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Sleeper Cell Democracy
Darkness, Incoherence and Chaos in America
There’s too much to talk about.
Trump will golf.
I continue to presume with full confidence that Donald Trump will be golfing in February. That means that a hell of a lot of Americans are going to have to blink, shake their heads and refocus. One thing I want to say up front that doesn’t seem to be said is that the gripes, the needs, the concerns of common Americans with regard to election fraud and with suppression of free speech has no need whatsoever to be tied to the fate of the person of Donald Trump. If you are on the Left and don’t understand that, you are deranged and you are a threat to civil society. If you are on the Right and don’t understand that, you are obsessive and you are a threat to the rule of law.
It has become increasingly difficult to even conceive that in the above duality I haven’t offended everyone despite the fact that I often go out of my way to slap around donkeys and elephants both. Clearly there are innumerates and illiterates who forget that there are political independents and that 81 million vote + 74 million votes < American Democracy. Yes it was the highest voter turnout in memory, but 66% of America is not America. So a third of us had nothing to do with the decision.
There is no BLM, there is no Proud Boys, there is no Antifa that are organizations that have anything to do with democracy. When a single Congressman stands up and says "These are my constituents, these are there demands, and I am here in Congress to specifically sponsor legislation to pursue those concrete ends in policy" and that can be certified in documentation for all to see, THATS DEMOCRACY. Instead what we have are a lot of spoiled cosplayers acting up on the streets with no recourse to actual democratic legislation. These are just street gangs, and they hope that they magically influence.
But you cannot be influential if you are not accountable. If you are not naming organizational leadership and policy positions, you may as well be anonymous. What is being accomplished is the creation of an environment of chaos and random sentiment. Why are people being canceled? They are being cancelled because of what they say that *appears* to 'enable' or 'empower' something unethical. So people are lashing out emotionally because something must be done.
So let’s stop a minute and see what that means because there are frightening implications. Basically, if you are not in a legislative body, you’re on the streets. Because the representatives of the ‘people’ are actually just minions of their respective parties. If you are not in Congress, you don’t count. If you are in Congress, you take the party line, or else. And since everybody expects, in these disastrous populist times, for the President to rule rather than to preside over and orderly representative process, that narrows it down to about a dozen people who count. The Speaker, the four party leaders and who else? The Twitter ‘influencers’? Remember Ron Paul? Remember when parties weren’t all about the cult of personalities and Presidents didn’t leave a trail thick with bodies thrown under the bus? Remember when legislation had actual people’s names attached to them instead of acronyms? Everybody has heard of HIPAA, but do you know who wrote it and what the letters stand for? ACA? PATRIOT? 230? This is the depopulation of democracy. Not just on the positive side but the negative side.
If you went to the FBI and asked, who is the leader of the most racist organization in America, you will find nobody on the most wanted list. Because there is no such organization. Nobody can name it. All we have is an environment of chaos and random sentiment. We say ‘systemic’ and call it a day. We might try to talk about David Duke in the KKK but he hasn’t been that guy since 1992. The KKK is broke. Sure the ideas are still around, but every idea ever conceived since the beginning of recored history is still around. What matters is the funded organization and the paid workers who actuate the ideas.
So where are all the people? We’re in disorganized tribes aggregated by social media companies that have no real interest in democratic processes. Let me put it to you very clearly.
Zero parts of our social media run on anything approaching a democratic process. There are no parliamentary procedure or rules of debate in social media. You are either in or you are cancelled.
So we have no idea who is going to do what for what reason or if we should take them seriously, because the dozen on Capitol Hill decide for the parties and the that’s the end of that. What’s left are the various mobs running around in circles defined by their memes and bubble filters.
People who are seriously planning a violent insurrection are stupid if they think they can do such planning in a public forum which is, for all intents and purposes, an alternatively branded Facebook. Even criminals in Florida aren’t that dumb. Or maybe they are. According to The Register, there were 98 posts that AWS deemed to be in violation of their terms of service, and Parler was slow, sloppy and/or negligent in banning the perpetrators. So Parler basically walked the chalkline and Amazon pulled the rug out from under them. Sorry not sorry.
Amazon was wrong because of the optics. In the narrow legalistic view of things, attorneys will parse the details something resembling truth will come forth. Yet all of this is about optics, not about insurrection or terrorism. Two teenagers from Boston taught us about terrorism. That is not and never was what Parler or Gab are all about. At the core of this battle is the Culture War. The very existence of Parler was about a legitimate beef with SJW cancel culture. It was and remains about the continuing, escalating forces of censorship in America.
