By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. (James Madison, The Federalist #10)
In George Washington’s justly revered Farewell Address, the first President of the United States anticipated the day when the democratic political process in the United States might be overtaken by a factious spirit, and “the disorders and miseries which gradually result” from it. He predicted that this would
…incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
As things stand at present, the so-called two-party political system, focused on Democrats and Republicans has, in fact, degenerated into a sham competition between two wings of a single group. It is dedicated to an agenda that exactly corresponds to James Madison’s definition of “faction”, quoted above. The occasional substitution of one of these parties for another has, in recent years, made little or no difference.
In this respect, we live in an era when national elections don’t matter much. In consequence, it is also an era when more and more Americans are angered by policies adverse to the security of their rights, persons and property, “…the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” They are fed up with a political process that no longer represents the common good of their country. It caters instead to the selfish interests of a powerful and wealthy elitist clique, even though this involves aiding and abetting foreign individuals and interests that are hostile to the people of the United States in ways that threaten their economic prospects, and even their lives.
On account of the machinations of this elitist faction, many Americans find themselves effectively without representation under the very government whose fundamental purpose is to represent their mutual support and goodwill towards one another. In Federalist #10, Madison treats the “scheme of representation” implemented in the Constitution’s provisions as the very definition of America’s republic. Therefore, when a factious agenda systematically deprives people of representation, the republic is no more. The Constitution stands eviscerated, waiting for the overt appearance of the tyrannical rule that has, in effect, already replaced it.
By his rhetoric Donald Trump makes shift to exploit the anger of the very people the elitist faction aims to overthrow. Yet everything about his life and background prior to his present campaign leads to the conclusion that he actual represents their tyrannical rule. This is not just a reference to the policies he has promised to carry out using the same anti-constitutional abuse of executive orders as Barack Obama. It is a reference to the allegiance by which he has served his own advancement throughout his career, as a businessman, as a public figure, and as a participant in the political process.
If this logical conclusion is justified, then the supposed choice between say, Hillary Clinton (or any other Democrat), and the real, as opposed to merely rhetorical, Donald Trump is, as I said last week, no choice at all. At the moment, Mr. Trump’s GOP opponents are vociferously proclaiming that voters should reject him precisely because his real persona contradicts the stands he is using to gull GOP voters. Yet they are all of them pledged to support the eventual GOP nominee. How can they conscientiously justify doing so after proving, to their own satisfaction, that his good sounding campaign rhetoric masks a lie?
They will have to point to this or that stand he purports to take, and say that on account of that stand (which they themselves have ostensibly concluded is false) he is preferable to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or some other Democrat. But Trump’s real persona, based on the publicly available facts of his life, creates the strong presumption that he will abandon his campaign rhetoric once elected, just as the GOP’s quislings (whom he supported in the past) have repeatedly done. If Trump is just another such quisling, with an even less equivocal record of support for really bad Democrats than most, his White House victory will make no more difference than the GOP’s Congressional victories in 2010 or 2014.
Even if Trump delivers, in some fashion, on this or that point in his campaign rhetoric (about “building a wall”, for example) would this nullify the danger to the republic? Not if he does so by means of the Obama-like abuses and usurpations he has already repeatedly promised to employ? Here again, George Washington’s foresight should be taken into account:
…let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
Indeed, Donald Trump’s promised border wall effectively illustrates the prudence of Washington’s admonition. Mr. Trump says the wall will be used to keep illegals out. But a wall once divided Berlin, Germany. It symbolized an imprisoned people. It would be ironic if our failure to stop the elitist interests Trump really represents results in an elitist tyranny that turns the border wall we intend for our security into an instrument of control intended to bar our posterity from escaping it.
Don’t get me wrong. I favor, and worked with others to support, the construction of appropriate obstacles along our borders, including walls, fences and electronic surveillance, as appropriate. I did so while Mr. Trump was decrying people like us as “mean-spirited”, and maybe even funding or applauding people who ridiculed and hated us. But where liberty is concerned, our real security is not just in walls and fences. It is in the loyal hearts and decent will of the guardians who police them. If Donald Trump is the man his actual record suggests, we have every reason to beware of any wall he erects- for when it serves the interest of his factional allegiance, his true persona will prevail in the use of it, even though it be against our rights and liberty.