The American Mind: Honor in a World Gone Mad

In this essay at The American Mind, Spencer Klavan talks about hypocrisy, dishonesty, political theater, and the need for public honors to go those with actual merit. Honor in a World Gone Mad

How to see clearly in the kingdom of the blind.

In the year 1711, behold: Justice descended from heaven to shine the light of truth on all mankind and “to restore and appropriate to every one living what was his due.”

With “darkness and clouds about her, that tempered the light into a thousand beautiful shades and colors,” Justice proceeded to reassign wealth, honors, and status so that they accurately reflected the merits and deserts of which they were supposed to be markers. “One might see crowds of people in tattered garments come up, and change clothes with others that were dressed with lace and embroidery.”

This is the fantasy scene described by Joseph Addison in his “Allegory of Public Credit” or “Vision of Justice,” an essay he published in the Spectator. The first time I read it, I thought it was sour grapes. Addison notes that “I was very well pleased to see that all my friends either kept their present posts, or were advanced to higher.” It’s meant as a bit of a troll, but it still felt to my younger self like the erudite lamentation of an outsized ego wounded by allegedly inadequate recognition.

Now I’m not so sure. Addison was wise to put the light of truth in the hand of Justice: it is justice, after all, that gives to each what he is owed. Suum cuique, to each his due: this is the golden thread that links Plato’s Republic to Aristotle’s Politics, running on down through the history of Western political and moral thought even to the present benighted day. Addison’s is no arbitrary imposition of power or equitable redistribution of wealth: the outcome of Justice’s intervention is not a Communist utopia in which all are of equal stature. It is a society which displays all the shades and gradations of rank that there were in 18th-century England, but rearranged to reflect the truth of every man’s heart.

In other words, what changes is that the outward marks of virtue—the titles, contracts, and positions which convey status—are aligned perfectly with the actual reality of virtue itself as it exists (or fails to) inwardly. So far as public honors and social class are concerned, that is true justice: a divinely accurate and precisely calibrated meritocracy.

That is not the world we live in. It wasn’t in the 18th century, and it won’t be until we find ourselves on a new earth under a new heaven. Only the most deluded optimist could imagine that it is possible to assign praise and blame according to the exact truths of the heart using merely human standards of measurement. That is why only God could pick David, the destined king of Israel, from a lineup of his older and more obviously regal brothers: for “the LORD does not see as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Still, we do our best to approximate accuracy and give credit where credit is due. That’s the point of having public honors at all: we are trying to make what Catholics, describing Church sacraments, call “an outward sign of an inward grace.” To refrain from conferring such honors would be just as dishonest and unjust as to practice Communism, and for exactly the same reasons: merit exists. You either lie about it or you try, haltingly, to tell the truth.

But—and this is why I have revised my opinion of Addison’s essay—the older I get, the more I feel that American public honors have utterly and perhaps irredeemably ceased to serve their high purpose. With mounting horror, I have come to feel that all the degrees, titles, and positions of rank we bestow on people are at best irrelevant to, and at worst actively deceitful about, the real qualities of those who hold them. Some of my friends on the very online Right call this phenomenon Clown World. It is a serious problem.

Not long ago I absent-mindedly tweeted to ask people when their “radicalization moment” was—when they became so appalled or astounded at the state of affairs that they stopped trying to be moderate about politics. I got more than I bargained for in response. One of the most unexpected answers was also one of the most frequent and the most revealing. “In college,” as one poster put it, “I got an A for a terribly written essay because I took a position I knew the professor agreed with.”

I myself have similar memories, from as far back as grade school: for certain teachers, you knew that only a certain range of views would fly. How well or poorly those views were defended mattered little or not at all: what mattered was which ones you held. The intriguing irony is that those teachers were also always the ones who stressed “critical thinking”—some of them even had a reputation for being free-thinking mavericks.

This is hypocrisy at a very deep level. When you discover as a child that what adults say they want from you is not what they will in fact reward, you remember that. Maybe the people who commented on my Twitter thread hadn’t thought about those professors in years. But the memory and its lessons had seeped into their bones. It made enough of an impression on them that when pushed, they can now look back and realize: that is when they understood what it is to live inside a lie.

The Senators and the Judge

As I write this, the hearings to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court justice have just concluded. They have embodied everything that is most demoralizing about the breakdown of American public honors. It saps one’s will to watch U.S. senators engage in forms of political theater premised on deep ignorance, real or feigned, about how American law works.

From Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, to New Jersey’s Cory Booker, to Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, Barrett was repeatedly forced to explain—calmly, as if to children—that no, she can’t say how she would vote on specific cases in advance, and no, her originalist philosophy doesn’t mean never amending the Constitution. In public statements after the fact, prominent Democrats from Hillary Clinton to Senator Ed Markey to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot implied that originalism means freezing the social customs and standards of the 1770s in time—as if the text of the Constitution itself doesn’t explicitly include guidelines for making alterations to laws that no longer fit the circumstances, from congressional legislation on up to constitutional amendment.

I suspect Clinton, at least, is well aware that her posture was absurd. This, of course, makes it worse. In the cases of Hirono and Lightfoot, the ignorance on display is probably quite genuine. In every instance, though, it is less and less possible to pretend that these people are worth our admiration or even our respect. Our new digital environment, contrary to popular belief, is actually quite hostile to performative self-curation. Online, only authentic self-exposure garners any attention worth speaking about (spare me your Jeffrey Toobin jokes here, please). Under such circumstances, it has become harder and harder for our supposedly leading lights to hide that they are either studiously cynical, alarmingly stupid, or both.

Perhaps the most dispiriting moment of the hearings was an exchange between Judge Barrett and Senator Kamala Harris, who, it will be recalled, might well be president of the United States someday soon. Rooting around in her big box of feckless rhetorical gestures, Harris told the weepy story of a young woman—whose medical condition, let it be duly conceded, elicits sympathy—before strongly suggesting that Barrett will deprive such people of their health care by striking down the Affordable Care Act.

Leaving aside the supreme unlikeliness of such an eventuality (of which, again, I suspect Harris is aware), it was equal parts grimly satisfying and bleakly depressing to watch Barrett brush off the senator’s empty questions. “Do you currently consider the consequences of your ruling on people’s lives?” Harris asked. “Well, Senator Harris,” replied Barrett with deadpan ease, “that’s part of the decision of every case.” “And so you do,” Harris responded lamely. Then again with a blank stare: “Every case has consequences in people’s lives, so of course I do in every case. It’s part of the judicial decision-making process.” In less gracious terms than Barrett’s: yes, you hack—that’s literally what being a judge is.

It’s an indignity for someone of Barrett’s seriousness and qualifications to undergo evaluation by buffoons of Harris’s caliber, as if it were they and not she who carries the full weight of authority in the room. And yet it was lost on no one with eyes to see that Barrett, if confirmed, will be the only sitting Supreme Court Justice who did not graduate from either Harvard or Yale. There is a growing percentage of the population for which this is a point in her favor and part of the explanation for her plainspoken, seemingly effortless brilliance.

Confidence in higher education generally has been plummeting for some time. It gets worse the more major universities simp for manifestly witless sophists like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi as they maunder dribblingly on about “white fragility” and “anti-racist discrimination.” Every day, in other words, it becomes harder to keep up the pretense that academic prestige has anything to do with academic achievement. COVID-19 has turned places like Harvard into $55,000-a-year webinars; and as the breakout sessions start to look more and more like struggle sessions, we approach the point at which only the most dedicated apologists can view an Ivy-League bachelor’s degree as anything other than a sublime triumph of empty credentialism.

What to Do

It is a bit of ancient wisdom that every society will produce more of what it honors publicly. This is one of the main arguments that is worked out over the course of Livy’s monumental history of Rome: it is because virtues such as prudence and frugality were “so highly and continuously honored,” as the historian says in his preface, that Romans became the kind of citizens who could make their homeland great. As long as “the state showed its gratitude” for war heroes like Horatius Cocles, it encouraged others to emulate his achievements (Livy 2.10). A cornerstone of Rome’s success was what is called aemulatio in Latin—a healthy competition among young men and women to outdo one’s forebears and one another in public honors.

The converse follows, of course: societies which award their highest honors to conformity and dishonesty will produce generations of cowards and liars. An America in which children learn to feign agreement with their teachers’ political views in exchange for the social capital afforded by a high GPA is an America in which, sooner or later, the worst kinds of people will proliferate and rule—as indeed they now do…(continues)

American Mind: What Happens if No One Wins?

This article at The American Mind discusses what happens to the Presidency if no one clearly wins the election – What Happens if No One Wins?

The Constitution provides for election crises—and its provisions favor Trump.

*This article was co-written with Robert J. Delahunty, a law professor at St. Thomas University.

Conservatives and liberals agree on few things, but one of them is that the country may well see an election crisis this year. All of the ingredients seem to be present: a closely and bitterly divided electorate; the threat of violence and disruption on Election Day or after; and the unusual circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this essay we provide a short roadmap through the main legal and constitutional issues that could arise if Election Day fails to result in a clear winner of the presidency, identify opportunities for political mischief, and explain why the weight of the constitutional structure favors President Donald Trump in a contested election.

Unusual Circumstances

A crucial fact in this year’s election is that, largely because of COVID, an unprecedented number of voters will vote by mail. According to the Washington Post, 84% of the electorate, or 198 million eligible voters, will be able to vote by mail this year. In the 2016 election, roughly 25% of the votes were cast by mail. This year, as many of half the ballots may be mailed in.

Republicans tend to prefer voting in person while Democrats tend to prefer absentee balloting. In the swing state of North Carolina, Democrats requested 53% of the absentee ballots and Republicans 15%. A July poll reported that 60% of the Democrats in Georgia, but only 28% of the Republicans, are likely to vote by mail.

