Not one step back, comrades

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

Ezra Klein, founder and editor at large of Vox, described the powder keg of left wing emotions on the eve of the midterm elections.  Their dismay in the turn of events since 2016 is so great that he predicted a Democrat loss might mean a loss of faith in the political system itself.  News articles seem rife with  the conviction that politics was now rigged and America had become anti-democratic.


I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).

I don’t think we’re far from having two anti-system parties running to get power to rewrite the rules of political competition in their favor. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but I’m convinced we’re nearer to it than I thought: the rigging of American politics.

And that’s to say nothing of these kinds of moves, any one of which could become the spark that lights the fire in the event of an anti-democratic outcome.

While Sean Davis of the Federalist thinks Klein’s fears are overblown and that “the system is only on the verge of collapse when he doesn’t get his way”, rage doesn’t have to be rational, only real.  Just how real was demonstrated by news the French president felt the weight of victimhood upon Europe so heavily he seemed ready to chart a separate destiny.

Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a “true European army” to allow the EU defend itself from threats ranging from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin. The French president has pushed for closer EU defense union since coming to power last year but has been so far met with limited success amid foot-dragging by other member states. “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr Macron told France’s Europe 1 radio in an interview.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”


Nor were all the warnings based on anecdotal evidence.  An Axios/Survey Monkey poll found “just 51% of Americans said they have faith in the country’s democracy, and 37% say they have lost faith in democracy … it suggests that recent political turmoil has caused people to doubt the very foundation of American society, particularly leading up to election day.”

Perhaps it was the Independent that warned most loudly of an impending apocalypse. “America, beware of what Donald Trump will do if you empower him in the midterms – he’ll stretch the Constitution to breaking point” and all because of a “freak result” in 2016.

He will fire Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, and with no resistance from Congress, neuter the Mueller inquiry. He will target the rights of minorities, gay people and pregnant women. He will go after the First Amendment protection of a free press. …

If James Comey hadn’t reopened the FBI enquiry into Hillary’s emails, or if she’d bothered to stump in the Rust Belt, or if Trump hadn’t bought off Stormy Daniels … it was a freak result which better reflected the vagaries of the electoral college system …

If the race for the House is as tight as anticipated, a few dozen votes in a suburb of Michigan and a few hundred more in the potato-farming Idaho countryside could decide whether Trump spends the next two years raining mayhem on us all, or tied up in chains by Democratic investigations. Such is the warped reality of a world that hasn’t begun to rebalance itself since the Soviets slipped off the see-saw.


Ian Millhiser, the Justice Editor for Think Progress fired this despairing Tweet: “there won’t be free and fair elections in the United States until the Senate is abolished.” Perhaps the gloomy attitude was best summed up by Matt Yglesias who argued America may have lost its democracy to evil geniuses. Writing on Twitter he remarked “most folks simply don’t realize how genuinely committed the brightest minds on the center-right are to destroying democracy.”

Whatever the truth of these forebodings, the fear on the Left even before the results of the 2018 midterm elections have been tabulated is palpable. They are psyching themselves for long and existential struggle against the vague and as yet inexplicable They.

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Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, by T.J. Stiles. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History, this book paints a portrait of Custer that demolishes historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person — capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years). The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he lived on a frontier in time. In the Civil War, the West, and many other areas, Custer helped to create modern America, but could never adapt to it. Stiles casts surprising new light on a near-mythic American figure, a man both widely known and little understood.


Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding or “tribes,” a connection now largely lost. But its pull on us remains and is exemplified by combat veterans who find themselves missing the intimate bonds of platoon life at the end of deployment and the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Junger explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. He explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.

For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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