Americans are in uncharted territory this election year.  Never before in living memory have there been candidates with a real shot at the nomination who were not pre-approved by the owners of the United States; or what the media call “The Establishment.”  These are the massive Wall Street Banks and Brokerages such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, and CitiGroup; massive weapons manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumman; and corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers (conservative) and Warren Buffett (Leftist).  While nothing of any real substance will change regardless of who gets elected, it is still fascinating, if disheartening to watch.

On the Republican side, we’ve had well over a dozen candidates coming and going and endlessly debating, and for the first time ever, more than one of them is not a member of the political elite.  As expected, those that espouse beliefs that challenge the status quo in our federal regime have been marginalized and silenced - with two remarkable exceptions.  Donald Trump remains in the race, both due to his front-runner status and the fact that he does not have to rely on America’s owners to foot the bill for his campaign.  Ted Cruz is still in the race despite the fact that the Washington power elite despises him and their corporate masters distrust him.  Marco Rubio is an empty suit that rode the Tea Party into the Senate, then promptly proved himself to be an obedient servant of the congressional power brokers.

On the Democrat side of the race, there is Bernie Sanders; a crotchety, aging, Jewish guy from Brooklyn who openly espouses socialism; an ideology America spent trillions of dollars and more than four decades to defeat in the form of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Despite this fact, he is beloved by vast numbers of supporters.  Then there is Hillary - the poster child of establishment Washington, corporate cronyism, and cynical pandering and political machinations - also beloved by millions.

How, one may wonder could Donald Trump be leading the race for the Republican Party?  He is an arrogant and bombastic bully that has said a dozen things on the campaign trail that would have ended the career of any other aspiring politician.  He has overly simplistic and sometimes blatantly unrealistic plans to solve America’s problems in international trade, immigration, and terrorist threats, yet people love him.

What most observers fail to see is that Trump and Sanders are tapping into an underlying emotional current in America’s hopelessly ignorant electorate; that is that something is wrong.  The game is rigged; the system is unfair; America can’t get the job done anymore.  The Tea Party and Occupy movements are opposite sides of this same coin.  While virtually no one understands why things are so wrong, they are, sadly, correct.  Bernie says he’ll fix everything by having the government take all money from the greedy rich people and give free stuff to everyone.  The Donald is going to fix everything by getting ‘really, really smart people to come up with really, really great ideas, while telling the rest of the world to pony up their fair share of cash and trade fair with us, or go pound salt.’

Both Sanders and Trump are right - and they are both wrong.  Yes, Bernie, the game is rigged; Wall Street and multinational corporations do control the election process.  They select and vet the candidates and only the people upon whom they bestow their money get to have a chance at winning.  They rig the rules at the SEC and other government regulatory agencies to allow them to loot the public and the US Treasury out of trillions of dollars.  But you are talking about a tiny handful of people, and even if you take all their money it won’t begin to pay for all your promises of free stuff for everyone, nor make even a small dent in our 19 trillion dollar national debt.  An even more powerful and wealthy government is not the answer to problems created by our corrupt government in the first place.  Moreover, aside from the handful of criminals that manipulate financial markets and deliberately defraud investors to make their billions, the vast majority of very wealthy people have earned their money; it’s not yours or anyone else’s Bernie.  Didn’t your mother teach you not to take things that don’t belong to you?

Donald, you’re right; America doesn’t win anymore, we haven’t won a war since 1945, we have open borders, no foreign policy, bankroll the free world’s collective defense, tolerate unfair trade policies, and if we are going to prosecute a war against ISIS, we ought to be doing it with some sense of urgency and ruthlessness.  But the solution is not to build up our military empire still further.  You and every Republican have pledged to “rebuild” America’s military.  With a global military empire that occupies every continent and nearly every country on earth, and with a budget that outstrips the next ten biggest military spenders combined, it strains my imagination to think what you could possibly mean by “rebuilding.”  Yes, something must be done to secure our borders and deal with the millions of illegal aliens in this country.  However, deporting them all is both politically and logistically impossible.

