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RIP Conservative America

Oct 14, 2016


BALTIMORE - 'How President Clinton Will Handle a Hostile Congress', reads a headline in the Financial Times.

The 'pink paper' isn't waiting for the votes to be counted.

Many Republicans, too, have given up trying to get Donald Trump into the White House.

They're abandoning him like a hunk of old cheese, hoping the smell doesn't stick to their clothes; they want to get reelected.

Curiouser and Curiouser

And so, the curious presidential election of 2016 just gets curiouser.

What a spectacle!

Instead of attacking his opponent and her policies - which should be easy targets - Mr Trump takes aim at his fellow Republicans.

Senator John McCain is 'very foul mouthed', Trump snarled on Twitter.

House Majority Leader Paul Ryan is a 'very weak and ineffective leader'. And 'disloyal' Republicans are 'far more difficult than Crooked Hillary'.

Trump says the 'shackles are off. It's time for bare-knuckles brawling, preparing to blame the Republican Establishment for his defeat. This should be fun.

But, behind the scenes, the serious conversations must have begun:

'Look,' says a sober voice from inside The Donald's brain. 'If you stay in the race, you will lose. Then, Hillary and the Republican Establishment will both be after you.

'Taxes...sexual harassment...labor law - they'll find something to pin on you. You know how it works. You can always find something.

'You'll be the biggest loser in presidential history. A schmuck. You'll go down in history as the guy who destroyed the Republican Party. Maybe the guy who destroyed American democracy.

'Nobody will buy your wine. Or your steaks. Or stay at your hotel. Or play on your golf course. You'll be lucky to end up broke again. Worse case, you'll go to jail. And your wife will leave you. She'll take what's left of your money.

'Or what? Everybody hates Hillary. You're probably the only Republican in the nation she could beat. It's almost as if she asked you to run against her. Just sayin'...

'Drop out gracefully. Make a deal; heck, you're the world's best at dealmaking. You let Pence take the lead. In return, you're a hero...standing aside for the good of the nation. No investigations. No grand juries. No loans called. No time in the pen.'

But that is not the only voice in The Donald's head. He hears his fans, too. Adoring. Unquestioning. They goad him on...

And he sees his face on every TV screen and magazine cover. 'Do you want to give that up?' asks one little devil. 'You're tremendous, believe me,' says another.

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GOP Meltdown

We are witnessing the meltdown of the Republican Party, caused by the intense heat of its own contradictions.

The story takes more time than we've got here. We're going to tell it - as we see it - in the next issue of our Bill Bonner Letter. But here's the Dummies guide version:

For many years, the Republican Party represented the voice of conservatism. It spoke from generations of bitter experience, telling us to beware of Big Government:

'Keep it little,' it said. 'Keep it humble. Keep it under control. Keep its budgets balanced, its taxes low, and its ambitions limited. Stick to the Constitution.'

Traditionally, conservatives distrusted government social programs. In 1961, Eisenhower warned them to distrust the military, too; he knew it better than anyone.

The old conservatives considered government a 'necessary evil'. But like heroin or Facebook, they knew it reaches the point of declining marginal utility fast. That is the message that won Ronald Reagan the White House in 1980 and again in 1984: Less is more.

But then, in the 1980s, there emerged a new species of 'conservative'. A Deep State conservative who combined the worst features of left and right: a big spender at home and abroad. He saw the government as a tool that he could use to transfer money and power to himself and his Deep State friends.

This new breed took over the Republican Party; real conservatives gradually disappeared from public life. And without the resistance of the old conservatives, it was impossible to rein in the ambitions of the world improvers.

Even President Reagan ran some of the biggest budget deficits ever seen in peacetime, a phenomenon recalled in the excellent memoire by Reagan's budget adviser, David StockmanThe Triumph of Politics.

And the Republicans signed on to every jackass war that came along - on poverty, on drugs, on terrorism, and, importantly, on markets.

In 1990, George HW Bush, who had been Reagan's vice president and was now president himself, announced a New World Order.

How's that for conservative...remaking the entire world!

His son took it further. He signed every dopey proposal that crossed his desk, including the biggest single increase to the Welfare State in nearly 40 years: Medicaid Part D, a huge subsidy to the drug industry. And he launched a 'War on Terror' that has become a more or less permanent subsidy to the terror industry.

Little? Humble?

Forget it.

Faux Conservative

In Donald Trump, the word is made flesh; the faux conservative finds its ultimate expression.

There is no trace of conservatism in him - neither in his personal life nor in his public life...neither in his business practices (he is the 'King of Debt') nor in his programs for the US.

As near as we can tell (we doubt he knows himself), he has no interest in balancing the federal budget or in cutting government spending. He will continue mass surveillance of the American people. He will not curtail the welfare-state zombies nor bring the dogs of war to heel.

He does not propose to restrain government at all. He promises only to make Big Government work better - the very thing true conservatives know can't be done.

But what really caused the collapse of conservatism in America?

Our views on the demise of conservativism are not unique to us. But our views on what caused it are. Follow the money...

More to come...

BILL BONNER Founder, Agora Inc

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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