Whose swamp is it anyway?

The National Rifle Association recently hosted a speech by Donald Trump, arguably the most pro-actively anti-gun president in recent U.S. history, a man who advocates taking guns away from citizens with “mental health issues” first, and pursuing due process second, who pushed for restrictions on gun accessories that his fellow progressives deem “unnecessary,” and who generally favors restricting gun rights — much like free trade — in ways that suit his whimsical fancy of the moment.

Within a few hours of Trump’s speech — or shall we say “appearance,” a term more in keeping with his true status as America’s first reality TV president — the NRA found itself in public turmoil. Specifically, Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s executive vice president and most recognizable spokesman of the moment, released a statement accusing president Oliver North of extortion. He claims North warned him to step down from his position or else be slammed with the public release of “damaging information” regarding “financial improprieties.” LaPierre, of course, claims innocence, and that this is merely a power play by North to force him out. 

Today, I see that North, in response to this extortion accusation, has announced that he will not seek a second term as NRA president. In other words, the NRA has ousted him.

Would Oliver North really do such a thing? Of course he would. Is LaPierre really guilty of misappropriating $200,000 for “wardrobe expenses”? Why not? I’m sure he looks great in his Bob Mackie gowns at the NRA talent show.

This is just fun for me, since I don’t believe for one second that the NRA is a serious advocate of Second Amendment rights, anymore than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a serious defender of the free market. Both are lobby groups under the general umbrella of the Republican Party establishment. And that means something, since the Republican Party is a defender of Americans’ constitutional rights in roughly the same way pro-Trump evangelical leaders are defenders of the Gospel, which is to say they talk that game occasionally to keep the flock with them, but when push comes to shove they are motivated exclusively by the lust for power, status, and money.

Speaking of evangelical leaders, Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, is making headlines with his public criticisms of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who is running as a Christian homosexual and doing a lot of preaching of his own about how Christianity has to get over its longstanding hang-ups about homosexuality. In response to Buttigieg, Graham is pontificating — I use that particular expression because I think it would annoy an evangelical leader — about the Bible’s view of homosexuality, specifically how “homosexuality is sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.”

That’s just wonderful coming from a man who actively supported, defended, and praised to high heaven the open and openly unrepentant sinner (by biblical standards) Donald Trump. This is a perfect crystallization of everything some of us warned would result from the American conservative establishment throwing its weight behind Trump. They have forsaken all credibility on everything. No one other than likeminded hypocrites will take them seriously anymore on any topic related to morality, or the nexus between personal morality and political rhetoric. 

Not only have they rendered themselves ineffective and laughable as opinion-spouters. They have, the mainstream optics machine being what it is, rendered all supposed conservatives ineffective and laughable on moral questions. This is the Trump Effect that we knew was coming. All non-progressives will hereafter be identified with Trump, hence making all arguments about “the culture” irrelevant and ridiculous. To Graham, as to all Republicans, the progressives may now simply reply, “But what about Trump?” And the progressives will be right. The Republican Party has given them that answer, forever, hence forfeiting the debate over the direction of American society beyond matters of pure economic policy. 

The problem is that, as the American Founders warned many times, a free society — that is, a free economy — depends for its continued existence and stability on a people united by moral principle. Yet any hope of defending such unifying principle has been effectively and thoroughly demolished by the “conservative movement’s” decision to rally behind the most overt and boastful immoralist the U.S. presidency has ever seen. 

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