Mainstream media’s conspicuous silence in the aftermath of Biden’s very conspicuous fall on the steps leading to Air Force One is one of the many reasons reason why I will NEVER be lectured ever again by any liberal about anything.
If you’re old enough, you recall the unrelenting fun that SNL made of Republican President Gerald Ford’s repeated stumbles.
More recently, #AmericaPravda spared no effort to analyze anything and everything associated with Trump’s presumed physical and mental decline. But that is not surprising because Mainstream Media are Establishment media. They have been in service to a narrative since at least the FDR presidency and arguably earlier.
Whatever the case, American liberalism is nothing but a sick self-parody now days, evidence of this empire’s precipitous decline on all fronts, which is significantly of liberalism’s making. #LateAmerika #BrezhnevRedux
I wondered how much longer it would be before the Confederate Constitution, much like Confederate statues, would fall victim to cancel culture. Quite honestly, though, I don’t know what is more maddening: cancel culture or the intellectual laziness evincedby journalists, even relatively elite ones, who, either intentionally or unintentionally, aid and abet this malignant cultural trend.
AP journalist Jay Reeves characterizes the Confederate Constitution, which, incidentally, was debated and drafted in the Capitol in Montgomery in my native state of Alabama, as a vestige of white supremacy without even bothering to consider the document within its full historical context. And let’s make no mistake here: The Permanent Confederate Constitution was conceived within a wide intellectual and historical Anglo-American constitutional context and, for that reason alone, is worthy of serious discussion, despite its provisions safeguarding the institution of slavery.
It is appalling to me that Reeves never even bothered to explore this unusually rich context, which would have been standard practice among journalists as recently as a decade ago.
A Watershed Document
Before public discourse became so poisoned, the Confederate Constitution, despite the controversy associated with it, would have been characterized by some writers and academics as a watershed document, one that represented the outcome of a protracted, intense and often acrimonious debate on the nature and scope of federal power that began immediately following the drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1789.
The Permanent Confederate Constitution could be accurately characterized as embodying the Jeffersonian School argument, which maintains that the federal government – the “general government,” as it was characterized by many in the decades following constitutional ratification – simply functioned as the agent of the contracting sovereign states. This was underscored by the Confederate Constitution’s preamble, which affirmed that each state, in ratifying the document, was acting in its “sovereign and independent character.”
Aside from reaffirming the Jeffersonian view of federal power, this revised constitution also introduced some remarkable innovations that not only are instructive today but that still hold currency as contemporary Americans struggle to rein in federal power and even more significant, contend with mounting interest in sectionalism and even secession. Indeed, the case could be made that these innovations are especially relevant today amid new sectional divisions pitting predominantly liberal blue-coastal states against predominantly and implacably conservative red heartland states – issues not all that different from the ones that plagued federal relations in the early 19th century.
A Six-Year Presidency and a Line-Item Veto
One notable innovation was how the Confederate framers altered the office of the presidency, both limiting and strengthening it. While restricting the chief executive to a single 6-year term, the Confederate Constitution also empowered him with line-item veto power. Such a constitutional prerogative potentially would have gone a long way toward reining in the Leviathan federal state, one that not only extends its hand into increasing facets of American life but even holds tremendous sway over the affairs of nations in far-fling corners of the world. Moreover, with such a constitutional safeguard, we likely wouldn’t be contending today with a $20-million deficit.
The constitution also prohibited Congress from levying protective tariffs that tended to benefit one section of the country over others, an issue that proved contentious in the formative stages of the young American Republic and that virtually rent it apart in the early 1830’s.
The long-term effects of protective tariffs arguably have had an especially deleterious effect on the fortunes of American development and national cohesiveness, not only by allowing one section of the country, namely, the mercantile Northeast, to grow rich at the expense of most of the others but also by enabling it to transform much of the rest of the country, notably the war-ravaged, economically prostrate post-Civil War South, into an economic extraction zone.
