by Rod Thomson
The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. But there is undeniably something new happening in American history. New and terrible. No hyperbole; we are living through the greatest threat to America since the Civil War.
This new threat, which has been germinating its poisonous fruit for decades in the darkened earth of sheltered universities, federal agencies, and media newsrooms has erupted into such full and ugly view today that it cannot be met and defeated, or even retarded, with any of our normal methods.
For quite a while we have been calling and hoping for serious, broad-ranging congressional investigations starting January 3, 2023, when the new Congress is sworn in. Lord willing, there will be a GOP majority in the House, at least. From FBI collusion to armed IRS skullduggery to CDC/FDA corruption and malfeasance to the Department of Education’s horror show to the rest of the rogues’ gallery of federal threats, the GOP should be aggressively investigating and calling to the government to account on behalf of the American people.
I no longer think that will be enough. The hour is simply too late.
August 8 was Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon River, the moment when our rulers untethered themselves from the last restraints and embarked upon a no-return option. Federal agents, mimicking Third-World enforcers of a new regime, raided President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and plundered whatever they wanted. As I wrote here in June, corrupt institutions require armed enforcers and America is not immune to this threat – as August 8, COVID and the Trump-Russia collusion hoax must have demonstrated to every reasonable person’s satisfaction. And now the IRS will be adding 87,000 new agents whose job description, before it was scrubbed to be more palatable, included being willing to use deadly force against their fellow Americans. It’s guaranteed that there will be a thought-purity test for these new hires. They are meant to be intimidators in addition to enforcers.
Make no mistake. The new authoritarians in Washington, D.C. intend to criminally charge President Trump and perp-walk him as the hated avatar for all of us who still believe in the Constitution, the American Dream, and American exceptionalism. The charges could be obstruction of an official proceeding or conspiracy or frankly anything they feel like demanding. Conviction is not the end goal. Destroying the most powerful representative of traditionalist American ideals is. This is the ruling regime’s bald-faced attempt to intimidate and cow traditional America-loving citizens into silence and obedience.
It cannot be allowed to work. And so congressional investigations alone, operating in the normal swamp environment, are inadequate. They will allow for a lot of posturing and sound bites as we have seen over and over, but will ultimately usher in no change because the Leviathan of the permanent administrative state will grind on. See 2016-2020. It is this Leviathan that must be extirpated first. As long as it exists, all else will be a harmless fringe show – bread and circuses.
Defund and Reconstitute the Feds
The very first thing that needs to happen is Congress must shut down broad swathes of the federal permanent state. Put all on notice, the permanency is no longer. To some this may sound audacious, absurd and over the top. It’s not, if we are awake enough to realize the imminent peril and want to have anything like the America we have known to hand down to our children.
Defund everything except the military, the Customs and Border Protection, and Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid and whatever Congress and those areas need for support. (This may need modifying, but not much.) So, what departments can be shut down temporarily or permanently with minimal disruption outside the bureaucracies themselves?
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Most of Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Interior
- Department of Labor
- Most of the Department of State
- Department of Transportation
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Farm Credit Administration (FCA)
- Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
- Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
- Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
- National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- Office of Government Ethics (OGE)
- Peace Corps
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Many of these departments and agencies exist as net detriments to most Americans, simply consuming for their own existence. Much of this list should never be reconstituted, and those parts that are should acquire new legislative restrictions, oversight and transparency – and perhaps sunset clauses in all of them, requiring them to consistently prove their worth.
This level of shutdown is the ultimate disruption of the corrupt norms. And then every congressional committee that exists in every arm of Congress needs to launch full-scale investigations of these agencies, their actions and individuals’ actions from 2016 onward. Criminal cases should be built when appropriate, but everything should be brought to light. No congressional activity will be more critical for our country than this broad-scale action.
With every ugly, hairy federal wart that is revealed through the investigations, it will become that much easier to make the case for funding a whole new kind of greatly diminished federal government. The revelations must disgust enough Americans to open their eyes and see the moment. And as our forefathers did in 1776, the rebuilt federal government must be one constructed on indelible principles grounded in reality.
