The law of unintended consequences is rigorously applied to government bureaucratic missteps. As it should be. But why not show a little healthy skepticism – to not say furious rejection of – the Republican, (and Democrat), party’s attempts to micro-manage the political nomination process? Rules are made and then remade on the spot to favor a candidate or to exclude an unwelcome outcome. Only to have an unpredicted outcome overshadow any previous concerns.

Hence the who-cares-anymore pledge required of GOP candidates last year by a party worried about a Trump third-party candidacy. Because there was no way on hell and earth that Trump was going to win the nomination. So it made sense to plan for the possibility of Trump, after losing some primaries, storming out of the official Republican party to start his own party.

And now the grand unifying pledge that the remaining candidates won’t honor, is acting as a metaphor for a party that seems divided beyond hope. And what was the third-party threat is now seen as a lifeboat for principled conservatives with Captain Kristol at the helm. To hell with ignorant, angry voters. The ship of state is ours. And we’ll build our own little stateless ship if we have to.

So thank you Fred Bauer for turning our weary gaze to the wise words of James Fenimore Cooper whose analysis of the demagogues versus doctrinaires confrontation – from 1838 – is eerily relevant to this election year. One stokes the masses. The other resides in ideological purities that refuse to give credence to popular concerns. As Bauer, writing in the Weekly Standard, puts it:

If the demagogue appeals to the resentments of the masses, the doctrinaires appeals to the narcissism of the powerful, assuring them that what truly afflicts a troubled nation is an ungrateful public.

The doctrinaire alienates the voting public and provokes anger, which the demagogue then feasts on. And the doctrinaire is on both sides of the political spectrum: conservative and radical (ok, liberal). And between gender-neutral washrooms in your kids’ school and trade deals that earn corporate consultants substantial fees and cost you your job, you are also told that you are ignorant to be angry. And dumb. And your votes are wrong. And that’s by the elites of your own party.

Is it any wonder that Trump – whose absolute bungling of the abortion issue even has Ann Coulter doubting – is doing as well as he is?

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