Entry from July 3, 2015

Hillary Clinton came to Northern Virginia, where I live, the other day and addressed what The Washington Post described as "a crowd of several thousand Democrats" at George Mason University. "Several," as we learned a few lines further down, meant two — although the Patriot Center where she spoke can hold ten. Thousands, that is. This is not a traditional meaning of the word "several," but then the article’s author, Rachel Weiner, was obviously getting into the spirit of the occasion, which was decidedly anti-traditional.

In fact, the point of it seems to have been to give Mrs Clinton an opportunity to try out her new campaign theme. This could be summed up in her clever characterization of the Republican opposition as "the party of the past." And what red-blooded, future-hugging American would want to vote for that? It was a confirmation, really, of what we could already have divined from Mrs Clinton’s deliberate move away from the Democratic centrism of her husband to occupy as much as possible of the territory of the progressive left before Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley or Elizabeth Warren could take it away from her.

Actually, there have been times in American history when Republicans would have been glad to claim the title of "the party of the past." Warren Harding’s victorious 1920 campaign on the theme of a "return to normalcy" comes to mind. Now Mrs Clinton appears to be betting all her political hopes that 2016 will not be like 1920 and that the American appetite for "change" after eight years of it under President Obama will remain unslaked. That her speech was given on the same day that the Supreme Court handed down its decision on same-sex marriage — a change she and her audience seemed to feel particularly pleased about — may have contributed to her confidence in this line of attack.

The polls suggesting that a majority of Americans are now in favor of allowing men to marry men and women to marry women — although the question seems never have been put to them in just that way — may well indicate that she is right. She is certainly right in thinking that the Republican base is nervous, depressed and angry about this and other changes which have been coming along with increasing rapidity of late and which their representatives in Congress, in spite of being in the majority, appear to be powerless to stop or even to slow. In fact, that is the most disturbing change of all: that democracy, like the Constitution, has simply been by-passed by what Jim Geraghty of National Review calls "the progressive aristocracy."

Whatever they may think of gay marriage or the Affordable Care Act, lots of people who are not part of this governing elite or the media who so reliably support and sustain it must feel some disquiet about the fact that these aristocrats apparently enjoy, among their many other powers, the power of Humpty Dumpty to make words mean whatever they want them to mean. To these Americans, that and not the substantive matter of the two cases is likely to be the message sent by the Supreme Court in its King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges decisions. If judicial ingenuity could find a right to gay marriage in the Constitution, it could find anything in the Constitution. Anything at all.

So, in effect, Mrs Clinton is betting that the majority of Americans in 2016, unlike the historically irrelevant troglodytes of "the party of the past," will be glad not only of the social and political changes she favors but also to continue submitting themselves to the abitrary power of this ruling class and that of the intellectual and moral fashions which it so slavishly follows. It may be, too, that she is right and that most people will be relieved to surrender their political power along with their traditions to these benevolent despots — whose good intentions and celebration of "love" must surely show that they can be trusted with them. Maybe most people just want to get on with the party. But if I were Mrs Clinton, I don’t think that’s a bet I would be making.

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