Conservatives have been assailing the trend of populism since Donald Trump entered the 2016 election. As the Trump administration continues to reveal more rings in its circus, those who respect the rule of law can’t help but lament that Nationalism has been substituted for Federalism.
This past week included increasingly troubling revelations about the number of previously undisclosed participants in a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer presumably representing the Putin regime. The spectacle of a President throwing cabinet members under the bus made headlines as well.
In spite of labeling the news outlet “fake news” for their critical press coverage, President Trump waxed less than eloquent in an embarrassingly incoherent interview with the New York Times. He clearly misunderstood and misrepresented health insurance, cabinet members and the English proficiency of the wife of the Japanese Prime Minister Abe – Akie Abe, among other things.
The President has always trumpeted his resentment of media that refuses to endorse him. Now, six months into his administration, it’s becoming clear that he expects unquestioning loyalty and approbation from his minions, as well.
This expectation was shared by his campaign followers who continue to demand unquestioning allegiance to their bumbling champion. Republican media stalwarts who professed conservatism like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham have sustained and promoted President Trump at all costs, including their credibility, investing their air-time, making outrageous excuses for the missteps of the amateur politician in the Oval Office.
Now, his expectations of devotion are spilling over to 2018 candidates, threatening to support primary challengers against Senators and Representatives who don’t support the ever-changing Obamacare replacement bill. President Trump wants a legislative “win” and he expects Congress to help him achieve it as soon as possible.
The Tyranny of Populism
In a disturbing episode, talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently accused Republican Ed Gillespie of nearly losing his primary for Virginia Governor because he only hired “NeverTrump” campaign managers. Besides being an unconfirmed and specious indictment, it betrays a prejudice dictating that state representatives must also toe the line and carry the water to safeguard Trump’s ego in order to secure the favor of his voting devotees.
Mr. Gillespie was the Republican National Committee Chair and Virginia GOP Chair, as well as former Counselor to President George W. Bush.
He hopes to defeat Democrat Ralph Northam, running in opposition because the current governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, is prohibited by the state’s term limits.
The fact that Virginia voters chose electors to represent a win for Hillary Clinton puts Gillespie at a possible disadvantage in the Democratic-trending state. It also may substantiate Gillespie’s reticence to tout the Trump card. Regardless, the Republican is facing pressure from the President’s fan club to attach himself to the unlikely winner’s coattails.
Gillespie’s true conservative platform is also at odds with the populism of Trump’s campaign pledges, making the President a drastic misrepresentation of a Gillespie administration.
Democrat-leaning Virginians aren’t wooed by Trumpisms as his faithful followers are. In order to claim this election, Gillespie must win some moderate Democrats who may be attracted to conservative values.
The Republican hopeful opposes Obamacare without embracing the questionable ACA or BCRA. He is steadfastly pro-life and pro-school choice. Gillespie favors economy-boosting, across-the-board tax cuts for Virginians.
While avoiding praise for Trump, Gillespie is a strong proponent of border security. His wife, Cathy, is the co-founder of Constituting America, which promotes and rewards Constitutional education and political activism, particularly among the youth.
The fact that a minority of Americans voted for Donald Trump – 63 million out of a U.S. population of over 300 million – and more voters actually cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton, renders the idea that state candidates must cater to the Trump camp highly debatable.
Nationalism vs. Federalism
More troubling is the concept of a Nationalism that has taken hold in our citizens since Trump was elected on this platform. Autocrats who rule over Nationalist countries demand loyalty from every level of government representation, eventually including all the serfs.
The United States was designed as a Federalism, a collection of sovereign states granting limited power to a centralized power whose function is to protect the unalienable rights of the citizens. Our Founders envisioned and dictated an experiment in the democratic process of fashioning a Republic.
By necessity, states and their representatives must enjoy the freedom and sovereignty to exercise their own brand of republican government guaranteed in Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution:
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”