Parler folks have been calling this the digital Kristallnacht and they are not wrong to draw the parallel. What has been happening for the past several years, from Chick-Fil-A to JK Rowling to Milo Yiannopolis to James Damore is pervasive, sharp, unforgiving and out of control. Now the axe has come the masses in the form of the deplatforming of Parler. It seems to me in this case, the more you believe that the President should be impeached for incitement, the less you can justify the specious speech on Parler as deserving of deplatforming. But that analogy swings the other way as well. If you can be brainwashed into believing only one party deserves respect and the rest are destroying the nation, you might as well be chanting for a Furious Leader.
Whereas the fully paranoid and disenchanted Right are scattered tribes seeking the shelter of even someone as dysfunctional as Trump simply because he’s branded himself as the last patriot; ultimately, the social justice mob are bloodless and corporate. They have survived by injecting moral consumerism into the mission statements of corporations and couldn’t care less about national heritage. Corporate as they are, they aren’t the attorneys behind Amazon’s policy police. The corporate aims are always populist, specifically the leisure corporations who spend billions on marketing and catering to Americans’ large but dwindling reserves of disposable income. Ironically it’s all of the goods from Asia that don’t come with such baggage. The banners for Black Lives Matter come from Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, not from plain wrap batteries made in Indonesia, nor on cotton from China. Poor people and many Trump voters don’t have time for all that. They don’t buy expensive iPhones, they buy cheap Samsungs.
The Parler crowd ought to have some corner of Congress well-stocked and their interests represented. But who is the Parler rep? There is none. It’s done by geography, and Parler isn’t a district. They need to get some better representation in the Capitol and in the IT department. But Parler isn’t truly to blame for the riot. Nor are Conservatives. Nor is the American Right. Those arrested are to blame. How many Trump trains have there been that never went off the rails?
I notice that I am not as outraged as I should be at this moment. I have been deadened in the moment by all of the chaos before this. People tried to hijack the Congress in session. It doesn’t get much more treasonous than that.
I can always remember that Pence rhymes with fence. When Americans were obsessed with ‘nobody is illegal’ the Governor was the most hated conservative in America. He genuinely spoke up for those Americans vulnerable enough to be negatively affected by illegal immigration, something far too many nominally thoughtful Americans have dismissed as a principally racist aggression. I’ll be very interested to see the White House from his point of view. Surely a book is coming.
In the meantime, Donald Trump has burned his very last bridge as far as I’m concerned and it all comes down to January 6th. I wrote not long ago that few of us can afford a kind of disinterested chivalry that affords us the practical ability to resign with dignity. The prospects of those under Trump’s bus from Mattis to Haley to Bolton may have one more moment to rescue the integrity of the GOP. I have to suspend disbelief just to write that sentence. But the fact remains that we are still America. America in the trashcan but America still.
When Trump first took office, I analogized that he got to drive America’s Cadillac, but that he would drive it in circles. I didn’t realize he would run it headfirst into a tree ejecting his passengers through the windshield.
I am a great deal more sensitive to the rudderless ramshackle that is the GOP as it struggles between its desire for power and its need for principle. Trump took all of its oxygen. Trump vacuumed all of the crumbs of the Tea Party and then moved them to orbital speeds, escaping the grip of gravitas of the Republican Party over the American Right. Trump is the ultimate RINO Conservatives have always feared, and now they will have to face the fact that Conservative principles will, from this moment forward, be a permanent minority of public opinion. Here is the clear failing record of three presidential elections they could not triangulate, and they've been trounced by a reality-show bounder.
All of that emotional investment has produced a litany of gut rumbles, weeping and wailing that I was able to ignore, with some patience. I have developed a strong stomach for the democracy of the masses, and it is not the mood of the people or even the subjects of their psychological obsessions that I measure. America is its traditions and its infrastructure, both of which are in jeopardy owing to its inability to transmit the energy and dynamism of its actual champions into the corridors of public service. The government we have cannot be hotrodded, its wheelbase is too long. People will have to get out and walk to freedom, come back and build a new chassis. Trump is not that builder. He is the madman who will chop the top and do donuts, orange hair blowing in the wind. America will not move forward, it will spin in place and knock over a lot of cones and maybe a bollard or two. At the end of four years, we will choose a sober mechanic, and perhaps we won't be so afraid of the blowtorching we need.
In that long walk to freedom, America will discover its legs. That is my expectation. There are no free rides. There is no comfortable backseat.
Biden is sober, but I doubt he has the dexterity of the engineering cleanup necessary. It will be a long walk indeed. Can we stand the sunlight?