Counting mailed votes could make a decisive difference on Election Day. In the 2012 election, Barack Obama bolstered his winning margins substantially in swing states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania through overtime votes. Hillary Clinton picked up tens of thousands of overtime votes in 2016, though not enough to win. Last April, over 79,000 Wisconsin ballots arrived after election day (and were counted by court order) in a state that Trump carried in 2016 by about 23,000 votes. In Michigan’s August primary, 6,405 ballots missed the deadline and were not counted; Trump carried that state by 10,000 votes.

In one plausible scenario, Trump appears to be the winner on the morning after Election Day, but a “blue wave” begins in the days and weeks after, and Biden claims a belated, overtime victory.

Both Democrats and Republicans have sought either to enlarge or restrict the opportunities for absentee voting. A massive amount of litigation is already taking place. At last count, 279 Covid-related election cases are currently underway in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico—and that tally does not include other litigation over other election issues.

Vote-counting problems—and the litigation they will generate—do not end once deadlines are decided. States must match signatures on ballots to those on voter rolls and verify that each ballot is valid. Although some key states permit pre-Election Day verification, others do not. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan were among the latter. “Real problems will emerge here,” Karl Rove has warned, “especially when there’s a big increase in mail-in ballots over 2016.”

In Pennsylvania, for example, 84,000 people voted by mail in the 2016 primaries; in 2020, 1.5 million did. In the best of circumstances, matching signatures on mail-in ballots to those on file with the state (from voter registration, ballot applications, or the DMV) is not, to the untrained eye, an easy task. Repeated and time-consuming challenges to the verification process will delay a final, official count.

The Electoral Count

Delayed election results could mean much more than the inconvenience of waking up on November 4 and not knowing who is President. They could trigger a constitutional crisis that would shake the country to its foundations.

An old federal statute, the Electoral Count Act of 1887, establishes deadlines for the states to report their official results and for the 538 members of the Electoral College to meet. The latter date this year is December 14, or 41 days after Election Day. The state deadline this year is December 8. The date is a safe harbor: if a state reports in time, Congress will accept its electors. The Act provides that if “any controversy or contest” remains after December 8, Congress will decide which electors—if any—may cast their state’s votes in the Electoral College.

Delays in counting the votes could well encroach on the December 8 deadline. State legislators and governors might come under mounting pressure to designate electors on their own if the popular vote remains incomplete, especially if there are allegations of fraud or abuse. Article II of the Constitution provides that “each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” The time when state legislatures directly appointed electors themselves are long gone: since the 19th century, states have delegated that power to their voters. But as the Supreme Court noted in Bush v. Gore, a state “can take back the power to appoint electors.”

The constitutional question is not whether but how a state legislature could reclaim the appointment of electors. States have provided by statute for the selection of their electors by their voters; therefore it one might argue they may only resume that power with a second, superseding statute. On the other hand, the Constitution specifically designates state legislatures, rather than the executives or a combination of the two, to choose the electors.  A state legislature might argue that a past legislature-and-governor cannot constrain its discretion to choose electors today.  Is it likely that state legislatures in battleground states could reclaim their constitutional power before the December 8 deadline looms? Probably not.

While Republicans control the state legislatures in six key battleground states, only two of those states also have Republican governors (Arizona and Florida). In four other contested states Republicans control the legislature, but Democrats control the executive: Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Only if the Constitution allows state legislatures, acting without the governor, to choose the electors, could those states cast electoral votes in a disputed popular election.

But there is another scenario in which the state legislatures could designate electors if litigation held up a definitive accounting of the popular vote. This requires a closer look at the Electoral Count Act.

The Act contemplates a post-election period in which states have the opportunity to resolve any “controversy or contest” in accordance with their pre-election law through “judicial or other methods or procedures.” Once this process has reached a definitive conclusion or “final ascertainment,” the governor is then to certify the electors. But the Act presupposes that all such controversies or contests have run their course before the governor submits the certified list of electors. What if December 8 is at hand and the controversies are still going on?

Another provision of the Act could come into play. If a State has held an election on November 3 “and has failed to make a choice” by the December 8 deadline, the Act declares that “the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day [after Nov. 3] in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.” That failure could arise from fraud, uncertainty, ongoing recounts or litigation. In those circumstances, a state could be said to have “failed” to make a choice, and its legislature could pick the electors.

That analysis presumes, however, that the Act is constitutional. The founders anticipated the possibility that the Electoral College would fail. In fact, they may not have foreseen political parties that would present the same presidential candidates in every state. Instead, several Founders seem to have thought that the states would often propose local favorites, that the Electoral College would reach no majority in the face of multiple candidates, and that the election would have to go to a backup procedure.

No candidate may win in the Electoral College for less noble reasons as well. Suppose states send electoral votes that—even if certified by the governor—remain under question, whether because of fraud in the vote, inability to count the ballots accurately under neutral rules, or a dispute between branches of a state government.

While the Electoral Count Act appears to create safe harbors for a state’s report of its Electoral College votes, the Act itself might prove unconstitutional. Under the 12th Amendment, “the President of the Senate [i.e., the Vice President] shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates [of the electoral votes of the states] and the votes shall then be counted.” Left unclear is who is to “count” the electors’ votes and how their validity is to be determined.

Over the decades, political figures and legal scholars have offered different answers to these constitutional questions. We suggest that the Vice President’s role is not the merely ministerial one of opening the ballots and then handing them over (to whom?) to be counted. Though the 12th Amendment describes the counting in the passive voice, the language seems to envisage a single, continuous process in which the Vice President both opens and counts the votes.

The check on error or fraud in the count is that the Vice President’s activities are to be done publicly, “in the presence” of Congress. And if “counting” the electors’ votes is the Vice President’s responsibility, then the inextricably intertwined responsibility for judging the validity of those votes must also be his.

If that reading is correct, then the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional. Congress cannot use legislation to dictate how any individual branch of government is to perform its unique duties: Congress could not prescribe how future Senates should conduct an impeachment trial, for example. Similarly, we think the better reading is that Vice President Pence would decide between competing slates of electors chosen by state legislators and governors, or decide whether to count votes that remain in litigation.

The Role of the House

If the electoral count remains uncertain enough to deprive either Trump or Biden of a majority in the Electoral College, then the 12th Amendment orders that “the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.” Our nation barely avoided that outcome 20 years ago in the 2000 Florida recount and has only used twice it in our history (in 1800 and 1824). So if the disasters described above occur, then the Constitution gives the power to choose the President to the House.

So it seems like Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats would get to pick the winner. But not so fast, said the framers, who feared congressional control of the executive. Rather than allow a simple majority vote, the Constitution requires that the House choose the President by voting as state delegations. If the House decides the Presidency, Delaware would have the same number of votes as California.

This unusual process makes sense in light of the larger constitutional structure. The Framers rejected the idea that Congress should pick the President, which they believed would rob the Chief Executive of independence, responsibility, and energy. They wanted the people to have the primary hand in choosing the President, but mediated through the states, because they also feared direct democracy.

Thanks to Republican advantages among the states (rather than the cities) the current balance of state delegations in Congress favors Republicans by 26-23 (with Pennsylvania tied). If today’s House chose the president, voting by state delegations, Trump would win handily.

But there is another twist. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution seats a new Congress on January 3, but does not begin the term of a new president until noon on January 20. The new Congress chosen in the 2020 elections, rather than the current Congress, would choose the President. Even though Republicans currently have a majority of delegations, Democrats have narrowed the gap—after the 2016 elections, Republicans had held a 32-17 advantage in state congressional delegations. If Democrats can win one more congressional seat in Pennsylvania and then flip one more delegation, they could achieve a 25-25 tie in the House. Then the election would require political bargaining of the most extreme kind for the House to resolve a disputed presidential election.

First Constitutional Backup

Suppose the House cannot agree, which could well happen given the polarization of our politics. The Constitution even provides for this. If the House splits 25-25 between Trump and Biden, then the 20th Amendment elevates the Vice President-elect to the Presidency.

Under the 12th Amendment, when the Electoral College fails, the Senate chooses the Vice President. Unlike the House procedure, the Senators each have one vote, meaning that under the current balance in the upper chamber, 53 Republicans would choose Mike Pence to effectively become the next President. But, as with the House, it is the Senate chosen by the 2020 elections, rather than the 2018 elections, that will choose the Vice President. On November 4, we may well learn who will win the Presidency—because control of the Senate is also at stake.

Suppose that this November, Democrats take three Senate seats—those in Arizona, Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina, while losing Alabama—and the Senate divides 50-50. Could Pence, as the sitting President of the Senate on January 3, break a tie in the Senate in his favor to make him Vice President on January 20, 2021, and hence President due to the inability of the House to break its own deadlock? It appears that this is the case; Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution says the Vice President “shall have no Vote, unless [Senators] be equally divided.” It does not restrict the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote to some functions of the Senate but not others. In those extreme circumstances, Pence might recuse himself, but the Constitution would not require it.

Second Constitutional Backup

Suppose then the House, Senate, sitting President, and even Vice President Pence decide that he should not use that tie-breaking power. Then the Constitution’s backup system for the Electoral College will have failed.

That still leaves a second backup system. Article II of the Constitution states that in “the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability” of both the President and Vice President, Congress can declare “what Officer shall then act as President” until the disability ends or a new President is elected. Don’t forget that word, “Officer,” because it may make all the difference.

Under the current federal succession statute, Congress decided that congressional leaders should assume the Presidency. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sits first in line, followed by the President pro tem of the Senate, currently Chuck Grassley. From there, the line of succession continues to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and then the other cabinet members.

But, as Yale law professor Akhil Amar persuasively argued in 1995 (at the prospect of Newt Gingrich becoming President should Congress impeach Bill Clinton!), this part of the federal succession statute likely violates the Constitution. Notice that Article II requires that the Presidency pass down to an “Officer.” The Constitution generally—but not always—refers to “Officers” as members of the Executive Branch. Further, the Incompatibility Clause of the Constitution prohibits Members of Congress to hold executive office. Neither Nancy Pelosi nor Chuck Grassley can become President. Mike Pompeo would become President—an outcome so unusual, so unexpected, it just might fit our bizarre times.

