I share many Americans’ gloom in the present political moment. My conservative concerns are legion. But I see points of light in the night sky. I see silver linings to the dark clouds, suggesting the light still burns beyond them.
To be sure, I don’t always write cheerfully.
- Four posts ago I wrote about not giving ourselves permission to hate people. Hatred is as dark as darkness gets.
- Three posts ago I wrote about social media censorship and possible measures against it — for a future day when we may have a government which isn’t in bed with Big Tech.
- Two posts ago I wrote about the rush to reimpeachment and its motives. My thoughts were not sweetness and light.
- Last time I described a dark and detailed dream about freedom, truth, and their enemies’ raging lust for power. I’ll let you decide, when you read it, whether you think it was really just a dream.
In one or two of those sober posts, and in private conversations with several readers, in person and online, I promised happy thoughts to come — because there are some.
I have three potentially therapeutic things for you. (In some cases I may have to explain the cheering effect.) They are danger signs we don’t see yet, those happy thoughts I promised, and things to do.
I. Things That Aren’t Happening (Yet)
This may be too subtle by half, or just desperate, but I fancy that listing some serious danger signs we haven’t seen yet might encourage us. That we don’t see them yet is good in itself. And I think having specific things to watch for can also mitigate that vague sense of impending national doom.
I’m plenty concerned now, but I’ll worry a lot more when things on this list begin to happen. I mean when they happen, not just when national figures discuss them, as some already do.
- Prosecution of peaceful dissent as domestic terrorism. Yes, legislation which could be abused in this manner is already in the works. (Glenn Greenwald has been excellent on this topic.)
- Either house of Congress expelling members who speak and vote against the new regime or the woke capitalist leviathan in general. There’s talk of this too, but there’s always talk of many things. So far it hasn’t happened.
- Packing the US Supreme Court and possibly the federal Circuit Courts with enough new, leftist members to cripple the courts’ opposition to illegal and unconstitutional exercises of power by the executive and legislative branches. Again there is talk but not action, so far.
- Substantial federal moves to seize direct control of food and water supplies — a tenet of the original Green New Deal. Less ominous but still concerning is talk of the federal government overriding local zoning laws. But talk isn’t action yet.
- Alliance with China, Russia, or Iran to help them annex or destroy a nation, such as Israel or Taiwan. (See how I took sides there, by speaking of both as nations?)
- Presuming to amend the United States Constitution outside of the avenues it provides — to eliminate the Electoral College, remove the separation of powers, abolish federalism, suspend the Bill of Rights, etc.
- Persistent, large-scale suppression — by government, not just its corporate allies — of religious freedom, economic freedom, or freedom of speech. Certain leftist governors and mayors have flirted with this already, but only in their own states and cities.
- Delaying or effectively abolishing free elections.
- Seizing Americans’ legally purchased guns and ammo — not just restricting sales, but actually seizing what’s already out there. (In its origin the Second Amendment is about protecting the states’ and the people’s ultimate power to dissolve their national government, if necessary.)
- Broader Big Tech efforts to muzzle political speech — such as Amazon deplatforming conservative authors generally, WordPress shutting down conservative blogs and other publications, AT&T firing employees who express conservative views on social media, etc.
- Blocking Internet access (through any of several methods) for people or businesses which don’t bow to the ideological orthodoxy of any given day or pay the required tribute to a favored movement.
- Use of emergency powers to bypass Congress to impose structural changes on the US government or economy; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has lately urged this.
- The US joining the International Criminal Court, so Iran can extradite and try former President Trump or other current or former officials for murdering a terrorist mastermind (for example).
Perhaps it’s small comfort to reflect that things could get a lot worse than they are, after President Biden’s initial flurry of executive orders and in the face of Democrat plans to decimate our reeling economy through tax increases and massive minimum wage hikes. But it really could get a lot worse, and any of the above actions will bode ill.
Meanwhile, let’s relax and take a deep breath, shall we? It’s not time to panic, and it’s not time to rush to the barricades. With luck and effort, perhaps it never will be, or at least not soon.
