Shun the Crowd, Embrace the Remnant

 

Donald-Trump-Rally-AlabamaThis has been a disheartening political season, to say the least. We entered the 2016 presidential cycle with the strongest group of nominees in memory. Today, we mutter last rites over our hopes for a robust debate, as a heckler in a red hat spits profanities at the corpse.

In what was the best chance to elect a conservative in our lifetimes, the current Republican frontrunner is a populist blowhard with a liberal history, authoritarian tendencies, and rotten character. His contempt for the Constitution is surpassed only by his trail of failed businesses and busted cons.

Outside of a Hail Mary touchdown of a Cruz nomination or a brokered convention, it appears fans of virtue and limited government will be wandering the wilderness for some time. A plurality of Republicans have now abandoned the ideals of a Republic while a large majority of Democrats abandoned them decades ago. As conservatives talk of third parties and protest votes, they should also plan for their likely fate as America’s Remnant.

The concept of a Remnant was first seen in the Old Testament. When the prophet Isaiah was charged with speaking uncomfortable truths to an unwelcoming public, the Lord promised he wouldn’t change the minds of the majority. Instead, Isaiah’s blunt words were intended for a faithful minority from whom restoration would ultimately emerge.

Eighty years ago, Albert Jay Nock applied this term to the conservative minority of his day:

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything — I do not offer any opinion about that, — the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it…

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass man — be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper — gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak minded and weak willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous…

If the modern spirit, whatever that may be, is disinclined towards taking the Lord’s word at its face value (as I hear is the case), we may observe that Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts. Curiously, too, he applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; “there is but a very small remnant,” he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character — too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses…

Marcus Aurelius was ruler of the greatest of empires, and in that capacity he not only had the Roman mass man under observation, but he had him on his hands 24 hours a day for 18 years. What he did not know about him was not worth knowing and what he thought of him is abundantly attested on almost every page of the little book of jottings which he scribbled offhand from day to day, and which he meant for no eye but his own ever to see.

One of those jottings serves as a reminder to all of us in our latter-day Remnant:

quote-the-object-of-life-is-not-to-be-on-the-side-of-the-majority-but-to-escape-finding-oneself-marcus-aurelius-1-30-35

As Donald and Bernie and Hillary shout to the masses, the conservative minority needs to speak truth to power, not worrying about the crowds grabbing selfies at political rallies. Popular opinion changes quickly, as we saw with the Iraq War, and even more dramatically with George H.W. Bush’s 89 percent approval rating 18 months before he lost reelection.

As we persuade with facts and ideas, keep in mind that a classical liberal remnant created the American Revolution while the masses created the French Revolution. This election cycle hasn’t been kind to fans of limited government, but we can charge on as happy warriors with the goal of ultimately restoring this nation to true greatness.

Members have made 63 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of ConservativeFred Member

    So have you jumped on the Ted Cruz bandwagon?

    • #1
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm
  2. Profile photo of Painter Jean Member

    My question to you is, do you think that the restoration you speak of will come from a remnant of a conservatives within the Republican party, or with a new party of conservatives and what Charles Cooke describes as conservatarians?

    • #2
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:21 pm
  3. Profile photo of PedroIg Member

    One of my favorite lines from A Man for All Seasons: Sir Thomas More: “Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.”

    • #3
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:27 pm
  4. Profile photo of Carey J. Inactive

    The fans of virtue and limited government never had a chance. Between the GOP establishment, which embraces neither quality, and the Democrats, who are actively hostile to both qualities, there was never a chance that we would ever get either virtue or limited government, much less both.

    Ted Cruz is first, last, and always, a factional candidate. The choice of the true believer movement conservative, he simply hasn’t had much appeal beyond movement conservatives. Even now, with the Donald at the door, the establishment moves it’s support from Rubio to Kasich.

    Cruz owes his current position to two factors. First, not all anti-establishment voters want a complete outsider as their candidate. And second, Cruz has mostly avoided launching the sort of bug on a windshield assault on Trump that preceded the downfall of Rick Perry, ¡Jeb!, and Rubio.

