’s a sad thing. Embrace for the chaos that’s about to break forth.

    Comment by windbag — September 29, 2016 @ 9:47 pm - September 29, 2016

  3. “trump has aroused more raw political passion than any politician in recent memory.” not true, absolutely not true! that passion was aroused by john Boehner, mitch mc Connell, paul ryan, marco Rubio, renee ellemers, and all the rest of the republicans that lied repeatedly to their constitutents to get elected. then once they got elected thumbed their noses at the people that voted for them by supporting all they policies they claimed they were against when they ran for office.
    we did all that voting in 2012, 2014, 2016, made a record change in congress, governorships, state legislatures and what did it get us? the same thing as if we had voted for nancy Pelosi and harry reid. Donald trump didn’t have a damn thing to do with fueling that passion. a duplicitous republican party was the cause of that righteous anger and passion. nobody knows if Donald trump will fight the policies of the democrat party but we sure as hell know that nobody else in the republican party will. the goal of the democrat party is to create nationally the same kind of one-party dictatorship they have had in the inner-cities for the last fifty years. the entire republican party establishment has bought into that idea. people realize that the only way they have to avoid that dictatorship is to elect people from outside the political establishment. I don’t support Donald trump because he convinced me of the efficacy of his ideas. I already had those ideas and beliefs. all Donald trump said were things I already supported. I can no longer believe anyone in the republican party really support those ideas even though the spout them every election season. the only time a republican is a conservative is when they are running for office. if our republic is going to disappear it won’t be because of Donald trump. it is because we have two political parties that don’t believe in those principles of a republican government. we have one political party, the democrats, that openly calls for dictatorial powers and another party, the republicans, that lies that they oppose those powers when they run for office but want them just as much as the other party. if we lose our republic it won’t be because of Donald trump it will be because of the people that oppose him in both parties.

    Comment by salg — September 29, 2016 @ 10:07 pm - September 29, 2016

  4. Donald Trump- and Bernie Sanders- were not the cause of our current situation. They are but the symptom of a deeper issue. They were the product of decades of frustration and resentment at the political class. Anybody who tries to reduce it to “Trump supporters are all racists,” or “Sanders supporters are all spoiled children” is missing the point- probably because they’re too busy looking out the window of their Soho apartment, or that big-ass house in the suburbs they have.

    We can all sit around and try to apportion blame, but I’ll just go ahead and say that we were all to blame, because nobody had any idea what anybody wanted, least of all themselves. The Democrats’ resentment over Bernie’s popularity, the incoherent fury of Republicans at Southern evangelicals’ support for Trump. Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats had no idea how much young liberals hate them. Maybe, just maybe, conservatives misjudged just how neutral-to-hostile blue-collar people are to talk of free market economics, and foolishly played the nationalism card one too many times. Both sides payed lip service to their bases, and neither side really understood their bases. How else can you explain the elitist hissy-fits being had on both sides.

    Is the Republic gone? Maybe. But I don’t think that means that we won’t get another one. People are fickle: they agitate for the strongman until they realize how much the strongman sucks, and then they start rioting for democracy and freedom. Politics is an eternal oscillation between tyranny and democracy. The U.S. has had a good run of it. The Constitution is one of the oldest governing documents in the world. They can’t take that away.

    And if we are doomed to have an empire, at least I can spit in Hillary’s eye and do what I can to deny her the crown. Besides, the people in the Trump camp seem more fun than in the Hillary camp.

    Comment by Sean L — September 29, 2016 @ 10:38 pm - September 29, 2016

  5. We lost it in 1907 when we didn’t hang that traitor Teddy Roosevelt.

    Comment by Bruce1369 — September 29, 2016 @ 11:11 pm - September 29, 2016

  6. @ Bruce1369: I… huh?! Care to elaborate?!

    Comment by Sean L — September 29, 2016 @ 11:15 pm - September 29, 2016

  7. The good professor from Boston U. is entitled to his opinion,but I’m not obligated to take any of it to heart.

    Had he any such misgivings about Obama in 2008? Or in the years since?