And there is where the real work begins: Rebuilding a constrained, transparent, accountable federal government means actually relitigating 1776. The Left has been doing this for several years and it is part of why we are at this juncture. Our founders, in all their brilliance and with all their faults – and their ability to see their own faults – recognized that any structure reliant on the concept of the goodness of mankind was doomed. All of history proves this, and it is the precise fight we are engaged in now.
The differences between the sides are pretty straightforward. Those who believe government is benevolent and looking out for the citizens’ best interests, who believe in the precepts of the ESG movement and all its component parts for the collective good, who don’t believe in the measurable exceptionalism of America, are pitted against the founding fathers. We will have what amounts to a monarchical self-appointed elite making all the decisions for society, or it will be we the people. It’s 1776 America or it’s 1789 France.
Our founders studied history, they knew the lessons learned in the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, the Roman Civil Wars, the English Civil Wars and countless revolutions. They actually learned from this study that reliance on a man or a group of men or centralized government authority always ends badly. And so, they created purposeful friction between the tightly restrained three branches of the federal government and second-level friction between the feds and the states, all drawing on the bet that human nature in each area would keep overbearing government in check. And they were right . . . until we lost our balance. We are badly out of balance today.
So with the defunding/defanging of the Leviathan, the rebuilding must be on the 1776 foundation. We can’t just shave Leviathan. That sounds so out there, so old, so undoable. But we’ve kicked the can down the road for generations, stuffed with comforts and ease, ceding more and more rights to temporarily protect those comforts, pretending that millennia of history didn’t precede us. Now it will take radical action to effect any meaningful reform. Any more attempts to kick the can down the road now amount to hoisting the white flag of surrender, walking away from the America we inherited. There is no more time.
Rapid Offense Communications
The GOP and allies will require a 24/7 rapid offense communications team that has the sole job of messaging what is happening through every channel possible – conservative media, legacy media (but only in opinion columns where the author controls the message), direct email that is not fundraising, designated spokesmen for each element, able to communicate clearly without stepping on landmines. This team would use many of the GOP election campaign strategies required to bypass the media.
The Democratic Party’s legacy media absolutely cannot be allowed to set the tone and frame each issue as they are accustomed to doing. They must constantly be responding to the framing by the rapid offense communications team. They don’t have much experience in playing defense, and that can be used to the GOP’s benefit.
What if the GOP caucus had the spine and integrity to start with at least defunding and shutting down the FBI, which is now as rogue as they come and has proven they are willing to come after former presidents and sitting congressmen in broad daylight?
Kyle Shideler makes the case of FBI corruption and the need to reconstitute:
The solution to the abuses we now endure is not just to subject the FBI to another fruitless inspector general investigation but to dismantle it completely. The bureau cannot be the focus of yet another congressional hearing. FBI Director Christopher Wray, like his predecessors, is more than happy to sit smirking while a handful of grandstanding congressmen and senators pound the table and yell on C-SPAN. Then he’ll jet off for a holiday vacation on a taxpayer-funded private jet while the same congressmen vote to increase his budget. Again. No, the FBI must be rendered into component parts and distributed to the four winds.
Shideler then explains one method to responsibly abolish and re-establish a new federal law enforcement agency. It’s short but workable. And if it can be done with the FBI, it can be done with many lesser agencies. If not all at once, one or two at a time. Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, Commerce.
Alas, like the founders, we cannot put all of our hopes in a congressional “red wave” making the radical reforms necessary in the federal government. Fortunately, a lot can happen outside of Congress and Washington, D.C. – if there is a will.
Following the rubric of playing offense on every front, GOP-governed states should use every constitutional authority they have to thwart federal agencies.