II. Happy Thoughts, Silver Linings
I begin with a disclaimer: I call these thoughts happy, but political opponents will disagree.
The Deplorables from Flyover Country, and a Lot of Quiet Common Sense
Nearly 75 million voters — if the count was accurate — resisted a four-year onslaught of falsehoods, half-truths, and elite derision and, for whatever reasons, voted against the encroaching nightmare. (Hence the absurd second impeachment, because the voters must not be allowed to elect President Trump again. Because otherwise they might.)
I keep hearing from people who aren’t in a position to speak up about what they see in our politics and society — because of family situations or concern about reprisals that could damage their livelihood and others’, or simply because their skills and inclinations don’t run to writing and speaking about politics and goverment. You’re not hearing from them, but they’re out there, paying attention, thinking profoundly sensible thoughts about what they see, and looking for ways to help. They’re not rubes.
You might say they’re not drinking the blue Flavor-Aid. (Historical note: the Jim Jones version was purple, and it wasn’t Kool-Aid.) They don’t like the taste or what it does to people. And they don’t trust the people selling it.
The Books We’re Buying
I recently (January 15) noticed that the five bestselling books on Amazon.com were: (1) a book about building a better brain; (2) George Orwell’s 1984; (3) preorders of a forthcoming book by Andy Ngo (pronounced “No”), Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, which documents Antifa’s recent violence in the US; and (4) a pamphlet containing the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. (Reportedly, 1984 spent some time at number one.)
In this list (2), (3), and (4) suggest to me that folks are still serious about being Americans, and they’re paying attention. Granted, some purchases are probably from outside the US. It’s also possible that leftists are buying Orwell’s classic to use it as an instruction manual, but that’s probably only a few at most.
Speaking of that book about Antifa, a couple of weeks ago Emily Powell, President and Owner of the massive Powell’s Books in Portland, my favorite bookstore, sent an e-mail message to customers. She explained that, despite angry protests which forced a branch of the store to close for a while, Powell’s will continue to offer preorders of the book on their website. Based on the letter, the book seems to go against her politics, but her admirable commitment to free speech wins the day. She wrote:
“We have always sold books that many of us would reject. We have fought for decades, at Powell’s, for the right of a book to stand on its own. Doing so is one of our core values as booksellers.
“In our history we have sold many copies of books we find objectionable. We do that in spite of all the reasons not to, because we believe that making the published word available is an important and crucial step in shedding light on the dark corners of the public discourse. It is actually a leap of faith into the vortex of the power of the written word and our fellow citizens to make sense of it.
“… As my father says, if your principles are only your principles sometimes, they’re not principles at all.” (Emphasis added.)
Brava, Ms. Powell. I’ll be sending more Powell’s gift cards and fewer Amazon gift cards in the future, and sending more of my money to you for more of your books. And still visiting occasionally, I hope, for hours if not days at a time.
Meanwhile, Andy Ngo has taken his family out of the country, in response to death threats which may be credible. So it’s not all good news.
Tulsi Gabbard and I probably disagree more than we agree on political issues, and she’s no longer in Congress. But she has the courage to part publicly with the official leftist narrative when she thinks it’s wrong, even if she ends up agreeing with Donald Trump in the process.
I voted for her in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary for a reason — and I keep hoping that, when Biden voters who haven’t fallen off the left edge of the world see what they chose and enabled in the latest election, she’ll get some major traction in the party that studiously ignored her in 2020.
I’m becoming a fan. If you read about her recent broadside, in which she called John Brennan, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Big Tech “domestic enemies” of the United States, you’ll start to see why. Lately she’s called out Speaker Pelosi’s extreme partisan rhetoric too.
We need more Democrats like Tulsi Gabbard.
Senator Romney Is Sometimes Sort of a Conservative
Senator Mitt Romney, the junior senator from Utah, is a potential swing vote in a closely divided Senate. He’s been seen playing a conservative a few times lately, when he can be distracted from hating on former President Trump. Three examples involve federal land in Utah, oil and gas leases, and Supreme Court packing.
