Years from now we may look back at the COVID-19 pandemic and realize that we are living through a tipping point. It could come to pass that we are living through the time where the Republican Party is in its death throes and a new major political party is in its larval state, and may be forming into the next major player in American politics for the foreseeable future.
Just as the American Whig party was formed as an opposition party to Andrew Jackson, this new party will most likely begin to form around people in opposition to President Trump and what they perceive as the Republican Party losing its philosophical mooring to conservatism and limited government.
We may come to see the few principled politicians like Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Representative Justin Amash of Michigan as forming the nexus of this movement. They have both stood against the tide of political opportunism and populism to try to uphold the values of individual liberty.
Representative Massie is attempting to resist from within the party while Representative Amash declared his independence from the Republican Party last July 4th and has just announced his membership in the Libertarian Party as he launched a third party run for the presidency.
It seems clear that a post-Trump Republican Party will have to take serious look at what it has become when Trump exits the stage in 2021 or 2024. One doesn’t have to be a learned political scientist to realize that the party will be a smoldering shell of itself once Trump has had his way with it.
The once very principled, very conservative party has moved so quickly away from long-held bedrock beliefs such as fiscal restraint and unrestrained free market capitalism, that it doesn’t seem reasonable to believe that they can just whipsaw back to those positions with any authority in a post-Trump era.
This leads me to believe that we are witnessing the end days of the Republican Party as we knew it. The party that gave us the Reagan revolution, that promised us that “shining city on a hill” has ceased to exist. The party that stood tall and affirmed that “character matters” in the Clinton years now turns a blind eye to serious character flaws and pooh-poohs any attempt to call out the hypocrisy. The party that railed on wasteful spending and deficits has now run up a trillion dollar deficit on their watch and with their overwhelming support. The party of principled conservative family values is now the party of cognitive dissonance.
So many liberty-oriented people like myself are now politically homeless, as there is no major party that is willing to offer a full-throated defense of the American traditions of individual liberty and free market capitalism. The future can certainly, at times, seem bleak for people like us.
However, there are glimmers of hope. All is not lost. I believe that the few politicians left who firmly believe in those traditions, and have the backbone to stand up to the populist masses, insist on accountability, and insist on following the constitution, will be on the vanguard of the new liberty movement that will coalesce into the next great American political party.
Maybe it will continue to use the moniker of the Republican Party. Maybe the Libertarian Party will emerge as the successor. Perhaps some new party with a new brand will emerge to take over and fill the void. What it is called doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this revolution will be lead by the actions of the Massies and Amashes of the current day and the politically homeless classical liberals will rally around their flag and lead the country back toward our roots.
It seems very clear that socialism (or as they want to rename it, democratic socialism) has not yet gotten a foothold on the American populace. That is the good news. But populism has definitely taken hold. The fight against populism is not going to be easy because its allure is strong. It is much easier to follow the pied piper who is offering you unlimited goodies with no downsides.
But Americans are realists at our core. The bright shiny bobbles offered by the populists will show their lack of worth soon. And people will start waking from their populist haze and come back to their senses. When they do, we need to welcome them back to the fold and resist the urge to chastise them for their foolish dalliances.
The message of Free the People and the stalwarts of the liberty movement will once again come to the fore and be the guiding light to bring the majority of this country back from the brink of the Trump era.
The belief in individual liberty is a belief in optimism. It is always searching for the good in every situation. So don’t despair, even though things look bleak. This is the time to polish our message and hone our skills at communicating the message of individual liberty. We need to trumpet the success of Representative Massie standing up to the “unanimous consent” votes that subvert the deliberative process of the legislature. We need revel in the independence of Representative Amash standing apart from the party and calling out its abandoning of its core principles.
Since launching his presidential campaign, Amash has repeatedly stated he believes the plurality of Americans are like us, fed up with the status quo and searching for a home. I think he’s right.
In the future we will be able to look back at this time with 20/20 hindsight and see clearly that this is the time when everything changed. That this is the moment that was the tipping point. We will be the people that mattered when things looked bleak and we will be the ones who lead the way turning from populism and socialism toward liberty and prosperity.