The Future of American Politics

Chapter One

On January 6 Trump supporters gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds at Trump’s request and were urged by the President to affirm his charge that the election was stolen.

What I had sensed was right: something was afoot in American politics..

The United States is in a pre-revolutionary situation—not unlike that of Czarist Russia shortly before WW I—and may see a dissolution of legal limits placed by the Constitution on the Chief Executive.

Transfer of powers of hard and soft coercion to the Chief Executive will lead to a contest with other centers of power–mass media, organizations committed to agitation (Black Lives Matter), institutional social forces—schools and colleges—and politicized churches—the Vatican and most Protestant denominations.

Let’s go back to the defeat of Donald Trump in the Presidential election of 2020. That had been predictable ever since the by-election of 2018.

Donald Trump didn’t understand that, however, and ran for re-election thinking he would be re-elected. When he lost, he claimed that “the election was stolen” and organized an attack on the Capitol to delay certification of the election of Joe Biden.

Never in the history of the United States had a sitting President attempted to circumvent the process for election of a Chief Executive established in the Constitution of the United States. The future course of American politics had suddenly been saddled with a very big question mark.

Though twice Impeached, but not convicted, the future of American politics will turn on whether Donald Trump fails to be elected in 2024 and attempts another coup d’état.

Chapter Two

The GOP and the “New World Order”

Donald Trump won the 2016 contest because he correctly assessed that the policies of President George W. Bush, culminating in the invasion of Iraq, had fostered “war weariness” among American voters. Rejection of war and the “Tribalism” and divisions in civil society are aspects of American society today that are the end result of the “internationalization” of American foreign policy since the Administration of Woodrow Wilson.

Political stability in free societies is not only valued, but a necessary condition of representative government. Political stability of American government is grounded in a Constitution designed to assure limited government.

James Madison succinctly summarized the problem in The Federalist, #51.

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

The “enlightened” ideas that the Framers of the Constitution shared, rooted as they were in the “Social Contract” ideas of John Locke, were sufficient to establish a stable representative government in the United States –until the Civil War. That political crisis, accompanied by Darwin’s Origins of Species and the introduction of German idealist humanism by the American “Transcendentalists,” challenged a dominant political order founded on Protestant Christianity. Once that shared theological system was broken, the America of the 18th Century was flung into a cauldron of more “modern” intellectual currents shaped by political ideologies.

In succeeding centuries, many Americans sought ways to affirm tradition as a way to preserve and disseminate political and economic freedom. Most were believing Christians who understood that “salvation” was not to be found in this life, and thus they shared a political philosophy that rejected political and economic remedies that relied on the State. When confronted with “final solutions” of totalitarian movements they banded together to protect their way of life.

World War I and the Great Depression gave power to idealists, intellectuals and “experts” in the use of the powers of government, however, and wiped away many of the restraints placed on the national government by such 19th century institutions as Protestant churches and the many private colleges and universities whose purpose was threefold: 1) shape the character of educated Americans, 2) train the Protestant clergy, and 3) educate a class of attorneys at law committed to the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

That essentially Protestant Christian culture also prepared and trained a military elite to protect the nation and preserve the principle of civilian rule. By mid-twentieth century, however, each of the pillars of the former political culture that, in the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, sought to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” had been badly shaken.

The original system of the American written Constitution that placed limits on State power, after World War I and during the Great Depression, began to be replaced by an aggressive, centralized, bureaucratic, administrative State.

Other changes were visible.

Protestant and Catholic churches sought to assure salvation in this life through Social Justice. The Humanities and Social Sciences in American colleges and universities were transformed by rejection of classical liberalism of Adam Smith and putative “scientific” Behavioral studies.

In 2016 this social revolution was nearly complete American voters elected Donald. 

Already, I get ahead of myself.

I’ve said too much by using the word “State” without explanation to describe the administration of government by agencies led by “experts” who administer those agencies and nothing about a “civil religion” shared by those experts.

And by attributing President Trump’s election in 2016 to “war weariness” with policies that strove to achieve an “International order” that some call a “New World Order,” I use a term without explanation that evokes conspiracies surrounding the names “Davos” and “Soros.”

Chapter Three

Admiration of the Strong, Race and Immigration

In American politics, Donald Trump is unique, but if we look to England of forty years ago, we’ll find someone very much like “The Donald.”

