No Revolutions, Thanks, We’re a Democracy

 

Drudge is excitedly linking to this strange piece on Investors.com that asks rhetorically–but with more than a hint of enthusiasm–whether Americans might not be ready to overthrow their government by force. At least, that’s how it reads to me.

The Internet is a large-scale version of the “Committees of Correspondence” that led to the first American Revolution — and with Washington’s failings now so obvious and awful, it may lead to another.

People are asking, “Is the government doing us more harm than good? Should we change what it does and the way it does it?”

I don’t disagree with many of the authors’ observations about the failings of the Obama presidency. But they appear to be suggesting that if the upcoming elections don’t succeed in getting rid of him, the emergency is such that other–unspecified–means of unseating the government might be considered. They ascribe this thought to unnamed “people,” but you know, I rather doubt there are all that many Americans, named or unnamed, who are seriously discussing the virtues of a coup. (And yes, that’s what they must mean: What else could topple an elected American government?)

If this is indeed what they’re suggesting, even obliquely, they should wash their mouths with soap. We are a democracy. We do not do coups. I can’t believe I even need to say this about the United States, but apparently I do.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TheMugwump

    Good morning, Claire.

    I don’t see the Obama administration ending in a putsch, but I do foresee a time of troubles ahead. My best guess is that the two years following November elections will result in some combination of the following: stalemate between our legislative and executive branches, increasing rule by executive fiat to accomplish what legislation cannot, a constitutional crisis, civil disorder, increased racial animosity, and a very severe double-dip recession. Plus some sort of wild card event to ignite a crisis.

    I still don’t understand what motivates Obama. Is he malicious, or just foolish? He certainly is arrogant if he thinks he can impose his will on a nation of 300 million cantankerous citizens. Is he dangerously alien, or does he suffer from some sort of mental pathology? His character profile certainly fits the description of narcissistic personality disorder at the very least. Does he even have an ideology, or is the pursuit of power all that matters? As a member of the ruling oligarchy, he certainly seems to enjoy his Versailles lifestyle.

    We won’t see an armed revolution, but we will see significant chaos before the nation sees the last of Mr. Obama.

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    @MichaelTee

    We did secessions, but Lincoln ruined that idea.

    Although I recall a movement to secede using New Hampshire as the platform.

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  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    No coup. But an Internet-empowered and facilitated conversation about how we do things would be great. Not outside the bounds of the Constitution, but so much of what seems dysfunctional about how Washington runs is based on precedent and rules and procedure that are of and for another age.

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    @AaronMiller

    I was surprised by Drudge linking to this as well.

    Claire Berlinski: They ascribe this thought to unnamed “people,” but you know, I rather doubt there are all that many Americans, named or unnamed, who are seriously discussing the virtues of a coup. . ·

    I’d say that’s only half true.

    No, there are not many Americans asking for revolution by force. However, here in that vast conservative region between the liberal coasts (the South and the Midwest), I have heard plenty of talk in recent years that people believe an armed revolution might be in America’s near future (“near” meaning anything from “within the next few years” to “within my lifetime”). And I hear it from people who are not prone to dire predictions. I hear it from well educated and experienced people. I hear it from both young workers and old retirees.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention, gun sales have skyrocketed since Obama was elected. That’s not only about Obama.

    Very few of these people want revolution or feel compelled to start one. But they believe civil war or anarchy is a likely enough scenario that they’re taking steps to prepare themselves.

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    @AaronMiller

    The sharp rise in gun sales is often attributed to a perceived hostility of Obama and his ilk against the 2nd Amendment. But consider…

    Question: Why buy a gun if you expect the government to seize it or tax it heavily?

    Answer: Because you don’t plan on giving your gun up.

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    @ByronHoratio

    I think we can all nod our heads in agreement that no sane person wants a violent revolution or civil war in this country. I certainly don’t. But I can’t help but ask the question; when would such a revolution be legitimate or warranted?

    The colonists and Founding Fathers started a long, drawn-out, violent war against the British because of [by today’s standards] minimal tax increases and a lack of representation. They weren’t taking up arms against genocide or a criminally evil government. So what exactly was happening that made violence acceptable during the Revolution that isn’t happening today?

    I’m convinced that if America was still a colony under Britain today, the Revolution would NEVER have happened despite identical circumstances and grievances as in 1776. Mostly because nobody would want to make it violent.

    Anyway, it’s just some philosophical pondering. I don’t believe there will be another civil war, and if there is, it won’t be for another 100 years, and most likely it will be wholly unrelated to what’s going on now.

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    @AaronMiller
    Byron Horatio: I think we can all nod our heads in agreement that no sane person wants a violent revolution or civil war in this country. I certainly don’t. But I can’t help but ask the question; when would such a revolution be legitimate or warranted? · Jul 31 at 8:14am

    Agreed, Byron. It’s quite possible to wait until it’s too late. How many times has the metaphor of slowly boiling a frog emerged in mainstream political articles in recent years?

