Whatever the spin one would wish to put on the results of the 2016 and 2018 elections, one thing should be finally acknowledged: American Conservativism and with it American Exceptionalism are dead. It is time to go beyond shock and denial and, if possible, even past pain and guilt, though the next two phases of anger and depression aren’t particularly helpful either. But it would be a start. The American experiment with highly limited government exercising strictly enumerated powers is dead and has been decomposing before our very eyes for no less than five decades. It is now high time to bury the remains, allow ourselves to finally grieve, accept the fact that the vast majority of Americans including those of you who are feeling indignant reading these words have no interest in limited government and move on.
At the conclusion of the First World War, an event that was just commemorated with much fanfare in France, the only government the world had ever known was limited government. People had no expectation that government, at any level, be it local, provincial, or federal, would come to their aid in any shape or form. Almost. If you lived in a large city like London, Paris, or New York, you could avail yourself of the city-run fire and police department. Perhaps there was even an ambulance service. But that was all. There was no 911, nobody received any checks drawn on any government accounts. If you got sick or injured, you could go to a hospital, but you had better be ready, willing, and able to pay for any services rendered. Help was only available from your relatives, your church, your community. Certainly not from the government.
While this was the situation the world over, America had, and this was the source of American exceptionalism, additional protections for its citizens against government overreach. A “charter of negative liberties, as Obama had called it, the American Constitution, uniquely on our planet, protected American citizens from government intrusion into their personal and even business lives. It precluded the government from unlawful seizure of assets, limitation on expression, unreasonable control of forearms owned by the citizenry, etc.
Image by DonkeyHotey
My readers may know that I am a fan of applying the mathematical test of necessary and sufficient conditions to historical processes and political science. What, then, are those conditions for the existence of limited government? The necessary condition is simply the existence of a population that is constructed from independent individuals who cherish their personal freedoms and who form strong families and communities that can come to their aid when things get tough. This population existed in America a century ago; it does not exist today. Several historical processes coincided at the start of the second half of the 20th century to erode and ultimately destroy the independent American citizen who could rely on his community. The high-tech economy created by the invention of the solid-state transistor in the early 1960’s demanded a highly mobile and skilled workforce, resulting in many if not most Americans leaving their hometowns and relocating to those areas, particularly along the Pacific Coast, in which these new industries flourished. The invention of the birth control pill gave rise to the feminist movement, which in turn made its goal to make the role of housewives odious to most women, causing them to seek employment and thus personal growth outside the home. Finally, America’s nemesis, the divide between citizens of European and African descent, exploded into the Civil Rights movement, a movement that encoded diversity (meaning racial diversity) as political dogma for all sides in American politics.
Thus the trifecta of family destruction, community destruction, and identity destruction was born. A century ago, most Americans lived in the community of their birth, were part of a stable family of which a stay-home mom was the linchpin, and had strong identification with their ethnic and religious community. Today, none of this is true. Most Americans live far from their birthplaces, they either do not have a family of are part of a family in which both parents have next to no time to engage with. Church attendance is way down and the old ethno-religious markers, such as Italian-Catholic, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, etc. are a source of trivia at best and shame at worst. A century ago, when an American citizen set foot outside his front door, he saw people who were like him. They looked like him. If they spoke a second language be it Italian or German or Polish, it was also his second language. He met these people in church every Sunday. He knew with certainty who among them were the good guys and who weren’t. Many were his distant or not so distant relatives. They were HIS people. In times of trouble, most Americans back then knew that they could rely on their extended families, their communities. When things got tough, they had no need of government, they were HOME.
Today, when most Americans set foot outside of their front doors, be it onto the driveways of their suburban homes or the bleak corridors of their city condominiums, they see people who look nothing like them. If they speak a second language, it is not their language. If they worship God, it is not their God. There is no measure by which Americans today can judge the trustworthiness of their neighbors. They are among strangers. With the grandparents busy golfing in The Villages, the siblings three thousand miles away on the other coast, the spouse spending half her time away on business, who can Americans rely on today? Where is their community? As it turns out, their community lives behind the liquid crystal display of their electronic device and it is a highly regulated community that is guided by a strict set of rules, rules in the creation of which today’s American citizens had no say whatsoever. Today, in stark contrast to a century ago, the lives of Americans are chaff in the wind and the wind is controlled by forces that are entirely beyond their control, indeed their very powers of understanding. Not surprisingly, this creates feelings of enormous anxiety and fear; it infantilizes Americans and causes them to behave as small children. And what do small children do when they are afraid? They run to mommy, of course! In this case, alas, the mommy is the big, bloated, out of control blob that is the unholy union of hi-tech, organized labor, and government bureaucracy.
