by Jeremy Carl
It was appropriate that news of the Democrats’ plans to pack the Supreme Court broke in April, just a couple days after the 160th anniversary of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the shots that began the Civil War.
Unlike President James Buchanan, who dithered in responding to obvious Confederate aggression, the newly inaugurated Abraham Lincoln acted decisively upon taking office. He informed South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens that he would be resupplying the fort, forcing South Carolina’s hand. Lincoln’s actions did not start the war—they made it clear that war was already underway. From that point on, Americans, even those who had previously wished to ignore what was staring them in the face, were awakened to the reality of their situation.
The dispute between Lincoln and Pickens that led to the attack on Fort Sumter was not simply a political struggle over who should control the regime but a larger political struggle over which regime it would be. Ultimately, it was a question of whether we would be a nation for free citizens or one that held men and women in bondage.
Today’s Republicans, like Lincoln, find themselves in a regime-level conflict with the Democrats. The Democrats are firing again and again on our Constitutional order, our history, and our traditions—our metaphorical Fort Sumter, if you will—but unlike our forebear Lincoln, our elected leadership seems either to be aiding the insurgent Left or, at best, feebly invoking constitutional provisions and principles, as if our opponents have shown that their behavior can be in any way constrained by these things. We need to channel the spirit of Lincoln rather than Buchanan to win this struggle.
This does not mean we should forgo our work within the current system, but we must acknowledge that whether we wish it to or not, the regime as constituted may not long endure in its current form, and we must prepare ourselves accordingly.
The Democrats have already seceded from America’s historic conception of nationhood in many respects:
THEY have attacked, on a relentless and increasingly hysterical basis, white Americans, who as the overwhelming majority population, were the primary developers of America’s cultural, intellectual, and political heritage, with all its successes as well as its shortcomings. In doing so, they attack the traditions, history, and values developed by those generations of Americans that historically bound together Americans of all races, religions, and backgrounds.
THEY have occupied our nation’s capital with thousands of troops as if the American people were a foreign foe. This was done in response to a nonexistent threat on the pretext of a shocking but solitary riot, wherein everyone who died was a Trump supporter and none of the so-called “insurgents” was armed. They have since held many of those participating, even peripherally, in prison for months, often in solitary confinement, on absurdly inflated charges, as a political punishment and a warning to future dissidents.
THEY have engaged in bureaucratic and judicial nullification of our laws, particularly on immigration—perhaps the most important element in determining who makes up the American polity. Donald Trump ran on the platform of toughening up immigration policy. It was his defining issue.
Yet the Left made a mockery of the rule of law, using the bureaucracy to throw up procedural roadblock after procedural roadblock to Trump’s agenda, while left-wing judges issued blatantly absurd rulings using invented doctrines to block Trump’s rescission of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order and accuse the administration of a “Muslim ban” that, in fact, was based heavily on an earlier Obama Administration effort.
THEY have campaigned for decades to neuter the Second Amendment and disarm Americans, based on a misreading of constitutional rights and an empirically unjustified paranoia about white men and guns, pushed relentlessly in their corporate media. Terrified of urban violence, but unable to acknowledge this because of their own political taboos, affluent white leftists have sought to train their rhetorical and legal fire on groups with relatively low rates of crime, pushing ineffective policies that do not keep us safe but do keep us under their control.
THEY have attacked us through their Big Tech proxies, damaging our ability to speak freely in the new public square, coordinate political action, or share information with each other outside of a tightly-controlled corporate media apparatus.
This censorship campaign started with popular but more politically marginalized figures such as Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos and moved, boiling the frog slowly, to deplatforming the sitting president of the United States. Thousands of right-wing dissidents, many with large followings, have been effectively removed from public discourse for political reasons, often with only the flimsiest proceduralist justifications. When Project Veritas conducted devastating undercover exposes on the misbehavior of quasi-state corporate media, in which key figures from these entities actually directly admitted they are engaged in propaganda, the group was banned from social media.
THEY have pursued race-based reparations/wealth confiscation from one set of Americans to another based purely on skin color in blatant contradiction of the Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the laws. Many of our existing welfare systems are, on a net basis, race-based wealth transfers. But to racialize such transfers explicitly represents a dramatic escalation in the Democrats’ war on the equality guaranteed to us in our founding documents.
THEY have turned the media into a propaganda arm of the ruling political party, using their media proxies to engage in a full-time war against Trump’s policies and any policy they oppose. Journalists have abandoned all pretenses of fairness and balance. During the election campaign, they censored or refused to report on stories, such as Hunter Biden’s possible involvement with his father in corrupt dealings with the Chinese government, that would negatively affect Democrats. This was done in conjunction with the coordinated demonization of the opposition candidate.
