Okay, it’s becoming clear to me that I really need to put The American Mind, the Claremont Institute’s new online publication, into the blogroll and bookmarks toot sweet—especially seeing as how they’ve added Codevilla to the stable.
The 2008 financial crisis sparked an incipient revolution. Previously, Americans dissatisfied with their Progressive rulers had imagined that voting for Republicans might counter them. But then, as three-fourths of Americans opposed bailing out big banks with nearly a trillion dollars, the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates joined; most Republican legislators joined all Democrats; The Wall Street Journal joined The New York Times, and National Review joined The Nation; in telling Americans that doing this was essential, and that their disapproval counted for nothing. And then, just as high-handedly, all these bipartisan rulers dropped that bailout scheme, and adopted another—just as unaccountably. They showed “government by the people, for the people” to be a fable.
This forced the recognition that there exists a remarkably uniform, bipartisan, Progressive ruling class; that it includes, most of the bureaucracies of federal and state governments, the judiciary, the educational establishment, the media, as well as major corporate officials; that it had separated itself socially, morally, and politically from the rest of society, whose commanding heights it monopolized; above all that it has contempt for the rest of America, and that ordinary Americans have no means of persuading this class of anything, because they don’t count.
As the majority of Americans have become conscious of the differences between this class and themselves they have sought ever more passionately to shake it off. That is the ground of our revolution.
Our time’s sharp distinction between rulers and ruled, the ever decreasing interchange and sympathy between them, is rooted in the disdain for ordinary Americans that the universities have sown since the Civil War. Ordinary Americans and their rulers are alienated now in ways unimaginable to the Northerners and Southerners who killed each other a century and a half ago, but who nodded when Abraham Lincoln noted that they “prayed to the same God.” Both revered the American founding. Both aspired to the same family life. Often, opposite sides’ generals were personal friends. And why not? The schools they attended, the books they read, did not teach them the others’ inferiority. They were one people. Now, we are no longer one people.
The anti-establishment “wave elections” of 2010 and 2014, in which the Democratic Party lost Congress and control of a majority of state legislatures, only led America’s Progressive rulers to double down on their positions of power in the judiciary, the media, corporations, etc. The Supreme Court struck down a referendum by liberal California defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had become law by near-unanimity, was overturned bureaucratically and judicially. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, on the books just as firmly, was undone by executive, judicial, bureaucratic, corporate, and mediatic subordination of religious freedom to anti-discrimination. By the 2016 election, America’s Progressive rulers were demonizing and punishing persons who define male and female by their birth and personal plumbing. 1984’s Big Brother had not been so imperious.
The 2016 election’s primaries were all about the American people’s search for means of de-throning increasingly insufferable rulers. Even on the Democratic side, many bridled at their self-serving unaccountability. But since the Democrats are the party of government, it was clear that protection from and vengeance against the existing power structure would have to come from the nominal opposition party. Yet the Republicans were very much part of the problem. That is why 2016’s real struggle took place within the Republican primaries, the most enduringly significant fact of which is that Jeb Bush, the candidate most closely identified with the Progressive ruling class, spent some $150 million and secured only three convention delegates. Americans in general, and Republicans in particular, were looking for the polar opposite.
Donald Trump was out of central casting—seemingly a caricature of what the ruling class said about its opponents. But the words he spoke were less significant than that he spoke with angry contempt for the ruling class. That—and the crowded field that never allowed a head-to-head choice—is what got him the chance to be the alternative to the ruling class. And that is what got him elected President of the United States.
Those who voted for Trump believing or hoping that he would do a, b, or c, were fewer than those who were sure that he offered the only possibility of ending, or at least pausing, the power of an increasingly harmful, intolerant, disdainful, socio-political identity. In 2016 one set of identities revolted against another. That was the revolution’s first turn.
The ruling class’s “resistance” to the 2016 election’s outcome was the second turn. Its vehemence, unanimity, coordination, endurance,and non-consideration of fallback options—the rapidity with which our revolution’s logic has unfolded—have surprised and dismayed even those of us who realized that America had abandoned its republican past.
The “resistance” subsequent to the election surprises, in part, because only as it has unfolded have we learned of its scope prior to the election. All too simply: the U.S government’s upper echelons merged politically with the campaign of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing, and with the media. They aimed to secure the establishment candidates’ victory and then to nullify the lost election’s results by resisting the winners’ exercise of legitimate powers, treating them as if they were illegitimate. The measure of the resistance’s proximate success or failure would come in the 2018 elections.
Partisan “dirty tricks” are unremarkable. But when networks within government and those who occupy society’s commanding heights play them against persons trying to unseat them, they constitute cold civil war against the voters, even coups d’etat. What can possibly answer such acts? And then what?
Nobody, but nobody, is as perceptive and sees this stuff as clearly—and can enunciate it so powerfully and deftly—as Codevilla. Along with Michael Anton’s brilliant Flight 93 Election essay, Codevilla’s seminal Ruling Class/Country Class piece will endure as truly historic, a defining moment in the ongoing revolution of which he speaks here. It’s a long article, scholarly and deep, as is his wont. Trust me, you want to read all of it—probably more than once. I guarantee you’re going to see it referenced again and again, for a long, long time to come.