The American Mind: Coup Who?

From The American Mind comes an article on the Democrats abandonment of negotiated politics – Coup Who?

Scaremongering Democrats protest too much.

In August, two retired military officers published a piece in Defense One which literally encouraged America’s top military leadership to have the 82nd airborne to descend on Washington in the event of a disputed election and escort President Trump out of office.

“In the Constitutional crisis described above, your duty is to give unambiguous orders directing U.S. military forces to support the Constitutional transfer of power,” they write. “Should you remain silent, you will be complicit in a coup d’état.” In other words, the military must prevent a coup by staging one of their own. Thankfully, the Pentagon publicly condemned John Nagl’s and Paul Yingling’s musings.

In some regards it is unremarkable in a nation with millions of military veterans that two of them would have some kind of Clockwork Orange-style MSNBC viewing party and put crayon to paper long enough to come up with this violent fantasia. However, the problem isn’t so much that Nagl and Yingling gamed out this scenario—every election that I can remember for the last 30 years has featured fringe voices expressing concern that the current occupant will refuse to leave.

The real problem is that, for once, a respectable media outlet went ahead and published it. If anything, the Defense One op-ed was just the most explicit example of the anti-Trump coup pornography that’s become a staple of mainstream media. And when the media is not baselessly fretting Trump will refuse to leave office, they’re outrageously and falsely characterizing Trump and his administration in ways that justify his violent removal.

The Washington Post recently ran an “analysis” in the business section, quoting a bunch of academics warning that Trump was leading America into autocracy. The article ended with this kicker quote from a Swedish political scientist, Staffan I. Lindberg at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg: “‘if Trump wins this election in November, democracy is gone’ in the United States, [Lindberg] says. He gives it about two years. ‘It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late.’”

Does the Post ask Lindberg for anything not wholly impressionistic to justify his dire and specific prediction? Aside from offensive tweets and ego-driven rhetoric, has Trump done something really autocratic, like, kill American citizens without a trial? Maybe he led a charge to effectively nationalize one-seventh of the economy?

No. But such pronouncements sound awfully ominous to credulous readers. And the Post piece was comparatively restrained: the same day, Vanity Fair had historian Peter Fritzsche on its podcast to explain that the Trump campaign cares more about race than Hitler. If Trump will end American democracy in two years and is more race-obsessed than the architect of the holocaust, why wouldn’t we call out the 82nd Airborne to perp walk him down Pennsylvania Avenue?

“Stop Deposing Yourself!”

There are, of course, problems with this plan. Earlier this month, Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks wrote about her role in a Democratic party confab where various left-leaning leaders produced a report called the the “Transition Integrity Project” that gamed out responses to various disputed election scenarios.

“A landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power,” observed Brooks. “Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis.” If Trump wins in a definitive landslide there’s still violence and a political crisis? After years of dishonest accusations about Russia collusion and other nonsense, should we bother to ask what responsibility Democratic party leaders and the media have to prevent violence if Trump wins in November? Or should we just accept this report’s conclusion as a way of blackmailing voters into making sure Biden wins handily?

In this context, however, Blackmail is a fairly inconsequential crime. After former Trump administration national security official Michael Anton wrote a piece in this very publication criticizing the report, Nils Gilman, a former Pentagon official and co-creator of the Transition Integrity Project suggested Anton be killed by firing squad.

Gilman is previously on record saying that after the Trump administration, America should explore the possibility of “a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something South Africa used to confront the legacy of Apartheid in a way that enabled restorative justice.” It might be easier on everyone if Gilman merely explored the possibility of having his head examined.

Given the IMAX-level projection involved in the Transition Integrity Project, it’s unsurprising to learn their full report is obsessed with exploring coup-like scenarios. “Of particular concern is how the military would respond in the context of uncertain election results,” notes the report. But the military response is not as uncertain as people too blinkered to separate the fate of America from that of the immediate success of the Democratic party think it is.

Decades of cultural and economic stratification, not to mention a soupçon or ten of naked anti-American contempt on the Left, means that military service has become a right-leaning and regionally Southern affectation. We can say with a high degree of confidence that a majority of the active duty military voted for Trump, so it seems unlikely the 82nd Airborne is going to follow orders to remove Trump while votes are still being counted.

At the same time, it’s frankly insulting to think Republican voters in the military would blindly follow orders from Trump in the event he attempts a Fujimori-type autogolpe after an election loss, which again, there’s no evidence he’s even remotely contemplating.

The Real Conspiracy

So why keep asking the question about what the military would do? Running on a parallel track to all these stories about the need for a military coup against Trump has been an emerging narrative that Trump secretly hates the military and doesn’t care if they die. Stirring up antipathy among troops could simply be a straightforward, if dishonest, electoral strategy to peel away votes from a stolid Trump constituency, but as long as we’re handing out free passes to indulge paranoia, forgive me for thinking the relevant term of art here is “battlespace prep.” It might be helpful to drive a wedge between Trump and the military if you had, uh, “plans” for after the election.

Earlier this month, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg got wall-to-wall media coverage for a week after his anonymously sourced story claiming Trump called dead soldiers “suckers” and “losers.” This is in spite of the fact there are now more than 20 on-the-record sources with knowledge of the events surrounding Trump’s alleged comments throwing cold water on Goldberg’s account.

And since the New York Times credulously regurgitated more anonymous intel leaks in June, we’ve been hearing about how Trump ignored reports that Russians were paying the Taliban “bounties” to kill American soldiers. Last month, an NBC news report finally gave up the ghost: “U.S. commander: Intel still hasn’t established Russia paid Taliban ‘bounties’ to kill U.S. troops.” After three months of breathless reporting, it seems there’s “a consensus view among military leaders [that] underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics.”

Hours after NBC News’ report, Biden’s campaign was still savaging Trump for “giving Russia a pass for putting bounties on the heads of American service members” and the next day Biden held a “Veterans Roundtable” campaign event where he tried to make an issue of the Russian bounties.

To my knowledge, not a single reporter has asked Biden about reports Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban in 2010 when he was vice president, and, if those reports were accurate, why Biden mocked Mitt Romney as “one of a small group of Cold War holdovers” for saying Russia was a threat in 2012. But don’t worry, the Joe Biden of 2020 is so chastened by his previous lack of concern for the troops that, the week after his “veterans roundtable,” he’s scheduled a campaign event with Hanoi Jane Fonda, a favorite celebrity of vets everywhere.

The Opposite of Fascism

Speaking of Afghanistan, it’s also worth remembering that we’re still at war—and we have been for 19 years. When regimes enter states of permanent war, the lines between enemies foreign and domestic begin to blur. Aside from the electoral backdrop, reports of Russian bounties this summer emerged just as Trump was engaged in his latest of a number of unsuccessful efforts to withdraw American troops in Afghanistan. Coincidence?

Trump got elected explicitly promising to reduce America’s global military presence, and while you might question his efficacy, there’s no denying he’s faced powerful resistance from a military-intel-media-industrial complex that has spent the last couple of decades turning foreign entanglements into an ouroboros tied up in a Gordian knot. Perhaps there’s a right way and a wrong way to draw down in Afghanistan, but Trump’s pronounced aversion to permanent war is certainly atypical of fascist autocrats.

The truth is that Trump isn’t fascist any more than the contemporary American Left is Communist,  though that’s a more damning and instructive comparison than many realize. “To speak of [fascism] as the true political opposite of communism is to betray the most superficial understanding of modern history. In truth there is an opposite of all the ‘isms’, and that is negotiated politics, without an ‘ism’ and without a goal other than the peaceful coexistence of rivals,” wrote Roger Scruton in his indispensable guide to the ideology of the Left. If America’s Democrats, who in the last two elections have come perilously close to nominating a man who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, haven’t embraced full Communism, well, then there’s a good case they’re at least guilty of fascism’s shared sin of abandoning negotiated politics.

When peaceful coexistence is increasingly off the table, it’s worth asking where that leads us. Four years of elaborate Trump conspiracy theories—most of them involving Russia because irony is dead, dead, dead, and all of them premised on refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election—have finally made clear that there’s one key distinction between the excesses of the Right and Left worth fretting about in 2020.

“Of course there are differences,” adds Scruton. “Fascist governments have sometimes come to power by democratic election, whereas communist governments have always relied on a coup d’état.

The American Mind: The Truth About America

From the editors at The American Mind – The Truth About America.

Trump is right: only patriotic American history can heal our deep wounds.

This week we reprinted a series of speeches given at the White House Conference on American History. As we noted, the conference was the first of its kind. On the one hand, it’s remarkable no one in power ever thought to host such a thing. On the other, it’s possible no one has ever needed one quite so much as we do now.

President Trump and his distinguished guests—among them several affiliates, friends, and one current board member of the Claremont Institute—defended things it would have been laughable to defend during much of our country’s history. Not because those things are indefensible, but because they have not been seriously up for debate except in our worst and most fractious moments. These things were once the core of our national consensus, the context within which we had all our other discussions and debates.

“On this very day in 1787,” said Trump, “our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization. Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress.”

There is no such thing as pride in or love for America without some version of this foundational belief. Either you think the regime described in our Constitution can work, is noble, and represents a serious advance in the history of nationhood, or you think America ought to be transformed beyond recognition.

We at the Claremont Institute are dedicated to proving, emphatically and without qualification, that a full endorsement of our country’s principles is not only a patriotic act but, intellectually and morally, an unimpeachable one. That entails insisting that the history of our country is one of dedicated human striving toward the highest ideals, and the most prudent political enactment of those ideals, possible on this earth.

