There was some things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. —Mark Twain
Those who are still addicted to the useless and indeed pernicious vice of following U.S. politics—let me urge you to go into recovery now. The habit of abstinence must be well-established soon or you will be tempted by the hoopla of the 2016 Presidential sweepstakes. The primaries are only two years away and the uproar will start long before that. Without a determined recovery you will have to endure an endless carnival of water temperature testing, trial balloon floating, absurd and short-lived ambitions and enthusiasms, and arrant speculation. It will all be pointless and ephemeral and have absolutely no relevance to any genuine process for selecting the next “Leader of the Free World” and Great Decider.
There is no hope that any statesmanship or even real leadership can emerge from the carnival. The American political system, and alas probably also the American people, left behind any such possibility long ago. What we will see is a contest of superficial celebrity backed by special-interest pandering that can have no meaning for any serious lover of his country. In case you haven’t noticed, the U.S. is now a glorified banana republic culturally and politically, if not quite yet economically and militarily.
Nobody can predict the future, least of all a mere historian. There are often long-term changes under way that nobody notices until they suddenly emerge. And the course of our poor human race through time takes place in the mind of God, Who may disregard the plans and expectations of men. Allowing for such, we can make some projections based upon recent history. I will venture a few predictions. Anybody who likes can remember and call me to account at a later time.
The Democratic presidential nomination will be contested between the minorities, who want to maintain their prominence, and party regulars who want a practical chance to push their agenda, though of course the true nature of the struggle will not be admitted. How this will turn out is unpredictable. The ideal candidate, who can hope to capture the Obama enthusiasm, will be a minority woman with Establishment credentials. Let’s keep in mind always that no matter who is the candidate, the leadership of both parties is owned body and soul by the financiers and the neo-conservatives.
The Republican nomination will be hotly contested because it will be expected that it is the GOP’s turn for the top spot, especially since the Obama bubble has burst for many people. The Republican money men and the professional politicians who serve them while serving themselves almost always pick the candidate. Whether you know it or not, that is exactly what we mean when we say “the party of Lincoln.” If a maverick somehow gets the nomination, he will either be torpedoed like Goldwater or co-opted like Reagan. So we can expect to see a field of Romney-like wannabes, the usual photogenic and respectable Deep North corporate types, which could include a carpetbag governor of Florida. It will be mildly amusing.
It is true that there is considerable unrest, unfocused and futile, at the Republic grassroots, and that the old appeal of the lesser evil is getting somewhat threadbare. But doubtless there are still plenty of Republicans out there who still have not figured out that by voting for the lesser evil they are accomplices in turning their country over to evil. And sometimes it is not even the lesser. And there are still the sad types who prattle about restoring a Constitution that ceased to exist long ago.
A maverick candidate, who is wise, brave, and somehow able to communicate with the people over massive jamming by the media, could perhaps get a message across about the real dangers to the commonwealth (debt, imperial over-extension, the ongoing proletarianisation of the middle class, to mention just a few). We can be certain that the two parties will never touch a real issue, which might upset their cozy relations with each other and the media. For such an outsider to succeed would require extraordinary circumstances indeed. However, he might accomplish the wrecking of the Republican party, which would be a great service to the restoration of good government.
Then again, we may not even have to go through the process at all. Obama may well succeed himself. All it would take is for the Supreme Court to declare that the two-term limitation in the Constitution violates the 14th Amendment and is invalid. This would be no greater usurpation of power than the black-robed deities have already exercised more times than can be counted. Who will say them nay? Certainly not the shallow and cowardly leaders of the Republican party. They will make a deal for themselves, the people be damned.
Clyde N. Wilson is the Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and a Contributing Editor to Chronicles. Dr. Wilson is best known as the editor of the 28-volume documentary edition of The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the author or editor of a dozen other books—including Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew and Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture—and has published over 700 articles, essays, and reviews. He is also the co-owner of Shotwell Publishing.