Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
When asked the type of government the Constitutional Convention had created, Benjamin Franklin famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin and the Founders understood that given a flawed human nature and its passion for power, no form of political order can survive if it is not continually maintained and defended against attempts to dismantle it in order to empower one faction at the expense of others, thus diminishing their freedom.
Since the election of Donald Trump, we have been watching one of the most serious assaults on the Constitutional Republic in our history. With the current efforts of the Democrat-controlled House to engineer public support for impeachment, this three-year attack is intensifying. The climactic battle will be fought on November 3, 2020 when America goes to the polls to select the president. On that day will be decided not just which party will take the White House, but which vision of government will rule us: The Constitutional order of popular sovereignty, federalism, and divided powers; or a technocratic oligarchy of centralized and concentrated power.
Or to put it more starkly: Can we keep our nation of free citizens, or will we become one of managed clients?
This competition of political philosophies is not about Donald Trump’s alleged violations of mythic “democratic norms” or “presidential decorum.” In fact, the bipartisan evocation of such codes of political manners reflects the preference for the technocratic oligarchy that has ruled and misruled the country since the Second World War. Its roots go back even farther than that. The first progressives of the late 19th century were frankly technocratic, disdainful of separated and balanced powers, and advocates of the new “human sciences” that they claimed had made obsolete the wisdom of the Founders, the guidance of tradition, and the lessons of history.
Starting with Woodrow Wilson, and continuing through FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society programs, and Barack Obama’s further expansion of entitlement programs and take-over of the health care industry, the country has been moving relentlessly toward more and more centralization of federal power, expansion of the federal regulatory regime, and encroachment on the freedom of states, civil society, families, and individuals.
And don’t forget, along the way Republican elites have supported and abetted this weakening of the Republic. They have created or expanded intrusive regulatory agencies like the EPA and the Department of Education, illiberal programs like race-conscious set-asides, and increased the number and scope of redistributionist programs like Medicaid and Social Security. More recently they have joined forces with the identity-politics left to support amnesty for illegal aliens and laxer immigration protocols. Worse yet, they have frequently endorsed and legitimized the politicized, illiberal ideology of race, “gender,” ethnicity, and sexual identity that provides Democrats with tools for leveraging political power and influence in order to achieve “social justice.”
Whether through design, instinct, or common sense, Donald Trump exposed this capitulation of many establishment Republicans to the shibboleths of the illiberal, Leviathan Democrats. His patriotism and populism spoke to millions of voters who could tell when they were being ignored or talked-down to by so-called conservatives, who joined their fellow globalist elites in dismissing the working-class voters’ concerns about lost jobs, lost foundational beliefs and values, and lost love for America and our national identity.
Hence the bipartisan rage against Trump and the 63 million Americans who ignored their “betters” and put Trump in office. And the president’s successes in invigorating the economy, rolling back regulations, championing religious freedom, and taking off the “kick me” sign the previous administration had hung on America’s back, all enraged his enemies further. NeverTrump Republicans are the worse. They became unhinged, obsessing over Trump’s brash, vulgar, plain-talking, hit-back style, rather than acknowledging that his governing actions like tax reductions and deregulation have long been conservative desiderata, and are certainly light-years ahead of what a President Hillary Clinton would have wrought. Such Republicans have become the de facto fifth column of the progressive “resistance,” giving aid and comfort to those who once in power would continue to dismantle the Constitutional order that protects the citizens’ political freedom and autonomy.
Most important, the means by which this assault on Trump has been executed represent the most sustained abuse of government power at least since World War II. The administration of the previous president––including very likely the president himself––and the powerful federal agencies overseeing police, justice, and intelligence, like classic tyrants turned these lethal government powers against a political rival, blatantly violating the oaths they had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Abetted by a corrupt media that no longer hide their political passions, they used state power to engineer the “Russia collusion” hoax that was so flimsy even two years of investigation by hostile deep-state operatives and Democrat donors could not find any evidence to support it.
And along the way, they violated the protocols and legal guard-rails of formal investigations to achieve their ends: First, to discredit the Trump campaign, and then to hamstringing his presidency. The examples of this professional and civic malfeasance are legion and amply documented by Andy McCarthy, Gregg Jarret, and many others. But there are two that are particularly egregious.
First was James Comey’s phony investigation of Hillary’s felonious abuse of rules for handling sensitive government information. Even worse was the press conference in which he laid out the obvious predicates of an indictment, then found a nonexistent “intention” proviso in the penumbras and emanations of the relevant statute, and then usurped the Attorney General’s authority as to whether or not to indict by making the decision himself during the press conference.