Governors should not allow obviously corrupted institutions to have authority over their states’ residents. And they don’t need to. All that is required is the will to do right using the principle of state interposition, which I wrote about here. We need governors with the basic set of principles and the metaphorical cojones to act.
True dissolution of federal agencies can be accomplished by states saying those agencies can no longer operate inside their borders. This is quite arguably within the constitutional authority of states. For instance, the EPA would have no more authority in Texas. The Texas Environmental Protection Division would enforce the Texas legislature’s laws and the will of Texans. This would undoubtedly be challenged in court, but it follows the very basic Jeffersonian principle: “The government closest to the people serves the people best.”
If enough red states act in this way, they will erode the federal agencies’ permanent bureaucratic power and begin to collapse them. That could work to embolden squishy GOP members of Congress to locate their spines. And then we could have a spiral of momentum to actually do what is needed.
Mutually Assured Destruction Lawfare
Running both in conjunction with, and separate from, congressional and state actions, the conservosphere has increasing strength in the legal arena. The American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom are two of several such organizations that are being more aggressive and successful. We are witnessing consistent wins regarding COVID-related civil rights abuses and other overreaches.
But these organizations need to up the ante, going on offense with a mutually assured destruction type of lawfare. They are almost entirely responsive today. The Left and the feds have for too long owned a lopsided field in lawfare, cowing so many Americans into subservience. That also must end. And it can. We have the basic infrastructure in place, and the funding is out there to greatly expand it. (Note this New York Times story of a clever $1.6 billion donation by one man to fund conservative causes through a known success mechanism.)
Many on the Left may not be up for a response that is in-kind or greater, going after individuals, businesses and government entities such as the Right has endured for many years. Think how Israel has had to respond to the physical attacks on them from multiple enemy neighbors for generations – it hasn’t been pretty, but Israel survives to this day. Sometimes ugliness is required to survive.
Again, the Left has been successful over many years with flooding the zone. Conservatives and Republicans are on the defense all the time. A part of that is the nature of conservatism – to conserve what exists is a defensive posture. But that is also a distinct weakness when facing what the nation is facing today, and one that must be overcome now.
So in addition to whatever level of shutdowns can be accomplished, broad-scale investigations, state interposition, and aggressive lawfare, there are some serious constitutional revisions that should be pursued. Here is a starter list that Julio Gonzalez, a former member of the Florida legislature, covered in his book, The Federalist Pages. (Disclosure: I edited this book.)
- Create a balanced budget amendment with a 30 percent over-budget provision for times of emergency so that maximum budgetary allowance for the federal government is 130 percent revenue. This is a form of starving the beast and reining in our endlessly ballooning debt and would be enormously popular.
- Repeal the 16th Amendment and replace it with a modification of the original taxation scheme where the states are taxed by the federal government and the states then raise the revenue. The taxation responsibilities would be weighted according to GDP or a relative wealth index of the various states.
- Repeal the 17th Amendment and return to the model where the senators are elected directly by the state legislatures.
- Require a member of Congress to to actually live in the district which he or she represents.
- Require term limits for federal employees, not for elected officials.
All of this will seem overwhelming and unnecessary unless we are awake enough to realize that simply relying on the next “red wave” to save us is a futile hope. We’ve had multiple red waves just this century, including the Tea Party. And yet the Leviathan of state has shrugged them all off, grown enormously and, concomitantly, the rights of Americans have shrunk rapidly.
If Republican politicians continue to play the “my reelection first” game and kick the can down the road, the final and unthinkable worst eventually becomes the only alternative remaining. That cannot happen. We’re in the midnight hour. Maybe, just maybe, enough members of Congress and governors – with the people supporting them – will prioritize stopping the ultimate national nightmare above their petty, short-term political futures.
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Rod Thomson is an author, former journalist, past Salem radio host and ABC TV commentator and founder of The Thomson Group. Twice banned on TikTok. Follow him on Instagram. Like Rod on Facebook.
Photo “American Flag Burning” by Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
Photo “America on Fire” by NASA.