The spirit of rugged individualism that marked the American psyche since 1776 is dying, as a clear majority of Americans look to the shepherd that is the Government to be their protector. There is little doubt that the Ruling Class, which encompasses both political parties, views the populace as sheep to be manipulated and protected in order to insure their, the Establishment's, elite status. Now that paternalistic despotism has fully arrived on America's shores, is Donald Trump a consequence and continuation of, or a reaction to this ruinous process?
After a 9-month journey throughout the United States in 1831, French philosopher and diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville theorized on what form of tyranny or despotism would come to America, in the second volume of Democracy in America(1840). He discussed the importance of agitation and crisis in creating the precondition for the expansion of state power; that in a democratic America the state will ultimately create a new form of tyranny, being part despotism and part paternalism of the people; that various forms of liberty and the nation's cultural foundation will remain but the sheer number of "uniform rules" will reduce the people to a timid and sheep-like status with the state acting like the national shepherd.
De Tocqueville, after detailing the circumstances of how those with a despotic nature can dominate others, illustrates how such a government in America controlled by these men would function:
It [the government] works willingly for their [the citizenry's] happiness; but wants to be the unique agent for it and the sole arbiter; it attends to their security, provides for their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principle affairs, directs their industry, settles their estates, divides their inheritances; how can it not remove entirely from them the trouble to think and the difficulty of living?
After having thus taken each individual one by one into its powerful hands, and having molded him as it pleases, the sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot break through to go beyond the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces actions, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
The political arm of the Ruling Class, the Democratic and Republican Parties, has, for the past 85 years, actively promoted the concept of a paternal government. The differences between the Parties has been a matter of degree and determination. When in power a committed Democratic Party made great headway towards this goal by exploiting crises (e.g. the Great Depression) and agitation (e.g. civil unrest in the 1960's). When the Republicans, duplicitously wearing the mantle of the opposition party, assumed the reins of government they, captive to their obsession with civility, marginally modified, but essentially, codified the policies of their supposed adversary.
In 1960 less than four percent of all Americans were dependent on government programs, today that number is approaching 60%. (The Code of Federal Regulations has expanded from 12,000 pages in 1950 to over 180,000 today (1,400%). costing the economy over $2 Trillion per year (the annual GDP of India) and intruding into every aspect of the day-to-day lives of all Americans. Further, nearly 90% academics are liberal or left-wing statists, as dependence on government education largess and programs also approaches 90% of all education expenditures. Eventuating in an ill-educated and indoctrinated populace supportive of not only government paternalism but, in the case of far too many, authoritarian socialism.
A by-product of this success is the eight years of the Obama Administration and the subsequent coming out of the closet by the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, in effect declaring themselves militantly socialist as well as unabashedly determined to attack and radically transform the cultural foundations of this nation. As they now have a virtual army of sheep at their beck and call to demonstrate, obfuscate, intimidate and denigrate anyone who is in opposition to transforming the nation into a full blown secular socialist democracy.
As its Establishment ally has taken massive turn to the left, the Republican Party has, by default, been exposed as the sole party of de Tocqueville's paternalism and the cultural status quo, as demonstrated by their current inability or desire to:
repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code, tackle bankrupt entitlement programs, abolish imperious and unnecessary government agencies, and jettison a meaningful number of onerous regulations.
Yet, contradictory as it may seem, the Party remains as the only current option for constitutional conservatives or those opposed to a paternalistic state, as this nation can only function politically with two political parties.
The 2016 election corroborated this dichotomy. Whether by happenstance or strategy, Donald Trump, despite a woeful 40% personal approval rating, was elected by appealing to those steeped in the paternalism of big government but put off by the radicalism of the Democratic Party and by those conservatives and libertarians who were enamored with a) Trump's belligerent persona and willingness to cast "civility" to the wind in his rhetoric opposing not only the Democrats but in particular their surrogates -- the mainstream media and b) by his pre-election stance on illegal immigration, the judiciary, abortion and religious freedom.
Donald Trump, a life-long proponent of a paternalistic central government, campaigned on a platform that included:
protectionism, expanded welfare (paid maternity leave), leaving the near-insolvent entitlement programs intact, universal health insurance coverage, $1 Trillion in infrastructure spending, and overt intimidation of large American corporations.
These proposals appealed to not only many who voted Democratic prior to that party's despotic lurch toward egregious societal and cultural transformation, but to many big-government independents and Republicans as well.
Donald Trump is the president, not because of this nation's march towards de Tocqueville's despotic paternal state, but solely because of the Democratic Party's dramatic collectivist metamorphosis and determination to alter American culture (as exemplified by the inept campaign of a soulless Hillary Clinton) coupled with resentment over the Republican Party's ongoing timidity as well as their obsession with civility and compromise in dealing with the Democrats. Thus, his election is a consequence of and not a reaction to the pitfalls of repressive paternalism.
With the election of Donald Trump, the American paternal state is, as it was prior to his election, permanent and immutable. (The only remaining viable option to reverse this actuality is the very difficult process of convening an Constitution Article V Convention of the States to address out of control government as detailed by Mark Levin in his treatise: The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic)
Those that voted for Trump and the Republicans in Congress must accept the reality that the most that might be accomplished by the triumvirate of Trump in the White House and a Republican House and Senate are:
1) very minor rollbacks in parts of the regulatory state;
2) minimal and cosmetic tax reform;
3) superficial health care insurance restructuring which will, in essence, codify Obamacare and include a significant expansion of Medicare and Medicaid;
4) a meaningful, albeit temporary, decline in illegal immigration but little progress on building a wall or reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S.;
5) a slowing down, but not a reversal, in the ongoing degradation of the culture;
6) unending and sizable deficit spending, and,
7) marginal inroads in altering all levels of the Federal Judiciary.
However, even this modest level of success is at significant risk as Trump apparently is incapable of donning the mantle of a serious as well as a determined leader of his fractious party, focusing instead on providing fodder for the ongoing post-election war between him and the media wing of the Establishment. A conflict which is not over policy or philosophical differences (except on the margins), but one in which Trump is an accomplice in their portrayal of him as the loutish and pompous Al Czervik (played by Rodney Dangerfield) in the movie Caddyshack, who, by any means possible, must be prevented from joining the exclusive Bushwood Country Club. Or in Trump's case being even a marginally successful President.
This war, if not curtailed, will lay the groundwork for the return to power of the statist Democrats and their determination to go beyond de Tocqueville's paternalism to a socialist/Marxist utopia.
While Trump's displeasure with the media and the Democrats is understandable and a consistent and persistent level of response is justified (unlike the timorous Bush years), the chaos, from a lack of leadership, engulfing both the White House and Congress is not. Tens of millions of Americans placed their unfettered faith and trust in Donald Trump and the Republican Party. However, after first six months and a few initial successes (e.g. the Gorsuch nomination), it appears that both the President and the Republican Congress are incapable of even the most modest of modifications to the American paternal state.