• The Impossible Insurrection of January 6

    From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Thu Nov 25 13:12:24 2021
    The Impossible Insurrection of January 6
    By Barton Swaim, 11/19/21, Wall St. Journal

    After the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, the NY Times & other publications on
    the left began calling the event an “insurrection” & an attempted “coup.” The riot was an appalling & dishonorable event, & the
    perpetrators of its crimes are rightly being prosecuted. But to call it
    an attempted coup is preposterous—& not simply for the practical reason
    that the prosecuted rioters weren’t indicted for treason or conspiracy
    to overthrow the govt but for obstruction of an official proceeding, trespassing on govt property, disorderly conduct & the like. The idea
    that Trump & his followers had any chance of overthrowing the U.S.
    govt, or even that they aimed at that outcome, is a delusion. That
    delusion springs from American liberal elites’ failure to accept the
    fact of their own predominance.

    The literary critic Lionel Trilling observed in “The Liberal
    Imagination” (1950) that “in the U.S. at this time liberalism is not
    only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.” He went on
    to assert that “nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas
    in general circulation” & that “the conservative impulse & the
    reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated & some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in
    irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”

    You can quibble with the claim—the works of Friedrich Hayek, for one,
    were well known at the time—but his point was basically sound. In 1950
    there was no conservative movement in America. There was a general
    disposition to honor traditional virtues, valorize patriotism & promote religious observance. But as a social & political philosophy,
    liberalism was the only game in town.

    In later decades a homegrown conservative movement would shake things
    up (more on that in a moment), but a lifetime later the essence of Trilling’s claim still obtains. It's irrefutable that some form of
    modern liberalism or progressivism prevails in nearly every sphere of
    American public life: the news media, the universities, K-12 education,
    the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms, mainline religious
    orgs, college & professional sports (excluding the fans), much of U.S. military bureaucracy, & state & federal agencies. The only spheres in
    which the left’s dominance is seriously disputed are electoral
    politics, for the simple reason that American voters still incline in a broadly conservative direction, & the judiciary, which is shaped by the political branches.

    As a cultural & political outlook in the U.S., the ascendancy of liberalism—or progressivism, as its more strident manifestation is termed—is about as certain in 2021 as it was, according to Trilling, in
    the middle of the last century. Liberalism faces political opposition
    from time to time; its march has been interrupted by the election of
    people determined to stop it. But even in politics it has eventually
    triumphed everywhere: Traditional moral values have long since fled
    from the public square, every new constituency claiming persecution has received special political rights, the welfare state is in a permanent
    state of growth, & there is no obvious limit to what the federal govt
    will spend in pursuit of liberal aims.

    Occasional protests flare up—a “bathroom bill” here, an abortion regulation there—but these are met with ferocious denunciations from celebrities, boycotts from heavyweight corporations & relentlessly
    censorious press coverage. The protests soon fizzle. Sometimes an
    entire movement will dispute liberalism’s ascendancy, but it's soon pronounced a threat to civilization & fades from view. Remember the
    religious right?

    Yet liberals & progressives always sound as though liberalism is on the
    brink of demise, a step or two away from overthrow by a rival ideology.
    They fail to appreciate that American conservatism is—& has been for
    the past 70 years—a response to a hegemonic liberalism. Conservatives
    dabble in irredentist tropes during elections, as if they might
    actually one day overpower their adversaries. But American conservatism doesn’t have the power, even if it wanted to, to sweep aside cobwebbed liberal institutions & remake them along the lines of a conservative philosophy.

    John Stuart Mill, in “Considerations on Representative Government”
    (1861), called the Conservative Party “the stupidest party,” now often misquoted as “the stupid party.” There's something to the notion that conservatives are, on balance, dumber than liberals—at least on
    subjects liberals care most about. Liberals are urban sophisticates & cognizant of the latest ideas; conservatives generally aren’t. Most conservatives have arrived at their views by instinct & disposition,
    not by formal instruction & reading think pieces.

    Members of the stupid party have their virtues. They don't fall for highfalutin ideologies & avoid changing things for no good reason. But
    on political topics their views are often inconsistent & undisciplined.
    A substantial minority of them, however sound their instincts on the
    largest questions, are at all times in danger of expressing idiotic
    bigotries or alleging nonsensical conspiracies.

    In part for these reasons conservatives don’t figure prominently among
    the U.S. cultural elite, media class & tenured professoriate. The right
    has always been a force in politics & policy making—because, again,
    politics turns on elections, & there are a lot of conservative voters
    in a lot of places. But conservatism has never been much more than an intermittent annoyance in, say, the Washington press corps or higher education.

    It was the great achievement of Wm. F. Buckley Jr. to consolidate what
    was otherwise a disparate & fractured right. By the force of his
    personality & superhuman productivity, he managed to bring together
    free marketeers & social conservatives into a more or less coherent
    movement. Some had to be kept out—Ayn Rand, the irrationally
    anticommunist John Birchers. But other figures used their gifts to
    ensure that the right remained consolidated & politically effective:
    this newspaper’s longtime editor Robert L. Bartley, who championed the virtues of markets & warned against the encroachments of governmental rationalizers; Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol & other neocons who
    embraced a hawkish foreign policy & urged the right to champion
    specific policy reforms; social conservatives who fulminated against
    the cultural hedonism of aging beatniks.

    By the 70s it was no longer true, as Trilling had it, that there were
    no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.” That
    didn’t mean conservatives held anything close to the cultural power of liberals. Because attention tends to fix on electoral politics, a
    casual observer could be forgiven for positing a rough parity between
    left & right. But there was no parity at, for instance, the network
    news channels or Ivy League universities or the big movie studios.