Our country was not founded in racism—it was in fact conceived as a uniquely ambitious effort to abolish racism and destroy its intellectual foundations in the West once and for all. That project, over time and through much tragic hardship, has been successful beyond even what its architects may have dared to hope. The cost of that success—in patient intellectual effort, in wrenching expenditure of blood and treasure—has been enormous. But it was worth the cost and would have been worth more. America is a wonder of the world.

This is not what many Americans today think, because it is not what they have been taught. The results of a dedicated, decades-long effort to undermine the foundations of America’s faith in itself are now visible. Today that effort is led most visibly by Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, but insidiously supported by Critical Race Theory training sessions in board rooms, small businesses, and until recently the halls of federal government agencies around the country. There is a diabolical genius to the way this effort has proceeded, in that it has involved both brute intimidation—in the form of cancel culture and its attendant threats of unemployment or unpersoning—and psychological subversion—in the form of an attack on our nation’s history.

It is this latter and more serious offensive against American civic life that President Trump has undertaken to countermand with his 1776 Commission for the promotion of patriotic education. Like the Progressives and Marxists who went before her, Hannah-Jones and her co-conspirators seek to erode American confidence in the basic goodness of our regime. If the Times, the Pulitzer Center, the ruling class, and their various minions can persuade us that the founders are not to be trusted—that they were disingenuous about their aims, that their timeless truths were actually self-serving lies, that the Constitution they composed has fallen fatally out of date—then they will convince us to commit national suicide all on our own.

The effectiveness of that approach is visible already in the insurrectionary violence that now routinely convulses American cities. Such violence is, by Hannah-Jones’s own admission, exactly what she wants and knows how to achieve. As many speakers at the White House Conference pointed out, it is the long subversion of American History—from the elementary school level on up to the universities—that has at last born this bitter fruit of civil unrest.

Trump is wise to fight this domestic terrorism on its own terms—to root Critical Race Theory out of federal training sessions at the heroic urging of Claremont alumnus Christopher Rufo, for example, and to insist that Americans be taught the real history of their country once again.

An objection frequently made to such efforts by both useful idiots and partisan hacks is that remaking American education somehow amounts to propagandistic indoctrination or even a breach of the First Amendment. This is a spectacularly puerile response. As Plato and Aristotle taught, all education just is shaping the soul to love some things and avoid others. Those aversions and loves, once engrained in the hearts of the young, find their expression through the political life in which those young grow up to participate.

Our school system already indoctrinates our nation’s youth in a most dishonest and dangerous manner. Since Howard Zinn’s ridiculous People’s History of the United States became standard in American high schools, and the AP U.S. History curriculum took its cue from Zinn’s calumny, we have been teaching children to hate our country by allowing radicals to lie through their teeth about it: they’ve taught for many years now that America is racist and evil at its core.

There is no alternative now or ever but to teach the opposite, that is, the truth: that America’s history is a story of triumph, that the country we live in is the world’s greatest hope even now, that she is worthy of nothing but love and, if it comes to it, the very extremes of self-sacrifice. We commend President Trump and his team for boldly leading after so many others failed to do so. But more remains to be done—much more.

In his Farewell Address, President Ronald Reagan catalogued his successes—and, by his own admission, his one great failure. In his day, he said, “We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American, and we absorbed almost in the air a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions.” If not from family and neighborhood, “you could get a sense of patriotism from school” or even “from the popular culture.”

But as America was “about to enter the ’90s,” Reagan noted that “Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children.” “An informed patriotism,” he said, “is what we want”—but “are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”

In the aftermath of the “Reagan Revolution,” Reagan himself warned that “our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it.” He went out of his way to note that “well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style” for the creators of culture.

Reagan then warned: “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that—of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.” The American spirit is now in crisis precisely for this reason.

In response, as Reagan said, “We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important.”

In every high school classroom, in every boardroom, in every university, we must fight at every level to restore America’s sense of herself. If we lose this fight, we lose America. But we can yet win.

President Trump points us in the right direction.

The American Mind: Revolution 2020

The following articles comes from Angelo Codevilla at The American Mind, Revolution 2020. This is a lengthy piece. Please click through one of the links to continue reading past this excerpt.

How did we get here—and how will it end?

Understanding what drives the revolution that is destroying the American republic gives insight into how the 2020 election’s results may impact its course. Its practical question—who rules?—is historically familiar. But any revolution’s quarrels and stakes obscure the question: to what end? Our revolution is by the ruling class—a revolution from above. Crushing obstacles to its growing oligarchic rule is the proximate purpose.

But the logic that drives the revolution aims at civilization itself.

What follows describes how far along its path that logic has taken America, and where it might take us in the future depending on the election’s outcome.

Regime Change

Aristotle, in Book 5 of the Politics, describes how revolutions kill regimes (such as America’s) that balance the contrasting interests of ordinary people with those of the wealthy, of officials, and of other prominent persons. As the balance between any complex regime’s components shifts over time, the system may seamlessly transform into unmixed democracy, oligarchy, or some kind of monarchy. The revolution may be barely perceptible—providing that those who impose themselves, whether from above or below, do so without adding insult to injury.

But, if the party that takes power thereby destroys the friendship that had bound the several parts, even trifling incidents can spiral into all-consuming violence. Thucydides’ account of the revolution that destroyed Corcyra during the Peloponnesian War is prototypical. The French revolution, the Spanish civil war, and countless others echo it. Today, the oligarchic transformation of America’s republic is turning violent. Aristotle, however, points out that oligarchies born of violent revolution tend to succumb to the very violence that births them, quickly degenerating into some kind of tyranny or one-man rule. Restoration of anything like the original constitutional regime is most unlikely.

The U.S. Constitution had codified as fine a balance between the powers of the Many, the Few, and the One as Aristotle may have imagined by arming the federal government’s components, the States, and ordinary citizens (via the first ten Amendments as well as elections) with means to maintain the balance. Its authors, however, were under no illusions about the efficacy of “parchment barriers” to prevent interests from coalescing into factions against the common good. During the 19th century, interests and opinions in the South and the North coalesced into antagonistic ruling classes that fought the century’s bloodiest war. In the 20th, the notion that good government proceeds from scientific expertise, as well as the growing identity between big business and government, fostered the growth of a single nationwide Progressive ruling class. Between the 1930s and the early 21st century, the centralization of administrative power in this class’s hands did much to transform the American republic established in 1776-89 into an oligarchy.

Progressive Oligarchy in America

The ruling class was able to transform America’s constitutional regime because its collective partisanship bridged the divisions between the federal government’s parts, the states, as well as between public and private power.

In America as everywhere else, government regulation of business meant the twains’ coalescence. From the very first, the blurring of lines between public and private—the focus of government on distributing tasks and rewards—shifted decision-making from citizens who merely vote to the administrative system’s “stakeholders.” This reorganization of liberal societies was first codified in Italy’s 1926 Corporation Law as Fascism’s defining feature. Before WWII every Western country, America included (in FDR’s New Deal), had adopted a version thereof. In 1942 Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, a neo-Marxist analysis, described this oligarchy as the necessary consequence of modernity.

In America, however, this oligarchy fit Aristotle’s (or Marx’s) mostly economic criteria only superficially. Yes, as we will see below, its power always very much involved the growing identity between government power and private wealth, and hence on restricting access to wealth to the politically connected. But as the decades passed, it became ever clearer that membership in the U.S. ruling class depends primarily on sharing the right socio-political opinions.

The European tradition of government by experts reaches back beyond Napoleon and Hegel to royal techno-bureaucrats. Being essentially amoral, it treats transgressors as merely ignorant. It may punish them as rebellious, but not as bad people. That is why the fascists, who were part of that tradition, never made it as totalitarians. People—especially the Church—remained free to voice different opinions so long as they refrained from outright opposition. America’s growing oligarchy, however, always had a moralistic, puritan streak that indicts dissenters as bad people. More and more, America’s ruling class, shaped and serviced by an increasingly uniform pretend-meritocratic educational system, claimed for itself monopoly access to truth and goodness, and made moral as well as technical-intellectual contempt for the rest of Americans into their identity’s chief element. That, along with administrative and material power, made our ruling class the gatekeeper to all manner of goods.

Progressivism’s foundational proposition—that the American way of life suffers from excessive freedom and insufficient latitude for experts to lead each into doing what is best for all—is the intellectual basis of the oligarchy’s ever-increasing size, wealth, and power. The theme that the USA was ill-conceived in 1776-89 and must be re-conceived has resounded from Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government (1885) to the campaigns of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Joseph Biden: “listen to the scientists!” The criticism’s main point has been constant: America’s original conception validated the people’s right to live as they please, and made it hard to marshal them for Progressive purposes.

But the Progressive critique adds a moral basis: the American people’s indulgence of their preferences—private ease and comfort, focus on families, religious observance, patriotism—has made for every secular sin imaginable: racism, sexism, greed, etc. Because most Americans are racist, sexist, un-appreciative of real virtue or refinement (these are somehow rolled together), because these Americans resist knuckling under to their betters, America is a sick society that needs to be punished and to have its noxious freedoms reformed.

Hence, the revolution that created the American oligarchy—illiterate contemporary Marxists notwithstanding—has nothing in common with Karl Marx’s original democratic (in the Aristotelian sense) conception “from below” (e.g. his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme) other than “overthrowing the pillars of the house.” Ours is the Party-centered oligarchic revolution from above that Lenin outlined in What Is to Be Done? (1902). This Leninism is the template of the Soviet and every other Communist regime, bar none. In our revolution, too, everything—always and everywhere—is about the Party.

Upbuilding the Ruling Class

The moral class critique from above was always implicit. It largely stayed in the background of the campaigns for social improvement into which Progressives have led the American people ever since the 1930s, and especially since the 1960s. The ruling class chided Americans for insufficient commitment to education, to well-being for the poor and disadvantaged, to a healthy natural environment, and to public health, as well as for oppressing women, and, above all, for racism. The campaigns for remedying these conditions have been based on propositions advanced by the most highly-credentialed persons in America—experts certified by the U.S. government, whom the media treated as truth-telling scientists, their opponents as enemies of the people.