In the mid-to late1960s, a British member of Parliament, Enoch Powell, commanded the attention of the British public by his stance against immigration and the British Labor Party’s Race Relations Bill.

Collapse of Britain’s empire after World War II generated a flood of immigrants from British India and other Dominions that threatened the racial makeup of England.

By the late 1960s, Indian Sikh’s were visible on British transit as bus drivers and Council Housing that had served a largely white British working class was roiled by the admission of non-white immigrants from the Dominions.

Enoch Powell’s stand against immigration attracted the support of British workers who had never supported Britain’s Conservative Party, but felt threatened by the influx of immigrants. When the Conservative Party won the 1970 general election, Powell’s supporters claimed that Powell’s stance on immigration guaranteed the Conservative victory.

Enoch Powell, unlike Donald Trump, was an academic, a classicist and student of philosophy who early in his career was fascinated with the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. “Will to power” is a strong impulse in all politicians, but Enoch Powell’s identification with Nietzsche went beyond the pale of English politics and raised concerns that Powell had not learned lessons from Britain’s battle with Nazi Germany.

Opponents of Donald Trump express concern about his frequent verbal slights against women (the weaker sex), his failure to search for specialists in public policy who might inform and enrich his views, his self-confidence and absolute belief in his own intuition and judgment.

Those characteristics are compatible with Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman or Übermensch.

Trump’s appeal to strength against weakness is not necessarily Nietzchean, but we should not be surprised, therefore, that a businessman, unprepared for public office, has found approval with Republicans after years of pursuit of the “Democratic Project” that drove the purposes of American foreign policy and embroiled the United States in “nation building” and military action.

Trump ran against the expansionist foreign policy decisions of George W. Bush and defeated candidates who drank “W’s” Kool-Aid.  Politicians motivated in the belief of their own superiority, however, are not likely to retreat from using force in any confrontation.

Whether the election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a passing phase, an accident, or more enduring, will be decided during President Joe Biden’s first term as President #46. And until Republicans assess and reach agreement on the reasons for their loss in 2020, recovery of the GOP is in doubt.

On this Republicans must agree: Though the Republican candidate lost the 2020 election his policies were not rejected—only Donald Trump lost that election.

The Presidential election of 2016 revealed a desire of Americans not to move in a radical “international” direction but to affirm priority of the national interest. The Republican Party must now ask whether it understands that lesson. Finding answers will be painful because every Republican President from Dwight Eisenhower through Bush 43 supported the ideas embodied in Woodrow Wilson’s political religion[1]—until the election of President #45, Donald J. Trump.

Election of a political novice whose overall actions defended traditional order, in contrast to advocates for imposing “democracy” abroad by military action set Donald Trump apart from John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, John McCain and a host of others like them.

At the core of Trump Administration policies was espousal of “Nationalism” versus “Internationalism.”

The “Internationalist” aspect of Republican foreign policy is well-established, however, and began when Republicans chose Dwight Eisenhower over U.S. Senator Robert Taft (R-OH) as the Republican candidate for President at the 1952 Republican National Convention. That assured continuation of the Internationalist tradition of democratic idealism founded by President Woodrow Wilson.

That also assured domination of American politics by a stream of “Internationalists” from John Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

Transmission of this series of Internationalist judgments was continued by Ronald Reagan’s choice of George H. W. Bush as his running mate in the 1980 election. Just as the hearts of political conservatives were broken in 1952, twenty-eight years later many Conservatives like Tom Ellis cried like babies[2] when Gov. Paul Laxalt was passed over in favor of George H. W. Bush.

Continuation of this stream of Internationalist Presidents was shattered by the election of Donald Trump who proposed a return to a revitalized American nationalism.

Though the health of American politics was adversely affected by President Trump’s grave personal limitations and flawed character, don’t blame Trump.

The core eight policies of the Trump administration are grounded in the traditional principles and beliefs of the GOP:

First, President Trump’s rejection of the ideology of democratic idealism first fashioned by Woodrow Wilson and the recent presidents representing that Internationalis ideology.

Second, Trump’s nationalism visible in the theme “Make America Great,” and third Trump’s admonishment of our allies in NATO was long overdue.