    Maybe if he was the “Oracle of Delphi” I might takes his verrrry long winded article to heart,but he’s not,so I won’t.

    Comment by The Poetry Man — September 30, 2016 @ 2:13 am - September 30, 2016

  8. I’d take the opposite position, the Republic’s fall started when Wilson was elected President instead of T. Roosevelt in 1912. Many of the intrusive governmental programs and the expansion of the tax-base funding the ever-increasing Federal Govt. started with Wilson’s soft-socialism — not FDR. Including that annoying Federal telecommunications tax you pay on your cell-phone bill; that started as a “temporary” war-tax on a luxury that was never rescinded. And the Federal Income Tax. And the ever-rotating Federal debt funded by V-bonds, that became Liberty Bonds, that became EE Savings Bonds and the 5yr, 10yr and 30yr. Federal Bonds.

    Until Wilson, the only contact most Americans had with the Federal Government was at the Post Office.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — September 30, 2016 @ 2:47 am - September 30, 2016

  9. @ 5, How was Teddy Roosevelt a traitor?

    Comment by Pawfurbehr — September 30, 2016 @ 6:00 am - September 30, 2016

  10. Yeah, yeah, they said the exact same things about Reagan.


    Comment by Reziac — September 30, 2016 @ 9:29 am - September 30, 2016

  11. Whatever is over the horizon , it won’t be pretty, but it’ll be substantial. Be Prepared!

    Comment by Rick554 — September 30, 2016 @ 2:28 pm - September 30, 2016

  12. We have not lost our minds in the last 230 years we simply had all of the warning of the founders written out of the history books. The central bank was killed twice before it was able to get this bad. There has been a non stop push to destroy the value of the dollar and import the 3rd world ever since 1913, and its the same group Lincoln & the founders worried about. Its not cultural suicide, but a group of stateless (((travelers))) who learned how to profit from destruction. Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant reformation, wrote a book about all of their scams, and they have not created a new scam since.

    Comment by Steve — September 30, 2016 @ 5:23 pm - September 30, 2016

  13. It’s true that it doesn’t matter who wins the election. If Trump wins they’ll steal it from him. Close race? The usual democrat voter fraud will carry the day for Hillary. Solid margin or blowout for Trump? The government will void the result because of Russian interference. They’re already laying the groundwork with all these planted stories in a complicit media about widespread Russian hacking and Trump being an agent of Putin.

    Comment by JuJuBee — September 30, 2016 @ 6:22 pm - September 30, 2016

  14. Bruce 1369, I don’t think Teddy Roosevelt was that bad, although I could be wrong. The person who did real damage all around was Wilson.* And on a Constitutional basis the 17th Amendment that instituted direct election of Senators. At that point, the federal government was no longer a (proper) creation of the states, but the states became subsidiaries of the federal government.

    * There was one (probably the only one) good thing from his appalling formal segregation of the federal government, a policy wrong on so many levels. When the Pentagon was built, not only did they need officer and enlisted, male and female restrooms, but also black and white. I don’t know if they have been removed in the latest re-hab of the building, but in the modern, non-segregated era, it meant one never had to go far to find a restroom.

    Comment by TheQuietMan — October 1, 2016 @ 10:22 am - October 1, 2016

  15. @ 12 Steve, whose scams are you referring too with Martin Luther, the Protestants or the Catholic Church?

    Comment by James — October 1, 2016 @ 10:17 pm - October 1, 2016

  16. I’m not sure which is the worse evil; the US Government’s easy manipulation of the money supply, or the Fed’s steady erosion of the value of the Dollar.

    Gold was historically $20.67 / troy oz. at the Treasury Window. Depending on your basis, the value of the US Dollar has declined to 4-cents in buying-power, or 1.4-cents in Gold then. When I was in college a quarter bought what today is a dollar.

    Neither political party even talks about the Federal Debt anymore…

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — October 3, 2016 @ 7:40 am - October 3, 2016

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