    If Donald Trump died this minute, the blue-collar, aka Reagan, Democrats he brought out to the polls would not move to Cruz’s tent. They would either stay home, or worse, vote for Hillary. Cruz offers them little, beyond pledges to secure the border, and they’ve heard that from Republicans before. The GOP establishment may hate Cruz even more than Trump.

    As Trump gets closer to cinching the nomination, the rest of the party needs to ask themselves, “Do we really want Hillary picking the next three Supreme Court justices? How could Trump possibly be worse?”

    • #4
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:36 pm
  5. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    ConservativeFred:So have you jumped on the Ted Cruz bandwagon?

    Arizona votes Tuesday and I will gladly choose Sen. Cruz, in what might be my final vote as a Republican.

    • #5
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:40 pm
  6. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Painter Jean:My question to you is if you think that the restoration you speak of will come from a remnant of a conservatives within the Republican party, or with a new party of conservatives and what Charles Cooke describes as conservatarians?

    That remains to be seen, but I believe it will require a new fusion of conservatives and libertarians.

    • #6
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm
  7. Profile photo of katievs Inactive

    If Trump gets the nomination, sign me up.

    • #7
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm
  8. Profile photo of ConservativeFred Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    ConservativeFred:So have you jumped on the Ted Cruz bandwagon?

    Arizona votes Tuesday and I will gladly choose Sen. Cruz, in what might be my final vote as a Republican.

    I appreciate your response. Apologies for my snark. It has been strange to watch people that profess to be conservative move from Jeb!, to Rubio, and on to Kasich, while stating “anybody but Trump.” Ted Cruz always seems like a bridge too far for many conservatives, and I don’t understand it.

    • #8
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm
  9. Profile photo of katievs Inactive

    PedroIg:One of my favorite lines from A Man for All Seasons: Sir Thomas More: “Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.”

    That’s one of my favorite lines too. But I don’t see how it applies to our case.

    • #9
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:50 pm
  10. Profile photo of Manny Member

    Your post has the tone of a pity party. When one is confronted with choices, the wise person chooses the best option of what’s presented, not the self defeating one. No one can tell me it makes more sense to fight for conservative principles with Hillary in the White House than with Trump. At least Trump will have an ear for the people who elected him, for the party of the vice president he will have picked, for the platform he will have signed on to, and for the Republicans that fill his administration.

    I fail to understand what exactly is so anti conservative about Trump. I’ve said this elsewhere:

    He’s gone on record to stop illegal immigration, end sanctuary cities, appoint a Scalia duplicate, be forceful in our foreign policy interactions without getting our military hung up, be roughly pro-life, be strong on the second amendment, be strongly anti crime, and has a Larry Kudlow approved tax plan, the best of all the conservative candidates.

    On top of that, he’s promised to over turn Obamacare, have a real energy policy, and get rid of common core. He may not be the best conservative or a conservative at all, but he is not a liberal.

    Frankly, I have more faith in Trump promoting conservative policies than I did with Mitt Romney four years ago and John McCain four years before that.

    • #10
    • March 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm
  11. Profile photo of TempTime Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: That remains to be seen, but I believe it will require a new fusion of conservatives and libertarians

    Hmm. Every time I listen to Sowell, Friedman, Buckley etc., I find myself nodding, Yes, yes. Exactly! And, I think to myself perhaps I am a libertarian, even if I’ve always thought of myself as a conservative.

    Then I visit Ricochet, and read comments written by self-identified libertarians and think … no, no. I can’t be. I don’t have that much judgmental venomous hubris to spew on my worst days! Not naming names, just saying. The only consistently civil libertarian I am aware of on this site is Rob Long, that is I’ve not ever read an uncivil word written by him.

    So I hope any fusion would be a good bit more cooperative and respectable. I should add Mr. Gabriel, I have no idea as to your political leanings, so please be sure your writings are exempt from my comment.

    • #11
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm
  12. Profile photo of Carey J. Inactive

    Manny: Frankly, I have more faith in Trump promoting conservative policies than I did with Mitt Romney four years ago and John McCain four years before that.

