Hail Caesar!

Political parties seem like a permanent feature of modern Western societies, but there’s no reason to think they are permanent. At the founding of America, parties were looked down upon as a potential problem for a self-governing republic. In Federalist 9 and 10 Madison argued that the proposed constitution would guard against factionalism and was essential to preventing partisan government.

In the 19th century, political parties made a lot of sense simply for organizational reasons. The only way you can stuff the ballot boxes and intimidate voters is with a well-organized ground game. No matter how rich the candidate, he could never overcome the army of poll workers, ward healers and bagmen that the party could deploy in every election. If you wanted to run for office, you had to do so as a party man.

That reality has been with us for a long time, so it is proper to think it is just the way it has to be. Independent runs for president have all ended in tears, mostly because the parties own the system. Attempts at creating third parties in America have failed because the resources involved in pulling it off are just too great. Ross Perot probably came the closest to pulling it off. Maybe the Green Party. Both efforts failed when their famous leader left the stage.

I wonder if what the Trump phenomenon really portends is an end of national parties or at least the decline of the parties as king makers at the national level. Trump is a surprisingly capable politician, but his success is remarkable given that his party and its media operation is blasting him relentlessly. The coordinated assault against him this week is a curious thing in that it looks like they are pushing all of their chips into the middle of the table.

They may be doing exactly that. Trump is spending his own money on local political operators in Iowa and New Hampshire so he can compete at the street level, but without the massive overhang of the consultancy and their party patrons. If Trump manages to win the nomination, and it is looking like a certainty right now, a lot of other rich guys are going to wonder if they could do the same.

One of those is the filthy rich former mayor of New York City, who is thinking about an independent run. Unlike Trump, Bloomy would run as a third party option, but he has a ton of cash and a lot of connections in Progressive circles. It’s not unreasonable to think he could siphon off a lot of the Democrat Party organization for his effort. Given the options on the Democrat side, it’s not unreasonable to think he could do well.

As an aside, how unreasonable is it to think that National Review and The Weekly Standard would come out and support Bloomberg over Trump and Sanders? They agree with him on more issues than they disagree and he would be down with the invade the world/invite the world paradigm. More important, he’s their sort of people.

Anyway, we have billionaires launching rockets into space, planning a Mars voyage and creating robots that promise to become aware and unleash terminators on humanity. That’s all cool stuff but being in charge of the Imperial Army as the temporary Emperor is way cooler. You can be sure they are looking at what Trump is doing and thinking they could do the same thing.

In the past, what has kept rich guys from running for office is the hassle of dealing with party politics. In order to get in the game, you had to suck up to a lot of twerps and losers who have burrowed into the system like weevils. If you can blow past that and assemble your own temporary campaign machine that does all the stuff the party does, but without all the party nonsense, why not do it?

Of course, this is a form of Caesarism, but updated to the modern mass media world. Instead of a cult of personality and bully-boy tactics, it will be mass media strategies and the bribing of interest groups. Americans are used to experiencing elections in the same way they consume talent shows. Having a bunch of rich guys staging these things without the hassle of political parties is not a great leap.

That’s certainly part of what is unnerving Conservative Inc about the Trump campaign. If this crude rich guy can buy his way into the game and then shove aside the commentariat on his way to the nomination, why will anyone bother catering to them in the future? While I think most of the tantrums, we’re seeing are just a way to get attention, some of them are smart enough to see the threat.

The parties will still have a role as the legislative bodies are regulated to the benefit of political parties. As dangerous as Caesarism sounds, the American system allows for the legislature to claw back its authority in hurry if it cares to do it. Maybe the specter of billionaires buying the White House is what’s needed to slap the political parties to their senses and maybe is what’s needed for the Congress to reassert its role in government.

Or maybe we’re doomed.

21 thoughts on “Hail Caesar!

  1. From Oleg:

    They Still Don’t Know – They Just Don’t Know – They Don’t See It…

    They Don’t Know Any […] In one of my first conversations at the Radisson, with two Republican activists, I asked a simple what’s-up question about Trump. Both immediately responded in exactly the same way: “I don’t know anybody who supports him.” They’re politically active and aware, but they said they have no contact in their daily lives with even a single person who supports their party’s front-runner….

    They don’t know us….

    They don’t get who we are….

    They don’t get it…
    …..It’s not surprising “they” don’t know who “we” are.

    They walked away from us a long, long time ago !


  2. Pingback: Alan Keyes: Trump’s ‘nationalism’ serves elitist faction’s agenda | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. I think the huge surge in Trump’s popularity is not so much Trump, but NOT YOU to the “establishment” types who have worked against the mainstream American’s interests. Although I do like his nationalistic posture; it’s about time someone stood up for American interests and I think Trump will. ?But I have been fooled before.

    • When “nationalism” has been redefined into a goose stepping oompa swastika band you know the NWO Oligarchs have succeeded in their feral gubmint skool edumencations.
      A country without Borders, Language, Culture as Michael Savage has so clearly said, Isn’t a Country.
      “Not You” to the NWO Elitist Estab of the Progressive Party, currently pretending to be Chamberpot Repubs vs Marxist DemocRats.
      Trump is being hired by the last of the Americans, he can be fired too.

