In last night’s speech, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump sounded to some more than a little like a dictator-in-waiting. “I alone can fix it,” The Donald pronounced. “I am your voice.” And “I will restore law and order.” Considering Mr. Trump’s lack of firm convictions — save his own ability to make “great deals” — these statements had a historical ring to them. And not in a good way, especially for those of us who cherish our firearms freedom. Yes, but . . .
As a proto-dictator, Donald Trump is strictly amateur hour. Not to go all Godwin, but if you’ve ever watched a full speech by the sine qua non of fascist dictators, Aldolf Hitler, you’ll know that Mr. Trump’s harangue last night lacked a certain je sais quoi: the emotional rhetoric and hypnotic cadence required to convince die Volk to follow him with blind obedience.
Although you always see excerpts of Hitler’s speeches when the mass murderer was in full flow — shouting and gesticulating wildly — he always began slowly and softly, building to a crescendo. Mr. Trump’s speech was compromised of nothing more or less than extended yelling. (My GF was waiting for Trump to say “you’re grounded!”) So much so that left-leaning journalists said Hillary Clinton could no longer be criticized for her characteristically shrill delivery style.
Equally, the Republican convention was a pale shadow of the spectacles Herr Hitler created to magnify his power. Sure, Mr. Trump arrived by private jet and entered accompanied by orchestral grandeur. But meh. If nothing else, the convention hall wasn’t packed with true believers. There was no shots of standing ovations with close-ups of of tears running down the cheeks of the faithful.
That is, perhaps, the most significant aspect of this analysis. While there’s some history in that regard, this is not a country that embraces fascism. Despite the destruction of gun rights that we’re seeing in various states, not to mention NICS, NFA and the GCA of 1968, Americans are a people deeply committed to individual liberty. We are not, in the main, sheep.
Which is one reason why I’m not overly concerned about a Trump presidency. Or, indeed, a Clinton presidency (as much, acknowledging the fact that most fascists are “progressive” or liberal). But the Constitution is the main reason I’m not overly concerned about either possibility.
Our Founding Fathers were well aware that a populist leader would seek to gain ultimate power over the federal government. The majority of Americans don’t know it, but ours is a three-part system with built-in checks and balances. It was designed to blunt the kind of dictatorship that bedeviled the Colonists, and create the legislative “gridlock” that’s currently bemoaned by both parties, but protects us from emotionally-driven, ill-conceived legislation.
No matter who becomes President, I believe that the United States Constitution will continue to provide the protections we need to keep and bear arms. Not perfectly, obviously (given the state of play in California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, etc.). But enough so that our gun rights will survive either a Trump or a Clinton administration.
For one thing, if Republicans can keep control of Congress, they will not roll over and play dead on gun rights for either a President Trump or a President Clinton. We saw this legislative reticence after Sandy Hook. We saw it more recently when the House “Freedom Caucus” torpedoed Speaker Ryan’s attempt to create a watered down “No Fly, No Buy” secret list gun ban.
Even if Republicans are severely diminished in the next election cycle, Democrats will not have free rein. When Democrats controlled both the Presidency and Congress, Obamacare passed by the skin of its teeth. I don’t think a federal assault weapon ban, for example, would be so “lucky.”
As for the importance of Supreme Court nominees to our once and future gun rights, it’s hard — not to say impossible — to “stack the Court.” Aspiring High Court judges have to pass through a vetting process, which requires at least some measure of Republican assent. And once a job-for-life judge assumes their responsibilities, there’s no guarantee that they won’t or will defend the Second Amendment.
In short, I have faith in the Constitution to blunt either a Trump betrayal or a Clinton anti-gun jihad. My real concern is what’s happening on the state level.
As mentioned above, gun rights are dead and dying in many states — even as they’re being revitalized and strengthened in others. There are only two ways gun rights can be reclaimed in these firearms freedom dead zones: by popular plebiscite or via the Supreme Court.
As California’s gun control misery proves, there’s little chance that voters in “gun-free zones” will suddenly reverse the curse where gun control laws been enacted, or are about to be enacted. Sure, American gun culture is strong. And getting stronger. But there’s little chance it can grow where it needs to grow to overcome state-based anti-gun antipathy. Not in the next generation. Or two. Or three.
Meanwhile, it appears that the Supreme Court has no will to strike down these unconstitutional laws. What’s more, the Heller decision’s “reasonable regulations” provision provides a suitable loophole for Justices seeking to defend or extend civilian disarmament. The Constitution is clear on gun rights, but those who consider it a “blue print for progress” (the current Democratic platform) are not without tactics, strategies of resources to defeat it.
And finally, Trump.
I vote my guns. So I’ll vote Trump. As Ms. Clinton and her party are committed to civilian disarmament, and Mr. Trump at least mouths support for the Second Amendment, he’s the better choice to protect our firearms freedom. And if Mr. Trump begins to attack our gun rights, or fails to defend them, I’ll do everything in my power to oppose him. And so it goes.