Throw in a fourth attitude, his hatred of war, and five, six, seven and eight other policies–his tax cuts, restrictions on Muslim immigration, shutting down the reliance of material and goods from Communist China and judicial appointments–and President Trump has fashioned a platform of enduring policies for the GOP in the 21st Century.

The blame that no successor Republican has adopted them must be placed on New York Governor Thomas Dewey who engineered General Dwight Eisenhower’s victory over Taft, Richard Nixon who chose Gerald Ford as his Vice President, and Ronald Reagan who chose Bush 41 over Gov. Paul Laxalt (R-NV).

The chain of errors leading to the election of radical Democrats in 2020 is Dewey, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.

Chapter Four

Post-Election 2020

Despite Donald Trump’s odious character flaws, nothing was gained and much was lost by the election of Joe Biden: 

1. Biden did not reject the ideology of democratic idealism;

2. Biden rejected Trump’s nationalism visible in the theme “Make America Great”;

3. Biden did not admonish our allies in NATO to defend themselves from measures to reestablish a Russian Empire;

4. Biden’s hatred of war stops with willingness to go to war to advance the “Democratic Project”;

5. Biden raised taxes;

6. Biden opened our borders to Muslim and other immigrants;

7. Biden is seeking better relations with Communist China;

8. As for his judicial appointments, every Leftist with a law degree will stand with Joe Biden.

In other words, the Biden administration is reviving 60’s Liberalism sixty years after all its faults were exposed.

Despite those eight good Trump Administration policies, former-President Trump did not understand the character of the “administrative state,” nor how government agencies can be brought to a grudging acceptance of a conservative Republican chief executive elected by the voters. 

And President Trump lacked an essential skill for government service:  President Trump reads with difficulty and has difficulty reading legislation and intelligence reports and prefers to learn from listening and watching radio and television. This President of the United States most probably suffers from Dyslexia.

His understanding of market economics is limited also, as is his understanding of the mechanism of Tariffs, and Trump lacks previous government service. Most important, he lacks knowledge of persons who approve of his policies—except for fellow New Yorkers Rudy Giuliani and Larry Kudlow.

Lacking knowledge of persons of similar beliefs, the Trump Administration did not have a functioning Office of Presidential Personnel and after President Trump left office, he did not leave a legacy of former appointees to advocate his policies. 

Those nominated for leadership of government agencies in the Trump Administration tended to be the wealthy (Betsy DeVos), current and former military professionals (Mike Pompeo), and an odd assortment of friends and family of GOP politicians.

Of course, President Trump’s appointment of members of the Trump family to service on the White House staff or as diplomatic envoys was a mistake.

Add to that inadequacy, his intolerance of staff who brought him ideas that were not his (Steve Bannon) and his consistent attacks on journalists unnecessarily hurt his Administration.  “Never attack anyone with a printing press” is a maxim based in common sense that Donald Trump violated.

In addition to this list of transgressions was Trump’s appointment of pro-Russia political operator, Paul Manafort, as his campaign manager and his curious subservience to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and you can see why American voters chose Joe Biden, a politician with substantial government service.

But Biden’s 60’s Liberalism causes him to prefer policies that cater to a minority of the electorate. His choice of a woman of color and radical political inclinations as his Vice President plays to that by giving in to racial and gender policies that can only further divide, not unite, American society.

The best that can be said about the elections of 2020 and 2021 is that, despite fraudulent ballot counting endemic to elective politics, Republican gains of a Virginia governor and election to the House of women candidates inched the GOP toward a possible House majority in 2022.

That’s the good news, and that is due to the common sense of the American electorate—Donald Trump notwithstanding.

What then is the future of American politics?

Election results in 2020 did not suggest an endorsement by voters of far-Left “Progressive” elements in the Democrat Party.

That election presaged contests between the House Speaker (age 80) and committed utopian socialists including Alexandra Ocacio-Cortez (age 31). Their many radical, hyper-active proposals will weary observant voters, and give the GOP time to recover from the Trump presidency.

During the next three years, Donald Trump is the wild card who has signaled that he will seek election in 2024, but his dominant influence is engendering a search for new leaders.

