Something is happening in America.
The ascendency of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders tells us that Americans are no longer Republicans and Democrats, if indeed, they ever were.
Let’s face it, there is very little democracy in the United States, and there never was very much. Democracy is government by the people. Directly. Like in the town hall. Like Referendum and Initiative. The people don’t vote to make laws in this country, and they never have.
Our laws are made by our representatives. We elect people to make our laws. That’s called a Republic. So the plain truth is, whether we like it or not, we are all republicans. Our constitution guarantees that every state shall have a republican form of government.
The founders of our nation, who were familiar with history, knew that a true democracy only works with a small community. Madison and Hamilton would have been appalled at the notion of creating a democracy consisting of 300 million people.
The truth is that we Americans are governed by two Republics. We are both a national republic and fifty state republics. The real issue in American politics in 2016 is how the business of governance is divided between those two authorities.
The plan agreed upon by our constitutional founders was a federal system. We were to be governed by two sovereigns: the state and the nation. The powers of the nation were specific, limited and spelled out in the constitution. The powers of the state were unlimited, except as forbidden by the constitution.
The people of the United States are divided politically in 2016 on the same issue that divided Patrick Henry and James Madison in 1789: Which of our two Sovereigns is in charge?
I submit that, whatever the rhetoric of the candidates, the issue that divides us is whether we want to be governed from Washington D. C. or from the capital city of our State.
The TV pundits are fond of talking about “the establishment.” By that term, they mean the people who run the national government. Big business. Big money. Big academia. Big politics. Career politicians and the community of lobbyists, media, bureaucrats and hangers-on who infest the real estate inside the Beltway.
The establishment is neither Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. Its members have but one thing in common: they are Nationalists. They assume that all government power is lodged in the national government. They assume that the United States is a unitary economic community, and that the national government is in charge of, and responsible for, the success of that economy and the prosperity and happiness of all 310 million Americans.
In this year of 2016, we are witnessing the maturing of a phenomenon that spawned the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. It began as a revolt against the establishment. Today it has become a Federalist revolution.
A crescent majority of Americans want to keep the gavel and the gun closer to home. Of course, there are still many, many people, imbued with the notion that Uncle Sam is a bottomless cornucopia of goodies, and who like being coddled by an omnipotent master.
But how many? Who is in the majority? That’s the issue we may well decide in November. In the meantime there are lots of questions to be answered.
The Democratic Party is the party of Nationalism. Whether it’s the crony capitalism of Hillary Clinton or the candid socialism of Bernie Sanders, they generally agree that the lives of all Americans should be governed by a national bureaucracy.
The Republican Party is poised to become the party of renewed Federalism. A cadre of effective Republican Governors across the country led by John Kasich of Ohio are asserting State jurisdiction, while Donald Trump, the quintessential outsider, and Ted Cruz, the feisty constitutionalist, are mounting a frontal assault on all things tainted by the smoke filled rooms in the District of Columbia.
Fasten your seat belts, folks. 2016 is going to be a bumpy ride.