The Recovering Bureaucrat has been amazed if not dismayed at the banality of most commentary on the anomalous popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders over the past ten months. Americans are not known for our depth of historical knowledge and appreciation, but the reactions of most of our clerisy on both sides of the alleged political divide must surely set a new record for shallowness and inaccuracy.
While the RB is sure there are more than a handful of people grasping the immensity of what we are experiencing, to date he has found only Walter Russell Mead and his analysis of the “blue social model” and the anonymous authors of the Journal of American Greatness offering any exploration in depth of the historical currents that have carried us to this moment.
Something has been demonstrably afoot since we Americans twice elected Barack Obama, a committed purveyor of postmodern statism, whose public philosophy—like that of an earlier Democrat president, Woodrow Wilson—is an explicit rejection of America’s founding principles of limited government, individual sovereignty, and rule of constitutional law. It was a tentative seal of approval by the body politic of a collective turning away from the philosophy and institutions that made America great and unique, and toward embrace of a more nebulous, inchoate taxpayer-fed security blanket mimicking European social democracy.
The RB says “tentative” because each election of Obama was followed two years later by an electoral version of buyer’s remorse in which we first gave and then increased the Republicans’ control of Congress. Even so, the Republicans did little with this power beyond occasionally limiting Obama’s post-American adventurism. But regarding his signature policies like Obamacare and the “deal” with Iran, the Republicans showed almost no adroitness or strategy in opposition.