THE COLUMN: 'There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men'

While the country holds its breath awaiting the next Joe Biden disaster or the next supererogatory Donald Trump rally, or the next quixotic Mike Pence 2024 presidential campaign event, beneath the surface the political tides are running at Shakespearean levels. Seeking to enlist Cassius in his plot to assassinate Julius Caesar, Brutus says:

We at the height are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

From our current vantage point, it looks as though the 2024 election might come down to a rematch between Trump and whoever survives the coming Democrat bloodbath this fall. Can senile Joe Biden continue to impersonate a sentient being behind the Resolute desk for another three years? Or will the likely loss of both houses of Congress to the unworthy Republicans motivate the donkey party to find fresh-faced replacements for both Biden and his manifestly unsuitable vice president, Kamala Harris? As I noted last week, it's not impossible to replace both halves of a winning ticket in mid-stream: the Democrats pulled it off between 1972 (historic Nixon/Agnew landslide) and 1974 (Watergate) and saddled the GOP with two candidates it never wanted or even nominated, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller. So if you think it can't be done, think again.

Lean and hungry looks all around.

The only question is whether the Democrats have the guts to do it to themselves. Back then, the Howard Baker Republicans labored under the impression that the Democrats wanted the same ends for the nation as they did; they were only arguing about means. They also believed that the media played things straight down the middle and, faithful to their constitutional role in a free Republic, didn't take sides, cut corners, or manufacture stories from whole cloth. In the end, the GOP bonzes even did the Dems' dirty work for them, sending a delegation of senior leadership to the White House to tell Tricky Dick the jig was up and it was time for him to go. From a 49-state, 520-electoral vote tsunami to the bum's rush in less than two years; the bloodless coup really was a remarkable achievement and a first in American history.

Should the Democrats wish, or be forced, to keelhaul Biden, however, such a decision will come with a hefty price tag. They'll have to explain to their black voters why Harris was discarded without ever being able to articulate the reason that dare not speak its name: she's simply too stupid to function:

Another problem is that the Democrats have no plausible replacements ready to step in should the need arise. So dedicated are they to the woke doctrines of their lunatic-Left base, they are saddled with the box-checking likes of Pete Buttigieg, Lloyd Austin, Xavier Becerra, Miguel Cardona, Alejandro Mayorkas, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Anthony Blinken, none of whom belongs anywhere near a cabinet meeting unless it's held in a water closet. Further, the Democrats' program of crazy nostrums such as Modern Monetary Theory—just print money!—and Green Energy (free wind and solar!) have resulted almost overnight in rampant inflation, severe energy shortages and skyrocketing prices.

So it should be a simple matter for the Republicans to point out the manifest real-world flaws in the Leftist program, sit back, run a bunch of guys named Moe, and wait for the election returns in 2022 and '24. The only problem is the elephant party has its own elephant in the room in the form of Trump, who seems bound and determined to run again and avenge his tainted loss to Biden in 2020. To that end, he's already embarked on a campaign of waving the bloody shirt in anticipation of settling the score in '24.

The problem is, while Trump still has an enormous, if shrinking, following, the former president's candidacy could easily galvanize the Democrats to turn out at least as many votes against him as the GOP will get for him. This is not the place to debate the details of the "stolen election," which at the very least was held (right under the Republicans' noses) under highly irregular circumstances, including the unconstitutional changing of election law in several swing states and the mysterious hiatus in the wee hours of Election Night that screamed "hinky" at the top of its lungs.

For this, however, Trump and the Republicans are partly to blame. The Democrats took advantage of Trump's fatal credulity about the alleged dangers of Covid-19, as well as the Republicans' habitual indolence when it comes to poll-watching. If the election was indeed stolen the Tammany Party stole it fair and square, and all the GOP needs to do is look in the mirror to find the real culprits.

History is against the former president; only one man has come back from a re-election loss to win again the following cycle and that was a Democrat, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War (in 1884), defeating James G. Blaine. He lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but defeated Harrison in the rematch of 1892. The Republican who bears the closest resemblance to Cleveland is probably Nixon, the sitting vice present who lost the election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy, spent some time in the wilderness (losing a California governor's race in the process), and then returned from the political graveyard to beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Despite the unfairness of his loss, Trump is not entitled to a second term simply because of it.

Talk about a trick shot.