THEY have used instruments of the state such as the IRS (under Lois Lerner) the FBI (Russiagate) and the Department of Defense (attacking Tucker Carlson) and numerous other agencies to attack political opponents. Political allies of President Trump were investigated and prosecuted by the government in ways that were transparently focused on taking down the duly elected president.
THEY have blatantly rigged the election process—changing of rules in violation of state law, manipulating debate rules and polls, and relentlessly pushing for an unconstitutional federalization of state election laws.
THEY have engaged in asymmetric street violence against us. For the Left, their violence is speech, and our speech is violence. One-third of “very liberal” whites believe violence can be justified in pursuing political goals, vs. just 4 percent of “very conservative” whites. They have enabled their armed and violent wings to cause billions of dollars of damage during the George Floyd and Antifa riots, making them the most expensive civil disturbances in history, while criminalizing the much smaller and far less significant street forces on the Right such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, further using their control of the state legal apparatus to label their opponents as “domestic terrorists.”
THEY have removed entire groups of Americans who are not in their privileged demographics from roles in government leadership. Biden tweets about a cabinet that looks like America, when his cabinet of 25 has no whites of Protestant origin, a group that encompassed almost every one of the founding fathers and even today makes up about 40 percent of the electorate. Meanwhile, in the civil service, the Democrats are taking pains to out Trump supporters and ban them from government jobs. Even the military is now falling under their assault.
THEY have corrupted our jury system—with Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden flagrantly involving themselves in a local jury trial. The specter of mob violence hung over the Derrick Chauvin trial, as was clearly evident from the juror who spoke on the record, while other jurors blatantly broke their oaths of impartiality to obtain the required verdict.
THEY have locked us in our homes on the basis of often-arbitrary requirements and lack of evidence and enriched themselves dramatically in the process. Meanwhile, the most stringent lockdown proponents from Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan to Gavin Newsom in California have been found flagrantly violating their own lockdown orders. Furthermore, thousands of left-aligned “public health” professionals, many of them directly on the government payroll, advocated for the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests and riots, during the heart of the pandemic, claiming that racism was a public health crisis.
THEY have attempted, most importantly, to change our fundamental structures of governance. In trying to add Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. (which is specifically excluded from statehood in the Constitution) as states, they have attempted to fundamentally and unilaterally alter the congressional balance of power. They have attempted to end the Senate filibuster (a 183-year-old tradition of our governance) and pack the Supreme Court, by amending the 152-year-old Judiciary Act in a blatant attempt to remove the influence of the last branch of government they don’t control.
That they have not yet been able to accomplish all of these desecrations is due only to a couple of “moderate” Democrats remaining in the Senate. But the Right cannot stake America’s future on the continued benevolence of a couple of Democratic politicians. There is no doubt that with a few additional seats in Congress, the Democrats would not hesitate to change these laws, further cementing their secession from our mutual polity.
While we should not abandon our attempts to make positive change in the current system, we cannot rely solely on proceduralist maneuvers to attempt reconciliation with people who make it clear they want to defeat and destroy us. We must begin to relocate physically to welcoming local geographies and rebuild our capacity for independent action by creating parallel institutions to the existing corrupted ones. My Claremont Institute colleague Michael Anton has suggested some ways in which fundamental internal political reorganization of our states and localities could head off a dire crisis.
We must aggressively challenge executive orders and unconstitutional laws within the boundaries of states we will control and begin to selectively sidestep enforcement of draconian federal laws that are odious to our values, the plain language of the Constitution, and to the concept of American liberties.
There are, of course, good people on the other side of the aisle, including, for many of us, family and friends. But it is a time for choosing. Those good people remaining on the Left must decide to which type of polity they aspire. If they wish to urge their leaders to turn dramatically from their current course and reconcile with us, we should meet them in a spirit of compromise. But, if they wish to cast their lots with our current overlords and their increasingly totalitarian designs, we must tell them that while they are welcome to govern themselves they are no longer allowed to govern us.
It will be overwhelming to oppose an enemy that controls virtually every single institution of society. There are indeed insurrectionists in Washington, D.C., the problem is that they are currently running the country and the bureaucracy, having imprisoned a few sad-sack political opponents who did not understand the rules of the game being played.
The growing and energetic majority of Democratic leaders have already seceded from America—from its culture, its history, its government and its institutions.
Lincoln lost Fort Sumter, but he, and America, eventually would triumph in the broader struggle. In 1861, America’s opponents made it clear and they viewed the war as existential. Lincoln responded with firmness and determination, a determination that would eventually lead to victory. In 2021, the Democrats have made clear that they see their struggle against us as an existential one, and that there is no tactic they will not use in search of total victory.
We need to match their resolve with our own.
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Jeremy Carl is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. He served as deputy assistant secretary of the interior under President Trump and lives with his family in Montana.