The So Called President Blames the Constitution

Oh, dear! What is a good “conservative” to do now? Their man has now turned on them and undercut their only claim to being conservative!

There are no real conservatives in the United States. Using the original terms of the debate as they emerged during the Glorious Revolution in England, which any good conservative would want to do, of course, conservatives are monarchists. The American Revolution involved repudiation of a monarch and of monarchy, so all the real conservatives fled in horror at the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, which stated that repudiation and started a war with the army of the king of England, then the world’s leading military power.

The upstart republic won the war and adopted a new Constitution that was distinctively liberal in its conception and mostly in its effects. The closest thing the new Republic had to real conservatives were slave owners, which the new Constitution accommodated in a decidedly illiberal compromise with reality. Virtually from the moment it first took effect, arguments erupted over how best to understand this new Constitution. These debates often, although not always, revolved around what to do about slavery, first, then, once our ancestors amended that Constitution to prohibit slavery, what to do about the descendants of the slaves, who continued, for over a century after, as a class, to fall at the bottom of every metric of social well being.

At some point during these debates, a significant rump of U.S. citizens who opposed any deliberate acts to improve the lot of the descendants of slaves started to call themselves “conservatives,” which only begs the question — how are you at once good U.S. citizens and “conservatives.” Surely you are not monarchists. No good U.S. citizen can be a monarchist. Our Constitution explicitly requires the federal government to secure for every state a “republican” form of government. It doesn’t say so, but presumably, in order to ensure every state has a “republican” form of government, the federal government must also take that form.

We wish to conserve the Constitution, comes the frequent reply from our new crop of “conservatives,” who apparently have no qualms about styling themselves as “conservatives” in defending a distinctively liberal Constitution. Perhaps they are conservative in defending the most conservative aspect of that distinctively liberal Constitution — its de facto permission for discrimination against the descendants of the slaves.

Some “conservatives” objected, but far too late when, in 2016, their 45 years of bad politics and policy finally came back to haunt them in the form of Donald Trump, who ran roughshod over the notionally “conservative” Party, the Republicans. They had no way to stop him because he spoke so effectively, if explicitly, to the very passions the Republican Party had carefully nurtured in the new base they acquired when white supremacists abandoned the Democratic Party for leading the charge to pass major legislation prohibiting discrimination against African Americans, which threatened the precious status of the white supremacists. Republicans figured out quickly, starting with Nixon, that they could often win the presidency by telling the white supremacists, using sotto voce cues, that they would defend their precious white supremacy so long as the rump didn’t object too much to the policies the Republicans chose to pursue and kept voting Republican. The white supremacist rump, not being terribly bright, never seemed to notice that they were actually the primary beneficiaries of the various programs the Republicans wanted to eliminate in a fit of ideological pique that was anything but conservative.

Some of our “conservatives” tried their best to clutch their pearls and insist that the Donald, crass and vulgar as he is, could not possibly be one of theirs. This act failed miserably because it was so obvious that Trump pursued the same policies Republicans had been calling for during the previous four decades, with some variation for changes in historical circumstance. He proposed a wall to keep out the Mexicans who crossed the border illegally, which fed the latent racism of the white supremacist base. He proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the country, which was an interesting sort of reversal of the centuries old, Christian conservative impulse to beat up on Muslims at any opportunity, since Trump’s predecessor had already invaded the two most obvious Muslim targets, leaving Trump with none. A Republican President with no place to bomb! Fate worse than death!

So Republicans have no one but themselves to blame now that they find themselves, after defining themselves as “conservatives” who wish to defend the Constitution, with a President who blames his failures on that archaic Constitution. Any school child knows that a key feature of the U.S. government under the Constitution is separation of powers, with the three branches of the federal government checking and balancing each other. The Donald, however, doesn’t seem to grasp that an essential component of this checking and balancing is the ability of federal judges to find acts of the other two branches in violation of the Constitution and prevent them from taking effect as a result. “Ironic” is a kind term for a “conservative” deliberately attacking a judge for doing his job. “Conservatives” usually claim to value the rule of law — except when they don’t.

Such a sticky wicket for the “conservative” Party to be stuck with a President who has now turned on the one institution they thought they could safely hang their claims to conservatism on. What to do now?

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