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Ann Althouse posted a quote from a Times of London piece by P.J. O’Rourke. The entire O’Rourke piece is behind a paywall so I don’t know how the following quote fits in with the entirety of his point — whether it is the germ or simply one of many observations — but for my purposes, I will assume it’s the essence:
Trump wasn’t elected because Clinton was cordially detested. What American presidential candidate since George Washington hasn’t been? She was dull on the stump. But if dullness were politically fatal, the entire American political system would have been in the cemetery with President Harrison since 1841. (He gave a two-hour inaugural address in freezing rain, then caught a cold and died a month later.) Clinton’s ‘popular vote’ victory was and is inconsequential. America, since its founding, has had a devolved system of voting for the president that eschews nationwide first-past-the-post to give more obscure regions (our Scotlands) a greater say than weight of population would allow. She and Trump knew the rules. The cheating would have been different in a different game. Russian electoral interference was doubtless factual but doubtfully culpable. I’ve spent time in Russia. The idea that the Russians could fine-tune America’s enormously complex machinery of election is … I’ve driven Russian cars. And there’s no use blaming Trump’s election on the rise of populism. ‘Populism’ is an epithetic catch-all in use whenever the ideas popular with the good and the great aren’t popular…. America is what you get when you turn a random horde of people loose in a vast and various space. Some came here on the make, some on the run, some were dragged here involuntarily as slaves, some were chased here by poverty, oppression or bigotry and some were here already and were defeated by disease and demographics until they became foreigners in their own country. The bunch of us have never got along….
The text bolded and italicized is inalterably true. And, weirdly, it is sort of comforting. Not that it wouldn’t be better if it weren’t true, but if affords context for our current political moment. And that context is important in considering how to conduct political warfare going forward.
Our Founders created a system for a moral people (as John Adams defined it). And then we populated (and de-populated) the nation as O’Rourke describes. We fought a Civil War (badly) with units cobbled together from our various states. That is not a critique of federalism, it is a reference to the reality that the nation with a single flag was composed of vastly different regions, our population was not a complete melting pot. More like a stew but not the diversity “salad” that is being promoted today.
The great irony of a”common culture” that was only made real in the last 50 years is how divisive it really is. But it is nothing new. Marx did not create class warfare. It always existed except when put down by the superior force controlled by the “ruling class” whomever and wherever it might be. The American genius was to use party politics to redirect warring energy into votes with relatively few lives lost in the process.
And so it is that we come to the great battlefield of 2020. I submit that there are three armies on the field: the Nationals, the Progressives, and the Anarchists. You can assign them various party identifiers but they are the main groupings for which there is a common core within each. The Nationals are the Trump coalition — seeking the use of political power to variously have government leave them alone and to pursue their own interests within a safety net of national defense and freedom from abject poverty. The Progressives are an avaricious group seeking centralized power and the rent-seeking benefits from that power. Their party identity and support is, shall we say, “flexible” with regard to the means of achieving and retaining power. The Anarchists simply like to break things. They are not numerous, but are a force multiplier for the Progressives, and thus are in an alliance forged through the Progressive’s dark funding network. But Anarchists are not a reliable ally because once a primal force is let loose there is no means for restraint. They are tactical nukes contained only by the size of the bomb itself.
The Nationals cannot live free unless Progressives and Anarchists are defeated. Progressives and Anarchists can be defeated but not eradicated because they are inherent aspects of the human condition. And because there will always be people with these tendencies the war never ends unless the Progressives prevail. And yet history tells us that wherever Progressives prevail impoverishment and societal implosion follows and everything has to start all over again.
So the battlefield of 2020 is intense, but not unusual. But what is unusual is that more people are coming to understand that they have a personal stake in the outcome. That is due to the conduct of the Anarchists funded and empowered by the Progressives. A bit more theft and control by Progressives could be shrugged off, but Molotov cocktails and bullhorns in neighborhoods cannot be. The outcome of this battle will shift the lines in the broader war more significantly than any other contest in living memory. And the people know it.
So how does this inform political warfare going forward? First, it swells the ranks of the Nationals. Second, it underscores the consequences of defeat that is essential for making a determined and focused fighting force. There is time for peacemaking, but only after the victory is assured. We know the intensity of the Anarchists and we know the unrelenting greed of the Progressives. Thus we know this is a battle that calls upon our entire strength and will.Published in