Nobody nails it like Codevilla.
At least half of Americans sense that their country has been taken from them. In 2016, they voted for Donald Trump despite obvious reasons not to: churchgoers, despite his lack of religiosity; women, despite his womanizing, small business people, despite his big business identity; advocates of civility, despite his plain incivilities, and so on. They voted for protection against government, big business, the media, the educational and even the religious establishments, which wage a cold civil war to push them and their “deplorable” way of life to society’s margins.
But the election’s aftermath confirmed fears that mere voting cannot reestablish traditional American priorities. It has done and can do little to lessen the ruling class’s relentless pressures on how we live our lives. How to save a way of life while avoiding surrender, or a hot civil war, is the subject of anguish, and much debate.
In principle, the solution is simple, sufficient, and deeply rooted in American history: what some call “subsidiarity,” previously practiced in America as federalism. As culturally diverse people sort themselves out over a vast land, only despotism can force each part to live in ways repugnant to its majority. Hence, I suggested in 2017 that just as people on the Right should be content with the majority of Californians’ decision to be a “sanctuary” from national immigration laws, those on the Left should be just as tolerant of Texans or North Dakotans deciding to make their states “sanctuaries” from Federal Court decisions concerning abortion or a bunch of other things.
But avoiding civil war on this basis is inconceivable now because the Left believes it has the right, duty, and power to force universal adherence to its dictates’ utmost details. Nor can surrender purchase peace, because the Left’s dictates do not and cannot have a final form. Endlessly evolving, they are less about what is being imposed on America than about inflicting righteous punishment on inferiors—the appetite and power for which increase with every success.
That is why the prescriptions of “conservative reformers”—for example, Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic—deny reality. They suppose that economics, ever the ground of compromise, is the dividing line between Right and Left. Hence they posit that the American Left is amenable to retreat from confrontation, to live-and-let-live.
But money has never been the point.
As with every other word the man utters, I dare you not to read all of it. There simply is no more insightful, eloquent, and unflinching commentator around.