    I’d like to make one other point. The popularity of figures like Glenn Beck demonstrates that millions of Americans are open to consideration of such worst-case scenarios. The Tea Party movement is about restoring our government to its former self through democratic participation. Those same people are talking about the American Revolution, and not just the Constitution, with reference to current events.

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    @DuaneOyen

    I am unalterably opposed to apocalyptic nuts. The only concern whatever that I have with the TEA Parties is that they do attract a few intemperate (by definition, not “conservative”) of those with revolutionary speech tendencies or survivalist mindsets who are absolutists in their demeanor. If Harry Reid- the worst, least apealing, and scummiest candidate in recent history- wins his race, we will have the decidedly non-conservative absolutists to thank.

    Everybody has a beef about something- most are legitimate. Life is tough, gang. The grown-up tortoises keep on plugging- instead of stopping and whining.

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    @

    I find it interesting that from about 2000-2008 or so, there was a good deal of talk out in public about overthrowing the government. The press didn’t take it all that seriously even though fairly well-respected pundits were giving the idea voice in newspapers and on television.

    Now that “people” are saying the same thing and there’s a convenient national movement against big government into which the MSM can insert those unnamed “people” it is a concern? Yeah, okay, media people. Pull the other one. It has bells on.

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    @

    I agree that a revolution is completely out of the question. However, I do disagree with the term democracy. Athens was a democracy. We are a republic. There is a very large difference, although the Democrats seem to think that they can treat The Constitution as though this was a democracy and change or interpret it in anyway they choose. Overthrowing the government by violent revolution would be, at best, the attempt by an ant to overturn an elephant. Those that think the military or police would support a violent overthrow of government might consider changing the chemicals they are using. The vote, as untrustworthy as it might be, is the only true manner in which we an change government in this country. Countering the Journolist Conspiracy and its ilk is the only effective way to gain the public support needed to win at the polls. The need is there. Will Americans meet it? I hope so.

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  11. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Well – who cannot help but notice that the routine coercion committed by the federal government today against the American people dwarfs, unarguably, whatever repression performed by the British Parliament and Monarchy against the young American colonies? All of the worst fears of the Founders have become manifest, hence something must be done.

    Professor Thomas Woods has advocated the reintroduction of the use of nullification by the states against the federal government and I support such a proposal. Nullification refers to the power of a state government to declare a federal law unconstitutional and, therefore, legally unenforceable with its jurisdiction. History demonstrates that individual rights are best protected when political power is “decentralized,” i.e., distributed over local governments as opposed to concentrated with one supreme government. Nullification is a middleground between standard voting, which sucks and is aggravatingly ineffective, and secession which is completely impractical (though justifiable in my opinion). Notable (and admittedly self-serving) examples of nullification in U.S. history include the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and the personal liberty laws.

    But I have yet to be convinced that our current array of legal instruments is remotely sufficient to prevent the inevitable growth of government.

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    @

    I agree that a violent coup is out of the question, principally because it would be virtually impossible to execute. “Can this be done?” must be answered before “Should this be done?”

    However, a revolution need not be accompanied with wild, civil unrest, as was proven, with Romania as an exception, during the fall of the Soviet Union. Acts of nullification and secession are certainly capable of being bloodless. What if, say Nevada, nullifies Obamacare and refuses to comply after repeated demands from Washington? Will the administration mobilize the California National Guard to prepare for an incursion? I think such a decision on the part of Team Obama would be unlikely, to say the least.

    Revolutions may be arresting mentally, but they should not be discounted altogether.

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  13. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Despite all of the negative opinions on the comparison of Rome in its decline and the US, I am still convinced of its efficacy. I think in terms of the professional Army Rome developed after its defeat of Carthage, the profusion of foreign troops, non-Romans. When the Romans fought Hannibal they were an army of Romans. When the Greeks fought against the Persians at Marathon and Salamis they were an army of Greeks. When Alexander marched against Darius he led an army of Macedonians. Men fought for their “brothers” and their countrymen. Fewer and Fewer Americans feel it is their patriotic duty to join the armed forces. Those who do generally do so as a job, not a desire to serve their country. The loss of that quality has a lot to do with the willingness of the people to turn government over to “Staters”. They no longer feel a part of what makes the country great. It is their pursuit of personal wealth that motivates, not love of country.

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    @JimChase

    Eugene, I too agree with your larger point about parallels between Rome and the US, although I have a minor quibble about the following:

    Eugene Kriegsmann: Fewer and Fewer Americans feel it is their patriotic duty to join the armed forces. Those who do generally do so as a job, not a desire to serve their country.

    I know someone who once served in the recruiting command of one of our armed services. I asked once whether those whether those who were joining were doing so for the right reasons. The response was that, yes, there are a number who initially sign on for economic reasons, but it was his experience that the majority of those discovered a grander purpose, serving for the love and honor of their country. Your point is well taken that fewer are taking that first step, and I’m certain that your assessment of economic motivation persists among a certain percentage. For those that joined in peacetime, economic considerations are a likely driver for many. But for those that joined during wartime, I don’t think the characterization necessarily holds.