  4. Factions exist naturally in all human societies, including hunter/gatherers and even primates like chimps. They are how societies decide to do things together.

    It’s like complaining about bureaucracies. They are an essential component of any society since the neolithic revolution.

    • I don’t think our host is arguing against factions, or claiming they can be eliminated. But a political party is an organization that can all too easily pretend to represent a faction or factions … while actually representing no coherent viewpoint except the hunger for political spoils.

      There lies a big part of our political dysfunction. The party becomes an end in itself, just as do-good organizations are often more important to their members and especially management than relieving the ills they are ostensibly there to alleviate.

      Sure, every government has some sort of bureaucracy — no doubt the pharaohs of ancient Egypt and the Roman emperors could not have functioned without them. It’s a question of scale and motivation. When a bureaucracy gets too big it also becomes its own purpose, and its employees spend their days writing memos to each other and dreaming up meaningless (or harmful) new rules, not only for the public but for other members of the same bureaucracy.

  5. The big party machines can’t be taken apart by independents or even troubled by the creation of new parties, because the sheer size of the electorate stops such dreams.

    Until we get back to smaller areas (states, shires, tribal areas) the larger mass will have to be controlled by the larger bodies. If we could go back to smaller units then there would be relevance to politics because it would tend to the local. The only way the serfs can meet the political masters today if it is arranged for a photo-op; if it were more local there is every chance the next leader has to knock on your front door and explain himself.

    Of course, it is unlikely to happen. My own sub-region of the region formerly known as the UK will continue, for now, to take orders from Berlin, via Brussels and Strasbourg. Frau Merkel doesn’t have to knock on my door ever, because she does not even care if my door exists or not. After all, she is barely aware that there is one at 10 Downing Street…

  6. I want to see no just the death of political parties but also think tanks, “intellectuals” policy makers, lobbies,..

  7. By the way, our European brothers are taking their first baby steps in opposition to the strait jacketed imposition of the immigration and diversity agenda. You can read about it in excruciating detail at vladtepesblog.com. Let’s hope that we never find ourselves so far gone as to be past the point of no return. In Europe the shock troops are known as ANTIFA – red guards of yesteryear.

  8. John Derbyshire, writing at vdare.com, has some fun with the Nat Reviews declaration against the Trump. Considering he once wrote for them, and how he left, I thought he was rather restrained and gentle.

    There’s a lot of people out there who have no connection at all to all the issues of conservatism, but are responding very emotionally to a straight nationalist appeal. Considering that most,of the damage being done to this country is by people who have no feeling for this country at all and would sell it out in a minute, that’s not surprising.


  9. Normal Americans won’t vote for Bloomberg, he wants to downsize our sodas, for crying out loud!

    Seriously, you have to have something going for you other than big money, to make an end-run around the professional pols, establishment types and/or the managerial class. After all, the establishment types have bags of cash, too.

    Trump says what he wants and doesn’t back down, even when things get uncomfortable. Most of the country has had it up TO HERE with the mealy-mouthed PC crappola and sees Trump as a breath of fresh air. His style is his own, and not just any ole billionaire is going to be able to duplicate the Trump Recipe.

    • Mere money and media savvy are not enough. You must not be deaf to the vox populi. Any of them could have heard the roar but did not think it decisive. Only Trump listened and understood.

  10. If we didn’t have political parties, we’d have to invent them. Even Madison realized that about four years into Washington’s administration. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t by dedication. It can’t buy enthusiasm. One function of the party is to mobilize a network of envelope stuffers, doorbell ringers and poll watchers. It’s a pretty amazing thing. This is one of the main reasons why money is important but rarely decisive. And campaigns are waged at the local and state level.

  11. Don’t be so pessimistic.

    It’s not Trumps billionarity, it’s that he is one of the first politicians to understand the Instapundit’s repeated observation that the internet is disintermediating people, firms, corporations and now political parties.

    Trump hasn’t defeated the GOP, he has simply by-passed it. Like the German WWII tactics that saw them crush France. One does not assault the Maginot line, one simply tweets around it.

    NR and the GOP are getting the same treatment from Trump as the French Army got from the Wehrmacht in 1940 and they are just as puzzled. Sacre bleu, ‘ow did he get behind ze lines?

  12. Trump has already begun to ease the fears of the political class by talking about being able to make deals. While the billionaire Caesars may change the route to power, they will still need the bureaucracy and the legislative minions.

  13. If we got back to a true Constitutional exercise of government, rather than the executive directed administrative state, the person inhabiting that executive position would have much less relevance. With a wide dispersion of political power, enforced by strong checks and balances, there can be no Caesar.

  14. “As an aside, how unreasonable is it to think that National Review and The Weekly Standard would come out and support Bloomberg over Trump and Sanders? They agree with him on more issues than they disagree and he would be down with the invade the world/invite the world paradigm. More important, he’s their sort of people.”

    The Neocon Party.

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