The long-awaited 2020 presidential election went into overtime with no called winner. If one is declared he will have less than an overwhelming mandate. With such ambiguity, it is difficult to read conventional meaning into the contest. Yet if elections were a war it would be easy: the progressive counteroffensive aimed at sweeping the House, Senate, and White House free of the rebel coalition has already failed. Despite enormous expense, the correlation of forces has essentially remained unchanged.
The 2016 loss might have been accounted as a lucky punch, but 2020 was a set-piece maximum effort by progressives backed by money, gangs, social censorship, and deep state support on a massive scale; yet it didn’t move the needle. It should have impressed, rather it showed the limits to the power of the American elite.
It was the most anticipated, polled, forecasted, and analyzed U.S. presidential election in history and yet the expensive estimates proved to be worthless, a massive intelligence failure that paralleled Neil Ferguson’s ill-fated projections of the coronavirus pandemic. The limits of elite prescience of over complex phenomena were demonstrated for all to see. The embarrassing surprise cast doubt over ambitious progressive projects based on social, biological, or climate engineering since the requisite degree of “scientific” certitude simply did not exist to predict even in a mundane election.
The populist uprising is now objectively too powerful for progressives to crush. The left must live with it, negotiate with it, coexist with it because they can no longer bulldoze it away. By the same token, the populists must accept that progressives are similarly too powerful to ignore. They cannot be provoked without cost.
This new strategic reality may create a gap between the 1619 fanatics and Democrats willing to live and let live. Nor will it sit well with populists who see the left as evil. But like Robert Oppenheimer’s analogy of two scorpions in a bottle in the early Cold War, both sides must learn to coexist while competing because there is no other choice.
Throughout history the two biggest sources of strategic overreach have been 1) leaders not knowing when to stop; and 2) leaders assuming the foe would not equal their own methods and ruthlessness. Hitler and Napoleon committed the first mistake. They, fortunately, shelved Soviet plan to win WW3 in 1979 by assuming Soviet nukes in Germany, Italy, and the low countries would not be countered in Operation 7 Days to the River Rhine exemplifies the second.
The danger is that each side may attempt an unattainable total victory in place of more limited goals. The temptation is greatest for the left with its habit of calling the shots. Yet progressive decline is precisely why 2016 and Brexit happened in the first place. The fantasy that nothing had changed and that they could resume their former dominance gave rise to the fantasy of the Blue Wave. But 2020 showed perceptive leftists that the old red mare was not what she used to as they failed to expand the Dem majority in the House, win back the Senate, and take the White House outright.
The same pitfall haunts conservatives who are full of passion but are organizationally underdeveloped. They are still over-reliant on charismatic leadership and require the time and adversity to institutionalize and internalize experiences. Destroying the progressives is beyond their current power. Withstanding the current onslaught may have to suffice.
Strategic parity can be a particularly dangerous place. Things one party could do when it was dominant are no longer possible in conditions or relative equality. Practices that once used to be OK suddenly become time bombs, as amply illustrated in the history of the civil rights and women’s equality movements.
This factor may figure in the disputed counts. How can you tell routine corruption and inefficiency from the especially deliberate kind? The real problems of the voting system, off-limits for years, may become an issue under scrutiny in ways that have never happened before. “You fight like you train.” This election is like the usual in those places only more so. The difficulty is that the usual may no longer be acceptable.
Overreach has suddenly become dangerous in the changed circumstances. It always is under conditions of equality but do the players realize it yet?
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The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz.
Investigative journalist NIina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. For the past 60 years, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat. But Teicholz shows, based on a nine-year-long investigation, how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community and the public imagination, and how recent findings have overturned these beliefs. With scientific rigor, she makes the ground-breaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat — including saturated fat — is what leads to better health and wellness.
Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World, by Joan Druett.
Using the survivors’ journals and historical records, award-winning maritime historian Druett tells the story of the wrecks in 1894 of two ships, the Grafton and the Invercauld, on the opposite ends of the same deserted island, Auckland Island, located 285 miles south of New Zealand. Facing the same fate, the crew of one ship turned inward on itself, fighting and starving, while that of the other vessel built a cabin and a forge and eventually found a way to escape. In this book, Druett shows human nature at its best and worst, the critical role of leadership, and the fine line between order and chaos.
Atlas of World War II: History’s Greatest Conflict Revealed Through Rare Wartime Maps and New Cartography by Stephen G. Hyslop (author) and Neil Kagan (editor)
This magnificent atlas delves into the cartographic history of WWII: naval, land, and aerial attacks from the invasion of Poland to Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Bulge. Rare maps include a detailed Germany & Approaches map used by Allied forces in the final stages of the war, full large-scale wartime maps of the world used by President Roosevelt, and crucial Pacific theater maps used by B-17 pilots, as well as rare items like playing cards with backs that POWs could peel off to reveal escape maps printed on tissue paper. Satellite data renders terrain as never before seen, highlighting countries and continents in stunning detail to include the towns, cities, provinces and transportation roads for a pinpoint-accurate depiction of army movements and alliances. Hyslop includes gripping wartime stories from these hallowed fields of battle, along with photographs, sketches, confidential documents, and artifacts.
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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.
Open Curtains by George Spix and Richard Fernandez. Technology represents both unlimited promise and menace. Which transpires depends on whether people can claim ownership over their knowledge or whether human informational capital continues to suffer the Tragedy of the Commons.
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.