But each and all of these campaigns produced mostly the ostensible objectives’ opposites while increasing the numbers of the oligarchy’s members and their wealth and power, endowing them with socio-political clienteles as well as with levers for manipulating them. As its members’ powers grew, they developed a taste for disdaining independent Americans and acquired whips for punishing them.

In 1950, Americans at all levels of government spent 2% of GDP on K-12 education and 0.37% on higher education. In our time we spend 4.4% on K-12 and 1.9% on higher education, of a GDP that is about ten times as large. By any measure, the increases have been huge. These were supposed to uplift Americans intellectually and (maybe) morally. But they have dumbed down the nation to the point of mass illiteracy at the bottom and, at the top, created herds of ignorant, haughty, debt-ridden college graduates, fit only to enforce government edicts against Americans they despise. But the money also built up and entitled a class of monied, entitled, self-indulgent educrats—mostly administrators. U.S. college towns nowadays are islands of luxury, ease, and hate. They act as the ruling class’s gatekeepers.

Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir had reminded Americans to preserve our country’s beauty and bounty for all. But beginning in the 1960s the ruling class started using conservation as an excuse for restricting the public living on and profiting from the land, even their own properties. This resulted in big developers, regulators, politicians and lawyers making fortunes while preserving the privacy and increasing the value of places where they themselves live. (Now they want to outlaw building new single-family homes anywhere.) They also reaped billions from subsidies for “renewable energy” by flogging possible correlation—without evidence of cause—between CO2 and “global warming.” All others have suffered.

In 1965, the Census counted some 40 million people as “poor”—roughly the same number as today. Over the succeeding half-century, the Federal government has spent some $22 trillion to lift people out of poverty. Had that money been divided evenly between all the poor, each would have been a millionaire. Instead, the War on Poverty swelled and solidified America’s underclass. Because the government paid to support women with children so long as they were not married, marriage and family cohesion declined. With only about one in eight black children growing to adulthood with two married parents, the black community and America as a whole are beset by a self-perpetuating flow of dysfunctional youth. This led to the long-term imprisonment of more than a million people. Prisons became an industry. But the war on poverty enriched countless contractors, consultants and members of the “helping professions.”

These initiatives are scams. Whatever else they have done, they have increased the number of people whose livelihoods depend on government. Since 1965, the number of direct employees has more than doubled to 22 million, and their pay exceeds that of persons who actually perform services that people want. The city of San Francisco, for example, employs 19,000 persons whom it pays more than $150,000 yearly. This does not count the countless government contractors, or the advantages for some and disadvantages for everyone else that government power combined with corporate power conveys. In short, whatever else these initiatives have done, they surely have created a lot of patronage.

The Little Law That Ate the Constitution

One initiative, sold as the pursuit of justice for black Americans, has empowered the U.S. ruling class with power that transcends money. More than all the other campaigns combined, it has fueled its members’ sense of entitlement to rule fellow citizens it deems moral inferiors. That sweet, heady sense—not any love for blacks—is what drives it.

Into the 1960s, the states of the former Confederacy had imposed segregation to racially separate accommodations. In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court had approved them so long as they were “equal.” In fact, most of what states had reserved for Negroes was grossly inferior. The longstanding campaign for “civil rights” had rallied the country against this obvious negation of the 14th amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws.” But as liberals fought state-imposed racial segregation, they had come to equate justice with the forcible imposition of racial integration resulting from countless personal choices. The Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed state-directed segregation, also gave impetus to all manner of efforts to re-form society by legal-administrative force.

The decision itself eliminated any chance that this could be done in a disinterested manner. It was not based on the plain, unequivocal meaning of the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws.” Back in 1896, Justice John Marshall Harlan had dissented from Plessy, arguing that any state establishment of racial preference whatever, regardless of its character or intention, violates those words. But Thurgood Marshall based his decision on “science”—that is, on the variable opinions of the credentialed class. A sociologist by the name of Kenneth Clark claimed he had proven that Negro children could feel and learn normally only in a racially mixed environment. (The “black is beautiful” movement began countering this immediately.) Quickly, “scientific” conventional wisdom made “benign” or “remedial discrimination” by race official U.S. government policy.

The Brown decision’s reliance on “science” also confused legally established segregation with the segregation that results from personal choices. This confusion was the basis for Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of race. Thenceforth, Civil rights law was no longer about removing legal barriers to personal choices. It had begun forcing personal choices. The Supreme Court’s approval of the law as a mere regulation of interstate commerce was thin pretense. The Act turned out to be the little law that ate the Constitution and poisoned American society.

It was passed primarily by Republican votes. Democrats, seeing the empowerment of a historic Republican constituency in the South as potential disaster, scrambled to avert it by out-pandering Republicans, while describing any reticence on their part as racial animosity and ascribing whatever ailed Negroes to the Republicans’ racism. Quickly, the dynamics of politics turned “civil rights” into a ruinous socioeconomic scam.

Howard W. Smith, segregationist Democrat of Virginia, best foresaw the scam’s size. Bitterly, to ensure that the law’s logic would roil the lives of its sponsors as it was roiling his constituents’, Smith, Chairman of the House of Representatives’ powerful Rules Committee, added language that outlawed discrimination on the basis of sex. The list of supposedly invidious discriminations that the Act (as amended) thus prohibits never stopped growing—age, all manner of disabilities, sexual orientation, etc. In the Act’s lengthening legal shadow, even speech that some may construe as insufficiently hostile to discriminatory “anti-discrimination” has become punishable civilly as well as criminally. Thus, willy-nilly, the Act established what U.S. law quickly recognized as “protected categories” of persons. This negates the American republic’s bedrock: “all men are created equal.” It invited whoever perceives himself disadvantaged or dishonored to construe himself part of such a category and to invite the government to discriminate against his foe. As government joined in some people’s quarrels against others, government became fomenter and partisan in endless strife.

Race (and sex, etc.) is yet another set of excuses for transferring power to the ruling class. The oligarchy is no more concerned about race than it is about education, or environmentalism, or sex, or anything else. It is about yet more discretionary power in the hands of its members, for whom not all blacks (or women, or whatevers) are to be advantaged—only the ones who serve ruling class purposes. In education, employment, and personnel management, co-opting compatible, non-threatening colleagues is the objective. As Joseph Biden put it succinctly: if you don’t vote for him, “you ain’t black.” A ruling class of ever-decreasing quality is a result.

Members and hangers-on who receive privileges, however, are a small number compared with the ruling class’s clients. Breaking down their client’s resistance to the revolution of the ruling class requires inducing them to share in the revolution’s logic of hate for its targets. This in turn requires control over channels of communication. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are indispensable for this. But creating and maintaining a sense of identity between oligarchs and the client mobs is possible mostly because of the latter’s gullibility.

The Logic of Hate

I noted that this revolution’s logic leads to no logical end. That is because “the logic that drives each turn of our revolutionary spiral is Progressive Americans’ inherently insatiable desire to exercise their superiority over those they deem inferior.” Its force, I observed, “comes not from the substance of the Progressives’ demands,” but rather “from that which moves, changes, and multiplies their demands without end. That is the Progressives’ affirmation of superior worth, to be pursued by exercising dominance: superior identity affirmed via the inferior’s humiliation.” Affirmation of one’s own superiority by punishing inferiors is an addictive pleasure. It requires ever stronger, purer doses of infliction, and is inherently beyond satisfaction.

In short, the Progressive ruling class’s intensifying efforts to oppress those they imagine to be their inferiors is not reversible. It is far less a choice of policy than it is the consequence of its awakening to its own identity—awakening to the powers and privileges to which they imagine their superior worth entitles them. It is awakening to its deep resentment—indeed, to hate—for whoever does not submit preemptively.

Let there be no doubt: the ruling class’s focus on Donald Trump has been incidental. America’s potentates do not fear one pudgy orange-haired septuagenarian. They fear the millions of Americans whom they loathe, who voted for Trump, who gave his party control of House and Senate, and who will surely vote for folks these potentates really should fear.

The Trigger

America’s oligarchic transformation had proceeded smoothly for decades because the ruling class had taken care not to add insult to injury. But as time passed, its arbitrariness and contempt increasingly tried the patience of ordinary people who practiced constitutional restraint.

During the 2008 financial panic, however, as the Progressive, bipartisan ruling class scrambled incompetently to save itself and its clients’ assets, it fatefully flaunted its united contempt for the rest of Americans. Republican president George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, the overwhelming majority of Republican politicians and institutions, and the literati from the Nation to the (post-Buckley) National Review were of identical minds with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Democrat politicians and institutions regarding measures to be taken—to which three fourths of the public objected, to no avail. United, this ruling class scoffed at popular opposition.

Insult having awakened substantial numbers of Americans to the injuries being inflicted on them, they looked to push back.

That began a cycle of recrimination which laid bare and accentuated the differences that had been growing between America’s rulers and ruled. At the time, I wrote that

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners—nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who hath created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity.

The people who killed one another in 1861-65 respected each other as individuals and shared standards of truth, justice, and civility. But as our ruling class put the rest of America beyond the proverbial pale, what remained of friendship among the American republic’s components drained away.

By 2016, most Americans preferred either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders over ruling-class candidates for president. And of course, they increasingly despised one another. In short, the popular basis for constitutional restraint had ceased to exist on all sides. But mostly the ruling class, unaccustomed to outright opposition to its presumption of authority, deemed the voters’ recalcitrance to be illegitimate. That began the revolution’s active phase.