Can Trump pull it off? Maybe, but unlikely. Outrage over the election-night shenanigans will fade, and Trump will be 78 years old in November 2024, just a year younger than the superannuated Biden is now. The White House is no country for old men, especially one who never forgets a grudge and will spend much of his time seething and seeking revenge. The most a Trump primary candidacy can do is block the path for younger, more viable candidates, some of whom will steer clear of him and thus pre-emptively tank their own prospects.

Further, even a senescent wreck like Joe Biden can still make trouble for the former president, wounding him again even before the presidential campaign season officially kicks off the day after the midterms. Biden is reportedly pushing his attorney general, Merrick Garland, to go after Trump because, well, when you have Irish Alzheimer's, you only remember the grudges.

Finally, even should Trump somehow get through the primaries (he won't be unopposed) and then win, who among us wants to relive 2016-2020? The endless witch hunts, the two impeachments, January 6... the Democrats will never give up their Nixonian pursuit of him, in part because he's just too easy a target. Throughout his term, every slight had to be answered, every dig repaid not in kind but in tweets that served no purpose other than to rally the base. Policies were announced, then abandoned. The Wall never got built; a massive wave of illegal immigration is about to wash over the southern "border" -- which for all practical purposes has ceased to exist. Meanwhile, his personnel choices were almost uniformly terrible (Rex Tillerson? John Bolton?), opportunities were squandered, and most of MAGA was gone before the end of the first year, including Steve Bannon, Rich Higgins, and Sebastian Gorka.

And don't even get me started on the colossal blunder that was Jan. 6, a stench that still lingers in the country's nostrils and which alone should doom a second Trump candidacy, and for which he has shown no remorse even as the poor fools who heeded his words languish in prison.

Sure, it felt great to watch Hillary Clinton and her flying media monkeys melt down on that stunning election night, but what good has come of it? After just a year of Joe Biden, the country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and dissolution; would we have been any worse off under Hillary? The sorry truth is, probably not.

The awful truth is there's no time to waste, no time to fantasize about a Trump restoration with a potent vice president who could, in dreams, win two terms outright in the years 2028 and 2032. The country, bound in shallows and in miseries, simply doesn't have the time. The right man has made his entrance: why compel him to waste four years on the sidelines as Trump's veep and then be forced to run on Trump's record in 2028? It makes no sense.

On such a full sea are we now afloat. The decline has long since begun. So whom should the GOP nominate in 2024? I think we all know the answer to that. More on him next week.

What Price Secession?

The United States now finds itself at a historic crossroads. Following the documented and undeniably massive electoral fraud that has indelibly tarnished the 2020 American election and the supine refusal of the Supreme Court to intervene, preferring hypothetical “stability” over Constitutional justice—though it will get neither—the country has devolved into a condition of internal dissension and fracture greater than at any time since the 1860s. The specter of secession is in the air though few want to admit it. 

Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession,” that the culture is becoming “distant and separated,” and that there are “two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs.” But he is reluctant to go further.

Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Many outlets, commentators and pundits (e.g., Law and Crime, YouTube, Slate, ABC, etc.) read West’s statement as an outright call for secession. These people may get their knickers in a knot but, given the greatest electoral swindle in the 244-year history of the United States—thecorrupt bargain” of 1824 that cost Andrew Jackson the presidency is not even close—they have, to use the Supreme Court’s evasive language, “no standing.” They are profoundly complicit in fraud. 

It should be noted that West asserted “I never say anything about secession.” Others assure us that West’s proposal—and Limbaugh’s assessment—are by no means cries for civil war or even for states seceding to form independent nations. Rather, disaffected states would come together as a civil society, “to talk things over, to put ideas together, to create fellowships,” as Monica Showalter at American Thinker  recommends in her interpretation of Allan West’s suggestion. Similarly, Stacey Lennox at PJ Media argues that “States joining together to litigate and push back against [contentious] issues will slow or stop this encroachment on our civil liberties… This alliance could make full-throated and joint objections in court on various issues.”

Disclaimers fly thick and fast, as if “secession” were soon to become the new S-word, as if many are unable or unwilling or afraid to grasp the enormity of what has happened. As Shakespeare wrote in his play, Julius Caesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I regard these heuristics as highly dubious. For one thing, it is highly unlikely that so tainted a court system or such sensible “civil unions” would deter an illegitimate government from weaponizing the IRS and the FBI, as did Obama, or prevent it from ramming through its chosen policies. For another, domestic pushback against various pieces of legislation will have no effect on a geopolitical situation in which China moves to replace the U.S. as the world’s dominant power, America’s allies and partners drift away from its sphere of influence, and the Iranian mullahs begin fine-tuning their nuclear arsenal.

