Look out behind you
H.L. Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
Donald Trump is the first non-politician to be nominated for President by a major party since Wendell Willkie in 1940. But he wasn’t just nominated—he took over the Republican Party and is remaking it in his own image. He has completely thrown out former Sparks resident Karl Rove’s Southern strategy, which placed the Republican Party base in the socially conservative South. That strategy hasn’t worked, so Trump single handedly shifted the party’s focus to the socially liberal Northeast and economically ravaged Rust Belt Midwest.
Libertarian billionaire Peter Theil, speaking at the Republican convention, announced that he is gay and proud, and declared that the transgender bathroom battles many conservatives love to indulge in—including here in Nevada—are nothing but a distraction. The Republican Party has to show tolerance, or it will soon be irrelevant. Will Nevada’s conservative politicians take Theil’s words to heart, or will they continue to fight culture wars that doom the party’s future?
The social conservatives and neocons managed to maintain control over the Republican Party platform, condemning pornography, refusing to endorse legal marijuana, gay marriage and sex ed in schools (except abstinence). Still, the platform is actually softer on these issues than in past years. The neocons, led largely by Ted Cruz supporters, for the first time did not endorse the two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian mess in the platform. The platform even endorses the illegal West Bank settlements, baking Cruz’s and Sheldon Adelson’s “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel policy into Republican dogma. The one foreign policy platform that Trump fought successfully against was the demand to send heavy arms to the Ukrainian government, which would only inflame civil war in a country where the United States has no vital national interest.
While the Republicans and the Hillary Clinton Democrats believe that Palestinians have no rights America needs to respect, the Democrats are revisiting the mistake they made in 2000 by ignoring the existence of the Second Amendment in their platform. Gun control cost them that election, and it could cost them this election as well. Hillary Clinton sees more government as the solution to the problem of violence in America, but Americans instead are buying more guns and learning how to use them. Gun control could cost Clinton Arkansas, as it cost Al Gore Tennessee.
The Republican platform condemns safe spaces and political correctness on America’s campuses, but its candidate, while certainly not politically correct, has expressed disdain for the press and wants to censor the internet and expand libel laws. Clinton is just as bad. Clinton has a long record of attacking the First Amendment and sees free speech as little more than an obstacle to be overcome rather than the pillar of the Bill of Rights. She is the first candidate who wants a constitutional amendment to keep Citizens who Unite from criticizing her!
The collapse of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into obeisance to Clinton has infuriated many Democrats, while many Republicans are defecting from Trump. Could it be that there is no longer a binary choice in politics, that the menu is no longer simply chicken or fish? If Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson can avoid sounding like Gary Busey, he may rise enough in the polls to qualify for the presidential debates. Green Party nominee Jill Stein threatens Clinton from the left. Will we finally have a historic, multi-generational political realignment?