Some friendly liberal advice to Republicans.
I want to offer my sincerest apologies for your present illiberal treatment by the Democrats, especially progressive Democrats. Your rights as Americans are being violated—in speech and in deed and in broad daylight. If present trends continue, it’s not going to end well for America.
May I offer you some advice? I know the nature of what you are up against. Progressives are bullies. They don’t like liberals either. Progressives don’t like the idea or reality of dissent. They are impatient with the democratic process and persuasion. It’s either their way or the Substack way. They are unbearable.
Heads up: they are goading you to a prime-time slaughter. A mild-mannered historian, Jon Meacham, framed a Bull Connor of a barn-burner speech for President Biden. As the race-baiting segregationist Connor once sought to do with blacks, Biden’s speech looked to put the deplorable outside our civic and social order as enemies of the people.
Meacham’s speech had a message for two groups of Republicans.
To the mainstream, populist-adjacent Republicans, the message was: It’s time to bend the knee and join the Liz Cheney, Democrat-sanctioned Republican future.
To the “ultra MAGA” Republicans, the message was an intended provocation—a poke in the chest, a double-dare to stand up and push back.
The progressives are ready and want you to show up for a fight. They want you to show yourselves as the animals that they say you are. They are provoking folks who see themselves as American patriots so that they can cast them as domestic terrorists.
Don’t take the bait. They are looking to provoke a civil war. Instead, give them a civil rights response: peaceful and nonviolent protest is the only way forward. That’s the proven way to fight the oppression of greater power with asymmetrical advantages.
It’s good to know the extent of the power behind the provocation, and the comparative strength of your arms.
With regard to voters, the United States is still evenly divided, but below the voter waterline, Democrats and Republicans are far from equals. Democrats have institutional arms that Republicans can’t match and don’t fully appreciate. The commanding heights of education, entertainment, media, Big Tech, big business, Wall Street, advertising, and the permanent state—these are all solid assets of Democrats. Even if Republicans win, and win, and win again, the Democrats are in a different weight and fight class. In their own heads and in reality, they are Leviathan.
One would think, looking at politics through this lens, that Democrats would calm down and ride the arc of history to eventual victory. The Republican frog is being slowly boiled. Why spike the heat and have them jump out? Just give it time. Instead, they are raising the heat to encourage the frog to jump.
Why would they do that? Because they can. They have the collective power to pull it off.
Parties and politicians rise and fall, but Washington has a permanent administrative class that defends its own interests, which appear completely aligned with Democrats and against Republicans.
Once upon a time, Republicans could think that the CIA and FBI, the Justice Department, and the military were balanced, even favorable to their interests. No longer. Once upon a time, the media and the Democratic Party were deeply suspicious of these institutions; now they are the cheerleaders and apologists for them and regard their personnel as trusted experts whose patriotism is beyond reproach.
Maybe Al Gore did create the Internet. Before tech was Big Tech, it presented itself as a rival to all the Davos hierarchies; now it is their tool. Business rivals work in concert with one another against those they find deplorable, looking to erase them in a world that otherwise catalogs everything.
All these institutions—and their tectonic, aggregated influence—are in Democrat’s hands. They and their commanding partners understand their asymmetrical superiority, and they think it’s in their short- and long-term interest to demonstrate it now.
Why? The biggest threat that progressive politics faces are the consequences of progressive legislation. Progressivism comes on the scene as a luxury good. The immorality of “poverty in the midst of plenty” is their platform to re-imagine society. But in the end, they always drive out prosperity and make poverty more pathological. Look at New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco—this is the logic of progressive government made real. It doesn’t poll well or perform well at the ballot box.
Democrats should take a hit this November—so they are flexing their muscles across the commanding-heights marketplace to solicit an advantageous response. Their prospects improve with political violence. Preceding Biden’s speech was the legally sanctioned raid of former President Donald Trump, who is widely expected to pursue one more presidential campaign. After the speech, the FBI legally served and netted all the president’s men, with no blowback at all from the mainstream press. Poke, poke.
Don’t take the bait. If you do, you’ll be playing into the trap set for you.
If you find yourself mad as hell and you don’t want to take it anymore—for the sake of what you hold dear, stand down. You should be suspicious of anyone calling for kinetic action. There is good reason to think that that person is an FBI agent. Big Tech and the FBI are watching, waiting, and enabling. They want a super-sized Ruby Ridge. Don’t give it to them.
An eyes-wide-open understanding of this asymmetrical distribution of power calls for a civil disobedience response—peaceful, nonviolent resistance. Let them show their illiberal nature. Don’t give them a diversion that distracts from the consequences of their horrible policies.
This is the path to short- and long-term Republican gains. For all that we have at stake, please commit to this path. We rise and fall together.