Twice before in our history the governing political consensus has shattered, replaced by a new one only after a national catastrophe. And that’s precisely where we find ourselves today.
That’s according to James Pierson’s Shattered Consensus, a thoughtful analysis by a thoughtful man. From Jefferson to the Civil War the Democrats were the party of the governing consensus, but their inability to solve the slavery issue brought the Republicans into power. Until the Great Depression, Republicans represented a new consensus, but their failure to control the excesses of laissez faire capitalism brought their downfall. The new Democratic consensus prevailed until the present time, but it too has shattered, and there is no consensus in this country today. Piereson thinks we must suffer a market collapse, or a major recession, or a terror attack before a new one can be formed. In the process we are going to have to accept a lower standard of living. In his view the new consensus will feature a return to federalism, economic growth, and the downfall of the public sector unions.
It’s important to clearly appreciate what Piereson is saying. It doesn’t matter who wins the White House. Even if we hold all the reins of power, the Presidency, the House , the Senate, the Supreme Court — it still won’t be enough. To deal with our intractable problems we need a national consensus, and we won’t get one unless we suffer a great calamity. We’re a 50-50 nation right now, at war with one another, with no victory for either side in sight.
So I guess we just sit around and await the inevitable Civil War or Great Depression to give us the chance to get things right. Or maybe we could use Article V to avert such catastrophes. Our choice. Maybe we ought to at least give it a try. I don’t think a decline in our standard of living is something we should settle for. If the first Amendment Convention is a success, others will follow, and the sclerotic federal government can be cut down to size. Prosperity would follow. But if we don’t use Article V, I think Piereson is right. Congress has degenerated into a bipartisan parliament of whores, and will never clean up its mess without an outside intervention.
Piereson’s a very bright guy, and he makes a number of interesting points. Today it’s a commonplace that Democrats are most passionate about conserving their gains than anything beyond them. I didn’t know that Richard Hofstadter was saying that back in 1955. He also describes contemporary liberalism as essentially punitive, which is quite true, when you think about it. His most interesting observation is that the celebrated tolerance of the left is really nothing more than nihilism.
Fruth has been updating his Article V BBA campaign brochure, using the latest numbers from CBO and elsewhere. He says it just keeps getting scarier and scarier. I guess we’ll never be able to convince all the low information voters of our peril. But you’d think serious people of all political persuasions would understand that this is an existential threat. One which Hillary and the D’s should be forced to confront. Unless she’s indicted she’s the Democrat nominee. Shouldn’t someone in the media ask her what she plans to do about this problem? But I’m being naive. Since when does a press secretary pose hard questions to its candidate?
My review of An American Son is up at American Thinker today. Here’s the link. Internet commenters, and not just at AT, are an odd lot. Some people just can’t disagree, they have to insult and ridicule.
Lew Uhler’s 40th birthday party for the National Tax Limitation Committee was quite a success, and I’m very glad I got to attend. There were some quite promising opportunities which presented themselves, and I’m optimistic that Fruth is going to be able to get not only Wyoming but Idaho. That should get us to 32, where the Republican nominee — whomever it is — will carry us across the finish line. Even the most dimwitted of the candidates will realize the political appeal not only of the BBA, but, more importantly, of Article V. So I’m feeling good.
Lew and I have the same Congressman, Tom McClintock, who just recently left the House Freedom Caucus. Tom is as smart and conservative as anybody in Congress, and he couldn’t see their political end strategy. He spoke briefly at Lew’s event, and his words were music to my ears: “It’s starting to feel like 1979.” Actually, though, I think he’s underselling our position.
I think it’s starting to feel like 1919.