At that time, I wrote that, regardless of who won the upcoming election, the United States of America had crossed the threshold of a revolution, and that though no one could know how that would end, we could be sure only that the peaceful American way of life we had known could never return. Hilary Clinton’s or Donald Trump’s victory in the election would merely have channeled the revolution onto different courses. We would look back on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as relics from an age of moderation… (continues)

The American Mind: “They’re Not Gonna Stop”

Senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy Kyle Shideler writes at The American Mind They’re Not Gonna Stop, referencing a quote from Kamala Harris in regards to rioting.

The deal with the devil is made. Kamala Harris is determined to see it through.

Everyone beware because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop before election day in November, and they’re not going to stop after election day. And everyone should take note of that…they’re not going to let up—and they should not. And we should not.

Kamala Harris

It would seem that Kamala Harris and Joe Biden have now made explicit what was always implied in their campaign: as Joe becomes less and less compos mentis, the Democratic proposition on the table becomes, in the words of the candidates themselves, a “Harris-Biden administration.” So it behooves the American people to be as clear as possible not only about who Biden is, but who his VP (read: replacement) pick really is.

Both Biden and Harris have recently issued tepid, nonspecific calls for an end to ongoing street violence. They don’t really mean it of course, which is why they couldn’t bring themselves to explicitly name Black Lives Matter or Antifa as the perpetrators and organizers of the ongoing civil unrest.

The reality is that Biden has no ability to fulfill this promise. The nature of extortion requires the victim have some reasonable assurance that you really can keep his store from burning down. But Biden could not call off the dogs even if he wanted to, as his own vice-presidential candidate has already told us.

In her June 18 interview with Stephen Colbert, Harris committed the classic “Kinsley gaffe”: she accidentally said something she knew to be true. She knows that the BLM “protests” (i.e., the deadly riots) will not stop, even after the election.

“Everyone beware,” She told Colbert with an uncomfortably massive grin that seemed oddly incongruent with her words, “because they’re not gonna stop.”

When, as expected, they did not stop, she and her running mate were forced onto the defensive. Harris warned against confusing ”peaceful protests and peaceful protestors” with “those” persons—conspicuously unidentified—who are “looting and committing acts of violence,” such as burning down family businesses and executing innocent Trump supporters, crimes conspicuously unnamed. Rather than singling out Antifa and BLM for condemnation, Harris instead mentioned “the shooter who was arrested for murder,” namely Kyle Rittenhouse, who defended himself from imminent murder at the hands of Antifa criminals.

Harris left no doubt as to how her remarks were to be interpreted. “The reality,” she claimed, in a characteristically bald-faced lie, “is the life of a Black person in America has never been treated as fully human.” Translation: America, not Antifa, deserves the greater blame.

Just a week after Harris’s Kinsley gaffe, CNN’s Don Lemon warned that the riots were not polling well and needed to come to an end. That a CNN anchor believes the BLM/Antifa insurgents burning cities from Portland to Kenosha care about how their violence impacts the media’s preferred candidate goes to show how self-deluded some have become about our dangerous and revolutionary situation.

But Harris herself clearly has no such delusions, and she’s already made her choice. The Democrat vice presidential candidate’s background as a prosecutor made her so unpalatable to the Democrats’ radicalized base that she failed to pick up a single delegate during her own presidential bid. Sanders’s delegates in California even vocally opposed Harris getting the VP nod. But just three days after the Minneapolis 3rd police precinct was burned to the ground by BLM/Antifa rioters, “Kamala the Cop” called for donations for the bail fund responsible for springing alleged murderers, rapists, and rioters from behind bars.

Senator Bernie Sanders—whose own campaign workers threatened violence if he were not nominated—recently confirmed Harris’s view when he intimated that the campaign to pressure the Democrat ticket further leftward would continue well after the election: “the day after [Biden] is inaugurated we are going to rally the American people to make certain that we implement the most progressive agenda in modern American history.”

It seems like bold talk for Sanders, whose own primary bid was headed off after establishment Democrats fled to the perceived safety of Joe from Scranton. But note that despite agreeing to settle for Biden, the establishment Left still finds the streets of their Blue cities awash in revolutionary violence.

Sanders is on to something, as was ex-Black Panther Angela Davis when she wagered Biden could be “most effectively pressured” to do what she and her comrades want. Biden, who has held government power for over half a century and was the author of the 1994 Crime Bill, and Harris, a former prosecutor, are turning over the policy agenda of their prospective administration to revolutionaries and insurrectionists who viscerally despise them, in hopes that those Marxist brownshirts will threaten the American public into electoral submission.

This may be one of the most cynical quid pro quos in modern political history: You give me position and prestige, I’ll give you power to terrorize the American people and eat them alive.

It would certainly not be the first time that a sclerotic elite disastrously misjudged their own ability to harness revolutionary energy to their advantage. The nature of revolutions is inherently cyclical: always turning inward on itself, picking up steam. The cycle of revolution continuously winnows down and purges the least radical among the ranks. As Lenin wrote in his 1903 What is to be Done?, “the opportunist rearguard will be ‘replaced’ by the genuine vanguard of the most revolutionary class.”

Of course, Lenin was speaking about infighting within the Russian Social Democrat Party, and it would be twelve long years before that he achieved his victory. But his logic was sound. It is ultimately the hardest of hard-core revolutionaries who win intraparty fights during revolutionary periods. And after many failed attempts, this time the revolutionaries may have found their moment—much to the chagrin of Biden and Harris, who definitively epitomize “rearguard” and “opportunist,” respectively.

Having invited into their midst genuine revolutionaries—desirous of their ability to organize, their enthusiasm, and ultimately, drawn to their willingness to project power through violence—Biden and Harris are beginning to see there is no going back. The Democrats—win, lose, or draw—are the BLM/Antifa party now. The party of tearing down statues and launching public struggle sessions against innocent restaurant patrons.

As a vandal in Portland helpfully recorded, the BLM/Antifa insurgents will happily proclaim that “Liberals Get the Bullet Too.” But for Kamala Harris and today’s modern Democrats, ousting Trump and getting to cling—however briefly—to that brass ring of power is worth it. Even though one day, the name being purged will be their own.

Like drug addicts, Democrats promise they can quit their craving for political violence any time they want. But every few decades, they have a relapse. This time, they’re not gonna stop—until they O.D.

WA Examiner: Fox News Silences Gingrinch on District Attorneys Funded by Soros

From Washington Examiner, Fox News panel reprimands Newt Gingrich for mentioning George Soros in discussion about BLM riots

A Fox News panel scolded and cut away from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich after he linked liberal billionaire George Soros to the violent riots that have caused damage across the country over the last few months.

“The No. 1 problem in almost all the cities is George Soros-elected, left-wing, anti-police, pro-criminal district attorneys who refuse to keep people locked up,” Gingrich said to a panel on Fox News’s Outnumbered on Wednesday. “Both Harris and Biden have talked very proudly about what they call progressive district attorneys. Progressive district attorneys are anti-police, pro-criminal, and overwhelmingly elected with George Soros’s money. And they are a major cause of the violence we are seeing because they keep putting the violent criminals back on the street.”

Host Melissa Francis pushed back immediately, telling Gingrich, “I’m not sure we need to bring George Soros into this.”

“He paid for it,” Gingrich responded, prompting host Marie Harf to defend Francis.

“No he didn’t,” Harf claimed. “I agree with Melissa, George Soros doesn’t need to be part of this conversation.”

“OK?” a puzzled Gingrich said after an awkward silence. “So it’s verboten?”

A longer silent pause then ensued before host Harris Faulkner ended the segment.

“OK, we’re going to move on.”

Soros, a Hungarian-born billionaire and philanthropist, has long been financially tied to both groups and politicians with the same social justice mission as the Black Lives Matter movement. “If we’re going to say ‘black lives matter,’ we need to say ‘black organizations and structures matter,’” Patrick Gaspard, the president of the Soros funded Open Society Foundations said.

In addition to political lobbying, which Soros reportedly spent at least $48 million on in 2019 alone, the 90-year-old with a net worth of roughly $8 billion, has poured tens of millions into political campaigns across the country, specifically in races for district attorney.

Soros supported the campaign of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who released arrested rioters and looters back onto the streets citing lack of evidence in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd on May 25.

Gardner was also involved in the decision to charge a white St. Louis couple with a felony for standing outside their property holding a rifle while Black Lives Matter protesters stormed through a gate and antagonized them.

Soros donated over $100,000 to a super PAC supporting Gardner in July.

“Why are some in the left so afraid of our mentioning George Soros’ name that they scream anti-semitic?” Gingrich tweeted earlier this month. “It IS his name. He IS funding pro-criminal,anti police district attorneys. Why is the left afraid of the facts?”

See also SHTFPlan ALL Of MSM Is In On It! Fox News Host Stops Gingrich From Talking About Soros-Elected DAs

And more on the topic from ZeroHedge “Not Ideal” – Fox Offers Non-Apology To Newt Gingrich After Awkward George Soros Rebuke

And some words from Newt Gingrich himself at The American Mind, The Soros Cover-Up

The American Mind: The Resurrection of Freedom

A longer piece from Justin Lee at The American Mind, The Resurrection of Freedom.

America must be refounded—again and again.

“The art of subversion, of revolution, is to dislodge established customs by probing down to their origins in order to show how they lack authority and justice.”—Blaise Pascal, Pensées

On May 4 of this year, Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary for her introductory essay to the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project. The purpose of the project, as conceived by Hannah-Jones, is “to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” The Pulitzer Center has reinvented itself as an explicitly identitarian institution and sponsored a 1619-inspired curriculum of agitprop. But one could certainly imagine a version of the project—had it been pursued with intellectual integrity—that might have had some validity. Even if you think Nikole Hannah-Jones is writing in good faith and making good points, however, her project is tragically self-defeating.

The title of Hannah-Jones’s essay is her thesis: “Our founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” That thesis is played out in a sweeping overview of American history, beginning in 1619 with the first arrival of African slaves to Virginia, and culminating in the Civil Rights Era.