    One way to gauge the power of left & right is to consider the policy
    positions of the two parties. I am not sure how many books by liberal
    authors I’ve read over the past 15 years claiming that the Republican
    Party has drifted so far to the right as to be a lost cause & perhaps a
    menace to democracy itself.

    But has it moved so far? The Congressional GOP’s tactics became extreme during the Obama years—threatening govt shutdowns & the like. Trump
    gave the party an attitudinal assertiveness it never had before. But on
    policy the Republican Party has remained mostly static. In 2021 the GOP
    holds about the same positions it held 40 years ago. Republicans favor
    lower personal & corporate taxes, reform of entitlement programs, less
    govt spending (at least when Dems are in charge), a traditional lock-’
    em-up approach to law enforcement, broad restrictions on abortion,
    higher military spending & a more hawkish foreign policy. Repubs may be faulted for a lack of imagination on questions of policy, but not for “drifting” in a rightward direction, except perhaps on immigration & trade. On some important questions—same-sex marriage, for example—the
    GOP has either moved leftward or given up.

    The national Democratic Party in 2021 is another thing altogether. The
    party has moved consistently leftward over the same 40 years,
    dramatically so over the last five. The Democratic Party, or a
    preponderant part of it, now advocates universal prekindergarten,
    federal child care, direct welfare payments to parents, a massive rearrangement of the economy to address climate change, free college
    education & fully socialized health insurance—including for illegal
    aliens. The party flirts with any radical idea to come along: a tax on
    wealth, racial reparations, abolition of police & prisons. These aren’t views that Democrats of 1980, or 2000, would recognize.

    The party of the left, owing to its overwhelming presence across an
    array of American institutions, has the luxury of staking out novel & ideologically attractive positions. The party of the right doesn’t. So comprehensive is the mastery enjoyed by today’s liberals that many of
    them show little awareness that holding conservative views is something intelligent & morally responsible people sometimes do. One reason so
    many people on the left have abandoned their belief in free speech &
    adopted a prissy totalitarian outlook is that they rarely or never
    encounter people who openly hold standard conservative views.

    Which brings us back to Donald Trump. His nomination in 2016, & even
    more his election to the presidency, was an anguished outcry against
    decades of aggressions. It wasn’t wise or sensible, but it was understandable as a frantic attempt to stay the hand of an
    uncompromising cultural leftism.

    The leftward-inclining elites who dominate American institutions didn’t interpret it that way. They classified it, as they had classified the tea-party revolt of 2009–10, as an expression of racism & hatred, thus relieving themselves of any responsibility to take it seriously or to
    discern its meaning. They employed every conceivable tool in an effort
    to remove Trump from office. Intellectuals & commentators called him a fascist; top-drawer authors blamed him for coronavirus deaths;
    officials of the FBI worked with political operatives & for-hire spies
    to frame him as a Russian asset; the U.S. media accepted & publicized
    the hoax wholesale; former military & intel officials openly called him
    a traitor; federal security bureaucracies hatched plots to have him
    impeached; & the entertainment industry used every opportunity to cast
    him as a villainous madman & a snarling racist idiot.

    Trump’s postelection claims of election theft weren't worse than his enemies’ attempts to delegitimize his 2016 election by pretending the outcome was a consequence of Putin’s machinations. But his claims were
    false & without excuse, & his maniacal repetition of them led directly
    to the disgrace of the Capitol riot.

    What the former president’s cultured despisers fail to appreciate,
    however, is that 4 years of subversion, slander & scorched-earth
    resistance made his cockamamie claims sound credible to a large
    audience of otherwise sane & sensible Americans. They may have
    entertained many incorrect notions about the 2020 election, but they
    were right to conclude that Trump’s enemies possessed far more power
    and influence than he did & were willing to defeat him by any means
    necessary, including unethical ones.

    The idea that the Capitol rioters threatened the American republic is a fantasy. Even to pose such a threat, they would've needed to do far
    more than break into an unguarded Capitol building & stop Mike Pence
    from certifying the count of the Electoral College. To stage a coup,
    these renegades would've needed the backing of the military; & to
    govern afterward they would have needed cooperation from other
    institutions, including the news media & the federal bureaucracy. They
    had no support from those quarters & no hope of getting it. Their
    effort was witless & pointless, a dud grenade thrown at an armored

    Even so, the riot will live on in the public consciousness as an “insurrection” & attempted “coup” because it encourages the left’s irrational fear of conquest by the right. The danger is that this
    paranoia keeps liberals from understanding their own dominant
    position—& acknowledging how illiberally they often exploit it.

    Mr. Swaim is an editorial page writer at the Journal.


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  • From El Castor@21:1/5 to imbibe@mindspring.com on Thu Nov 25 23:43:52 2021
    On Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:12:24 -0800 (PST), "(David P.)"
    <imbibe@mindspring.com> wrote:

    The Impossible Insurrection of January 6
    By Barton Swaim, 11/19/21, Wall St. Journal

    Even so, the riot will live on in the public consciousness as an >insurrection & attempted coup because it encourages the lefts
    irrational fear of conquest by the right. The danger is that this
    paranoia keeps liberals from understanding their own dominant
    position& acknowledging how illiberally they often exploit it.

    Mr. Swaim is an editorial page writer at the Journal.

    Bottom line Trump went into hiding and turned over to Pence resistance
    to the idiotic attempted insurrection. Trump should have been out
    there with a bull horn ordering those rioters to back off. His failure
    in this regard was a piss poor way to end a presidency that was
    otherwise replete with great accomplishments.

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