Hard Truths and Radical Possibilities By Glenn Ellmers for American Greatness
Only by confronting the most uncomfortable truths about our lost republican heritage will we summon the necessary courage and strength to fight for its recovery.
The constitutional republic created by our founders no longer exists. Most everyone on the Right seems to agree with that—though we differ about how deep the rot is, and whether we are now living under a new regime that is essentially different in kind, not merely degree.
Most of us also agree that we want to restore the American founders’ principles and institutions. (I’m setting aside, for now, those on the Right who share our disgust with the woke oligarchy, but who have given up on—or never believed in—republican government, and would prefer something else, like a monarchy.) But how exactly we recover the founders’ constitutionalism is a question no one has been able to answer with any specificity. Any course of action has to be clear about where we are and the challenges we face. The following outline is intended to help us think about these questions.
Here are the key things that I think are new or different, in some cases fundamentally so. These claims will be unsettling or even upsetting to some readers; but I don’t think they can be dismissed out of hand. At the end, I offer some ideas about what has not changed, which might provide some grounds for optimism.
Elections—and therefore consent and popular sovereignty—are no longer meaningful.
This is the big one, and in a way, everything flows from it. It is helpful to break it down into two discrete pieces.
First, even if conducted legitimately, elections no longer reflect the will of the people.
Set aside for the moment any concerns about outright fraud and ballot tampering. The steady growth of the administrative state since the 1960s means that bureaucracy has become increasingly indifferent to—even openly hostile to—the will of the people over the last half-century. A clear majority of Americans, including Democrats (at least until recently), has been demanding and voting for comprehensive immigration reform, including strict control of the border, for decades. The Republican establishment in Congress—which made its peace with the deep state some time ago—has made numerous promises to fix this problem, and broken them all, always finding a reason for “amnesty now, enforcement later.” The decision about who gets to be part of the political community was the basic principle of popular sovereignty in the founders’ social compact theory. To the degree that the elites have simply ignored the American people on this point, neither the United States as a nation nor its citizens can still be considered a sovereign people.