The leader strides to the podium. Behind him is the nation’s oldest government building, recognizable by all. It’s portico is bathed in a dark crimson light, making the brickwork somehow ominous. The normally white columns stand out, like flickering pillars of fire. Members of an elite military unit stand at the ready in the background, their dress uniforms barely distinguishable in the lighting – except for the white caps they wear.
He raises his fists in the air and launches into a twenty minute long rant, decrying his political opposition as enemies of the state. He yells, he screams that they intend to tear down the country. He vows to fight them, to destroy these political opponents. With wild gesticulations punctuating his every word, he exhorts his followers to ensure the voices of the opposition are silenced.
What I’ve just described might sound like a speech delivered by Adolph Hitler. Or Benito Mussolini. Or Fidel Castro. But it isn’t.
This was Joseph R. Biden, 46th President of the United States, evoking the memories of petty tyrants throughout history.
It should scare the bejeezus out of you. This is the same President that in the past month has unleashed the federal police against his political opponents, bypassed Congress to spend a trillion dollars of public money to solidify his support among his most ardent supporters, is desperately trying to “normalize” relations with the world’s greatest terrorist state, and is determined to prolong a European war.
He says he wants to warn us about the rise of fascism in the United States? Too late. It’s arrived in the person of the president.
Did You Earn A Useless Degree? Now You Get A Bailout!
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, “write as you speak.” This might sound intuitive to you, but for me, it took some serious retraining. You see, I dropped $10 dollar words into everything I wrote. After all, I reasoned, I had spent a lot of money to get the education where I learned those words. Why shouldn’t I use them? What I didn’t understand was that most people don’t want to run for a dictionary every time they opened one of my emails. I had failed to “read the room,” as the saying goes.
The same can be said for the President’s asinine student loan bailout. I understand why he did it. Protestations from the administration aside, Joe Biden’s poll numbers are further underwater than a nuclear submarine awaiting orders. In particular, he is way underwater with what might be the group that put him over the top in 2020: 20-something college graduates. So giving them a cool $20,000 must have looked like a gimme to him.
Look, I get buying votes. It’s a practice as old as the republic
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.Alexis de Tocqueville
except in this case, it isn’t Congress, it’s the President.
That brings us to the first problem with this handout. The Constitution makes it pretty plain that any appropriations are supposed to begin in the House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 7). Nowhere does the President have the authority to magically create money to hand out to a select group of people. He’s claiming that an obscure law, meant to provide temporary relief after 9/11, gives him that authority. Most legal beagles are dubious. The lawsuits to come should be entertaining.
Now, as mentioned, the money to pay for this isn’t being reapportioned from some other program. At least, none that anyone knows about. That means this is brand new spending. How much brand-new spending? Nobody’s quite sure. The administration (via the OMB) thinks $260 billion. The CBO thinks it’s more like $500 billion. Just yesterday, Penn-Wharton said this will end up costing you and me $1 trillion. Last week, Democrats were crowing about their “Inflation Reduction Act” (protip: it does no such thing) and the $210 billion in deficit savings it is supposed to bring. Well, with a stroke of his pen, their nominal party leader just played Enola Gay to their Hiroshima.
Then there’s the question of income redistribution. Nobody will ever confuse me as someone in favor of such schemes. But if you’re a fan of such socialist hogwash, let me ask: are you in favor of a reverse Robin Hood scheme in which the government steals from the poor and gives to the rich? That’s exactly what this is: waitresses and truck drivers will be sending part of their paychecks to lawyers and accountants, so they can buy their soy lattes. On what planet is that considered fair or equitable?
I understand how difficult it is the pay off onerous (sorry, $10 word. Buy a dictionary) student debt. My personal debt was over $72,000 and took 18 years to pay off. But that’s the thing. I made my monthly payments, even during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. Once upon a time, that wasn’t anything to talk about. Everyone did it. It was called being an adult. But we have a senile president being led around by the craziest people in Congress. Responsibility is passe.