“The” problem facing the GOP,  however, can be attributed to a long line of Internationalist presidents from Eisenhower to Obama who were committed “Wilsonian idealists.” In that historic combination, Presidents of both parties imbibed the Kool Aid of democratic idealism—until Donald Trump reintroduced a form of “nationalism” that gave priority to America’s interests over “the Democratic project.” That concept–“the Democratic project”—is a manifestation of modern political religion—an ideology that places a commitment to “Democracy” before the national interest. That is evident, even today, 29 years after the demise of the Soviet Union, when otherwise intelligent observers refer to the United States as “Leader of the Free World.”

We do have foreign enemies but they do not represent a unified force against a “free world.” The concept of a “free world” is an anachronism from the Cold War and a deeply held belief for those ideologically committed to what they call “the Democratic project.”

“The Democratic project” means pursuit of policies not directed toward our national interest but to expanding democratic idealism in every part of the world—by war if necessary.

During 105 years from America’s entry in WW I through 2020, the lives of Americans have been disrupted by wars. Wars are disruptive of lives and attitudes that sustain tradition, stifles creativity, misdirects material assets, destroys lives and divides members of civil society.

In World War I, American citizens of German descent were careful to avoid notice by speaking German and sauerkraut was renamed “Liberty cabbage.”  In World War II Americans of Japanese descent were placed in “camps.”  And during the war in Vietnam students of draft age disrupted campuses, burned draft cards and went into exile in Canada. Those who were drafted and returned were spit upon as “baby killers.”

We can compare the 105 years of turmoil from 1915 to 2020 to the 147-year period from 1033 to 1180 in Western Europe when an exuberant culture of Christianity celebrated itself as successor to the order of ancient Rome.

Historians call the 700-year period from the fall of Rome in 410 AD to 1200 AD–“First Europe.” Persons who lived during those 700 years from the fall of Rome suffered in ways that occur in every period of social disorder and wars.

But by the year 1200 AD, persons in “the West” experienced an outburst of artistic, cultural and philosophic accomplishment. That was evident in the achievement of origination of many Monastic Christian contemplative religious orders and the efforts of four intellectuals who lived from 1033 to 1180: St. Anselm, Roscelin, Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury.

It is in that historical context that we should look at Donald Trump’s commitment to keep America out of war and his redirecting foreign policy toward pursuit of the American national interest. And we should worry, therefore, that political commentators now look to President Joe Biden to revive “the Democratic project.”

And finally, we have a higher education problem, what Dr. James Piereson in 2005 called a “Left University).[3]

As early as 1910 our law schools were invaded by “Progressives,” an ideological movement of utopian socialists who argued for a Constitution unburdened by limits on the power of the State that changed with the times. During the Great Depression classical liberalism was replaced by advocates of utopian idealism, and during the period from 1968-1973, curricular requirements were abolished and replaced with “cafeteria style” education accompanied by the exclusion of political conservatives from academic employment.

A “Left university” is now dominant and families live in fear that by sending their college age students to college to earn a college diploma their children will be turned against them.

This is not the 1960s, however, and increased numbers of Republican House Members and the likely regaining of control of the U.S. Senate suggest that there is still a vibrant future of American Politics—thanks to the common sense of the American people.

Chapter Five

The GOP After Trump

President Trump challenged the GOP by adopting policies contrary to the Internationalist direction in which the nation had been directed by both parties since World War I.

Finding answers to that lesson will be painful because every Republican President from Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower through Bush 43 supported the ideas embodied in Woodrow Wilson’s political religion[4]—until the election of President #45, Donald J. Trump.

Election of a political novice whose overall actions defended tradition, in contrast to 1960’s “Liberalism,” set Donald Trump apart from John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Ted Cruz and others like them.

After the January 6, 2021 mob attack on the Capitol of the United States, Democrat members of Congress and many Republican members blamed Donald Trump for an insurrection. That almost unbelievable action assures that President-Elect Joe Biden’s control of the federal government by the Democrat Party will be assured as long as Democrats can constrain the most radical impulses of their Left-wing.

For Republicans who seek to restore the GOP’s place in the politics of the American nation, finding a way to overcome the damage done by the mob violence of January 6 will be painful. And in some ways, that is unfortunate.

Every Republican President from Dwight Eisenhower through Bush 43 supported the ideas embodied in Woodrow Wilson’s political religion. Donald Trump did not and only his incompetence reversed what he had achieved between 2016 and 2020.

