Presidential Campaign

Ben Sasse and Tulsi Gabbard save the day

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We are today at the time of the turning. The big primaries on Super Tuesday marked it and everything began again. But there were no surprises. We go forward now with Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R). Like Ben Sasse (R), the imaginative and able new senator from Nebraska, I will support “neither of them.” Crisis looms.

{mosads}Maybe the bombastic Trump will be president. Maybe the nostalgic restorationist Clinton will be. In either case, the external world could well leave America behind and quite possibly default to Britain for moral leadership, at least temporarily. Surely that would be the meaning of the dramatic move last March in which Britain left America behind on only 24 hours notice to join China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, dead set in opposition to American leadership’s wishes. Surely, when the world — including France, Germany, Finland, Austria, Australia and most every country with a full working economy — followed suit, it proved to be more than a harbinger. It was a vision of a world without important American influence.

“Some events are epochal,” wrote Kishore Mahbubani of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “The decision by Great Britain to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was one such event. It may have heralded the end of the American century and the arrival of the Asian century.”

I recently offered a vision here in The Hill of what North America would look like if America just passed away, in T.S. Eliot’s phrase, “Not with a bang but a whimper.” New patterns would emerge, as if from an unconscious bubbling like lava beneath the remainings. North America might then consist of Greater Canada, which would include the Eastern states sans New York City down to Virginia. And Greater Mexico, which would run north to the edge of San Francisco.

“This is the way the world ends,” wrote Eliot. We are not there yet, but if we do not make this turning, we could be.

We have not successfully made the turning to any new era ahead and it is yet a long way off, but as of today, we have taken the first steps to a positive, free and creative future. In both parties this weekend, an individual new to Congress has emerged to challenge the “inevitable” path of their entrenched Establishments: Sasse in Nebraska for the Republicans and Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. representative from Hawaii, for the Democrats.

In doing so, both have rejected an old, worn-out and irrelevant path dangerously slouching toward a future to which it no longer belongs, and opened the gate to new directions and potentially a new political era. The “movement conservative” Sasse’s rejection of Trump paralleled rising support for Trump in Congress as the influential Republican senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, joined the Trump movement and endorsed the front-runner. As Sasse wrote on his Facebook page:

I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump. Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.

Gabbard rejected and repudiated Democratic National Committee Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (Fla.) control of the Clinton machine and the DNC’s control of the primary.

“Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat of Hawaii, resigned as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday [Feb. 28] in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president,” The New York Times reported, quoting her: “As a vice chair of the D.N.C., I am required to stay neutral in [D]emocratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high. That’s why today I’m endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander in chief of the United States.”

The true sign of leadership is to be brave when no one else is brave; to be brave when it is time to be brave, which is now. In every new era (and a new one can begin now), the future opens inevitably with those who take these first steps and history recalls them as heroes.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign 2016 Republican primary Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions Tulsi Gabbard

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