was written before the seven members of the Supreme
Court handed down their much-anticipated opinion, but it
was the waiting the tense, seemingly endless hours
filled with the babbling of pundits and the perorations
of politicians that the horrible truth of the matter
came out. For this is what our republican form of
government has been reduced to: the nation waiting, breathless,
for the votes of nine black-robed judges. For this, our
forefathers fought a revolution; for this, the blood
of patriots has been spilled so that we could all
be held, spellbound, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wondered
during the oral arguments: "Isn't there a red big red flag
up there 'Watch out'?"
yes, Sandra Day, you saw that too there it is, plain
as day, a warning sign of danger up ahead. But it's too
late to turn back now: the thin fabric of our Republic,
already dangerously threadbare, is frayed almost beyond
repair. As Jesse Jackson and his amen corner among "progressive"
the race card, and the would-be usurpers claim that
their failure to steal an election mars its "legitimacy,"
the stage is set for the final act, the denouement in the
experimental theater piece called "American democracy."
8-year interregnum of Clintonian rule, which we thought
was going to come to an abrupt and inglorious end, is indefinitely
extended and that, no matter what happens now, is
the substance of Al Gore's victory. Dubya may win the White
House, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory: in plain English,
one not worth having. Already the cry has gone up, from
Democrats and Republicans alike, that the incoming administration
must be truly "bipartisan," a kind of coalition government
such as they have under a parliamentary system. Daniel Moynihan,
Tom Kerry, Sam Nunn these are just a few of the better-known
names being bruited about as potential members of a bipartisan
cabinet. By going on the offensive and almost succeeding,
the Democrats have moved the terms of the debate
and the momentum of the struggle more than a few
miles in their direction. Emboldened by 8 years of virtually
unchallenged power, and the apparent weakness of the Republicans,
the Left has gone on a hyper-accelerated offensive: What
we are witnessing is the beginning of a permanent campaign
by the Left to overthrow the remnants of our old republic,
abolish constitutionally limited government in America,
and establish a European-style social democracy in the US
socialism, that is, albeit with American characteristics.
ANCIENT AND MODERN
acrimony of "partisan" rancor is universally descried, but
the irony is that the ideological differences between the
parties have never been more negligible. "Compassionate
conservatism" and hard-assed Third Way liberalism meet and
merge in a gray morass of murky touchy-feely rhetoric, and
yet the struggle for power is fast escalating into a fight
to the death. In his Farewell Address, George Washington
warned against the emergence of contentious "factions" that
would divide the young nation and lead, eventually, to its
dissolution. But at least those ancient factions had some
real ideological coloration the Jeffersonian partisans
of republican France versus the neo-Tory federalists. Ideals
were at stake: thesis and anti-thesis posed in stark juxtaposition.
Today, what remains of that partisan battle is only the
struggle for power. While the methods and motives of one
party may be deliberately shaped so as to do the most damage
to our institutions, to take sides in such a war is only
to oppose a greater evil. After "winning" such a
battle, one is exhausted, but not exhilarated especially
in view of the certainty that this is only the first skirmish
of what promises to be a protracted conflict.
GUYS AND BAD
is a conflict is which the bad guys you know who
you are are not only well-funded and well-organized,
but are quite well aware of what it is they are fighting
for and how to get it. Big business interests in
collusion with Big Labor and the Big Media have launched
a final offensive aimed at our republican form of government,
and they will push, push, and push until they win
in the voting booth, in the courts, in the streets,
or wherever. They won't take no for an answer and,
what's more, they're up against a party that doesn't even
know what the question is!
PARTY OF COUNTRY SQUIRES
bad guys are contemptible, but at least they are clear about
who and what they are. The good guys in this case,
the Republicans are in their own way far worse. At
any rate, it is far more painful to watch them in action
or, rather, inaction. They didn't even know
what hit them until it was far too late, and, even then,
for all their outrage at Gore's legal and political assault
on the electoral process, GOP leaders never dared to spell
it out in the form of a simple four-letter word: C-O-U-P.
If, instead of treating the Democratic strategy of counting
chads and pregnant dimples as a serious proposal, James
Baker had dropped the pretenses and bluntly declared that
he would be damned to perdition before he let Al Gore steal
this election, that might have been the end of it then and
there. As any street-corner ruffian can tell you, sheer
bluster is half the battle. The Democrats are always hopped
up to a white heat of intensity, because their power depends
on control of government perks and privileges: for them,
an election is always a battle for their very survival.