Chapter Six

The future of American politics is uncertain but not unknown—if former President Donald Trump’s ambition is to become leader of a post-Constitutional Republic.

Organizing a gathering of followers of something he calls “the Trump movement” on January 6 and inciting them to march to the Capitol and stop certification of the 2020 election was an act of sedition.

Having demonstrated that he is ignorant of the limits placed on the Chief Executive by the Constitution of the United States, can we expect Trump to organize his followers to achieve power? If so, his first attempt will be by organizing a campaign for President and failing that he can be expected to seize power by force.

Had the Senate Impeached and convicted Trump and banned him from seeking office, we may have cut to the chase and witnessed the marshaling of Trump forces to seize power now—not in 2024.

If that effort to institute a “post-Constitutional Order” occurs, it will be resisted and we will experience another civil war of citizens killing one another, with mobs targeting opponents and the organizing of resistance leading to grave destruction, riot and violent death.

Readers who tell me that Trump was the greatest President in American history are as numerous as those good citizens who gathered on the Ellipse on January 6 who felt that fighting in this manner was the only remedy available to protect Constitutional freedom.

Democrats believe that the former President is irresponsible, should have been Impeached and convicted and Republicans are of three minds about that.

The Republican Optimist

There is lots of decay — moral, muscular, and otherwise — in and around the Party, but there is nothing new about that.  A Reagan moment is a Brigadoon phenomenon;  it mysteriously appears once every hundred years or so and a few very great things happen; and, then, the country coasts for decades on the strength of that spiritual energy while the craven and the ignorant carry on with business as usual.  The most important features of our permanent  political system are Mr. Madison’s checks and balances and our Anglo-Saxon habit of taking the rule of law seriously. There is much deep Doo-Doo affecting American politics, but, as Ronald Reagan’s favorite joke had it, there must be a pony in here somewhere.

The Trump Enthusiast

Donald Trump rescued the Republican Party from its capture by the Establishment – especially corporate America which is overtly and explicitly pro-business but protectionist and, essentially, hostile to freedom of enterprise. Had Trump not prevailed in the 2016 GOP primary, any other GOP nominee would have lost, and Hillary Clinton would now by finishing the job Obama started, effectively destroying freedom in America.

Instead, freedom is rising.

Republican Realists

The “Two Party” system inaugurated in 1800 when Vice President Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party and defeated incumbent President John Adams of the Federalist Party will be subject to realignment. There are some signs already that the United States will experience a multi-party system:

When realignment occurs, our Two Party system will feature four parties:

The Republican Optimist

There is lots of decay — moral, muscular, and otherwise — in and around the Party, but there is nothing new about that.  A Reagan moment is a Brigadoon phenomenon;  it mysteriously appears once every hundred years or so and a few very great things happen; and, then, the country coasts for decades on the strength of that spiritual energy while the craven and the ignorant carry on with business as usual.  The most important features of our permanent  political system are Mr. Madison’s checks and balances and our Anglo-Saxon habit of taking the rule of law seriously. There is much deep Doo-Doo affecting American politics, but, as Ronald Reagan’s favorite joke had it, there must be a pony in here somewhere.

The Trump Enthusiast

Donald Trump rescued the Republican Party from its capture by the Establishment – especially corporate America which is overtly and explicitly pro-business but protectionist and, essentially, hostile to freedom of enterprise. Had Trump not prevailed in the 2016 GOP primary, any other GOP nominee would have lost, and Hillary Clinton would now by finishing the job Obama started, effectively destroying freedom in America.

Instead, freedom is rising.

Republican Realists

The “Two Party” system inaugurated in 1800 when Vice President Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party and defeated incumbent President John Adams of the Federalist Party will be subject to realignment. There are some signs already that the United States will experience a multi-party system:

When realignment occurs, our Two Party system will feature four parties:

A new National Conservative Party

In Conclusion


[1] See Richard Bishirjian, “Modern Political Religion,” VoegelinView, Octpber 23, 2018.

[2]https://dickbishirjian.com/2018/07/26/tom-ellis-rip/

[3]  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/the-left-university

[4] See my discussion of political religion: https://voegelinview.com/modern-political-religion

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