Reining in Federal Judicial Power
In what arguably could be regarded as the most noteworthy innovation of them all, state legislatures were entitled to remove corrupt or constitutionally unscrupulous federal judges living in their states by a two-thirds vote of both houses. Ponder for a moment all of the contentious 21st century issues that could have been resolved by this provision. It would have obviated the need for state legislatures to resort to strategies such as interposition and nullification that contributed significantly to two serious constitutional crises stemming from passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 and the Tariff Act of 1828. Each of these contributed significantly to the protracted political impasse that culminated in a national breakup in 1861. Even more significant, though, such a constitutional safeguard likely would have contributed significantly not only to higher levels of restraint in the judicial branch but also in the federal legislative branch, as lawmakers would been more cognizant of the futility of passing laws that encroached on state sovereignty.
Yes, the Confederate Constitution was both an innovative and instructive, one among a long line of written constitutions within the Anglo-American tradition, one that also incorporates those of Commonwealth realms. And that is why it, along with others, should figure in prominently in any undergraduate or graduate coursework dealing with the protracted historical debate about the nature and scope of central power within a federal system. But like so much else in woke 21st century America, the Confederate States Constitution is now so thoroughly tainted by the stigma of white supremacy that it can never be regarded as anything more than a “forgotten relic of an ignoble cause,” borrowing Reeves’ description, and, consequently should remain locked away in archive and forgotten.
This only ensures that substantive debate in this country will grow even more constrained. But, of course, by now it should have dawned on most of us that this is one of the underlying aims of wokeness and cancel culture, which aren’t so much about fairness and inclusiveness as they are about stigmatizing views that threaten their hegemonic standing within American politics and culture.
Reeves’ article only served to underscore that we no longer function aa vibrant, open and free society, only one that pretends to be. And many of us are beginning to wonder how much longer elites, increasingly confident of the political and cultural power they increasingly wield, will bother with maintaining this pretension.
“As the nation reckons with its racist history, legislation calling for the removal of Confederate commemorative works from national parkland is likely to be reconsidered this year,” solemnly writes Kim O’Connell of the National Parks Traveler.
She adds that “one might be forgiven for believing that the South won, based on a reading of the monuments alone.”
In that case, I’ll never set foot on a federal park again. I’ll even go a step further by expressing my fervent hope that young Southern men and women withdraw their support of the American imperial enterprise, opting not to serve in any of the branches of the American military – yes, refusing to support the geopolitical interests of a government that resembles less a constitutional republic, more a tyranny with each passing day and, like many earlier empires, sustaining its power by pitting one cultural segment of society against another.
What is conveniently ignored by writers such as O’Connell in the midst of this proto-totalitarian woke struggle is that national unity and the ultimate construction of what amounts to a global American empire was secured through the construction of thousands of such monuments in town squares, cemeteries and, yes, national parks in every corner of the vanquished Confederacy.
It ultimately was achieved only because the Northern conquerors concluded, however half-heartedly, that post-war unity was achievable only through an acknowledgement of the bravery and sacrifices of the Confederate fighting man.
Without this acknowledgment, the South very well could have ended up as the American version of Ireland or even the Balkans, a soft, vulnerable underbelly of an aspiring empire. And given where we are heading with all of this neo-Puritanical cleansing, we may end up with something resembling Northern Ireland during the troubles or, even worse, the past Yugoslavian Balkans.
I have always admired Andrew Sullivan’s erudition and rhetorical gifts and his remarkably nimble mind. I think that his self-identification as a conservative throughout his adult life is a courageous one. His book The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back was a tour de force, especially his brilliant summary of the life and legacy of Michael Oakeshott.
Yet, I am struck by how he apparently has allowed his addiction to fame and court culture acceptance to blind him to the utter debasement of the American ruling class.
