Ever since consensual governments were invented in Greece 2700 years ago, one question has been repeatedly debated: Are citizens, no matter their birth, wealth, or brains, capable of managing the political community? Or must we rely on “managerial elites,” whether aristocrats, plutocrats, or technocrats, to control collective power and determined the actions and purposes of the state?
But this question has always had a corollary one: Freedom or Tyranny?
This debate has been going on since ancient Athens, and ultimately influenced the creation of the United States. The Founders created the unprecedented structure of our Constitutional order to avoid the various excesses of the old regimes, especially those ruled by elites, which typically degenerated into tyrannies. The ultimate goal of the Founders was to avoid both the tyranny of the elite few, and the tyranny of the volatile many, both of which are toxic for freedom.
The rise of the leviathan federal government and its technocratic agencies, and its expansion under Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and subsequent presidents from both parties, has now under Joe Biden’s Potemkin Administration reached a level of intrusive power that if left unchecked much longer, will end up in full-blown tyranny.
On November 5, 2024, we the people will have a chance to impose a reckoning on the Biden regime that, in addition to egregious policy failures both at home and abroad, has brought us dangerously close to tyranny.
The struggle between freedom and tyranny comes down to the question of authority, or as Lewis Carroll’s Humpy Dumpty put it, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Hence all aspiring tyrannies seek to aggrandize authority and neutralize or demonize alternative sources. That’s why the progressives at the turn of the 20th century started targeting the Constitution, our supreme political authority.
In his book The New Freedom (1913), Woodrow Wilson rejected the Constitution’s limits on power by the separation of government functions, and mutual checks and balances of them. Instead, Wilson favored a “theory of organic life,” which is “accountable to Darwin . . . . It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped by its functions by the sheer pressure of life.” The “wise few,” Wilson argued could take control of this evolution, and better govern, guide, and improve the many.
This idea of a “living Constitution” reflects not just the begged questions of political scientism, but also the rejection of authorities like tradition and faith, which the Founders considered the sine qua non of the political order that gave freedom to humans indelibly flawed by passions and interests.
Next, along with the Constitution, the authority of the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment, has been undermined by innovations such as “hate speech” and “cancel culture,” which assume new “rights,” like the right of politically selected group identities not to be insulted or criticized. These “rights” function as unwritten exceptions to the First Amendment’s unalienable right of free speech bestowed by “nature and nature’s God,” and so lie beyond the authority of mere men.
Now public and private institutions have created speech codes, policies, and offices that surveil, investigate, and censor violations of these new “rights.” But these mechanisms enforce an ideological orthodoxy that favors and empowers one political faction at the expense of others, compromising their rights and freedom.
And as we have seen during the Covid crisis, government agencies have colluded with social media to create what journalist Michael Shellenberger calls the “Censorship Industrial Complex” that silences dissenters, and “cancels” them professionally and personally in order to deter other dissidents and enforce the party line––the modus operandi of tyrannical regimes both ancient and modern.
So, too, the First Amendment’s anti-establishment clause, which has been tortured into a ban on protected religious speech in the political town square, marginalizing religious faith, which once was a potent rival to the tyrant’s arbitrary authority. In our times, over a century of secularism has so weakened faith and diminished its authority that our public institutions have become Christophobic. Now Christian beliefs have been banished from contributing to policy discussions on issues like abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism.
Worse yet, Christians have become targets of the Feds. One FBI field office report highlighted “violent extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” as offering “opportunities for mitigation.” Federal agencies are investigating, surveilling, and indicting Christian activists and businesses. In September 2022, for example, 25 heavily armed FBI agents with 15 vehicles raided the home of pro-life activist Mark Houck, while five of the agents pointed automatic weapons at his family.
The pretext for the raid comprised dubious violations of the FACE act that prohibits both pro-abortion and pro-life organizations from using violence or obstructing these facilities during protests. But as the Heritage Foundation reported, in 2022 the DOJ had been violating the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under law by charging 26 pro-life activists with FACE violations, but not a single pro-abortion protestor, despite 100 pro-abortion attacks on pro-life centers.
