In the years that followed the Lincoln era, the nation faced a new organizational imperative. As in the post-Jackson era, it involved continental expansion, but conjoined with the material challenges of accommodating new technology’s rapid transformation of economic life and the moral challenge of reconstituting the nation’s unity despite the persistent post-traumatic stresses still reverberating from the Civil War.
These challenges allowed the elite to regain a leadership position, this time co-opting the populist moral passion of the Lincoln era with ideas of national destiny and administrative reform. This produced the era of unprecedented elite ascendancy marked by the two Roosevelts, Teddy and FDR. Their familiar nicknames represent the complete submergence of elite dominance in the streams of populist passion. They signify the virtually complete success of the elite divisional strategy.
The two Roosevelts aptly represent this success. Their family relationship symbolizes the truth of an elite ascendancy “hiding in plain sight.” It reveals appearance of party division to be the overlay for the elite’s actual strategic unity.
Unhappily for the nation, the success of the elitist political strategy during this era engendered an overreaching confidence that led to a break with the fundamental assumption that had characterized the American elites of the Founding era. As a matter of conscious moral and intellectual integrity, the Founding elite allied itself in principle with the populist element. It was thanks to their choice that the America’s elite operated in a strategic context in which it was called upon to make expedient alliances with populists, and avoid the open appearance of elite control.
Precisely because they wanted constitutional populism to succeed, the Founders implemented safeguards against the implosive tendencies of the democratic impulse. Against the backdrop of certain moral habits and convictions, they put in place constitutional provisions that would structure, direct and constrain populist passion, encouraging the very alliances between populists and elitists that actually came about.
During the era of the Two Roosevelts (ETR), measures were taken under the auspices of popular moral and material passion that were actually aimed at destroying the Founders’ successful constitutional implementation of their populist bias. These measures included (a) the adoption of the 16th amendment, opening the way for elite control of the resources of the people; (b ) adoption of the 17th amendment, eliminating the role of state based elites as potential focal points for action expressing or restraining populist passion; (c ) unchallenged unconstitutional expansion of the prerogatives of the U. S. Government’s judicial power without regard for the 10th amendment’s provision as to the residual sovereignty of the States.
In addition to the dismantlement the Founders’ constitutional safeguards, the ETR saw the birth of intellectual and social movements that would eventually take the form of a wholesale effort to tear down the moral habits and convictions that constitute the backdrop for the constitutional role of the populist element. Disguising them in the stolen uniform of modern science, the elitists quietly engendered movements that promoted evolution, eugenics (using tools like contraception, sterilization, abortion and euthansia), racial nationalism and the obsolescence of the natural family.
Though it is rarely dwelt upon these days, significant elements of the American elite worked closely with European participants in these movements which eventually gave rise to the Nazi, fascist and communist parties whose brutal inhumanity marred blotted the 20th century history of Europe leaving dark stains of blood and repression.
These excesses eventually led to the great European wars of the twentieth century, and the global conflicts they occasioned or facilitated. This era of conflict roused the moral passion of the American people, which for a time immunized the American body politic against the effects of the elite moral subversion already well under way.
With the election of Barack Obama the elite constitutional and moral offensive against America’s populist constitution entered its climactic phase. Obama was intended to be the suave, articulate instrument intended to facilitate the open repudiation of the Founder’s populist constitution, so that the United States can assume its essential but subordinate role in a global elite regime of benign, scientific totalitarianism. This was the vision of the elite element that openly or secretly approved the totalitarian regimes of left or right during the twentieth century.
But in a way feebly reminiscent of the Nazi or communist regimes they patronized in the 20th century, the Obama appears to be have disappointing his elite progenitors. Instead of a surgeon deftly cutting away the remnants of America’s populist constitution, the Obama faction has played the executioner, loudly preparing the blunt instrument of his trade.
But is this an unexpected check in the elitists bid to restore the old regime of government by the few, or a planned reversal intended to set the stage for a wave of populist passion that can be co-opted by the GOP’s elitist squadron to complete the final overthrow of populism?
Either way, the backlash against the open bid for elitist control raises the possibility that the populist element will unite for a time under its own leadership. Obviously, this has nothing to do with the success or failure of a third party movement. It has everything to do with the success or failure of the elitist strategy for subduing the populist element. But unlike past seemingly similar periods in U.S. history, what is at stake is not the re-emergence of elite ascendancy in some accommodating form. What is at stake is the de facto elimination of the populist constitution that precludes elite domination.