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    @JimChase

    To Aaron’s point, I wonder if America’s current identity crisis is a “recent” development? My take is that the current uncertainty broke to the surface following the end of the Cold War – in other words, our late 20th Century identity was shaped in large part by the global ideological battle of that period.

    But I also suspect that America has in some ways always had an identity crisis, of one sort or another. Even from the Founding, and through the 19th Century clearly, you can point to issues of identity. Periodic, generational social upheaval, the advance of technology and globalization through the 20th Century: there again, the existential question surfaces.

    I’m not schooled in such sociological arenas, but if it is true that we’ve always had an identity crisis of sorts, what is the tipping point at which following the path of Rome becomes inevitable? I suspect that tipping point comes when we lose our sense of heritage as a nation, cut off from our history, legacy and values. If a full embrace of socialism ever arrives, that tipping point will have come into view.

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    @JimChase

    Michael, I agree that acts of nullification represent a possible means of executing checks & balances on the federal government, but I wonder if the conditions are present to enable it. The citizenry seems to be conditioned to look to D.C., rather than to their own statehouses. And the states, given their utter dependence on federal largesse, are not dealing from a position of strength.

    With a few notable exceptions, I don’t see the states wholeheartedly pursuing anything close to nullification.

    I agree that a resurgence of federalism may help turn the tide, but it is realistic to expect such boldness from the states? I’m not so sure.

    As an aside, let me just say that I am thoroughly enjoying the education I’m getting from the Ricochet community. I find my presumptions challenged here almost every day, and that’s a good thing.

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    @AaronMiller

    Eugene, I think your point is spot on. At the heart of America’s present troubles is a struggle for identity. A combination of deliberate cultural movements and accidental responses to changing circumstances is pushing the U.S. into existential questions. What makes someone an American? What are our goals? What are our methods? What are our loyalties?

    Many Americans are extraordinarily worried about our future because they are not sure where we are headed or who is taking us there. Saddest of all, Americans seem to increasingly doubt each other. Do we oppose one another like siblings in a family quarrel? Or are we truly enemies?

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    @

    Jim Chase, having served in the armed forces for more than 27 years and having seen a good deal of active service, I can truly say that unit identification is always far more powerful than patriotism. It was my feeling when I was in, and my readings since confirm that that has always been so. The personal histories from the Civil War are replete with professions of comradeship as the primary motivator, as are the personal narratives from WWII. However, men who fought in defense of their country out of necessity, as in the Civil War and WWII are a very different species than those who fought in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan where seeing the direct threat to your home and family is far more obscure. However, if there were an insurrection of Americans against their government, I have no doubt that those same troops would defend their country (the government) against it. The identification with unit being too well engrained. That being said, I would not want to face a modern military equipped with fully automatic weapons using my target and hunting pieces. This country is far from ready for revolution.

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    @AaronMiller
    Jim Chase: Michael, I agree that acts of nullification represent a possible means of executing checks & balances on the federal government, but I wonder if the conditions are present to enable it. The citizenry seems to be conditioned to look to D.C., rather than to their own statehouses. And the states, given their utter dependence on federal largesse, are not dealing from a position of strength. · Aug 1 at 8:33am

    I agree that citizens are conditioned to focus on the federal level.

    True change must be initiated at the state level, and funding is the key. Governor Christie and others have proven that entitlements can be repealed at the state level and budgets brought into line, but the federal government wields tremendous power over the states through their dependency on federal funds. Louisiana only raised its drinking age to 21 after the feds withtheld highway funding.

    The path to restoring freedom in this country begins by transferring our funding needs from federal money to local money and private inititiatives. Then, we should challenge federal officials to enforce clearly unconstitutional laws.

    Step 1: Wean the states off of federal money.

    Step 2: Civil disobedience. Obey only Constitutional laws.

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    @Pachyderm

    Just listened to a fascinating interview with Jim Rickards on King World News. Rickards, an old hand in financial circles, makes some scary comparisons between the U.S. and the decline of the Roman Empire. Rickards notes that to fund its foreign adventures Rome raised taxes on farmers to very high levels. This discouraged farmers from growing and selling food, resulting in less taxes. In response, Rome taxed farmers on the profits that they should have produced, driving them to ruin. By the time the barbarians invaded, 30% of Rome’s farms lay fallow. By the time the barbarians arrived, many Romans welcomed them.

    Food for thought.

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  21. Profile Photo Member
    @JimChase
    Eugene Kriegsmann: …, having served in the armed forces for more than 27 years and having seen a good deal of active service, I can truly say that unit identification is always far more powerful than patriotism. It was my feeling when I was in, and my readings since confirm that that has always been so.

    Eugene, my apologies, I meant to post this the other day, but thank you for both the insight and for your years of service and sacrifice. As an addendum, I once had it described to me that for the Warfighter, “love of country” was less a political/policy construct and more a complex combination of love of family, home and “way of life”, difficult to explain but very intense. How accurate that is, I cannot speak to except from my own vantage point, as a civilian, son of a retired USAF Col., and as an Army contractor.

    And while I too don’t see anything like an armed rebellion or revolution in our immediate future, I pray the day never comes when this love of country comes in conflict with the military oath.

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