First, clear the stage for a one party state

In August, I posted an old Firing Line with Richard Pipes. Before Buckley and Pipes discussed particulars, Kinsley summed up Pipes’ argument that the Russian revolution was arguably the most important event of the 20th century, setting a pattern copied by Hitler, Mao, etc. and unfortunately etc. First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

Now, a couple of elections and more months of Covid, we seem farther down the path. The “political police” with help from the tech giants have made almost everything political and then started pruning, “cancelling.” Standing our military down to facilitate self-inspection and self-awareness training, fear-mongering about white nationalist extremists all intensify “white fragility” courses. The mainstream news celebrates the appropriateness of Biden’s speech at the Prayer Breakfast, but to others his speech of dark times and enemies within is worrisome. By “within,” despite the occasion, he didn’t mean ever present temptation but rather the “other” – white nationalist insurrectionists. Re-education for that “other,” re-education in the 1619 project, in federal fragility workshops, and now, the military, standing down to spend time in self-flagellation.

Tight-knit associations of family or interests or faiths keep total politicization at bay as does our tradition, “Don’t tread on me” flags remain in many homes. Independence is stronger in red states. Still. That televised discussion from decades ago moved in the back of my head this fall: the election came, Covid waxed and waned, and I wondered if Republicans could ever win elections with new rules, new states, new judges. We were, it is clear, the brush to be cleared away and not the ruler in the one-party state. My fears may be hyperbolic. I hope and in my calmer moments think so. But then we need frustrate the Democrat’s dream.

And that means, as some of the sharper knives in the Congressional drawer have noted, making election laws clear and just.

Americans are American – our culture values autonomy more than most. The last year of lock-downs has shown which states saw rule from the top as a good (New York, California) and which did not (listen to the governors from Florida, Texas, Nebraska, and especially Kristi Noem). Some believed their constituents had enough sense to come in out of the rain, that they were prudent and life-loving enough to make good choices. Not surprisingly, those citizens and not Cuomo nor Newsom listened to the science, if not always the scientists. It was our lives. And elections are the expressions of power from the bottom up. But Texas and New York, California and Florida will need, to be true to themselves, different forms of election reform.If we nationalize reform we will not be true to our founders and will accumulate a good many problems. We’d eliminate that great American set of petri dishes; each grows in ways true to itself. Down the line hybrids will emerge. National leaders should support – in person and in voice – necessary reforms. But with humility: each state has its own geography, culture.

But all reform will need to value the individual and the individual’s vote. Wise takes often come with laughs at the Babylon Bee: in Mike Lindell’s appeal to socialists – “Our Pillow” – lie sharp observation. As “she” and “he” merge in a “they” that doesn’t signify number, the never individual, always communal triumphs. In a later book, Pipes noted the importance of “my” in terms of our property and our selves. We say “my family” as well as “my book” as well as “my country.” Our nation is a union of those “mys”, made up of individuals, who are recognized by the scrupulous limits of government; each of us chooses what to say, publish, believe and befriend. And, of course, it is my gun, my boundaries as well. Most importantly, it is my vote – not my tribe’s, not my family’s, but mine.

The founders’ assumption should be those of reformers. There is greater knowledge within crowds – the sum of independent and individual knowledge and experience – than in expert theories. And that a vote is both gift and responsibility. They were writing in a heady time, the Declaration of Independence published the same year as Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. And in the Great Awakening, only a few years earlier, minds were moved by a dual argument. Man has a great capacity for understanding and thought, love and sympathy, but man is fallen. Devising a system that respects our strengths but also our capacity to do wrong (often calling it good). They would understand the temptation to swing an election prompted by pride, by unearned certainty. Democracies require virtue and virtue requires the habits of virtue; they also require humility.

In this time of tribalism and grievance, the independent, secret vote must be treasured. One danger is suppression, making voting too difficult. My husband’s mother remembers her father returning in tears when the Klan blocked his way to vote – whether it was because he had a strong Czech accent though born in America or because he was Catholic she was somewhat unsure. After all, she’d been a little girl then. A century has passed. Few of us have experienced anything worse than inconvenience at a polling place, few have known a Klansman or anyone with such beliefs. Indeed, where have we seen voter suppression in the last few years? Where did men with bats patrol the way to the polls? Which administration refused to prosecute that suppression?

However, every illegal vote dilutes the voice of a legal one – these aren’t “surplus” but give a counterfeit meaning to vote totals. Illegal voting profanes the vote. How often do boxes of votes show up hours or days or weeks later? How many after the counting was about to end and the margin was known? Is it possible that there were more legal voters than voters registered? Or even living?

Voting changes hastily enforced and enacted by fiat do not give confidence. Changes were not debated, were not constitutional, and they were barely understood by the voters. Some changes seemed designed to make voter fraud easy – one can argue, of course, that given fears of Covid, they were merely meant to make voting in a pandemic possible. Nonetheless, politicians who saw crisis as opportunity were not likely to produce good election law.

