Worth a try, of course. But doubtful. Very, very doubtful.
Eminent conservative thinker Angelo Codevilla had an article titled “To Rescue a Nation” last week at the American Mind that’s very much worth reading. To save the republic means ending the escalating tensions and conflicts precipitated by growing divisions. A radical approach is necessary.
To allow divergent peoples to peacefully coexist and find some commonality of purpose so the nation may survive, differences must be accepted and governance made to conform to that reality. To achieve that good result, Codevilla asserts that we need a “radical de-centralization” or, as might be said, a radical federalization of the nation. It’s the remedy for saving the country from disunion or tyranny. But is this worthy goal achievable?
Almost certainly not. At this point, whether it’s even desirable or not is eminently debatable. There’s a certain inconvenient reality the more reticent and respectable commentariat overlooks that undoes every argument they try to make: the nation is ALREADY split, in every truly meaningful sense. The divergence of political ideology, ambition, and intent has widened into a yawning chasm. It is a gap that can no longer be bridged. The point is moot; tyranny is already in place, and the only thing disunion lacks is an official, de jure proclamation of it.
The arguments proferred by authoritarian Leftists—who loathe the Founders’ conception of what constitutes just and legitimate governance to their very marrow—and those of Real Americans—who revere those noble principles, mourn their loss, and wish to see them restored to their rightful primacy—are wholly intractable. Tyranny and liberty are incompatible; sooner or later, the eternal conflict between them will be resolved. History shows that it will not, it cannot, be done peaceably unless one side acquiesces. The author knows this as well as the rest of us do:
We’re tempted to say that Codevilla’s vision aligns the nation more closely with its inception, with the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union — at least in that spirit. A looser federation of states and enhanced localities with Washington more focused on core functions — national defense being preeminent – would boost chances of the United States continuing as one nation.
But there’s a sticking point, and it isn’t trifling. In fact, for the nation’s elites (the oligarchs — Codevilla uses that descriptor, too) and the left, radical decentralization is precisely what they oppose. Whereas republican America would, and portions of Woke America may, welcome a significant decentralization, which amounts to a policy of “live and let live,” a radical centralization of the nation is what oligarchs and the left seek.
The oligarchs do so, principally, for power that leads to wealth. The left, which holds to Marxism, lusts for power and seeks wealth but also craves control over lives. Marxism — not judged by its blarney, but by its practice – demonstrates that it’s about hierarchy, concentrations of power, and control — not of an authoritarian stripe, but a totalitarian one, as history makes abundantly clear.
Today, these anti-liberty factions are playing a zero-sum game, and they’ve given no indications that they’re willing to compromise or are open to realignments of government that thwart their aspirations.
Which is precisely the tack Team Liberty must now take also. It was the starry-eyed “willingness to compromise” and blasé acceptance of “realignments of government that thwart their aspirations,” combined with their fatally-mistaken granting of an undeserved assumption of honest intentions and fair-mindedness to the Left that got us all in this mess.
Alas, this is where I must part ways with the author, who otherwise seems to grasp our conundrum more acutely than most.
Codevilla says that to rally and lead a national movement a galvanizing figure must emerge. He doesn’t appear to be keen on Trump, because he believes Trump is too self-focused. Here we disagree. Trump has largely galvanized Red or republican America. As president, despite relentless hostilities, he accomplished for the nation. He drew large audiences, in person and across mediums, including last Saturday night at an Ohio rally. Yet, the organization behind Trump has been inchoate and most often ad hoc. Trump may be the General Washington republican America needs. What he requires are able lieutenants who can effectively organize behind him.
In a word: NO. Trump’s time has passed. He had his opportunity, and whatever may have motivated him to do so, he failed to seize it. He may or may not have some part to play in what’s to come, I really couldn’t say. But he has shown himself to be a far less effective champion than Real Americans had hoped. Love him or hate him, when the rubber met the road he took his foot off the gas and stalled the car. I can no longer see him as the man to get the motor running again and drive us on to where we need to be.
With the closer, the article gets back in track.
A critical consideration is that the oligarchs and left would offer robust counters to republican America’s “defensive” offensives. The stakes are sky-high for them. We must grasp the nature of the enemy.
Men and women, bent on domination, and in many cases, with years of sweat equity invested in achieving their aims, aren’t going to be quickly deterred. They will fight and fight hard. As we saw during the Trump presidency, they have no compunction about using false accusations and illegality (Russia Collusion hoax), destroying reputations, brazen disinformation (the January 6 “insurrection”), resorting to election chicanery, stoking public fear as a means of manipulation (COVID lockdowns), and loosing Antifa and BLM to incite riots. Exposed in 2020 was the ugliness and, in fact, ruthlessness, of anti-liberty factions. They can get uglier and more ruthless without a doubt.
And they will. None but a fool could have any doubt about that by now. As has been more than amply demonstrated, they intend to rule. There is no length to which they won’t go to make that happen—none. Will we let them?
Which isn’t an argument against fully joining the fight and committing to nothing less than total victory. Republican America has plenty at stake, too: the rule of law and liberty. It’s simply to impart the understanding that in war — cold, hot, or somewhere in-between — it’s best to anticipate a greater intensity of conflict for a longer duration than decent people would hope, particularly when wars are civil in nature.
The status quo is unsustainable. The question is, can republican America win the day, ushering in a fundamental decentralization of the nation, thereby permitting divergent peoples to share one nation, bound by some traditions and some shared beliefs and aspirations? Perhaps. Or will this clash between very different worldviews lead to the permanent partition of America? Or will it boil down to a zero-sum game, with one or the other side prevailing? Much awaits future events.
There should be no further discussion of whether “republican American” CAN win the day. It’s deflating, demoralizing thumbsuckery, and we can no longer afford to indulge in it. “Republican America” MUST win, and that’s flat. No matter what it takes, no matter how distasteful the actions required of us, the alternative is far too terrible to contemplate.
Courtroom wrangling, legislative mucking about, the strongest imaginable words, idle daydreams of a way out that doesn’t involve resorting to violence against an enemy that has already done just that—none of these, alone or combined, are anywhere near sturdy enough tools to wreak a reconciliation between two adversaries whose commitment to diametrically-opposed beliefs is unswerving. He who flinches from battle has already lost the war. Try as we might to find another path, throughout human history it has always come down to the same, simple equation: One side must win. One side must lose.
We MUST not lose.