The second violation has not been as commented on as it should be––the handling of the “hacked” DNC servers scandal. We know the narrative, since it is regularly repeated even by conservative commentators: Several of our intelligence agencies discovered that a Russian operative named Guccifer 2.0 hacked the DNC servers, and then via Wikileaks publicized the contents to embarrass Hillary and weaken the Democrats, the goal being to help Donald Trump in the 2016 election. This has become a foundational dogma of the whole Russia collusion, foreign interference, Trump corruption tale that provides the flimsy rationale for the Trump-haters’ invective and calls for impeachment.
But as George Parry summarizes in an important analysis, this claim is unsubstantiated by any forensic evidence. On the contrary, an investigation by the “Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), an organization of former CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, and military intelligence officers, technical experts, and analysts,” discovered something quite different. The whole report is worth reading, but here is the salient conclusion that the files were not hacked, but downloaded directly from the DNC server:
How was this determined? The time stamps contained in the released computer files’ metadata establish that, at 6:45 p.m. July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes (not megabits) of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. This took 87 seconds, which means the transfer rate was 22.7 megabytes per second, a speed, according to VIPS, that “is much faster than what is physically possible with a hack.” Such a speed could be accomplished only by direct connection of a portable storage device to the server. Accordingly, VIPS concluded that the DNC data theft was an inside job by someone with physical access to the server.
VIPS also found that, if there had been a hack, the NSA would have a record of it that could quickly be retrieved and produced. But no such evidence has been forthcoming. Can this be because no hack occurred?
Even more remarkable, the experts determined that the files released by Guccifer 2.0 have been “run, via ordinary cut and paste, through a template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints.” In other words, the files were deliberately altered to give the false impression that they were hacked by Russian agents.
Some have challenged VIPS’s analysis, but one fact casts a huge cloud of suspicion on the intelligence agencies’ publicized assertion that Russians engineered the hack: None of them have analyzed the server themselves, despite having the resources to do so. The DNC refused to hand over the server, instead passing along a forensic analysis by a firm it hired called CrowdStrike, according to VIPS “a cybersecurity firm of checkered reputation and multiple conflicts of interest, including very close ties to a number of key anti-Russian organizations.”
Again, the FBI and other security agencies came to their conclusion about the Russian hack based on the word of a dodgy outfit paid by the DNC. Remind you of a famous fake “dossier” also paid for by Democrats, and used by government officials to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on American citizens?
Apart from that hard evidence casting doubt on the narrative, we can challenge the assumption that Russia would prefer Trump over Hillary. Hillary had a public record of supporting Obama’s “reset” with Russia, which featured his infamous hot-mic promise of “flexibility” on granting Putin’s wish for the US to stop missile-defense installations in Eastern Europe after Obama’s reelection––an example of actual collusion with a foreign power in order to affect the outcome of the imminent 2012 presidential election. And Hillary herself, through Russian donations to her foundation and her help in transferring 20% of our uranium stocks to a subsidiary of a Russian company, had raked in millions of dollars. Why wouldn’t Putin prefer this known appeaser and grifter over the volatile and unknown Donald Trump, who has in fact been much tougher with Putin than Obama and Clinton ever were?
So the most powerful investigative agencies in the world have relied on the investigation of foreign hired guns to determine that Russia hacked the DNC to help Donald Trump. Nor did the FBI or the Mueller investigation seem interested in getting to the bottom of this blatant act of foreign interference in an American election, the ostensible reason for the Special Counsel’s investigation in the first place. A better explanation is that yet once again, government security and police agencies were colluding in fabricating the narrative to misdirect the people from Hillary’s various shady actions, and to tar her rival with a Russian bogeyman redolent of the McCarthy era “Red scare.”
The Mueller investigation having come a cropper, now we have the even more transparently contrived and dishonest “Ukraine” scandal to provide the media fuel for impeachment. The media are in a frenzy, and their Republican NeverTrump allies are contributing to the effort. Mitt Romney and other Republican preemptive cringers are piling on. The Dems think that even if the Senate doesn’t vote to convict, they’ll have thrown enough mud on the president that a critical mass of voters will turn against him. And if the economy slows down enough, that could turn out to be a smart strategy.
Nor should we take comfort in the buffoonish slate of Dem primary candidates to save us, for the stakes are too high. The corruption of the Constitution and federal agencies of the past three years is exactly what follows when power is concentrated and citizen autonomy is surrendered to unaccountable, unelected technocrats. In the end the primary job of our national government is to defend us from foreign enemies and protect our freedoms from internal ones, not intrude into elections for their own political and careerist aggrandizementß.
If the Dems win, and they succeed in abolishing the Electoral College, making the Senate proportionately representative, eviscerating the First and Second Amendments, and transforming the United States from the exceptional Republic and indispensable champion of unalienable rights and freedom it is, to just another client of a supranational, technocratic empire like the EU––then Obama’s aim of “fundamentally transforming” America will have been achieved.
And that will be the moment, after more than two centuries, we failed to keep our Republic.