It feels a little played out to write on the repercussions of an event that occurred just hours ago, should we echo liberal media which is perpetually aghast that our polarized, radicalized, and violence loving populace took things too far? Or should we posture for increasingly desperate right-wing clicks by downplaying the events of crazed ideologues storming the U.S. legislature in probably the stupidest attempt at a governmental coup in recent memory?
There are no good answers.
Violence and rioting, threats and posturing against state governments have been happening at an increased clip these past twenty years. While most of these protests had a different target, often police buildings or the vandalism of state and private property, it’s worth putting these events into perspective. As much as we may wish it weren’t true, the reality to me is salient; political violence appears to be here to stay.
We are entering a new era brought about by our alt-right authoritarians, where losers in the politics game go on to claim the system is rigged and fraudulent. Spineless republicans, parroting the very worst of Plato’s anti-democratic arguments, then go on to play the dangerous game of placating increasingly inane conspiracy, hoping to survive the rip-tide of this nonsense until calmer waters prevail. But you have to ask, is burning down your house to stay warm for a night worth it? Is there any emotional energy left to muster when they then turn around and say stone faced, “who knew that playing with fire would lead to burns?”
For those at home wondering what ‘the line’ was for traditional “deep state” republicans, storming the U.S. Capital appears to be it. While I very much doubt we will get more than strong words of ‘concern’ from the party of ‘law and order,’ the damage done to political moderates at home may be irreparable. The spin machine will attempt to focus the attention on the more violent leftist protests of 2020 and how this one is a pittance in contrast; but there is a fundamental difference between threatening legislators and breaking windows (or battling police). It is one thing to rebel against some arm of the state, it’s quite another is to rebel against the very machinery of the state itself. The very fact that we have flag waving ‘patriots’ convincing themselves that upending the U.S. constitution is okay, is a harbinger of the battles we as a nation face in 2020-2030.
It seems our right wing friends forget the very maxims of governance that they themselves profess so proudly, it is the wheels of arcane legislative procedure, precedent, and those select few in power who determine the victor of elections; not a mob. There are two ironies here, the first is that if that mob were to be successful they would need to rely on those very same mechanisms to maintain their mob-defined rulings. The second is in the now abandoned love of the 2016 electoral college, a storied institution which apparently overnight became an easily corrupted relic of the faux-conservative past.
But double-think and an echo chamber cannot hope to upend this leviathan. The monolith of the State is anything if not resilient. If tens of thousands of protesters can’t even achieve some semblance of police procedure reform in a city, a dozen confederate flag wielding idiots is never going to upend the U.S. federal government.
The only thing protests of this nature accomplish is an increasingly authoritarian state, and a democratic party which pushes forward weak and ineffectual candidates who stumble across electoral victories they probably don’t deserve. While Trump was too inept to implement an imperial presidency, a future president may not be. But we can take a step back and just recognize that the trend of increasing presidential power did not begin and will not end with Donald Trump. The old bargain of security for freedom, so loved in post 9-11 libertarian and liberal circles now returns with gusto as we’ve given credence to the question of just how much security our government needs against its own populace. Authoritarianism is on the rebound world wide, from China to Russia, India to Hungary, the liberal religion of democratizing the planet through a free market and free media is starting to forget its prophets.
The final rule of any bureaucracy is that nothing gets ‘fixed’ unless it breaks, sometimes catastrophically. We aren’t living in an age of much love for the years which lie ahead of us, but maybe if we are fortunate people will start rewarding politicians who make painful decisions today for the betterment of our nation tomorrow.
Maybe if we wrap that message up in some ridiculous Facebook click-bait we can get some people waving flags and screaming in news cameras for that. Hey, a guy can dream.