From birth, the United States constitutional government has been seen as an historical experiment aimed at the ills of its predecessors. The “Novus Ordo Seclorum” engraved upon the back of the Great Seal of the United States and displayed upon U.S. paper currency translates: “New Order of the Ages.” That probably seemed pretentious when the seal was designed, but the two and a half centuries that have followed seem to have fulfilled the expectations. America has exemplified a revision of government and of human expectations in the world.
Now, with the U.S. Constitution under attack from the Left’s de facto repudiation of its electoral process, President Trump is reinventing the presidency. Using the internet and masterful media manipulation, he is informally nudging his office away from presiding and toward ruling, another strain upon the Founders’ stated intentions. Where these two seizures of technologically enhanced political opportunities will lead if they continue deserves consideration, particularly given the wealth and influence in use.
The Left’s repudiation of President Trump seems intended to prevent execution of his office; Congressional moves to impeach him clearly aim at his removal. The enthusiastic attacks by much of the media are aimed at his popularity and magnify the risk of his assassination. No society that punishes political dissent can provide free elections, particularly now that technology threatens the secret ballot. Electoral government requires that the losers capitulate until the next election, confining overt opposition to the legislative process. The present attitude on the Left implies an entitlement to govern. Added to the heavily funded, massively organized campaigns to boycott, remove and interfere with its opponents, this attitude defines today’s Left as incipient totalitarians, a repudiation of both the Constitution and of American history.
The U.S. Constitution provides a president and legislators chosen by the people to represent them while governing; the people have been too distant and too many to participate in government. President Trump’s use of internet social media and the heretofore “news” media’s transformation into socio-political propagandists have removed the distance and the proliferation of polling and digital communications have reduced the “too many” to reachable individuals. These realities have been a revolution: Where Americans once elected representatives and sent them off to govern until the next election, now Americans digitally follow their representatives and treat items of the government business as if they were new elections. Imagine an Amazon CEO who shared his office with Amazon’s directors and customers, to provide a somewhat strained illustration.
President Trump is using these tools to appeal directly to voters over the heads of their representatives. Basically, that is how he was elected. Historically it is also how republics have become empires. America has now a dominant, de facto totalitarian Left and a populist President who de facto shortcuts constitutional process. It seems America’s very good fortune that these two represent differing political interests.
Both these newly visible political trends are arising amidst looming systemic socio-political and financial risks quite capable of threatening civil order. Politicians have used race, gender, wealth and other differences to fuel antagonisms and political interests have organized and funded street “protests” including growing violence. Citizens are urged to boycott businesses, fire employees and expel students offering opposing political views. These are building blocks for civil disorder begging government repression.
At the same time, millions of public workers are about to discover that their promised retirements have not been adequately funded; the promised pensions will not be paid. The total personal and national debt per citizen has reached some $265,000. And the Federal government expects to spend $603 billion more than its revenue. Obviously, when the lenders who have been funding the swelling debt wake up to the real risks they have been taking on, they will stop providing the new loans that allow the government to roll over its debt and avoid repayment. The debt being too large to repay, that will be chaotic. Alternatively, the government and its central bank will try to repay the debt with cheaper money by encouraging rampant inflation, subjecting everyone’s wealth to a death of a thousand cuts. That, as it may take longer to collapse, may appeal to incumbent politicians. Either course promises instability.
Summing up: The United States appears to be held together by a dissolving constitution as it heads toward financial retribution, to be followed by years of economic depression. Maybe all that will bring about a return toward the older principles of the U.S. Founding. Maybe it will produce just another fading, de factol empire. However it goes, that “Novus Ordo Seclorum” seems set to have been wishful.