Some practices have sufficient fraud potential to be banned: voting machines linked to the internet, harvesting votes, deadlines that stretch beyond election day. (How can they still be recounting four months later in New York?) The absurdity of “suppression” coming from picture i.d.s should be greeted with the laugh it deserves. (Demands for these suppress many a minor from buying liquor, but that’s the point.)

My opinion (not wildly popular) is that election day should be given respect and authority. This might make fraud more difficult, but, more importantly, voting together, at a local poll with your neighbors, strengthens community. Voting is a “civic ritual” – the central ritual of our democracy, And waiting for the returns as the polls close continues that precious sense, as each private individual vote joins the precinct’s, county’s, state’s, nation’s as part of that total.

The “welcome wagon” is important in states like ours, but getting the voting right is even more important. Then we can reason our way – trusting in the wisdom of Americans – to solutions.

26 thoughts on “First, clear the stage for a one party state”

  1. With Shield Jackson Lee’s new bill, one has to wonder,what are the Democrats planning, that requires a disarmed populace?

  2. What to me is by far the most infuriating thing right now is the new SecDef basically saying that the military is a bunch of racists. What a total piece of garbage. So much for “thank you for your service.”

  3. to believe in the constitution is racist, after all it was written more than a hundred years ago, sarc, this purge is a little different than in the soviet union, where it was czarists, then white russians, mensheviks, then trotskyites,

  4. The 2022 election should give some answers. It is easier to “win” a single election for President than to “win” 535 elections for Congress. Certainly some safe seats, like Maxine Waters’ in Los Angeles, are easier to steal/fix than all 535. The fact that the Democrat majority in the House was reduced while the presidential election was stolen suggests the possibility that all is not lost.

    One important reform, would be to reduce the use of voting machines that can be hacked. Dominion seems to be trying to frighten any critics with huge lawsuits. It would be possible to just ban the use of their machines without the threat of lawsuits. That would be one good step.

    Next, we need to go back to absentee voting only with a valid request. The Pelosi bill would probably try to require the massive mail in vote practice that occurred in some states in 2020. Maybe the Supreme Court, given the fact that it was ignored by states like Pennsylvania, will be more open to reforms proposed well before the election. I am not very optimistic but the clumsiness of the new administration might just help with reform.

  5. “One important reform, would be to reduce the use of voting machines that can be hacked”
    Yes, the first, most important question, needs to be, are “voting machines” connected to the internet? There is absolutely zero reason they should be (other than the obvious one). We can move onto other issues next, but that should be a 90% agreement issue.
    And it’s an absolute outrage that I don’t even know the answer to that question…

  6. that is the thing, in my experience, the database we had to check voters, but not the voting machines themselves,

  7. Christopher – Thank you – Those two tell us a great deal. Of course, what they may be telling us is how far beyond voter fraud are we now.
    And Kennedy is right – the reason we can’t let the drive toward nationalization go on.
    And I’m with Tucker Carlson – what the hell is a nationalist white terrorist? The “majority” surely still is not so enamoured of cheap goods that they’d give up their freedom for them.

  8. October: “There’s no huge conspiracy to rig the election. Saying otherwise is groundless.”
    November: “There’s no huge conspiracy to rig the election. Saying otherwise is sour grapes.”
    December: “There’s no huge conspiracy to rig the election. Saying otherwise is dangerous.”
    January: “There’s no huge conspiracy to rig the election. Saying otherwise is treason.”
    February: “Here’s the inside scoop on the huge conspiracy to rig the election.”

    Meanwhile, the GOPe is laser focused on the real important stuff, like punishing some random freshman from their own party for stuff she said years ago. That’s going to have an effect, but not the one you think, guys.

  9. Time magazine is now bragging about how the election was fixed.

    For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America�s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors. The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.

    From denying it could be done, to denying it was done, to boasting about it.

  10. FWIW, I just spoke with some folks who are still in the military. The SecDef’s call for an anti-racism/extremism standdown is not going over well. If it gains any kind of traction, a lot if folks will be retiring/separating earlier than planned.

  11. Anon: I believe that’s the plan, unfortunately. They want to turn the military into a left wing organization. I don’t like saying stuff like “this is what happened in Venezuela”, but this is what happened in Venezuela.

    Mike: Right before that part you excerpted:
    “There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain–inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests–in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.”
    It’s amazing. Honestly, a part of me wonders if Time just figures if they write this it will get linked more than anything they’ve done for decades.

  12. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.

    They wanted to avoid another Trump win in the Electoral College with a lower total of popular votes which would have driven the Democrats around the bend with rage.

  13. The SecDef’s call for an anti-racism/extremism standdown is not going over well. If it gains any kind of traction, a lot if folks will be retiring/separating earlier than planned.

    My DIL’s brother in law, a CPO in Sea Bees with 20 years, is getting out because of politics. It’s begun already. She’s happy because the moving will be over.