After Super Tuesday, it will come down to Bernie/Hillary and Donald/Marco.  America’s owners will do whatever it takes to make certain we can only choose between Clinton and Rubio; they represent the width of the political spectrum we are allowed to choose from, and both can be relied upon to do as they are told.  While Bernie can be starved of cash, and Hillary has mounting legal problems over her mishandling of classified documents, Trump is an entirely new phenomenon; he has his own money and just plain doesn’t care what the establishment says about him.

The two year long presidential race serves merely to distract the public and provide a false belief that we have some say in how our government is run.  Still, it will be instructive to watch what the establishment does to derail Trump and Sanders; it has been a very long time since an unapproved candidate was nominated by either party.  Whether the puppeteers go all in for Hillary as a solid Wall Street soldier, or hedge their bets with Trump figuring he’s one of them and can be reasoned with on immigration once in office, will be interesting to see.

Even if Trump or Sanders were somehow to win the White House, nothing will change.  Voters are completely unaware of the fact that it is congress that makes law and spends money, and that the vast majority of laws are made by unelected, faceless bureaucrats in Washington’s regulatory agencies.  As for our foreign policy in terms of trade, war du jure, kill lists, and the rest, this is set by forces larger than the president; people you never hear about at CIA, NSA, NSC, and influential think tanks and corporations.

Here’s the spoiler folks; regardless of the November election, four years from now our national debt will have grown larger still, there will be thousands of new federal laws and regulations, the government will still be collecting your phone data and emails, we will be at war somewhere and everywhere, and if you work for a paycheck your real earnings will be lower.  But at least this one will be fascinating to watch.

Earlier in the campaign season, Presidential candidate Jeb Bush released a commercial in which he says that America “cannot be the world’s policeman,” but that we must “lead the world.”  He, along with Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, et al. are solid supporters of the Washington establishment and the status quo of a federal government whose foreign policy is dictated by the faceless operatives of the national security state.

For the past century and a half, a cabal calling themselves Republicans and Democrats has ruled America, and every four years we get to vote for one of the two candidates they provide for us.  This gives Americans the perception that they are somehow participating in their government or that they have some voice or influence when it comes to the laws they live under and the wars they are compelled to fight and pay for.

While these two political parties pose as opponents for the voters, they have long ago become a single entity; a ruling elite that believes in the power and supremacy of the state over the affairs of its citizens.  They have genuine disagreements about which government programs to promote and exactly in what way they will control our lives, but neither party has any allegiance to the constitution or the principles of limited democratic government upon which this country was founded.  This is why candidates who stand on actual principles are marginalized and have little chance of getting the nomination of their party.

Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky stands up for his principles concerning constitutional democracy and the founding ideology.  He believes the federal government should not be interfering in the affairs of the people or the states beyond the powers delegated in the constitution.  For his commitment to such outdated ideas, he’s called names and laughed at by Republican big shots and warmongers like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.  He is not welcome in the Republican Party and they have put an end to his campaign.

Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont also stands up for his principles.  He is an unreconstructed socialist and is not afraid to say so.  He believes that the government owns your income and property and is entitled to take whatever, in its judgment, is required to carry out what it judges to be best for the collective; and he says so plainly.  Despite his insane socialist ideas, old Bernie is absolutely correct that our government is bought and paid for by Wall Street banks and that their money controls the election cycle.  While many in the Democrat Party are in favor of his policies, the ones in charge - Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, etc. are never going to permit an honest to goodness socialist get the party’s nomination; and the big money donors are never going to permit anyone to occupy the Oval Office who - to paraphrase Professor Tom Woods - strays from the John McCain to Hillary Clinton political spectrum.

Not to pick on Jeb Bush, but he spelled out so clearly the establishment viewpoint on foreign policy, that his words are very instructive; he made these comments in August:

“There is one thing that will hold us back — if as Americans we don't lead the world. This country is not a warmongering country. Our history is replete with examples where we... create peace and security. This president and his secretary of State believe we are part of the community of nations, believe that we can lead from behind.”

