From reader Dean Ericson and from many other sources, the required must-read “The Flight 93 Election” by Publius Decius Mus at the sober Claremont Review of Books. If you support Hillary or are a “never” Trumper, which is the same, you are particularly encouraged to read it.
What follows are only a few highlights (not necessarily in order) and comments. More to come as The Choice nears. Since the original, Mus has published an answer to criticisms, and these where appropriate will be threaded in.
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.
Hillary is guaranteed Doom, says Mus. She will not be “business as usual”, something we can “get through.” After however many years she makes it without coughing out the last of her lungs, this country will never be the same. Trump is at the least a chance of survival: “one must wonder how buffoonish the alleged buffoon really is when he is right on the most important issues while so many others who are esteemed wise are wrong.”
Even if you don’t (yet) believe Trump is not the fool he has been painted, one thing is certain sure: “conservatives” have been of no help.
One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Illegitimacy. Crime. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Politically correct McCarthyism. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks, and at the higher levels saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege. And so on and drearily on. Like that portion of the mass where the priest asks for your private intentions, fill in any dismal fact about American decline that you want and I’ll stipulate it.
Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything. And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems?
No. Yet “if [conservatives] 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.”
They don’t believe it, though. Not really. Too many of them want to retain the status quo. Mus (as others have) casts conservatives as the Washington Generals, the team that’s paid to lose. At least they’re still on the court.
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.
Poor Ross Douthat! Perhaps he think he’ll won’t be forced to put a pinch of incense in the fire for his left-handed support of Hillary. You’d think a man as well read in history as he would realize that it is folks like him that are the first on the line.
A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire Progressive-left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the Social Justice Warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.
It’s absurd to assume that any of this would stop or slow—would do anything other than massively intensify—in a Hillary administration. It’s even more ridiculous to expect that hitherto useless conservative opposition would suddenly become effective. For two generations at least, the Left has been calling everyone to their right Nazis. This trend has accelerated exponentially in the last few years, helped along by some on the Right who really do seem to merit—and even relish—the label. There is nothing the modern conservative fears more than being called “racist,” so alt-right pocket Nazis are manna from heaven for the Left. But also wholly unnecessary: sauce for the goose. The Left was calling us Nazis long before any pro-Trumpers tweeted Holocaust denial memes. And how does one deal with a Nazi—that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don’t compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him.
The emphasis is mine—and it should be yours, too. Next time some idiot calls you a “racist”, say “I’m a sexist, too.”
Solutions? What do you mean “solutions”? He said it at the beginning. Fight.
If it hadn’t been abundantly clear for the last 50 years, the campaign of 2015-2016 must surely have made it evident to even the meanest capacities that the intelligentsia—including all the organs through which it broadcasts its propaganda—is overwhelmingly partisan and biased. Against this onslaught, “conservative” media is a nullity, barely a whisper…
Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree…Our “leaders” and “dissenters” bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them. Fearful, beaten dogs have more thymos.
Yes, Trump “departs from conservative orthodoxy in so many ways that National Review still hasn’t stopped counting.” So what. In almost any category you can mention, except perhaps hair care, which is a wash, whatever you can say bad about Trump you can say worse about Hillary.
The key realization is that you are not voting for Hillary: you are voting for the permanence of leftism, for the dominance of the system, the end of the republic. Did you think if you elected her you’d get only her?
[Conservatives strategy] is insane. This is the mark of a party, a society, a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die. Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity.
Yes, Trump is worse than imperfect. So what?
So “simply building a wall and enforcing immigration law will help enormously, by cutting off the flood of newcomers that perpetuates ethnic separatism and by incentivizing the English language and American norms in the workplace.”
And if it doesn’t work, what then? We’ve established that most “conservative” anti-Trumpites are in the Orwellian sense objectively pro-Hillary. What about the rest of you? If you recognize the threat she poses, but somehow can’t stomach him, have you thought about the longer term? The possibilities would seem to be: Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie liberalism as far as the eye can see…which, since nothing human lasts forever, at some point will give way to one of the other three…
But for those of you who are sober: can you sketch a more plausible long-term future than the prior four following a Trump defeat? I can’t either. [First ellipsis original.]
If Hillary wins it “will represent, in my view, an irreversible triumph for the administrative state…The country will go on, but it will not be a constitutional republic…If you are in the managerial class, you will probably do well—so long as you don’t say the wrong thing.”
My bet, if Hillary wins, is on managerial Davoisie liberalism. But if you argued for Caesarism, I wouldn’t try to talk you out of it.