How Many Load-Bearing Walls Have to Come Down Before America Collapses?
My friend Glenn Reynolds, who also has an excellent Substack you may want to subscribe to, just released a piece called Civilizational Jenga. The main focus of it was the Colorado Supreme Court’s foolish decision to pull Trump’s access to the ballot in Colorado over his supposed “insurrection” on January 6, 2021.
Setting aside the fact that a large percentage of the country, myself included, doesn’t believe the Jan 6. riot was an “insurrection,” it puts the cart before the horse. Trump has yet to be put on trial for insurrection.
For a handful of leftwing judges (and yes, they’re all Democrats) to just arbitrarily decide that he committed insurrection without him being convicted of it at a trial is not much different than deciding he committed murder without proving it at a trial. It’s an obvious attempt to misuse the court system for political reasons and if it were to stick and Trump were to become the nominee, it would practically demand that Republicans pull the same dirty trick against Joe Biden. Does it seem like a healthy precedent for political parties to be trying to win elections by default by illegitimately kicking their potential opponents off the ballot? No, it does not.
This column is not going to attempt to litigate Trump’s various court cases and rule on which ones may be justified and which ones may be political, but there is a very good reason that Americans have diligently avoided charging former presidents with crimes. That’s because it’s inevitably going to be highly controversial, polarizing and it’s dangerous to a Republic for a political party to believe that the only way they can get justice is to be in charge.
If one political party in a country concludes that their choices are to be in charge or be in jail, democracy suddenly becomes a very secondary concern. As Glenn Reynolds notes in his column, Abe Lincoln was kept off the ballot in 10 states back in 1860. Of course, that year is best remembered as the year before the Civil War.
This part from Glenn’s column was also very good:
What makes me sad now is the ongoing game of Civilizational Jenga that our ruling class is playing. One by one, they’re withdrawing the supports of civil society, in a process that will inevitably lead to a collapse. They’re taking what was a very robust society, and consuming all the safety margins, bit by bit.
...Half the country – maybe more – will conclude that the whole system is rigged, that the establishment doesn’t follow the rules, and that it will gang up on anyone it sees as a threat. They will conclude, in short, that the government, and indeed the entire system, is illegitimate.
And they will be right. And the politicians of even a generation ago recognized that as enormously dangerous.
What bothers me the most is that the powers that be today don’t seem to care. Perhaps they feel so secure in their grip on power that they expect never to be held accountable. (They seem very smug about their mastery of slipperiness and complex rules, but you know, the Gordian Knot was solved through a different approach.)
Maybe they don’t think they need legitimacy as long as they control the sword, the purse, and the press. But even dictatorships do their best to promote legitimacy and think twice before going out of their way to convince half the population of their lack thereof.
Like spoiled trust fund babies living an opulent lifestyle off the profits of a company grandpa built, but they don’t understand, many Americans (including many Americans with power) simply have never put any thought into why our society has succeeded or what makes it work. That wasn’t something they were taught in school; they don’t hear about it in the media and they’re certainly not going to learn all about it on TikTok. Their thought process doesn’t go much deeper than, “Who will give me the most?” “That’s in the way, so get rid of it,” and “I like how supporting that makes me sound to other people, so let’s do it!”
To a certain extent, this is all very natural. Each generation thinks they’re smarter than the generation that came before and in some ways, they’re right. Technology tends to advance. Each generation also has the privilege of standing on the shoulders of the last and getting the benefit of their experience and mistakes.
However, history tends to play out over an extraordinarily long, drawn-out timeframe while we human beings tend to be much more focused on the here and now. The well-reasoned, practical decisions of decades past can look arbitrary to us because the events that prompted them may have happened decades or even centuries ago, and past generations that were closer to it had a perspective we can no longer see.
Unfortunately, so many people don’t even try to understand that perspective. In fact, many of the most powerful people in this country are too arrogant to even consider the long-term ramifications of the things we’re doing.
What happens to America as the number of illegal aliens who have no loyalty to our country continues to swell dramatically? If we don’t have merit-based immigration AND we have a generous welfare system, isn’t it possible that immigration could drag our country backward as more of them take welfare than work? What if we’re already there?
The 2022 SIPP indicates that 54 percent of households headed by immigrants — naturalized citizens, legal residents, and illegal immigrants — used one or more major welfare programs. This compares to 39 percent for U.S.-born households.
What are the consequences of not only moving away from teaching patriotism but actively encouraging so many Americans to hate their country? How about deliberately allowing and in some cases, even encouraging large-scale riots in liberal cities across the country? How about moving on from aiming vitriolic attacks at political candidates, to aiming those same kind of vicious attacks at the people that support those candidates? What about deliberately trashing, slandering, and undercutting the police in cities across the country?
What about the Democrat threats to destroy the Senate by getting rid of the legislative filibuster? How about their similar threats to destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme Court by stacking it with new justices after they get rid of the filibuster?
What about deliberately increasing the gay and trans population via indoctrination in schools? Do you think that will turn out to be a plus or a minus?
How about the consequences of a presidential candidate endlessly claiming that the last election was rigged while the other side has been resistant to all efforts to increase transparency or better secure the vote?
What do you think the consequences would be if the Democrats ever got their way and managed to try to implement a nationwide gun confiscation?
If the world were to face a pandemic that is orders of magnitude deadlier than COVID, which history certainly suggests is possible, how well do you think it would go after the government and medical establishment destroyed their credibility with the way they handled COVID?
Since our country has essentially given up on controlling our spending, how well do you think that’s going to work out for us over time?
After America’s long history of racial strife, how much sense does it make for the Left to constantly be trying to create antagonism between black and white Americans?
We essentially no longer have unbiased press watchdogs that aspire to print all the important news. How well does that serve the country? What about the attack on the core American institution of free speech? Since when are the good guys ever the ones trying to censor what people can say?
Despite the fact we ostensibly have the most dominant military in the history of the world, poor decisions by politicians, stifling rules of engagement, and our military’s approach to war have led to a 2 (Iraq, Iraq), -2 (Vietnam, Afghanistan), -1 (Korea) record in major conflicts since WW2, yet we don’t seem inclined to make any changes.
The Christian church, which has been the backbone of America’s moral education since the country was founded, is in a steep decline and nothing is being done to try to shore it up. Does that seem likely to make us better or worse?
Imagine a big, beautiful house, but it has a maniacal group of squatters living in it. They take sledgehammers to load-bearing walls, carelessly tinker with the wiring, and make no real effort to fix things.
If the roof gets a leak, they let it go. If there’s a crack in the foundation, they’re more likely to hit it with a sledgehammer for fun than to repair it. If they’re going out of town when there’s going to be a cold snap, they leave the water running and don’t worry about whether the pipes freeze or not. Maybe a couple of them will board up a broken window or slap some duct tape on things when they’re sober and bored, but there’s no organized plan to hold everything together.
What do you think that house is going to look like a few years down the road? Better question, what do you think our country is going to look like a few years down the road?
Granted, it takes longer for a country to break down than a house, but it does all the same. In fact, if you’re middle-aged or older, you could probably reel off half a dozen ways the house we have today is vastly inferior to the one we had just a few decades ago.
This is not a coincidence. It’s not bad luck. It’s a consequence of the fact that we’ve done a lot of damage to our home, and we’re no longer even going through the motions of trying to keep it in good repair. We still have a roof over our heads for the moment, but we are certainly no longer on track to have a home we’re going to want to leave to our kids.