    I agree. Even if that’s not a terribly high bar. 😒

    • #12
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm
  13. Profile photo of tigerlily Member

    Manny:I fail to understand what exactly is so anti conservative about Trump. I’ve said this elsewhere:

    He’s gone on record to stop illegal immigration, end sanctuary cities, appoint a Scalia duplicate, be forceful in our foreign policy interactions without getting our military hung up, be roughly pro-life, be strong on the second amendment, be strongly anti crime, and has a Larry Kudlow approved tax plan, the best of all the conservative candidates.

    On top of that, he’s promised to over turn Obamacare, have a real energy policy, and get rid of common core. He may not be the best conservative or a conservative at all, but he is not a liberal.

    Frankly, I have more faith in Trump promoting conservative policies than I did with Mitt Romney four years ago and John McCain four years before that.

    I have as much faith in Trump keeping any promises he has made as I do in being able to go online tonight and being able to order a dozen Trump Steaks & a case of Trump Vodka.

    • #13
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm
  14. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    A magnificently inspiring essay, Mr. Gabriel. And all very true.

    I keep thinking of Abraham Lincoln. He made a speech in which he praised Louisiana’s enfranchisement of the newly freed slaves. John Wilkes Booth was heard to say, “That will be the last speech that man ever makes.” And so it was.

    But some ideas cannot be extinguished.

    Thank you.

    • #14
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:05 pm
  15. Profile photo of iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Manny: Frankly, I have more faith in Trump promoting conservative policies than I did with Mitt Romney four years ago and John McCain four years before that.

    Wow.

    People have made fun of me my entire life for having religious conviction. At least I could always point out that while G-d’s existence may not be logically provable, at least the data does not militate against me.

    If you believe, in the face of all the data that shows otherwise, that Trump is more likely to govern as a conservative, then I tip my hat to you. Your faith is strong, indeed.

    • #15
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:05 pm
  16. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Many you trust Trump because of his words, but distrust Mitt and McCain because of their actions. Do you not see the irony in this?

    Not a liberal is not good enough if he is going to be as bad as one. Nothing in his past, or current manner should give anyone any confidence in the man. He has demonstrated through his words an utter ignorance of the fundamental facts of the issues at hand. This means that his proclamations are empty rhetoric. He is like a parrot who says the right words to get the treat. He does not know what they mean, he simply knows the result their engender. This is fine for a campaign strategy, but actually running the government requires more than this.

    Maybe Trump is better than his past, and present indicate, but that seems like a rather improbable thing.

    • #16
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:07 pm
  17. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    TempTime:The only consistently civil libertarian I am aware of on this site is Rob Long, that is I’ve not ever read an uncivil word written by him.

    As much as it pains me to say this – you should look at Fred Cole too.

    Just don’t tell him I said so.

    • #17
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm
  18. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    iWe:

    Manny: Frankly, I have more faith in Trump promoting conservative policies than I did with Mitt Romney four years ago and John McCain four years before that.

    Wow.

    People have made fun of me my entire life for having religious conviction. At least I could always point out that while G-d’s existence may not be logically provable, at least the data does not militate against me.

    If you believe, in the face of all the data that shows otherwise, that Trump is more likely to govern as a conservative, then I tip my hat to you. Your faith is strong, indeed.

    Hear Hear

    • #18
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:10 pm
  19. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor

    “Remnant” has always, to me, implied separation in some sense, if not physical then culturally. Some of those observing the deterioration of American culture have argued that the remnant should gather in the “American Redoubt” in the northern mountain states of the U.S., where there is still a majority for traditional values.

    I’m not sure this will work. As long as the federal government has the ability to enforce its decrees upon states and localities, and these are not effectively challenged, I fear that by gathering the Remnant may only make itself an easier target.

    What is needed is separation. The United States as presently defined is not viable. In terms of rocket engineering, they need to blow the bolts and drop the coasts into the ocean and reconstitute the productive heartland (less Chicago and other blue zones) into a country that works. Once this happens, migration will sort out the population into a productive country which will prosper in the next two centuries and the Perón 2.0 (or is it 4.0?) socialist nightmare.

    I predicted that this would happen before 2000. I’m usually early, but less frequently wrong. I’ll revise my forecast to 2025.