Moreover, the conviction or hope that a restoration of republican virtue will ensue with the 2022 midterms and the 2024 election assumes that the means to accomplish these laudable goals will not already have been corrupted out of existence, as—given the Democrat track record—they assuredly will be. 

It really is time to recognize that the United States as we have known it is truly broken and cannot be repaired by civil confabulations and men of good will gathering together to make reasonable arguments that the left will not heed. Sometimes one must bite the bullet, and even the whole cartridge belt, if one wishes to lead a decent life and provide a stable future for one’s children.    

It should be obvious that a marriage in which the partners have grown to have nothing in common, are constantly squabbling to the point of irremediable hostility, do not understand one another’s “languages,” and have taken to living in separate parts of the house must inevitably divorce—a situation as unfortunate as it is necessary.

It should be no less obvious that in modern times—since, let us say, the socialist administration of Woodrow Wilson, the New Deal of FDR, the domestic conflicts of the '60s and the “long march through the institutions,” accumulating with greater intensity into the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama until the present moment with an imminent Biden certification—the American marriage is effectively over.

One can temporize, try to put a saving face on savage disagreements, adopt a “cautious approach,” try to soft pedal a looming disaster. But such expedients are ultimately doomed to fail, and the supposition of engaging in “civil” discussion is like visiting a marriage counsellor to paper over the cracks in a relationship, which are not cracks but an unbridgeable chasm of Grand Canyon proportions.

Were I an American—and after having studied at Berkeley, lectured in the U.S., spent some years in the country, and written extensively on American subjects over the last dozen years and more, I sometimes feel that I am—I would understand that the secession of conservative states, however challenging, is far preferable to remaining under the national control of a neo-leftist orthodoxy that will lead to higher taxation, energy depletion, rising unemployment, subservience to foreign powers, outsourcing of industries, a Soviet-style media and Big Tech censorship, diminishment of personal freedom, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, historical revisionism, Title IX extensions, betrayal of its own military and drastic reduction of Constitutional rights for all its citizens—though, on the bright side, it will not need to “pack the Court” since the Court has demonstrated that it is already packed.

Secession need not mean civil war, given three major factors:

A feasible sessional movement would likely have to begin with Texas. The terms of Texas admission to the Union are complex and debated, but as Showalter points out, “Texas is the one state in the union that actually does have the right to secede. It was embedded in its agreement to enter the Union.” The Texas State Library and Archives Commission writes:

No requirement exists -- either in the Reconstruction Acts governing the rebel states or in the document readmitting Texas to full statehood -- for the governor of Texas to sign a document reaffirming Texas' position as a state within the United States republic. The only ongoing requirement of Texas government was that no constitutional revision should deny the vote or school rights to any citizen of the United States. A thorough check of the volumes of federal statutes for the entire period of Reconstruction (1865-1870) and through 1872 revealed no other legislation requiring further proof of submission to the U.S. government on the part of Texas or any other of the ‘rebel states.’

Looking at the map, one notes that Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisiana and other southern-central red states could align with Texas to form a powerful and coherent nation, say the Free States of America (the FSA), with two open coastlines, a vast energy sector, adherence to the original Constitution, and a local industrial, agricultural and maritime base. Other non-contiguous states, such as Alaska and South Dakota, could opt to join the new Union. The problem of leadership could be resolved by inviting Donald Trump to be its first president while the governors of the participating states would assume important portfolio positions. The faint of heart will demur since the difficulties would be formidable, which is true. The difficulties would be formidable, but bear no comparison to what's coming down the pike.  

Of course, an alliance of this nature could not happen overnight. Time would be required to iron out the complexities, form a political consensus, educate and persuade the public, and engage in bitter and protracted negotiations with Washington, but a coalition of this magnitude and strength would be bound to succeed. What is needed is the political will and an unwavering belief in the possibility and viability of the project. It is eminently doable, especially in light of the undoubted fact that these states would have no future in a corrupt, fundamentally illicit and quasi-totalitarian oppressive artifact as a Constitutionally defunct United States

In personal life, surgery, however unpleasant, is often necessary to ensure one’s very survival. The same is true in political life. The consequences of indefinite deferral can be terminal. There is no decorous or elegant way out of the crisis; it must be met head-on with mature and determined resolve if liberty is to be defended and political integrity to be affirmed. Courage must be found and a hard decision has to be taken. One recalls John Weissenberger’s pungent remark that “an acceptable conservative [is] one who could be counted on to lose gracefully.” For America -- and the rest of the world -- this can no longer be an option.