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“The Flight 93 Election” revisited

The Biden junta has vindicated Michael Anton’s brilliant, prescient, and justly renowned “Flight 93” essay. Not that it needed any; the piece acted as its own vindication, more than adequately so. But still.

Anti-Constitution insurrectionists have seized the American cockpit, and they must be stopped even if that requires electing a polarized Donald Trump, wrote social critic Michael Anton in 2016 under a pseudonym.

The Flight 93 Election” set off an internet storm. The late, great Rush Limbaugh read almost all of it to his audience of Republican base voters soon after it came out, giving them assurance that not everyone on the right hated their candidate after an ugly primary battle in which no less than National Review published a cover essay collection titled “Against Trump.”

Anton was as reviled as he predicted in the essay. But now, six years later, Trump’s four years of governance and the Biden administration’s willfully malicious reign has vindicated the overall accuracy of Anton’s analysis.

Anton said the U.S. administrative state’s gradual replacement of constitutional self-government has metastasized into a national emergency, an argument American conservatives have been developing for more than 100 years. The essay justified a vote for Trump based on his platform against open borders, endless foreign war, and trading our economic advantages to China.

Trump was a wild card, Anton noted, but every other Republican candidate had no idea what time it is, so we’ll have to play the wild and see what happens. The alternative was certain political suicide.

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You — or the leader of your party — may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

He was right. Nothing backs that truth so much as the Biden presidency. It is, as Clinton’s would have been, a third term for Barack Obama, which is to say another four years of planned national demolition and the astonishing expansion of unlimited government, which is to say tyranny. The evidence is more visible now than it was in 2016, and those who tried to un-person Anton over his arguments owe him, and the country, an apology.

Yet another thing nobody should be holding their breath awaiting. The piece goes on from there to a lengthy list of then-impending man-caused national disasters foreseen by Anton with perfect clarity and accuracy. The whole article is fantastic, out of which this next ‘graph is my own personal fave:

If we can’t make Americans out of Afghans in their native country, how can we pretend we can make Americans out of Afghans, Somalis, and Guatemalans flooding the failing institutions of a wildly polarized United States? We can’t even make Americans out of most of the people who are born here. Trump was the only person willing to even talk about this supremely important public concern.

Bold mine, because…well, I mean, YEAH. You know what you must do, Glasshoppah. Myself, I think it’s high time I went back and read Anton’s outstanding piece again, for the first time in many a moon.

Update! Yep, “Flight 93” remains at least as gripping—as trenchant, as apposite—now as I remember it being back when it first appeared, probably even more so. Herewith, an appetizer—which, as Cartman informed us, is what you eat before you eat to make you more hungry.

If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.

But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff. A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. Continetti inquires into the “condition of America” and finds it wanting. What does Continetti propose to do about it? The usual litany of “conservative” “solutions,” with the obligatory references to decentralization, federalization, “civic renewal,” and—of course!—Burke. Which is to say, conservatism’s typical combination of the useless and inapt with the utopian and unrealizable. Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation. But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes? What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption? “Civic renewal” would do a lot of course, but that’s like saying health will save a cancer patient. A step has been skipped in there somewhere. How are we going to achieve “civic renewal”? Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.

Continetti trips over a more promising approach when he writes of “stress[ing] the ‘national interest abroad and national solidarity at home’ through foreign-policy retrenchment, ‘support to workers buffeted by globalization,’ and setting ‘tax rates and immigration levels’ to foster social cohesion.” That sounds a lot like Trumpism. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump. At least they, unlike Kesler, give Trump credit for having identified the right stance on today’s most salient issues. Yet, paradoxically, they won’t vote for Trump whereas Kesler hints that he will. It’s reasonable, then, to read into Kesler’s esoteric endorsement of Trump an implicit acknowledgment that the crisis is, indeed, pretty dire. I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.

Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? That is, the stance that Things-Are-Really-Bad—But-Not-So-Bad-that-We-Have-to-Consider-Anything-Really-Different! The obvious answer is that they don’t really believe the first half of that formulation. If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it. Pecuniary reasons also suggest themselves, but let us foreswear recourse to this explanation until we have disproved all the others.

Whatever the reason for the contradiction, there can be no doubt that there is a contradiction. To simultaneously hold conservative cultural, economic, and political beliefs—to insist that our liberal-left present reality and future direction is incompatible with human nature and must undermine society—and yet also believe that things can go on more or less the way they are going, ideally but not necessarily with some conservative tinkering here and there, is logically impossible.

Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.

If your answer—Continetti’s, Douthat’s, Salam’s, and so many others’—is for conservatism to keep doing what it’s been doing—another policy journal, another article about welfare reform, another half-day seminar on limited government, another tax credit proposal—even though we’ve been losing ground for at least a century, then you’ve implicitly accepted that your supposed political philosophy doesn’t matter and that civilization will carry on just fine under leftist tenets. Indeed, that leftism is truer than conservatism and superior to it.

If you somehow missed The Flight 93 Election back when it originally appeared, then I urge you—nay, I implore you, I beseech you—to hie thee thither to rectify that deficiency without delay. I assure you, you’ll be glad you did.

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Jaybo

Voting for semi quislings is not going to accomplish this

Barry

It’s more important now than it was in 2016. Trump turned the flight around and had it headed in the right direction. We relaxed and let the marxist steal the next election, and then destroy the economic juggernaut that was building. Time is running out and eventually there will be no choice that doesn’t involve buckets of blood.

SteveF

We can’t even make Americans out of most of the people who are born here.

Who knows if we can? As a nation, we haven’t even tried for a couple generations.

Barry

There was a time when an American education was taught in the public schools. We had civics classes and history classes that taught the greatness of our system and cost that so many bore to give it to us.

We’ll have to take the schools back, or eliminate them*, to get a generation that understands the truth again.

*The vast majority of privates are as bad as the publics, so that doesn’t really work

SteveF

When I was in the public schools, there were a few older male teachers who were clear about their patriotism. They were of an age to have gone to Korea or possibly WWII.

The vast majority of the teachers were women, of course, mostly young(ish), and almost universally leftists. I don’t recall any of them saying a favorable word about America unless accompanied by criticisms. To be fair, some selective memory may be going on. Regardless, that was back in the 1970s.

Barry

Maybe so. I am a few years older and grew up in a different place. We had civics instruction taught by female teachers in 1-6. Some of that was just the simple stuff, pledge of allegiance, flag ceremony every day, etc. Some was direct instruction. Most was after the 3rd grade. It’s the way things were taught and presented that made a difference.

In Junior high (7-9) 7th grade civics class was a requirement. My teacher was a John Birch member. 8th & 9th came through the history classes. I don’t think I had a single teacher that one could define as leftist until 10th grade history. An anti-Vietnam war fellow with hippie long hair. He was the odd duck in our school at that time. I do not remember anything specific 10-12.

Hell, half my graduating HS class (of the males) would have been for succession again 🙂 Always a dichotomy, loyalty to America, but just underneath loyalty to a shall rise again South.

Edit: first grade for me began in 1959…

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry
Jaybo

Interesting comment from mormon Beck, I wouldn’t send my kids to BYU. They can’t even find professors that believe there is a God.

Communists have completely dominated academia. We have two lost generations. There is no civilized means of changing this

It should be noted that Nixon’s second biggest mistake was granting draft deferments for education majors during Vietnam

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