While the Neo-Cons Slept by Janek Ambros
IN THE MID 1970s, the neo-conservatives started to move away from the Democratic Party in lieu of Henry Jackson’s multiple failed presidential bids and the rise of the anti-war left taking control of the Democrats, with George McGovern leading the charge. With too much passion and persistence behind the new anti-war movement, the neo-conservatives gave up and began to sidestep their way into the Republican Party in the following decades. Since then, they’ve dominated the Republican Party both in its nominees, party members and political ideology – interventionist foreign policy, strong national security, low taxes, and a devout belief in federal government. Both political parties have had their praises and gripes with the reign of Reagan, the Bush family, and the lingering neo-conservative political establishment that still has a sizeable foothold in Congress, K-Street, and the Beltway media.
In 1995, Irving Kristol, one of the founding fathers of the neo-conservative movement and an anti-Soviet Trotskyist, said, “The left has ideas, and it’s something conservatives fail to have.” Irving Kristol and other neo-conservatives prided themselves on having ideas and wanting an active government, unlike traditional conservatives like Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge. They called their platform and ideas “The New American Century” and it has been accepted by Republicans since Reagan, with the exception of libertarian-leaning Republicans who have found a home in the Ron Paul and Rand Paul camp. In the 2016 Presidential Election, the Republican Party acted in total rejection of the neo-conservative ideology and embraced Donald Trump, a candidate who doesn’t have a clear and concise idea or worldview. Who is to blame is a question being thrown around all over DC and the Republican Party. Regardless of who deserves the blame, one thing is for certain – the neo-conservatives and Republican establishment were asleep at the wheel in the summer of 2015 as Trump began rising to power.
The pinnacle of the neo-conservative movement was the Bush administration’s knee-deep slog through the botched Iraq War, so I asked Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who is to blame for the rise of Trump and the total disregard for what the Republican party once was. His response is telling: “Trump is a product of the GOP. My party produced him as surely as rain grows flowers,” he said. He continued, “The racism, the ignorance, the arrogance, the sheer stupidity of the ultra-right wing, nursed over these past 50 years by the ‘oh-so-clever’ politicians like Trent Lott, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, Jesse Helms, et al., has come home to roost in the badly-coiffured hair of one Donald Trump.”
It’s almost impossible to argue against this. All one has to do is look at their unwillingness to disregard Donald Trump himself just a few years ago, who claimed that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya and is thus not a legitimate President. Instead, the Republican establishment and neo-conservatives were so occupied with keeping their base happy and staying in power that they continuously ginned up hatred, racism, and fear to the point where the base snapped and turned on them. More over, their economic focus has always been the 1%, while they economically neglected the base that they attempted to keep happy through social issues. This dangerous strategy has now blown back in their face in the form of Donald Trump. They created a monster and were in denial that they could not easily kill it, so they unwisely neglected the situation and waited until after New Hampshire to start their rigorous campaign against him.
Once can rattle off the problems of the neo-conservatives and have an easy argument; the dismantlement of civil liberties, the botched regime change policies with no exit strategy, the countless lives lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, the expansion of rogue agencies, and the crony-capitalism and corporate welfare they advocated are all easy topics that illuminate the follies of this movement. However, they at least had a worldview, a platform and an ideology. What will President Donald Trump continue to look like? A demagogue spewing hatred and violence, promoting a ban on Islam, jesting about killing journalists, allegedly colluding with Putin, fumbling through the intellectual argument that a federal judge shouldn’t take a case because of his heritage and pushing other racist rhetoric with virtually no platform and no rational ideology… and, of course, Covefe. Many Americans feel like they’ve been dropped in some sort of surreal Fellini dream sequence and can’t seem to wake up from it.
Ironically, the neo-conservatives are perhaps most terrified of him and it’s safe to say that they wish they woke up sooner. They’re now scrambling and trying to prepare themselves for what’s about to unfold, while Trump deals with potential nuclear war, a grand jury trial for alleged collusion with Putin, and the unknown knowns that will inevitably pop up in geopolitical crisis management. Will the neo-conservatives recover? Will they try to move back to the Democratic Party? Only time will tell.