Mitt Romney laments the fact that there’s “too much demagoguery and populism on both sides of the aisle and I only hope and aspire that we’ll see more greatness.” His statement jumbles presently pervasive buzzwords together in a way that illustrates the duplicitous confusion being fomented by the elitist faction’s operatives. Populism and demagoguery are by no means just the same thing. Populism simply refers to politics that takes account of the people.
When Lincoln referred to the American republic as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” he accurately reflected the intention of America’s founding. As they argued the merits o the original Constitution of the United States, patriots on both sides of the debate saw the need for “a due dependence on the people.” They saw it as one of “the ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense.” They were all of them “populists” to this extent. This distinguished them from the Tories, who refused to join them in rejecting the authority of the British King.
Yet even the most ardent advocates of the American Revolution approved Hamilton’s caution against the dangers of demagogues who begin “their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” By carelessly conflating demagoguery and populism elitists like Mitt Romney distract us from giving due consideration to the fact that successful demagogues often, if not usually, emerge from the ranks of some self-serving elitist clique. By flattering the prevalent passions of the people they gather them mobs, forces they can wield as a weapons against their competitors for power in the elite class.
America’s Founders were painfully well aware of a prime example of this phenomena. The Dutch stadtholder, William of Orange, became King of England, in the revolution that overthrew King James II. But he assumed the title of Stadtholder in the Netherlands when the Dutch Republic proved unprepared for a combined attack from the Catholic monarchs in England and France. Seizing the occasion, William’s pro-monarchist clique fomented mob violence against the key republican leaders in the Netherlands, the De Witt brothers. As a result, the De Witts were literally torn to pieces in a display of mob violence that seared itself into the memory of Dutch republicans, some of whom later became important as colonists in New York and elsewhere in Great Britain’s colonies.
Far from representing the best interests of the people at large, successful demagoguery is often an important tool in the arsenal of elitists scheming to overthrow the sovereign power constitutionally entrusted to the people in a republic such as ours. As I have observed before, the elitists in Germany who abetted the Nazis’ rise to power followed this path, deploying the weapons of democracy against the faltering Weimar Republic.
But because they were sincerely committed to the success of republican government in the United States, our Founders did not ignore this danger to the rightful liberty of the people. They especially did not ignore the likelihood that it would arise as the result of competition among elitist factions. Certain features of the Constitution, rooted in the concept of “representation,” were designed to secure the people of the United States against elitist would-be tyrants, scheming to deploy the people against themselves.
In his intemperate, pandering rhetoric, Donald Trump reveals himself to be precisely the sort of self-serving elitist demagogue America’s Founders’ aimed to thwart. His discussion of “issues” is calculated to exploit angry passion, without regard for what will actually perpetuate successful constitutional self-government, for the good of all. So he promises to follow Obama’s lead in the abuse of executive orders, regardless of the powers the Constitution vests in the legislative representatives of the people. He promises to go after our terrorist enemies in ways that continue the elitist faction’s bipartisan evisceration of the Constitution, including the rights and civil freedoms of individuals. He promises to restore the nation’s “greatness,” but without respect for the premises of God-endowed natural justice, and the qualities of good conscience and character without which the people either ignore or impatiently cast off their responsibility for self-government. Absent those qualities the elitist faction can too easily manipulate people, in ways that extinguish their God-endowed unalienable rights, including the rightful liberty from which the people’s claim to sovereignty derives.
To preserve self-government, these qualities of conscience and character must be impressed upon each new generation of Americans. One of the most important clues to the elitist faction’s hostility toward constitutional self-government is its systematic assault, in every walk of life, on decent respect for “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” required to sustain it. In defiance of the necessary premises of human science, trust in God is irrationally ridiculed and condemned. Thus, in defiance of the self-evident facts of human nature, the elitist seek to criminalize respect for the gender distinction that is essential to human procreation.
By these means, the very concept of the individual’s inalienable responsibility before God is declared out-of-bounds. But, by the right use of freedom, that responsibility gives rise to inalienable rights. Without it, such rights are, in principle, eradicated. Moreover, absent the intermediate institutions established by nature (e.g., the pro-creational family) and human choice (e.g., private businesses and other voluntary associations not dependent on government decisions or largesse) the people effectively cease to have any basis for independence of government control. This being the case, they lack the wherewithal to act as masters of their own deliberate will.
They become instead manipulated factors in a government machine. In that machine, politics is simply a tool for regulating behavior. In this respect, elections are no longer about ascertaining the deliberate good will of the people. They are a Pavlovian exercise in behavior modification, meant to drive people this way and that according to the whims of powerful elitist groups competing with one another for supreme power.
Americans still capable of doing so need to stand back from the stream of current events. They need to revisit the understanding that informed America’s Founding, in the Providential moment when some extraordinary individuals proved willing to focus on the good of the people as a whole rather their own advantage. We need to take seriously the warnings these individuals sounded—about the dangers America’s liberty inevitably must face. We need to apply that understanding as we judge the welter of purposeful confusion elitists, hostile to the liberty of the people, are fomenting.
We cannot afford to act as if the litmus for choosing our representatives in government is simple who panders most forcefully to our passions, angry or otherwise. The true test is who speaks most consistently, without fear of power or its consequences, about the responsibilities we bear toward ourselves, our posterity and the Creator, God who makes us capable of right and liberty. Despite much evidence to the contrary, some willfully believe that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton pass this test. Some believe that GOP quislings like Mitt Romney, McConnell or Paul Ryan pass this test.
But people still true to the premise of our nation’s birth will never mistake such false stars for great hopes. We have such hopes, but only because we have the eyes to see in true Americans what America’s Founders’ saw: A good spirit willing to hear and act upon the kingly guidance of God’s written and Incarnate Word, which constitutes the true and only reliable guide to our humanity. We do not trust Democrat Mob-publicans, like Hillary or Trump. We dare to trust in the name of the Lord, our God. We seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice. We remember that His Kingdom is within us, as by faith in the Lord we have the Spirit to trust in God, and God alone.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord, our God. They are bound and have fallen: but we are risen, and are set upright. Lord, You save the king, You hear us in the day that we call upon You. (Psalm 19:8-9)
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