Impeachment, the End of an Era, and the Conservative Challenge


It is difficult to know when an era has ended.

The events dominating the news today—presidential impeachment, deep state subversion of secret surveillance courts, confused and prolonged wars, out-of-control debt and government spending, and a radicalized educational and media culture—suggest something quite profound is threatening American governance. But it is not so clear precisely what.

Donald Trump so dominates the news, he seems to be the cause of it all, with his impeachment by the House pushing that theory dramatically forward. Democratic progressives now believe they can replace him given his low popular approval ratings and are even rushing further left toward socialism and woke-identity politics. Yet, President Trump will surely be acquitted by the Senate and is still driving policy, less so in Congress but still generally rightwards in a modestly conservative direction.

But policy has very little to do with the present predicament and almost nothing to do with conservatism. Everything today and for the immediate future is actually about the other guys: it is about progressivism’s collapse. Neither side can fully comprehend this intellectually—indeed progressives are still convinced they are the future and conservatives worry they may be right. But emotionally progressives sense great danger, and they do not like it one bit, expressed by their extreme passion for impeachment, from the very day Mr. Trump was sworn in as president.[1]

At the Constitutional Convention James Madison specifically excluded “maladministration” (407) as a proper cause for impeachment since the use of “so vague a term” would make the President not head of a co-equal branch but have him merely serving at “the pleasure of the Senate.”[2] Now, with the Democratic House’s impeachment of President Trump on those grounds, they have perversely decapitated the principal instrument of their own progressive ideology—the expert-based Chief Executive driving national policy from the center to build a Great Society.

Only a decade ago, CNNs Jim Acosta in particular—but representative of the whole progressive establishment—viewed the inauguration of Barack Obama as the culmination of the whole New Deal, Great Society agenda for the nation, comparing him to having Abraham Lincoln’s “big shoes to fill,” and calling his opening speech to the nation an agenda “for the ages.”[3] Then all of a sudden here was this “hateful brat” Donald Trump.

This reaction by Washington Post veteran progressive columnist Richard Cohen spoke for many.[4]

Donald Trump has taught me to fear my fellow Americans. I don’t mean the occasional yahoo who turns a Trump rally into a hate fest. I mean the ones who do nothing. Who are silent. Who look the other way. If you had told me a year ago that a hateful brat would be the presidential nominee of a major political party, I would have scoffed. Someone who denigrated women? Not possible. Someone who insulted Mexicans? No way. Someone who mocked the physically disabled? Not in America. Not in my America.

That is, after decades of educating the silent yahoos to understand what constituted my America, the whole progressive enterprise of the 20th century now seemed at risk to Mr. Cohen and many others—and this was even before Donald Trump assumed the presidency.

What had happened? The progressive my-American political narrative began by taming the 1930s Great Depression and creating the welfare state, then a glorious nineteen-sixties civil rights revolution, then an extended Age of Aquarius counterculture with a Woodstock free lovefest for New Age leaders throwing off the last vestiges of old traditional America. Andy Warhol expanded the 70s radicalization from Hollywood, to Archie Bunker and the TV sitcom, and finally to Cornell University and the radicalism of higher education, bringing this New Age vision to all, capped by one of its professors becoming the nation’s 44th U.S. president.[5]

Now, some yokel using a social media invented by these shining revolutionaries can often Twitter larger news audiences than mainstream TV.

By defeating its 18 conventional Republican candidates, the nomination of Donald Trump preaching America First was no less a rude shock to conservatives. But as early as Ronald Reagan’s immediate successor the old guard had nominated a president claiming to be “kinder and gentler” than the conservative icon, and then another one for two terms promising to be even more compassionate. And this ended with Barack Obama, Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and a Supreme Court sustaining every progressive counterculture value imaginable.

There were pleasant surprises for conservatives from President Trump once in office for cutting market and social regulations, the appointment of conservative judges, and tax cuts, although with mixed signals on trade and industrial policy. On the other hand, with increased spending and a commitment not to touch entitlements and even adding more government employees, there seemed no commitment to the central conservative ideal of limited government.

No, none of the new reality was really about old Reagan conservatism. It was all about the end of progressivism and the panic by its leaders that they were losing control of the communication media and political machinery they had mostly held for more than a century. One of the earliest to see the fundamental change was the very sensible progressive Wall Street Journal columnist William Galston,[6] who could write what he and his fellow progressives had felt deep down about the arrival of Donald Trump:

We had assumed that some beliefs had moved so far beyond the pale that those who continued to hold them would not dare to say so publicly. Mr. Trump has proved us wrong. His critique of political correctness has destroyed many taboos and has given his followers license to say what they really think. Beliefs we mocked now command a majority in one of the world’s oldest political parties, and sometimes in the electorate as a whole. Nowhere is that truer than in gender relations.

Because no one dared speak publicly, progressives had assumed their education and mainstream media “mocking” of traditional values had turned America progressive and now Donald Trump had proven they had not. Now with Mr. Trump in office, the last hope to contain the effects could only be by the expert bureaucracy that was the original faith of progressive scientific administration to produce the good welfare state. Rather than the elected president representing the people, salvation must now come from the permanent government. In the wake of the impeachment, there was a Post op-ed headline actually arguing publicly that “Bureaucratic resistance is what the Founders intended.”[7] Another piece by the celebrated intellectual Francis Fukuyama in The Wall Street Journal argued directly that “American liberty depends on the ‘deep state.’”[8]

It took Attorney General William Barr to bring some historical perspective to this development when he was asked about intelligence agencies’ reported involvement in the 2016 election.[9] He replied this should be carefully investigated because if it were true it would be a “serious red line” being crossed into becoming a threat to representative government. He recalled that ancient Rome’s Praetorian Guard began as “a protector of government and ended very arrogant,” identifying “the national interest with their own political preferences,” feeling that “anyone who has a different opinion” is somehow “an enemy of the state,” an arrogance leading ultimately to taking power from the lawful chief executive.

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The Democrats have definitely opened up a darker era in our government, and that’s doing something. Now, until it is punished and banished, spying on opposition candidates is acceptable, selling guns to criminals to damage support for rights is acceptable, using the IRS to attack political opponents, using the Intelligence Community against political opponents, using the FBI to spy on opposition campaigns… hell, anything and everything is, apparently, approved.

Democrats cannot denounce these because they are guilty of them all; only if Republicans turned these tactics against them would Democrats suddenly become disgusted such despicable behavior and it is unlikely Republicans would sink that low. They’ve proven time and time again they would take a beating rather than fight dirty, or even tough, much less inflict horrific damage to the nation for political power. Democrats embrace it.

Using Orwell as a guidebook of goals rather than a cautionary tale the Progressives have effectively chipped away at our will to remain free. Used every tragedy to seize freedoms. The worst have been the Patriot act, giving the Government ABC agencies massive power. A bill rushed through after we were still in shock after 911, it had been written long before its enactment just waiting for the right moment to cram it up our asses, renewed time after time. Recently in part used to spy on a candidate for the Presidency.
The educational system not used for learning but indoctrination scores dropping now scored by graduation rates not comprehension of subject matter.
Cause test scores are racist or something.
If ending this era is possible I’m for it
They dont want you to grade your President by results, or his passion to make ours the greatest country in every way.
No they never want results to be the guideposts, nothing progressives ever pushed got good results, never worked for the vast majority of those that pay for their failure.
Virgina is only the start Americans will not put up with a boot placed on our necks nor laws enacted designed to make us felons at the whims of tyrants with proven failed policies and laws.
End this era, please.