  14. The Sec Def’s standdown will be a killer, I think – but the actual damage will take some time to become apparent to China Joe and his crew of merry prog nimrods. There will be a lot of active duty personnel who will grudgingly attend the mandatory struggle sessions, keeping silent while being lectured, or rolling their eyes derisively where the political officer/diversity instructor can’t see them. The first-term juniors will rethink reenlistment, the mid-rank NCOs will decided to grimly hold out to twenty, and the senior NCOs will bail without a look backward. And recruiting will absolutely crater. When you look at which demographic enlists, where they come from, and how they usually gravitate to service at the pointy end of the spear … well, I suppose that under the Sec Def’s new concept, they can recruit illegals and inner-city gang-bangers who can’t shoot straight.

  15. Sgt. Mom: One thing the left is never short on, from Revolutionary France to the Cultural Revolution, is young people eager to kill for the cause. I think we’re all seriously underestimating the chances that they can’t recruit the folks now in antifa, etc., into the military, to replace the racist hicks.

  16. The one institution that has a healthy and positive rate of integration and respect for those with merit regardless of ethnicity or race, the one institution that has retained the respect of the majority of Americans as education, many sects of religion, politicians – congressional, presidential, you name it, boy scouts, girl scouts, and on and on have fallen. The left can’t let much that is strong, admired, American or even just healthy (e.g., the nuclear family) stand for many reasons. Anything good would stand in the way of a coup. Of course the last few years have been spent demeaning the police and making their jobs close to impossible. (And riots have been caused by so many incidents – like the racist remarks scrawled on doors – that have proven upon closer inspection to be totally false. Some have been invested in their “truth” rather than the truth.) oh, well. Sure that’s what we’re going to get – an army and a police full of gang bangers and psychopaths.

    Reinforcing Brian’s point: Anyone seen Lacombe, Lucien? Malle’s Damage, like Lacombe, haunted me for years after I’d seen it. This says something about his power as a director, the bleakness of his vision, or, hell I don’t know, anyway strong they may be but I’m not sure they are good medicine at this point. Certainly the combination of rioters this summer and the new search for what seems to me a pretty fictional enemy does not make Lacombe very palatable.

    Sgt Mom – I suspect you quite accurately described what is going to happen and you know how important those losses will be if we want a military with the virtues you know better than the rest of us. But that’s not what they want. They want a military held in the esteem we now have for Chicago teachers and their integrity but with more armaments to accomplish their graft.

  17. No doubt retention of quality troopers/NCO’s/officers will dip significantly. Reenlistment and junior officer retention has been an issue since Barry started playing with them. Recruiting standards have systemically been reduced and they’ve still been generally short of quotas.

    So what to do? Lower standards of course. One area where they have been creative is granting waivers for criminal convictions and arrests. Physical waivers and mental qualification have been made easier to meet. Legal status has apparently been ignored or it wouldn’t have been part of the “dreamer” program. All of these can and likely will be increased to make the numbers. The force size can also be reduced.

    The term for all this is “hollow force”. It’s not pretty and becomes a downward spiral as quality doesn’t associate with a bottom feeders. Let the distractions begin.


  18. The officer corps may be more amenable to the Woke stuff. When I was still doing enlistment H&Ps, the staff at the MEPS, which is the recruit center, is mostly former enlisted military. A few are active duty. They were the most upset when Obama was going to send transgenders into the military. Nobody wanted to be doing the female enlistees standing in their underwear when some dude showed up still fully equipped.

    Everybody heaved a sigh of relief when Trump cancelled it.

    Based on this, I wonder about the officer corps.

    I can see black athletes cheating as athletes have always been then most susceptible to this. But it sounds like many of the cadets ignoring the honor code were females.

    First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history.


    At the honor hearing the next day, I ended up being the one on trial as my character and reputation were dragged through the mud by the cadet and her civilian attorney while I sat on the witness stand without any assistance.

    My grandson wants to attend a military academy. Most Congress people in OC are now Democrats but even if he got an appointment, I wonder.

  19. Yes, that’s all very nice. Good men, of goodwill can all come together, to make elections more secure, fraud-free and fair. Except the Democrats aren’t interested. They want power and they want to win. They stole the 2020 POTUS election with fraud and mail in voting. 2/3 of the people who showed up on election day in Pennsylvania voted for Trump. 2/3 of the votes (how many were real people or valid voters?) by mail, many of which arrived 1,2,3 days after the election, went for Biden.

    The D’s want, what they have in Calf. Mail in votes. No checking for ID or citizenship. And weeks to cast the votes, and weeks to count the votes. And they are now pushing for 16-17 year old’s to vote. why not?

  20. re: DoD, no authority figure, past or present, spoke out and said that Mr. “Lt. Col.” Vindman was a piece of garbage who disgraced the uniform. Anyone who had of course would have had his career immediately ended by the Dems. They play hardball, and GOPers don’t, which is why they win. Pretty sure those days are numbered though…

  21. What I don’t understand is why DOD needs a 60-day standdown to do this. That’s a long time. They must intend to drag this out through a series of increasingly intense struggle sessions.

  22. Occasional Commenter,
    It’s not like they have ANYTHING more important to do than show solidarity with the goals of the Party. This will be the first but far from the last.

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