Threats to Democracy, Threats to Freedom

There is much talk these days of “threats to democracy.” But the greatest threat to democracy today may be the incessant talk of threats to democracy. For a threat is something to fear, and when men are driven by fear, they will sacrifice nobler aspirations in a heartbeat in the name of removing the source of their fear. Beware those who beat the drums of protecting democracy. They envision a world in which democracy has supplanted freedom in your perception of the political good, such that you finally sacrifice freedom for the sake of democracy.

I predicted today’s American landscape more than six years ago with, if I may say so, remarkable accuracy. Donald Trump, I warned in writing, repeatedly, would be framed by the media as the standard-bearer and ultimate fruit of “conservatism” and “republicanism,” neither of which he has anything whatsoever to do with. Gradually, Trump’s vulgarity, ignorance, incivility, and basic hatred for the idea of America (yes, hatred) would be exploited as a shorthand condemnation of all Republican voters, all who identify as conservatives, all who speak on behalf of the so-called conservative side of any public issue. Hence all Republican voters and conservatives in general would be identified in the public perception, and even, eventually, in their own perception, as Trumpists, which is to say advocates of demagoguery, divisiveness, sewer-mindedness, and the self-absorbed power lust fantasies issuing from one tiny man’s ego. 

For years, constitutional conservatives in America (who no longer exist) sensed that the neo-Marxist left was on a mission to marginalize them by portraying them and their beliefs as extreme, irrational, and publicly dangerous. Trump was Hell’s gift to the left, the perfect opportunity to achieve through the levers of the Republican Party itself all that their progressive propaganda and administrative state maneuvering had hitherto failed to achieve. And the strangest part of all, to return to where I began, is that all of this was very clearly foreseeable, the most obvious thing in the world back in late 2015 and early 2016. The growth and hardening of the Trump cult was thus the greatest unforced error in American political history, the self-inflicted wound with which the cause of liberty annihilated itself.

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