Clinton, Trump, Impeachment and the Moral Regeneration of America
The impeachments of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were each parts of a piece, that piece being the “moral regeneration” of America. A re-moralizing of America was the agenda, political and cultural, lying behind and animating the impeachments of these two presidents. Moreover, this agenda involved restoring the status quo in D.C., of fortifying the Washington establishment. As it was said of Clinton, so too could it be said of Trump: “He came in here and he trashed the place, and it’s not his place.” [David Broder, Washington Post] And as Broder said of Clinton, that he would be rightfully “disgraced and enfeebled,” so could this be said of Trump and the aims of his enemies.
As there is an ideological agenda behind these two impeachments, it is worthwhile to ask what this agenda entails. What would a “morally regenerated” America look like? How would it be politically and culturally?
First, that America would view itself as on a mission, requiring the creation of a movement dedicated to regeneration. And this movement would operate beyond the nation’s ordinary political institutions because those institutions don’t and cannot adequately enact and execute the kinds of things this movement requires to be successful. So, something like the secret and illegal activities of the Reagan administration in support of the Nicaraguan Contras would be justified. Or, as Dick Cheney said, it is not only imperative but is perfectly legitimate to embrace “the dark side,” that is, torture, continual assassinations, and endless wars.
Secondly, because this mission is urgent and so crucial to the fate of the republic, any means deemed necessary, whether legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional, should be embrace. “Managing intelligence” about alleges WMDs in Iraq in order to justify an invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq – no problem, because as Teddy Roosevelt and Robert Bork knew, war is a wonderful medicine for a society infested by unrestrained individualism and besotted by commercialism. Wars arouse such societies, animating them with a spirited militarism that will underlay a world empire dedicated to democracy. Or not being especially vigilant about potential attacks on the homeland – again, no problem, insofar as such attacks can be used to arouse an otherwise overly commercialized population.
Thirdly, citizens would have to be educated or re-educated that citizenship involves not only sacrifices but public-spirited sacrifices. Life in a morally regenerated America would revolve around duties not rights. Of course, without a military draft, other ways of inculcating the needed sacrificial mindset in the people at large would be needed. In this regard, making use of what are called “natural disasters,” such as a pandemic or devastating storms and earthquakes, would make sense, necessity the government to seem incompetent in the fact of such disasters. And, finally, it would be useful for the elites to remind the people that they, the people, are responsible for the degenerate state of the nation. After all, they elected both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, revealing how deep the nation’s decline has been. As Robert Bennett said, referring to Clinton’s impeachment and the lack of public support for it, “Where’s the outrage?”
That the people at large were not all-in over the Clinton or the Trump impeachment, while it might be seen as a sign of moral degeneracy, it also may be seen as their awareness – at some level of consciousness – that there was an ideological agenda behind these impeachments. And this awareness included that that agenda was not one they favored nor one that favored them. They “smelled a rat,” and acted accordingly. Let us hope this surmise is correct because the republic – or what’s left of it – depends on it.