Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rebirth of a Nation

Can states’ rights save us from a second civil war?

Commentary: Establishment elite Jewish liberals wonder if they can forestall Civil War by creating a ‘soft balkanization’ of left-wing states’ rights movements leading up to the line just short of outright secession. 
The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.—Antonio Gramsci
Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under the leadership of a president who came to office after losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Such an imbalance of power could lead to a second civil war—indeed, the nation’s first and only great fraternal conflagration was sparked off in part for precisely this reason. On the other hand, Trump’s reign may be merely an interregnum, in which the old white power structure of the Republican Party is dying and a new oppositional coalition struggles to be born.
Trump has succeeded, in less than two years, in destroying the old regime of a conservative movement ascendant since the election of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives once claimed to believe in fiscal restraint and cutting deficits. Trump and the Republicans in Congress are now unapologetically adding trillions to the national debt, and will be for the foreseeable future. Conservatives used to believe in global alliances, free trade, and the institutions that support them, such as NATO and NAFTA. No more. As David Brooks noted in the New York Times in March 2017, “Trumpism is an utter repudiation of modern conservatism.” The right-wing columnist Charles J. Sykes believes that “American conservatism has entered a pseudo-Orwellian stage where weakness is strength” and “lies are truth.” Having demolished modern conservatism, Trump’s rule is a corrupt, nepotistic cult of authoritarian personality.
What if we think of Trump as an interrex, the Oliver Cromwell of American history? Cromwell ruled En­gland from 1653 to 1658. He, in literal fashion, killed off the old regime by signing King Charles I’s execution order, but his rule didn’t represent a new era. Driven by a belief that he was God’s chosen instrument of Protestant redemption, Cromwell purged Parliament of dissenters and royalists, many of whom fled to Ireland. He then invaded Ireland, massacring thousands of Catholics and deporting many more to the colonies. In En­gland, he imprisoned thousands of his political enemies without trial. When Cromwell died of an infection, he passed his title of lord protector on to his son, Richard. But Parliament rebelled, and within two years Charles II became king. In 1661, three years after Cromwell’s death, his body was removed from Westminster Abbey, and he was posthumously tried and “executed” for high treason, his severed head displayed on a pike outside Parliament. Out of this chaos, the modern En­glish constitutional system was born. By 1689, the British bill of rights had been signed, laying down limits on the powers of the monarch, setting out the rights of Parliament, and guaranteeing free elections and the freedom of speech.
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