The second part of this thesis is simply true: black Americans have fought to make our nation’s ideals into reality. Hannah-Jones is at her most compelling when describing the abuse heaped on black veterans of WWII as they returned home from combat. One feels her deep personal connection to these stories, her empathy for these scorned men mediated by love for her veteran father. Likewise, her wistful description of Reconstruction, and its defeat by racial ressentiment, should make any person of goodwill pine for what might have been, what should have been.

But her first claim, that our founding ideals were never intended to be realized, is supported in many places by intentionally misleading or simply false history. Her charge that the American Revolution was fought in order to preserve the institution of slavery has been justly eviscerated by the ablest scholars of that era. The Times issued a (still misleading) correction, but only after historian Leslie M. Harris of Northwestern University revealed that she had pointed out the error during a pre-publication fact-check and was ignored by Hannah-Jones.

Their perseverance in this error is telling. The 1619 Project, for all its merits, is committed to a Manichaean vision of reality: everything base in American history originates with white people, while everything virtuous can be attributed to black people. This is a mimetic inversion of the noxious belief “that black people are the obstacle to national unity,” which Hannah-Jones takes pains to attribute even to Abraham Lincoln.

Hannah-Jones paints an uncharitable portrait in which Lincoln is just another racist—perhaps less so than many others, but still undeserving of sympathy, no matter his achievements, which in any case weren’t pursued with the proper motivations.

Here, the historiography is as tragically ironic as it is bankrupt. The 1619 Project is intended not just to “reframe” American history, but to refound the nation. Hannah-Jones writes that “black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true “founding fathers.”’

This desire to honor the achievements of black Americans cannot be fulfilled by refounding the nation in 1619. To do so would be to negate her true refounding, which occurred in 1863.

Bloodshed and a New Birth

President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 at the consecration ceremony for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, nearly five months after the bloodiest episode of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg had halted General Lee’s second and final push into the North—at the cost of as many as 51,000 casualties, roughly 8,000 of which were deaths.

The war was not yet won, but General Lee’s army was scattered and demoralized, and the Union’s victory seemed imminent. Already Lincoln was looking ahead to the impossible task of knitting together the nation’s wounds. The war—and the barbaric institution of chattel slavery that necessitated it—had called into question the very possibility of republican government.

Lincoln was convinced that the future of popular sovereignty the world over rested on not just the outcome of the war, but on what must follow it: the repair of those “mystic chords of memory,” and the restoration of faith in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln knew he must refound the republic.

Blaise Pascal understood that all regimes are founded on violence: the strong establish themselves over the weak, and in time the usurpation is forgotten. “The truth about the usurpation must not be made apparent,” wrote Pascal: “it came about organically without reason and has become reasonable.” What was arbitrary in origin may be developed along rational lines—just as monarchic Rome matured into a republic.

Harry V. Jaffa, riffing on Pascal in A New Birth of Freedom (2000), observes that Lincoln refused to arrogate to himself unconstitutional power during the war because doing so would undermine his authority to refound the nation. This is why Lincoln delayed so long in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves and allowed them to fight in the Union army.

“Military necessity had enabled the federal government to do lawfully what the Constitution hitherto had prevented it from doing,” writes Jaffa. “For that government to have acted against slavery in the states except under the exigencies of the war would … have meant usurping powers to which the people of the United States had not given their consent. It would thus, [Lincoln] thought, have defeated the very ends of human freedom.” The Gettysburg Address served as an apologia for the Proclamation and paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment by recalling the nation to its founding ideals in the only context in which such a refounding was possible.

In his remarkable study The Dominion of the Dead (2003), Robert Pogue Harrison argues that all human habitation and culture—the home, the city, even the nation—are founded upon the marked grave. “It is not for nothing that the Greek word for ‘sign,’ sema, is also the word for ‘grave,” writes Harrison: the memorial to the dead is the wellspring and focal point of all meaning. Lincoln’s genius at Gettysburg was his recognition that the living are incapable of founding anything on their own. “We cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground,” he proclaimed. “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

According to Harrison, “Lincoln’s address is the sema, or grave marker. Its speech act makes of that ground a place or the place where the nation finds itself, on which it must found, or refound, its republic.”

The South’s secession was more than an insurrection. It was an apostasy from the founding faith of the Republic. The doctrine that “all men are created equal” had been ratified not by any legislative body but by the blood spilled in the Revolution. Lincoln understood that the nation could not experience a “new birth of freedom” without regrounding that doctrine in a new sacrifice.

Lincoln himself, at his assassination, would provide a seal for that sacrifice and become the last martyr of his own cause. The legacy of those martyred for cleaving to the idea that every human bears an irreducible divine dignity encompasses the entire history of man. The martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. is in this sense no less salient than that of Lincoln.

It is fitting that Lincoln structured the logic and language of his address on the King James Bible. Scripture supplied not only the shared idiom of the nation, but the originary source—and final justification—of the idea that “all men are created equal.” The doctrine of the Imago Dei, unique to the Jewish and Christian faiths, provides the only coherent ground for the idea of human rights. Only if we are made in the image of God does our humanity make us inherently deserving of life and liberty.

In its trinitarian rendering, the Imago Dei means that no human is complete unto him- or herself. As God exists in tripartite self-relation, so we are human by virtue of our relationship with the other—other humans as well as God, who is wholly other. St. Paul wrote in Ephesians that Christ, by his blood, had made Jews and Gentiles into one people, and again in Galatians that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The deaths of America’s soldiers, as well as Lincoln’s own death not long afterward, provided the Christlike sacrifice needed to break down our national barriers and sustain Lincoln’s refounding. It was not mere coincidence that Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday.

The Game Plan

Any effort to “reframe” American history motivated by a genuine desire for equality and historical fidelity must take into account Lincoln’s “new birth of freedom,” even if only to judge it, at the last, stillborn. Of course, while de jure racism has been defeated, Americans disagree on the extent it should be blamed for lasting effects upon those living today. Clearly it is plausible to many that its legacy of traumas—shattered families, dysfunctional communities, brutalized bodies—might be experienced by some as “systemic.” Still, even if one deems this country to have failed utterly to honor the divine dignity of its black citizens, that very judgment entails an affirmation of the Imago and the Declaration of Independence. Why, then, does Nikole Hannah-Jones take such pains to discount it by speciously disparaging Lincoln?

The answer is that Hannah-Jones is interested not in securing equality, but in enforcing equity of outcome—an idea utterly foreign to the American project. Her claim that black Americans have fought to make our founding ideals true, while indisputable, is meant to provide false assurance that she believes those ideals are worth fighting for. But the ultimate effect of her work is to discredit those ideals by eroding their foundation.

Under the logic of the Declaration, enforced equity would constitute a form of tyranny and an abrogation of equal dignity. Equity can only be achieved by enforcing a uniformity of opinions, passions, and interests among a populace. But “the diversity in the faculties of men,” as Madison wrote in Federalist #10, is “an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests.” Any effort to replace equality with equity as the nation’s tēlos requires denying the Declaration, and by extension natural law.

Lincoln’s refounding of America, then, must be discredited, a task Hannah-Jones can only accomplish by convincing her readers that Lincoln did not really believe in the full humanity of black people. To this end she cites his repeated assurance to white voters that he would not countenance black people becoming “politically and socially our equals,” along with his support for the proposal that freed slaves be shipped as colonists to another country.

Naturally, she ignores the mountain of evidence that Lincoln was employing a double-script, telling whites what he believed they needed to hear in the present in order for full equality to be achieved in the future (he even called the colonization proposal a “barbarous humbug”). Nor does she acknowledge the inconvenient fact that Lincoln was assassinated by a white supremacist because he sought full citizenship, including voting rights, for black Americans.

Hannah-Jones has honed her craft and public ethos as a writer and intellectual since her college days, but she has maintained her Manichaean worldview, so much so that she considered it “an honor” when Charles Kesler suggested that the recent “uprisings” be called the “1619 riots” for their destruction of historical memory. She has even justified the violence and wanton destruction of those riots as a necessary tool to make white people pay attention to black suffering.

Contemporary progressives are historicists: they understand history as a moral trajectory toward justice in which essentialized ethnic and sexual minorities struggle against white, heterosexual bearers of privilege. And indeed, conditions are presently favorable for those who desire, as one regional leader of BLM put it, to “burn down this system and replace it.”

But a full measure of revolutionary violence may be unnecessary to achieve the ends Hannah-Jones and BLM have in mind.

If “equality” loses its meaning as traditionally understood according to the Declaration, then the word can be made to mean anything those with institutional power choose, including “equity.” Because even the conservative legal establishment largely rejects the Declaration’s authority, revolution is likely overkill. “Substantive” due process, untethered to natural law, has thus far proved an effective device for contorting the Constitution to advance our elites’ will to power. Perhaps in time it will be used to enforce the uniformity of thought necessary to bring about equity.

The cruel irony is that Hannah-Jones and her allies are in fact advancing the same “ingenious sophism” John C. Calhoun employed to defend the institution of slavery and pave the way for secession. The protection of absolute state rights, and thus of slavery, from a hostile legislative majority required severing those rights from natural law.

As Jaffa summarizes, nature for Calhoun was only “a record of cause and effect” and not “a source of moral principles.” Only in the domain of pure immanence could the mere fact of slavery’s existence suffice to justify its continuance; nothing must be allowed to threaten the identification of “is” with “ought.” Underlying Calhoun’s thought “are the premises of historicism, positivism, relativism, and nihilism—premises that have become the conventional wisdom of our time.”

These are also the premises of Hegel’s “cunning of history” and Marx’s dialectic, Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s purges, as well as Taney’s jurisprudence in Dred Scott and Blackmun’s in Roe v. Wade. When such premises lead to just outcomes, it is merely an accident of arbitrary human will.