The Establishment Learned Nothing
Joe Biden is now officially the 46th President of the United States. Already, the press and official Washington is pretending the last 4 years didn’t happen, except that they intend to extract a pound of flesh for being subjected to it. Instead of asking themselves why it was that 75 million people voted for Donald Trump, they’ve already come to the misguided conclusion that those people don’t matter. Besides, they are probably a bunch of racists and wannabe autocrats anyway, so they suck.
For evidence of this, I point to this opinion piece published yesterday in National Review, authored by Kevin D. Williamson. I’m a long-time subscriber to NR and for the past few years, a member of the NRPlus community. Kevin’s take is not a lone cry in the wilderness. Many of my NRPlus fellows have expressed similar sentiments throughout Trump’s term. The disdain and outright contempt for anyone who dared vote for the “Orange Ape” shown in Kevin’s piece is part and parcel with the disdain and contempt that many of his ilk showed these people before Trump ever took his golden escalator ride.
I’ve often argued that what motivated Trump’s voters wasn’t the man himself. Make no mistake, there are those who would have followed him over a cliff, as we witnessed on January 6. But the vast majority of the 75 million that voted for him on November 3 do not fit into that neat checkbox. Their concerns have more to do with Barack Obama’s “bitter clingers” comments and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” diatribe than Mr. Trump. We knew The Donald is an imperfect vessel – but he was the only one willing to address those concerns in 2016; he remained one of only a handful of willing to address them in 2020.
So now we have Joe Biden calling for national unity, but immediately marginalizing the bitter clinging, deplorable “chumps” in his Inaugural Address. To highlight the ad hominem attacks against people they don’t understand and wish would just go away, we got KDW calling us “the studio audience from Hee-Haw” and continually referring to us as “Cletus” (FWIW: Cletus is the backwoods living, inbred village idiot from The Simpsons). These were not meant as complimentary terms (I suspect Kevin didn’t, but I enjoyed watching Hee-Haw when I was growing up). In so doing, he forgot that you don’t have to live in Washington to be a coastal elite. However, you can live in Texas and still be a jackass.
Make no mistake, I still enjoy the bulk of KDW’s writing. His arguments in favor of American-style federal republicanism are among the most eloquent written in the past 20 years. But he’s also made it clear that his brand of conservatism (again, a view shared by quite a few others) is better off ignoring the complaints, gripes, and daily life of a wide swath of ordinary Americans. He would rather lose elections and see the last vestiges of classical liberal thought purged from these shores than ever admit that maybe, just maybe, there is something legitimate about the populist uprising within the GOP. Admitting certain policy preferences that somehow became conservative orthodoxy didn’t work out as intended is more painful than seeing them permanently jettisoned by admittedly unconservative democrats, I guess.
But KDW, just in case you stumble across this humble blog, remember this. Conservatism was never about standing athwart history, yelling “STOP.” It was never about tax cuts or being the world’s superpower or any of those other things that seem to have come to define DC conservatism. Conservativism has always been about unleashing the power of the individual so that all of society can improve. Denying that agency to millions of us in order to preserve corrupt and decaying power structures isn’t conservative, nor is it classically liberal. Those original classical liberals put up with denial of agency for only so long before they rose up and smashed the power structures to which they were subjected.
We shouldn’t have to wish for the same.
*Joe Biden, to the surprise of nobody who’s been following the vote counts, is now the President-Elect. It isn’t the outcome I wanted, but it is what it is. If we’re true patriots, we wish him well, line up as the loyal opposition and carry on.
*We’re undoubtedly in for a bumpy month while we await state certifications. It seems a foregone conclusion the President will unleash every legal tool available to him to stave off the inevitable. That’s his right, but history is not on his side. The courts (properly) prefer not to be involved in elections, unless there is clear evidence of malfeasance.
*We can only hope when all is said and done, the President concedes. I’m not asking him to be gracious about it, that would be totally out of character. But failure to do so will only validate every tweet, op-ed, and media commentator who has labeled him as a wannabe dictator.
*Finally, those of us who call ourselves conservatives need to ask if the last four years were about fealty to a single man, or loyalty to our founding principles? Because if the last four years for you was about loyalty to a person, then you’ve lost. If it was about loyalty to principles, then you understand that this is just a temporary set back, and a narrow one at that.