    • #19
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:17 pm
  20. Profile photo of TempTime Member

    Instugator:

    TempTime:The only consistently civil libertarian I am aware of on this site is Rob Long, that is I’ve not ever read an uncivil word written by him.

    As much as it pains me to say this – you should look at Fred Cole too.

    Just don’t tell him I said so.

    You are correct. I love the Daily Shot; first thing I look for every morning … just don’t tell him. It’ll be our little secret.

    • #20
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:19 pm
  21. Profile photo of BD1 Member
    BD1

    Do you favor the reelection of John McCain as Senator from Arizona this year?

    • #21
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:21 pm
  22. Profile photo of J. D. Fitzpatrick Member

    Manny: At least Trump will have an ear for the people who elected him, for the party of the vice president he will have picked, for the platform he will have signed on to, and for the Republicans that fill his administration.

    I view this comment (and the many like it that I’ve seen in support of Trump) as simple projection. Trump has an ear for the masses qua masses and for whatever advances his brand; nothing else.

    If we do get a Trump administration, I believe that, about a year in, Republicans who supported the man will be wearing the Chris Christie face–that of a former stockbroker trying to reconcile himself to managing a dog track.

    • #22
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm
  23. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    We had 17 qualified people – if we are so ignorant a nation that a majority of the people chose the wrong guy, then we will live with it – we chose the wrong guy the last eight years – what’s 4 more?

    One of these days we will actually stand up for our country against those that want to take it apart – piece by piece – maybe that time is now. It did not come to this just recently. It’s time that the entrenched in Washington learn there is no more back door to escape from – we voted for you and sent you to Washington to represent us – good riddens if you have failed. It’s not yet July – we still have a say in this election, but if the people want Trump, I will stand by that.

    We cannot go back to what once was – I pray for God to use who and what we have to restore our nation back to wholeness, and forgive us for squandering His gifts and blessings.

    • #23
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  24. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    I have a bit of a grudge against McCain today. I didn’t know this until yesterday, but it wasn’t Schumer who lured Rubio into the Gang of Eight. It was our own McCain.

    First he lost us Romney, then Rubio.

    Sigh.

    • #24
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm
  25. Profile photo of Matty Van Member

    Jon G: “As conservatives talk of third parties…” “…it will require a new fusion of conservatives and libertarians.”

    May I suggest a name: The American Constitution Party

    • #25
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm
  26. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    MarciN:I have a bit of a grudge against McCain today. I didn’t know this until yesterday, but it wasn’t Schumer who lured Rubio into the Gang of Eight. It was our own McCain.

    First he lost us Romney, then Rubio.

    Sigh.

    Agree – I will not trust McLame again, in any capacity whatsoever.

    • #26
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:43 pm
  27. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    TempTime:

    Instugator:

    TempTime:The only consistently civil libertarian I am aware of on this site is Rob Long, that is I’ve not ever read an uncivil word written by him.

    As much as it pains me to say this – you should look at Fred Cole too.

    Just don’t tell him I said so.

    You are correct. I love the Daily Shot; first thing I look for every morning … just don’t tell him. It’ll be our little secret.

    Agreed

    • #27
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm
  28. Profile photo of Tuck Inactive

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Popular opinion changes quickly, as we saw with the Iraq War, and even more dramatically with George H.W. Bush’s 89 percent approval rating 18 months before he lost reelection.

    “Read my hips.”

    Go look at the polls and the date of that comment. GHWB earned that slapdown. If he’d kept his word he would have been re-elected.

    • #28
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:46 pm
  29. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Painter Jean:My question to you is if you think that the restoration you speak of will come from a remnant of a conservatives within the Republican party, or with a new party of conservatives and what Charles Cooke describes as conservatarians?

    That remains to be seen, but I believe it will require a new fusion of conservatives and libertarians.

    Like Korean tacos! Delicious.

    • #29
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:47 pm
  30. Profile photo of Tuck Inactive

    MarciN: I didn’t know this until yesterday, but it wasn’t Schumer who lured Rubio into the Gang of Eight. It was our own McCain.

    Huh? Really?

    • #30
    • March 16, 2016 at 6:48 pm
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