So we see that the necessary condition for the existence of limited government, the existence of an empowered citizenry that is a collection of empowered individuals forming stable families and communities on which they can count for support is not close to being met in today’s America. Mathematically, this would be sufficient proof that limited government can no longer exist in America, but let us continue, nonetheless, to the sufficient condition. American Founding Fathers warned against foreign alliances and entanglements. This was not born out of an outdated understanding of global geopolitics; on the contrary, late 18th century Europe was replete with a complex web of international treaties and alliances, not much different than the web of alliances that triggered WWI. Rather, this reluctance was born out of a level-headed cost-benefit analysis of maintaining such alliances, first and foremost in terms of building and maintaining the massive standing armies and navies that are required for “force projection”, a required cability for serious players on the global stage. They knew that maintaining armed forces on such level required things like forced conscription, and press gangs, and most of all high taxes. In other words, in their as always spot on estimation, being a superpower, or even simply a respected power on the global stage was incommensurate with limited government and personal freedom. This brings us to the formulation of the sufficient condition for limited government: Limited government can only exist in countries that mind their own business and do not strive to be players on the global stage. In 1800, this was true for both Switzerland and the US. Today, it is only true for Switzerland.
America’s geographic location, its unbelievable natural riches, the historic feebleness of France and Spain, its adversaries in the struggle for hemispheric dominance, combined to give America more than a century of growth without requiring the combination of a large standing military and the high taxation that it implies. The wars against France and later Spain were won with ragtag (though very well led and supplied) armies of what today would be called entrepreneurs rather than standing armies in uniform. These engagements were won due to the extreme weakness of France and Spain, the former having just experienced a revolution and the latter entering a historic swoon that is still ongoing today. The only power on the continent that was not in decline, Britain, managed to decisively defend its North American dominion known today as Canada against America’s volunteer military.
And yet, the victories against France and Spain with the resulting continental expansion took their toll; a bicoastal country now spanning a vast continent, America in the late 19th century was a major trading empire that cold only maintain the rapidly rising lifestyles of its citizens by aggressively protecting its trade routes and that meant not allowing the emergence of global powers that would be able to restrict these routes at their whim. The emergence of Japan as a rapidly modernizing and militarizing entity in the Pacific, ironically brought about in part by America, and the unification of Germany under Bismarck, created two-ocean threat to American interests, a threat that could not be contained by Britain alone. This threat to global commerce, a commerce that was the lifeline of American prosperity, let America to where it is today, a global military superpower, a state of being wholly at odds with any form of limited government.
Pretend as we may that the split in American politics today is between capitalism and socialism, progressivism and conservativism, large intrusive government and limited government, none of these dichotomies hold a mirror to the reality of American divisions today. Trump won precisely because, unlike the so-called “conservative” sheisters in the mold of Bush, Inc. or Paul Ryan, he never pretended to be a small government guy. He simply promised that he would wield the vast might of the American government first and foremost in the interests of those people currently legally residing in the United States of America. Since a vast majority of these people are of European descent and since Trump is opposed to diversity-driven immigration as contrary to American interests, preferring instead merit-based immigration, immigration that is likely to be a mixture of European and Asian, but not Hispanic or African, Trump has been branded a bigot. Opposing Trump are forces, personified by the Obamas, who wish to weaken America and remake her as a cog in a post-superpower world of global supra-national governance. Forced ethnic diversity is the primary tool for the creation of this new world order for many reasons, primary among them the further erosion of families and communities and ever growing reliance on ever more powerful and intrusive government.
The two choices in the struggle that is now unfolding in America, whether it stays within its political and legal banks or overflows into violence and civil war is simpler and more fundamental than a struggle for supremacy between two political worldviews; it is a choice between American independence and American subservience to global interests as defined by unelected global elites comprising of people like the Obamas, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Macrons, the Soros pere et fils, and others in the same mold. The Second War for American Independence is upon us, whether we like it or not.