In an even more egregious weakening of equality under law, Donald Trump is facing 91 Federal charges brought by multiple prosecutors for alleged “crimes,” such as mishandling classified documents, that Democrat politicians such as Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden have committed with impunity. Lawfare waged by some states and the Feds is seeking to keep Trump off the ballot, or cripple his campaign––a level of “elections interference” typical of tyrannical Banana Republics.
Or consider the several hundred Trump supporters who have been jailed going on three years for the brief occupation of the Capitol on Jan. 6th, many for misdemeanors or just being there. Meanwhile, thousands of Antifa and BLM protestors have not even been charged for felonies like arson and violent assaults during months of national protests and riots over the death of George Floyd in 2020.
Such ideologically selective investigations and partisan prosecutions, such corruption of the laws and the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that public officials have sworn to uphold, represent the usurpation of the law’s authority by factional interests at the expense of the freedom and equality of other factions. They are the epitome of tyranny going back to ancient Athens.
The most consequential authority that tyrants try to undermine is that of the family and parents. More than 175 years ago, Karl Marx and Friedrichs Engels famously called for the abolition of the nuclear family for being a tool of capitalist power and control: “The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement [capitalism] vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital,” they wrote in the Communist Manifesto.
In the last few years, the transgender movement has similarly targeted parents and their authority as obstacles to their radical goals. It has invaded public school curricula, and exposed even preteens to “non-binary” propaganda, grotesque drag-queen shows, and outright pornography. Worse, dangerous treatments like cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and irreversible surgical mutilation are touted by school psychologists and celebrated in popular culture.
Parents who protest such folly at school-board meetings, or complain to principals are often ignored and their authority cancelled. In some states like California, parents have lost the right to decide which “gender” is suitable for their child, and even risk losing custody. Often, they are slandered as “domestic terrorists” and subjected to investigation by the FBI.
But educational institutions have long competed with parents for control of children, often to advance illiberal political ideologies. Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School understood that the control of educational institutions and curricula offered the best opportunity to mold children and young people into leftists. Hence the successful “long march through the institutions,” the decade-by-decade take-over of K-12 schools and universities, which these days indoctrinate their charges into adopting “woke” authoritarian beliefs, and “one-world” globalist collectivism inimical to our national sovereignty, and the ordered liberty and unalienable rights enshrined in the Constitution.
As the new year begins, signs of a push-back against this “woke” tyranny abound. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion apparatus is seeing many institutions cutting back on DEI employees, and some states banning them altogether. School choice policies are proliferating, and in blue Wisconsin, the Supreme Court just tossed a lawsuit attempting to undo a school voucher program allowing parents to pick their children’s schools. And Democrats are getting cold feet about Joe Biden’s running for reelection given his manifest failures on the economy, border security, and foreign policy, all helping to drive down his approval ratings.
But we shouldn’t let those favorable portents make us careless. Polls are snapshots, at best suggesting trends that can change in an instant. We still don’t know how Donald Trump’s multiple trials will play out once the campaigns shift into high gear. Most significantly, questions about the 2020 election and its suspicious anomalies remain. Some reforms have been enacted, but the Democrats are working hard to shape the election by means of mail-in ballots that in 2020 doubled the number of such votes in 2016.
As William Doyle writes in The American Conservative, “All that ultimately matters in mass mail-in voting states is the number of absentee ballots that can be distributed, harvested, and ultimately counted in local election offices by partisan election activists over the weeks and months preceding election day. Through the strategic expansion of mass mail-in voting, Democrats are creating a new urban based, activist driven electoral playing field where they alone can win.”
Republicans must either pray for a landslide big enough to counter mail-in fraud; or adapt to the new electoral reality. “Republicans,” Doyle concludes, “must make a concerted effort to better understand the pernicious logic of mass mail-in voting, to mount an ‘all hands on deck’ legislative and lawfare effort to counter its spread, and push for a return to conventional, time-tested election norms.”
Otherwise, the “fundamental transformation” of our Republic will leave us in tyranny.