"We need to rebuild the military. We need to show respect for our veterans. We need to rebuild our intelligence capabilities, and our intelligence capabilities. And there should be no gap with the alliances that have kept us safe, starting with Israel."

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and even Hillary Clinton have echoed these remarks.  Jeb began his remarks by calling for America to return to its “traditional role” in world affairs.  They all believe America is somehow destined to be the sole leader of the entire planet, with carte blanche to bully, bomb, and invade any nation that fails to cooperate - unless of course they have nuclear weapons.

The “traditional role” of America in world affairs is to mind our own damn business.  From George Washington’s Farewell Address where he reminded the country that, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any part of the foreign world,” to John Quincy Adams who praised America’s role as leader by example only, and her principled refusal to meddle in the affairs of other nations;

“She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings…Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own…”

Jeb and company believe that America will be “held back” if we don’t “lead the world.”  We’ve been leading the world for 75 years now, and this sort of arrogance has given us the Korean War - which is still ongoing - the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq War, permanent war in Afghanistan, and a 40-year Cold War.  While Americans have been led to believe that all these efforts were needed to protect their own freedom, and our soldiers have fought heroically in their cause, the world and America are no better off or safer because of all our sacrifice in blood and treasure.

The Republican establishment believes along with Jeb that America needs to “rebuild the military.”  This is utter madness; the United States spends more money on its military than the combined expenditures of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, and Brazil.  How is it that the most powerful military on earth requires “rebuilding?”  Despite Jeb’s claims to the contrary, America is the world’s policeman, and its shadow government believes it is the ultimate arbiter of all political affairs on earth.  We have Troops stationed in a military empire in more than 100 countries across the globe, and while our troops are motivated by patriotism and a genuine desire to do good, our militarism makes us despised by billions around the globe.

Jeb is right; Americans are not a warmongering people, but the Republicrats and the shadow government bureaucrats that pull their strings are extremely bellicose.  The American president keeps a running “Kill List” from which - without any grant of authority form the congress - he selects those he determines to be enemies of the state for assassination; regardless of whether they reside inside other sovereign countries or even if they are American citizens.

Our ill-fated invasion of Iraq lasted for eight years and created ISIS, against whom the Republicrats clamor for another war.  Our invasion of Afghanistan has led to a war without end in a country known for centuries as the graveyard of empires.  We have troops still stationed on the Korean peninsula - kept there for no other reason than to die if North Korea invades - thereby providing a pretext for plunging us headlong back into a war that is still unresolved, and has nothing to do with the American people.

Yet the Republicrats beat the war drums relentlessly; demanding military attacks against countries from Asia to the Middle East.  Bomb Syria and remove the tyrant Assad from power and replace him with whom?  ISIS is the primary enemy fighting Assad, so the Republicrats say we should arm and train unnamed “moderate” rebels.  We need to “keep the military option on the table” with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, yet bombing alone could never prevent their acquisition of the bomb.  Do we really have the money and political will to invade with a million-man army and stay there indefinitely?

The so-called War on Terror is a dream come true for the national security apparatchiks that run the shadow government.  Since everything about this war is closely held national secret, the government’s mistakes and crimes can be largely hidden from the American people.  Our enemy plays their role perfectly as a virtual caricature of bloodthirsty evil villains.  An underlying state of fear of terrorist plots provides a compliant public that willingly submits to the all-seeing government in exchange for a false sense of safety.  The perpetual state of war provides legal cover for the government to trample on civil rights, as they have twisted the meaning of war to mean a war against a tactic (Terror) and not an identifiable nation-state or entity.

And so the war goes on with no end in sight within this century.  The emergency powers the government has granted to itself will continue to grow until our freedom is utterly extinguished.  Randolph Bourne observed that “War is the health of the state,” and indeed war is the preferred state of affairs for aspiring tyrants.  Our founders understood the danger of war to the health of a free republic.  James Madison put it best when he wrote,  

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Unless we somehow bring our government to heel - an unlikely prospect with the crop of Republicrats running in this year’s circus - Our freedom will be lost under the weight of our ever-expanding warfare state.