Predictably, Sullivan’s worst animus is reserved for Donald J. Trump, who is now facing his second and unprecedented impeachment trial. Sullivan should know better. Granted, the 45th president is no saint. I and millions of other heartlanders find much of what the former president says to be maddening, intemperate and self-destructive. But Trump speaks on behalf of a deeply and legitimately grieved segment of American society, one whose anger and alienation is every bit as real and as legitimate as the groups that our oligarchical class has assigned accredited victimhood. To pander to a segment of society, which evinces the rankest form of hypocrisy – denigrating a deeply and increasingly alienated segment of society not only to signal its sophistication but also to preserve its own singular advantages – well, does not befit a man of Sullivan’s intellectual integrity, ethical foresight and essentially conservative convictions.
Sullivan is especially one among the cognoscenti who should know better. A quarter century ago, as editor of New Republic, he published an account of Richard Hernstein’s and Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve.” He editorial decision was something that any responsible editor should have applauded, given that the text offered a well-reasoned, researched and entirely legitimate critique of the previous quarter century of government social policy.
That courageous but responsible decision – one that any editor in his shoes should have endorsed – has haunted his career ever since. Indeed, because of this decision, now regarded by our elites as a serious breach of etiquette, Sullivan’s career has suffered egregiously. And this should serve as a lesson to him and to any other reasonably independent-minded member of the real nature of our oligarchy as well as of the Mandarin class that sustains it.
Donald Trump may not be a pleasant man, but the elites who despise and denigrate him are the principal reason why he wields so much clout, if not adulation, among roughly half of the American electorate. Some 74 million Americans have utterly washed their hands of the regnant managerial liberal class, and the spectacular ascent of Donald Trump has been a major driving force behind this rejection. And that is why our debased ruling class, consumed by a cloying sense of virtue and entitlement and enraged by this obstreperous act of rebellious contempt, is determined to erase Trump’s legacy and, ultimately, to marginalize and silence his electoral base.
Heartlanders know who the real enemies of ordered liberty are. They’re not the bedraggled, angry protestors who breached U.S. Capitol security last month. No, the real enemies are the ones in power who have used their agit/prop arm to transform this breach into the American equivalent of the Reichstag fire.
As I said, Andrew Sullivan should know who the real enemies are.
“When they come for you they will talk like social workers.”
Tucker Carlson and other pundits on the right are anticipating the oligarchy soon will undertake a wholesale rooting out of all dissident thought, speech and expression in America, though it will be undertaken via the most polite and fastidiously therapeutic language.
Yet, it’s worth pointing out that that a de facto form of censorship arguably has existed for quite some time in America. Before the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the advent of the Internet, about the only method available to any genuine dissenter was handing out mimeographed publications on a street corner or at a mass event, such as a concert or college football game. Better-funded forms of moderate dissent – the sort of dissidence regarded as palatable to the managerial liberal elites, such as William F. Buckley’s National Review – were available through U.S. Mail.
As a teenager in the mid-Seventies, I can remember regarding myself as something of a dissident simply for receiving a publication called Conservative Digest in the mail – something that caused my parents some concern because northwest Alabama was such a heavily unionized Democratic enclave at the time.
To be sure, conservatives such as William F. Buckley and James Kilpatrick, were afforded a small slice of exposure, but back then they were regarded as dissident voices in a country and culture dominated by managerial liberalism. And because the media bandwidth was so constricted and dominated at the time by managerial liberalism, elites so no harm in affording some exposure to accredited forms of dissent – after all, it aided the propaganda struggle against the Soviets.
Elites could extol free speech because all forms of genuinely threatening dissent were contained. Things changed somewhat – from the standpoint of elites, decidedly for the worse beginning in the 80’s – with the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine. Things spiraled virtually out control in the 90’s when the Internet initially developed into kind free speech Wild West. Now elites are slowly managing to rein in all of this troubling dissent. Things ultimately will return to something akin to the status quo that prevailed in the Seventies: There will be accredited venues of dissent and Establishment media organs once again will extol free speech and affirm what a singularly free nation the United States truly is.