Hannah-Jones sees clearly the injustice wrought by the belief that “might makes right,” and yet she is unable to recognize that so much of the movement to which she belongs has embraced the nihilistic historicism on which that ideology depends. She is not truly anti-Calhoun, but merely Calhoun turned upside-down. This blindness, if it persists, will ensure that whatever is gained in this current season of activism will be secured on unstable ground, and thus easily lost or subverted when history changes sides.

An inevitable consequence of Hannah-Jones’s Manichaean worldview is her own cooptation by the system she decries. If all of America’s institutions are irredeemably corrupted by the legacy of slavery, then what of the New York Times and the Pulitzer Center? At the very least, the “anti-racist” efforts of legacy institutions must be considered suspect.

And in fact, from its inception, the 1619 Project has served the interests of the predominately white professional-managerial class. Despite the prominence of black activists like Hannah-Jones, white people are significantly more “woke” on race than non-white people. White elites drive the discourse and promote an endlessly broadening definition of racism, which requires education and training to understand, thereby distinguishing themselves from the white working class.

Mainstream anti-racist discourse, for which the 1619 Project is meant to provide an intellectual framework, is thus a technology of social control that sustains and reproduces the managerial class. Even the social chaos caused by the discourse redounds to the benefit of the managerial elite. The police may very well be abolished, but only to be replaced by battalions of social workers, administrators, and “community police”—that is, ideological adepts with truncheons and firearms.

This was inevitable. Lacking a stable grounding in natural law, Marxism (and let us not pretend that critical race theory isn’t of Marxist vintage) could not prevent devolving into its opposite. One nihilism opened the way for another, more persuasive, nihilism. Because the 1619 Project implicitly rejects natural law, it will only ever be a servant of power, and not necessarily the power of its authors. Its refounding of America in 1619 is nothing other than a refounding in neoliberalism.

The Hope of all Nations

This is a tragedy. An honest reckoning with our nation’s past is necessary if the best in that past is to be handed down to future generations. And what is that best if not the recognition that humans are created equal, “stamped with the Divine image and likeness,” in Lincoln’s words, and thus the bearers of intrinsic, rational dignity, of natural rights and responsibilities? And whose legacy is more deserving of honor and preservation than those who, like Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the full measure of sacrifice in defense of that truth? As Christ said, “True love has no one greater than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”

The most heartbreaking of Hannah-Jones’s failures is that her assault on the Declaration of Independence required her to elide entirely the role black Christians have played in shaping what is most beautiful about America. The closest she comes to discussing black faith is in dismissing it as imposed by slaveowners in place of their ancestral faiths.

This both denies black agency in matters of faith and ignores the profound creative legacy of black spirituality on the Christian world more broadly. Black Christians have been instrumental in raising the social consciousness of American Christianity and in catalyzing its eschatological longing. For example, the final verse of “Amazing Grace”—

when we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we’d first begun

—was written by black slaves. Hannah-Jones ignores an entire world of beauty because giving that world its due would undermine her goal of marginalizing the Declaration in America’s historical consciousness.

Moreover, it is Christianity itself—which transcends race and makes one brotherhood of all men—that gave Americans of every generation reason to believe in the equality of all. Were we to identify a seventeenth-century origin point for America, it would be not 1619 but 1620, when the Puritans of the Mayflower dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. To erase those Christian origins is to destroy the basis for anti-racism of all kinds, in America and beyond her borders.

Of course, if America is ever to realize the Puritan John Winthrop’s vision of a “city on a hill”—a true sema that reorients the wider world to a recognition of the Imago Dei—her Christians must learn from the long-suffering Christlikeness of their brothers and sisters, including those who have suffered racial injustice. For Christians, our work is not done unless each of us is able to see the image of God in every American, and every human face. This is the true underpinning—human beings, created equal—of the American notion of equality under the law.

As terrible as our current national crises are, they also offer another opportunity for refounding. Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle write that “what constitutes the nation in any moment is the memory of the last successful blood sacrifice that counts for living group members. In the United States this is World War II, fast receding in its effect as a national unifier…. Lacking that memory, we must search for new sacrifices.” A refounding consonant with Lincoln’s is now necessary if America is to have a recognizable future.

I’ll conclude with a quote from an 1831 statement issued by black leaders in New York who were opposed to that “barbarous humbug” of colonization. Hannah-Jones quotes from the same document in her 1619 introduction as part of her attempt to discredit Lincoln. Unsurprisingly, she whittles away the leaders’ references to God and the Declaration and their fathers’ willingness to die for its ideals. But in full it is more fitting a conclusion to this essay than anything I could write myself:

We do not believe that things will always continue the same. The time must come when the Declaration of Independence will be felt in the heart as well as uttered from the mouth, and when the rights of all shall be properly acknowledged and appreciated. God hasten that time. This is our home, and this is our country. Beneath its sod lie the bones of our fathers; for it, some of them fought, bled and died. Here we were born, and here we will die.

The American Mind: The Coming Coup?

The Coming Coup? is an article from The American Mind, which is a publication of the Claremont Institute whose mission is to restore the principles of the American founding.

Democrats are laying the groundwork for revolution right in front of our eyes.

As if 2020 were not insane enough already, we now have Democrats and their ruling class masters openly talking about staging a coup. You might have missed it, what with the riots, lockdowns and other daily mayhem we’re forced to endure in this, the most wretched year of my lifetime. But it’s happening.

It started with the military brass quietly indicating that the troops should not follow a presidential order. They were bolstered by many former generals—including President Trump’s own first Secretary of Defense—who stated openly what the brass would only hint at. Then, as nationwide riots really got rolling in early June, the sitting Secretary of Defense himself all but publicly told the president not to invoke the Insurrection Act. His implicit message was: “Mr. President, don’t tell us to do that, because we won’t, and you know what happens after that.”

All this enthused Joe Biden, who threw subtlety to the winds. The former United States Senator (for 26 years) and Vice President (for eight) has not once, not twice, but thrice confidently asserted that the military will “escort [Trump] from the White House with great dispatch” should the president refuse to leave. Another former Vice President, Al Gore, publicly agreed.

One might dismiss such comments as the ravings of a dementia patient and a has-been who never got over his own electoral loss. But before you do, consider also this. Over the summer a story was deliberately leaked to the press of a meeting at which 100 Democratic grandees, anti-Trump former Republicans, and other ruling class apparatchiks got together (on George Soros’s dime) to “game out” various outcomes of the 2020 election. One such outcome was a clear Trump win. In that eventuality, former Bill Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, playing Biden, refused to concede, pressured states that Trump won to send Democrats to the formal Electoral College vote, and trusted that the military would take care of the rest.

The leaked report from the exercise darkly concluded that “technocratic solutions, courts, and reliance on elites observing norms are not the answer here,” promising that what would follow the November election would be “a street fight, not a legal battle.”

Two more data points (among several that could be provided). Over the summer, two former Army officers, both prominent in the Democrat-aligned “national security” think tank world, wrote an open letter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in which they urged him to deploy the 82nd Airborne Division to drag President Trump from the Oval Office at precisely 12:01 PM, January 20, 2021.

About a month later, Hillary Clinton declared publicly that Joe Biden should not concede the election “under any circumstances.” The old English major in me interprets the word “any” to mean “no,” “none,” “nada,” “niente,” “zero,” “zilch” “bupkis”…you get the idea.

This doesn’t sound like the rhetoric of a political party confident it will win an upcoming election.

The Cover-Up in Plain Sight

These items are, to repeat, merely a short but representative list of what Byron York recently labeled “coup porn.” York seems to think this is just harmless fantasizing on the part of the ruling class and its Democratic servants. For some of them, no doubt that’s true. But for all of them? I’m not so sure.

In his famously exhaustive discussion of conspiracies, Machiavelli goes out of his way to emphasize the indispensability of “operational security”—i.e., silence—to success. The first rule of conspiracy is, you do not talk about the conspiracy. The second rule of conspiracy is, you do not talk about the conspiracy.

So why are the Democrats—publicly—talking about the conspiracy?

Because they know that, for it to succeed, it must not look like a conspiracy. They need to plant the idea in the public mind, now, that their unlawful and illegitimate removal of President Trump from office will somehow be his fault.

Never mind the pesky detail that the president would refuse to leave only if he were convinced he legitimately won. Remember: Biden should not concede under any circumstances.

The second part of the plan is either to produce enough harvested ballots—lawfully or not—to tip close states, or else dispute the results in close states and insist, no matter what the tally says, that Biden won them. The worst-case scenario (for the country, but not for the ruling class) would be results in a handful of states that are so ambiguous and hotly disputed that no one can rightly say who won. Of course, that will not stop the Democrats from insisting that they won.

The public preparation for that has also already begun: streams of stories and social media posts “explaining” how, while on election night it might look as if Trump won, close states will tip to Biden as all the mail-in ballots are “counted.”

The third piece is to get the vast and loud Dem-Left propaganda machine ready for war. That leaked report exhorted Democrats to identify “key influencers in the media and among local activists who can affect political perceptions and mobilize political action…[who could] establish pre-commitments to playing a constructive role in event of a contested election.” I.e., in blaring from every rooftop that “Trump lost.”

At this point, it’s safe to assume that unless Trump wins in a blowout that can’t be overcome by cheating and/or denied via the ruling class’s massive propaganda operation, that’s exactly what every Democratic politician and media organ will shout.

Stop the Presses

What then? The Podesta assumption is that the military will side with the Dems. There are reasons to fear they might. The Obama administration spent a great deal of political capital purging the officer corps of anyone not down with the program and promoting only those who are.

Still and all, determining the outcome of an election would be the most open political interference possible from our allegedly apolitical military, and it’s plausible that the brass won’t want to make its quiet support of the ruling class agenda that overt. The aforementioned Chairman has already stated that the military will play “no role” in the outcome of the election. That’s probably not a feint, but one wonders if it will hold given the obvious attempt to influence military thinking by people like Jeffrey Goldberg in his recent Atlantic essay…(continues)