Senators Sinema and Manchin
Speaking of the Senate, Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) say they oppose removing the Senate filibuster. The filibuster is a key obstacle to majority trampling of political minorities and, not coincidentally, to easy passage of President Biden’s agenda. Without these two votes the filibuster stays, and 60 votes are required for most legislation.
Remember, democracy is 51 wolves and 49 sheep deciding who’s for dinner, by majority vote.
Information Can Still Change Some Minds (If It Can Get to Them)
There’s some polling to suggest that about one in six Biden voters in swing states would not have voted for him, had they known of several news stories the Big Media Acronyms suppressed, including these:
- The US became a net exporter of crude oil under President Trump’s policies (51% were unaware).
- On October 29 the Commerce Department reported the best annualized economic growth rate ever, 33.1% (49% were unaware). I’m unimpressed by the number itself, since the circumstances were highly unusual, but it was in the poll.
- For a while now, the FBI has been investigating links between the Biden family and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which have helped to enrich the Bidens (45% unaware). Note: the entire official Chinese economy is subsidiary to the CCP. That’s how communism works.
- The Trump administration negotiated three peace agreements between Arab nations and Israel (45% unaware).
- From May through December the US economy created more than 11 million new jobs (44% unaware). (Chronological issue duly noted; the election was in November.)
- The Trump administration made an unprecedented $10 billion effort to expedite effective COVID-19 treatments (39% unaware).
- Kamala Harris was the one US senator rated further to the left than avowed socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont (25% unaware).
Why is this item in my list of happy news? Because it’s easier to get good information to people who lack it and will still consider it than it is to persuade people for whom a thing can only be true if it fits their ideological narrative. One in six Biden voters is not a majority, but, properly informed, they could be part of a different majority someday.
The Democratic Media Are Not a Monolith
This week the New York Times Editorial Board, among others, criticized President Biden for relying on a flurry of executive orders instead of working with Congress, which Democrats control. “This is no way to make law,” they wrote. “… These directives … are a flawed substitute for legislation.”
The Left doesn’t always love Bill Maher, though he has often served them well. In any case, lately he’s taken issue with the fashionable Leftist redefinition of and obsession with racism. He agreed with another guest on the same podcast, when the latter took a shot or two at the approved narrative on diversity and inclusion training.
And now we have John McWhorter writing in The Atlantic, admitting what less ideologically poisoned Americans already new: a lot of the woke demands at American universities and other schools are extreme and destructive.
The good news here: The Left isn’t a steel-reinforced concrete monolith.
What Am I Missing?
Are there other silver linings and points of light which encourage you? What are they? If you’re reaching a little, that’s okay. Perhaps I’m reaching too, with some of these.
III. Things to Do
Having something constructive to do is probably better therapy than having a list of worse things to watch for (as above). When you have something to do about a problem, it automatically looks less dire than it does when you just sit around, wringing your hands.
At least some of these deserve more discussion, but here I’ll summarize.
Fix Your State’s Elections
First things first. You can help your state fix whatever ails its elections. These are state or local problems, not federal problems. Even in Utah, where I don’t suspect significant fraud, we could work on cleaning up our voter rolls. Last I checked, they’re 20-30% full of the dearly departed and the more nearly departed. In other states, counties, and cities, serious reform and repair will require an extended campaign of pitched battles against long-entrenched interests and officials.
Find a broader range of sources for news, opinion, and analysis on goverment and politics. They’re out there, and when you find things you like, you can help your friends broaden their horizons too. I do some of that at my Freedom Habit Facebook page. Most links I post there are to things I’ve read that I think have merit. (I may agree with them wholly, in part, or not all.)
Stay in the Discussion
Find ways to articulate your views and thoughts, even if the audience is small. It doesn’t have to be public, like this blog or my Facebook page, and it doesn’t have to be written. The goals are to perpetuate and increase civil discussion; to reassure fellow citizens that what flows from the coastal elites who dominate our media and politics isn’t representative of the rest of the country; and to learn what we can from each other.
