No, Jonah: Politics Is Not 'Debate and Disagreement'
In his latest Goldberg File -- which sadly lacked any credible update on the Goldberg canines -- Jonah takes after Dennis Prager’s notion that we are in a civil war here in the USA. Jonah’s main argument is that
Democracy isn’t about war or even unity, it’s about debate and disagreement. Inherent to the idea of debate and disagreement is that “combatants” aren’t enemies but opponents -- and the way you win is not through killing or even metaphorically “destroying” your opponents, but by persuading them or the voters that you’re right.
Sorry, Jonah, you are wrong. Politics and democracy are not about “debate and disagreement;” they are about force. An election campaign is an effort to rally a majority of voters so we can go and force our agenda on the losers and make them pay.
The best way to understand this is through Clausewitz (and read the German version; you can translate it into English).
War is the continuation of politics by other means.
Or, as I like to say: politics is the continuation of civil war by other means. Government is force; politics is division; administrative government programs are domination. Debate and disagreement are only about which “i”s get to be dotted in the post-election cram-down.
If you don’t like the results of an election then you have two options: win the next election, or take to the streets. The reason that “Democracy” works is that most of the time people don’t want to risk their children in a full out civil war, and the winners don’t want to provoke the opposition into civil war.
The reason we have a #Resistance right now is that the left teaches Democratic voters that every election is a matter of life and death, that racist, sexist homophobes are lurking in the shadows preparing to bring back Jim Crow and turn women into Handmaids.
So while Jonah Goldberg may think that democracy is all about “debate and disagreement,” our liberal friends do not. They believe, in a religious sense, that the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is found in the process of bending the arc of history towards justice, and they think that politics is the way to get there.
Jonah’s “debate and disagreement” means that conservatives are always in the position of conceding the latest liberal rage for justice. Here is my history of the world since 1800 that explains what I mean.
In about 1800 the Great Enrichment began, which has brought people living under limited government and free enterprise in the U.S. from $3 per day to $145 per day. See my AT piece on this. There has been nothing like it, ever. But in 1850 the newborn left declared: what about the workers? You bourgeois beasts are ruthlessly exploiting them! So the bourgeoisie gave the workers the vote, and labor union privileges and pensions and health care and education.
But the left wasn’t done. In 1900ish the left declared: what about women? You bourgeois patriarchs have been oppressing them since the dawn of time! So the patriarchs gave women the vote, and the sexual revolution, and sent them to college and encouraged them to create safe spaces. Then in 1950ish, the left declared: what about the blacks? You white racists have been enslaving and segregating them since the dawn of time! So the whites passed civil rights laws to declare non-whites the equals in society to whites. Then it was gays: how come gays can’t marry? Now it is Muslims.
But riddle me this, Joker. Suppose there had been no left, but the Great Enrichment had proceeded anyway. How much worse off would all the left’s little darlings be today? Workers? Maybe the white working class wouldn’t have lost so many of those unionized manufacturing jobs. Women? Maybe today’s woman’s world would be what women, not lefty feminists, want. Blacks? Obviously they would be better off without the corrosion of Affirmative Action. Why? Because the middle class is not that interested in power.
But the left is interested in power, and that means that at some point we normals are going to run out of room for strategic retreat. At some point debate and disagreement ain’t gonna do it. At some point we are going to have to fight rather than debate and disagree.
Is that time right now? Maybe if the American people reject the violent left and Republicans hold the House in 2018 and President Trump wins reelection 55-45 in 2020 then the #Resistance will get the message, and we won’t need to execute on the notion that civil war is politics by other means.
Or maybe not.