Yet the disinterested and even haughty GOP leadership
less the ward-heeler and more the country squire type
is slow to act, and even then uncertain of just how to fight.
Those Democrats who have even heard of the Marquess of Queensbury
aren't playing by the rules. That, after all, is what a
coup d'etat is all about: all rules, and all bets, are off.
activists had a good laugh when the liberal media jumped
on the pro-Bush demonstrations in Miami-Dade and throughout
the nation as a plot by "Republican operatives" to win the
battle in the streets. If only it were so! The reality is
that these guys couldn't organize a street protest to save
their lives: on the other hand, the union goons sent to
flesh out the ranks of the Gore supporters in Florida and
Washington D.C. know all about picket lines and how to organize
a "spontaneous" demonstration. As I pointed out in a previous
column, these anti-Gore protests, which mobilized thousands
from coast to coast, were the work of an informal network
of grassroots conservative and libertarian activists mostly
centered around the FreeRepublic
website. In these dark days, this upsurge of radical right-wing
populism is the one ray of sunshine slanting through stormclouds,
but even this silver lining has its dark side.
IN THE CELLAR
the end, the crisis of the country boils down to a crisis
of leadership. The objective conditions for the development
of a real opposition to the would-be usurpers have never
been better; unfortunately, the subjective conditions
the condition of the opposition movement itself have
never been worse. The party of the usurpers is clear about
its goals, and even clearer about its methods: total dedication
in the pursuit of total power. On the other hand, the party
of liberty is divided and leaderless, without a strategy
and with no coherent ideology. Conservatives and libertarians
in the GOP are practically invisible, and are called on
only when the leadership needs ground troops. Otherwise,
they are ignored, and even attacked by their own leaders,
who never miss a chance to tout their own "moderation."
The crazy aunt or uncle that they keep in the cellar and
only let out on special occasions: that is what it means
these days to be a conservative Republican.
many good activists in the third party movements
the Libertarians, as well as the Buchanan Brigades who entered
the Reform Party seem to have reached a dead end,
or at least a so-far-insuperable roadblock, defeated in
large part by ballot access laws and other factors outside
their control. Ideologically, the right-wing populist revival,
which first came to the fore in the early 1990s, and is
now bubbling up to the surface with renewed vigor, is inchoate
and confused: instinctively radical, combatively antigovernment,
but easily diverted by misleaders and completely lacking
any strategic vision. The situation cries out for the organized
intervention of a self-conscious leadership a vanguard,
to use the old Leninist terminology, that can act as the
tribune of the people, the instrument for the restoration
of our old Republic.
such organization is to be found, not anywhere, nor even
a reasonable facsimile. The Republican party is in the hands
of a leadership that, uniquely, sold out before the election,
openly repudiating its conservative platform and electoral
base, and loudly advertising its willingness to "reach out"
to the other party: a stance that, in retrospect, seems
like a death-wish, akin to "reaching out" to Jack the Ripper.
As for the third parties on the right, first off we need
to note that there are no less than three of them.
The largest, the Buchanan-Reform organization, is in disarray,
or, at least, undergoing some kind of radical transition.
The invasion of the lawyers into the American electoral
process really began much earlier this year, when Perot's
lawyers drained the Buchanan campaign of precious time,
energy, and money. This was the major obstacle to the success
of the campaign: it allowed the media to portray the intramural
Reform battle in the worst possible light, and was the major
factor that led to Buchanan's poor showing at the polls.
The election results demoralized many of his followers,
and whether the Reform party remains viable as a national
organization is open to question.
LIBERTARIAN PARTY: A SECTARIAN CUL DE SAC
Libertarian Party, the oldest of the major third parties,
is another story altogether: I was originally planning on
doing an entire column, an "Open Letter to Libertarians,"
on this subject, detailing the crisis of the LP. But after
extensive research reading all the excuses, mea
culpas, and tortured "spin" put out by the current LP
leadership in the wake of their disastrous presidential
vote totals I found the prospect of writing an entire
column about it so depressing that I decided against it.
I was, after all, a Libertarian Party activist for close
to a decade, and in spite of what some might think
even I flinch from dissecting the cadaver of an ex-lover.
Suffice to say that the LP is so mired in sectarianism that
it is unable to even grasp the enormity of its own failure
or the lessons of its own history. Caught in the grip of
leaders who substitute a vulgar hucksterism and cheap sloganeering
for a serious political stance, the LP still commands the
loyalties of a good many well-meaning and valuable activists
who can see no alternative to their present course.