Use the Courts Now
I’d like to see some timely lawsuits, such as Republican senators filing suit against the Biden Administration anytime they lift a finger to implement the Paris Accord. It’s an international treaty and therefore requires Senate ratification, before it can take effect in the US. The Obama administration called it something else and began to implement it without ratification, because it wouldn’t have passed the Senate then. But a rose by any other name …
The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You
We can start preparing the legal, political, economic, and philosophical framework for states to secede peacefully from the United States. But please don’t think I’m saying more than I am. I don’t think it’s time to consider secession. Nor do I think that time is near. I hope it never comes. I’m saying you don’t wait until masked gunmen invade the theater to build emergency exits into the walls. At some point Americans who still love freedom may need to leave and form a new nation.
As I said, I hope not.
National Voter ID
We can have a serious debate about a national voter ID. Perhaps we should exploit modern technology to help insure (a) that only legal voters vote, and only once per voter per election, and (b) that any citizen with the right to vote can obtain such an ID without expense or undue difficulty.
A Parent’s Bill of Rights
At the national, state, and local levels, we can discuss and work to pass legislation creating a Parent’s Bill of Rights, with such statutory provisions as complete day-to-day transparency into the curriculum and actual teaching of one’s child in a public school; the right to remove — and a clear, functional mechanism to remove — a child from a failing school or classroom and find schooling elsewhere, with the bulk of per-child funding following the child; and more. (I have a list, and we can think of more, if we try.)
An Annual Federal Budget
We can find ways to apply significant but peaceful pressure to both legislative and executive branches at the federal level to adopt and live within annual budgets. For years they’ve done neither.
When that most basic adult function is reestablished, we can work on things like getting massive off-budget expenditures on-budget, for transparency. We can figure out how Congress can repay the funds it looted from Social Security. Then maybe we can begin to plan for our unfunded future obligations.
Article V Convention
We can have a serious ongoing discussion about calling an Article V convention to amend the US Constitution without Congressional cooperation. Such a convention probably couldn’t be limited in scope, but everything it produced would have to be ratified by a supermajority of states, so it’s not as reckless as it may sound.
I have a list of issues we might want such a convention to consider, but I’ll leave that for another time.
Live Our Lives in Human Decency
We can keep working hard, teaching our children, taking care of our families and our neighbors — some of whom will suffer in the immediate future even more than now, as the Left continues to oppress and begins to dismantle large sectors of our national economy.
We can actively resist cancel culture and snitch culture. Both have made inroads in the past year.
Yes, It Has to Be Peaceful
All these projects are real work. Pick one or more that appeal to you. Then pursue them calmly, intelligently, patiently, and peacefully. We still have avenues for redress, including elections, however suspect — even if we may see more defeat than victory.
We still have freedom of speech and press, because their principal opponents so far are corporate, not government. We’re still far from having to resort to samizdat or tamizdat to share our thoughts.
As a practical matter, though we know we’re essentially peaceful people, we must be cautious. Any twitch of violence, even the slightest verbal nod toward violence, could be cited as cause for further official or corporate oppression — especially now, with the despotic, unholy trinity of government (elected and bureaucratic), Big Tech, and conventional media feeling its oats.
As we’ve seen, even lawful, peaceful acts can be intentionally and hysterically misconstrued as inciting violence. We must not allow this to paralyze us, but we do need caution.
We are living an epic experiment to see how long an uncommonly free and prosperous people can enjoy these blessings without destroying them. At present, many of us and our major institutions seem to fixate on the ample darkness in our history. They use this darkness to enhance our divisions and diminish both freedom and prosperity for most Americans. But the stains in our history are no excuse for embracing greater darkness in the present and future. A more balanced, more active, more widespread awareness of American history must surely help.
In the meantime …
“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”
Yes. Yes it does. And that still means something good in the world.
Finally, if you’re in a mood to laugh or at least roll your eyes, here’s a piece I read a few months ago about why we need a different national anthem, a song which does none of the national things we need an anthem to do. (Because if we’re the Left — as distinct from ordinary American liberals — we abhor the very existence of nations, especially the United States of America.)
And be of good cheer, as Someone Important said once or twice.
Thanks for reading!
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