The True 'Citadel of Democracy' Is Not the Capitol. It's You.

It would have been unremarkable had the events of January 6 been called simply a lawless and disturbing spectacle — an intrusion into the chambers of Congress by a mob with violent loss of life.  That, however, would not have served the political ambitions of those inwardly rejoicing at the event.  They called it instead an insurrection and an attack on the "citadel of democracy."  Now they use it to justify what seems to be a program of political repression, still in its incipiency.

The Antifa and BLM riots that caused many more deaths and billions in damages were not called attacks on the citadel of democracy.  They decimated only the lives, homes, and businesses of inconsequential persons.  No massive military contingent comparable to that which occupied Washington on Inauguration Day, and still occupies it, was dispersed to quell the carnage in the nation's other cities.  It was allowed to run its course, day after day and night after night.  The few law enforcement officers sent to quell it were reviled, and the few private citizens who tried to resist, if they lived, faced prosecution.

The home or business of the humblest citizen is more a citadel of democracy than the stone edifice in which the powerful make laws for him.  What sustains his life and those of his loved ones is as worthy of the law's protection as what flatters the great.  The domed and spired edifice in Washington where laws are written may symbolize representative democracy, but only insofar as those making the laws sustain, not symbolically, but in practice, its constitutional essence.  It is not the architecture, but the fidelity to republican principle of those within that associates the place with our political creed.  They are to be faithful to the prescribed purpose of government in this country — to secure the "unalienable rights" with which even those without prominence, influence, education, wealth, or power are "endowed by their Creator."

If it is in hope of securing those rights that the people give consent to be governed, then democracy has its initiating moment in their volition and exists for them, the true rulers of themselves.  Their freedom and security under law are democracy.  In a similar vein, if in a different context, it was said once in the British House of Commons:

The question however arises, and one may permitted to dwell on it for moment, who are the friends of democracy, and also how is the word "democracy" to be interpreted?  My idea of it is that the plain, humble, common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family, who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time, and puts his cross on the ballot-paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to Parliament — that is the foundation of democracy.  (Winston S. Churchill, Speech on British Intervention in Greece, Dec. 8, 1944)

Did those on the stage at the inauguration or others holding positions of prominence in the federal government share Churchill's view of the "foundation of democracy" (assuming they could endure his reference to "the ordinary man who keeps a wife" without canceling his Facebook account)?

The idea of an "ordinary man" who "goes to the poll at the appropriate time[] and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to Parliament" might be found quaint or perhaps disquieting at this juncture of our history.  For many still mark a ballot paper, but, it seems, not necessarily at the poll or at the appropriate time.

Beyond this, the leftists holding sway in the Democratic Party have targeted the particular "plain, humble, common man" who supported Trump and oppose them for retribution.  That "common man" is not the foundation of democracy, not to them, but an aberration to be corrected.  He is to be "deprogrammed."

He dare not make an utterance of protest over the 2020 election, or he will be deemed an insurrectionist, in the model of Jefferson Davis.  He certainly will be thought of that ilk if he owns a firearm, even though lawfully and having led an unblemished life.  If he is employed in an industry disfavored by the new oligarchy, he must lose that employment and find some that the oligarchs like better.  His religion and nearly all its manifestations must be banished from the public square, the classroom, and the courthouse.  At the same time, the Constitution that is said to compel such banishment is found by the Supreme Court to protect abortion, homosexual "marriage," nude dancing, and synthesized child pornography.

The Constitution thus becomes the enemy of millions of people and no longer undergirds their freedom.  And when they seek to invoke those of its provisions defining the way in which presidential elections are to be conducted, the effect of marking their ballots having been vitiated by violation of those rules, they find that they lack standing to do so before the courts.

We are brought then to the present juncture, where the oligarchical party, supported by its allies in the media, "Big Tech," the academy, the learned professions, high finance, and the street bullies of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, appears everywhere ascendant.  Its control of the Legislative Branch is by the narrowest of margins, and we live in hope of winning majorities in the 2022 election.  But the innumerable executive orders emanating from the White House include those apparently intended to make the Democrats' majority permanent, by virtually unregulated immigration and naturalization.  They may fail and 2022 be a fair election.  And yet we seem to be, at the very least, in sight of the precipice, beyond which the "perpetuation of our institutions," the constitutional republic itself, is lost.

If, however, the ordinary citizen, who loves freedom and exhibits the virtues of citizenship necessary to uphold it, is the "foundation of democracy," then despite the abysmal events of this past year, the battered foundation holds still.  The true citadel of democracy is not yet breached. Despite the immediate ascendancy of despotism, still soft, as these things go, but seeking every day to metastasize and then harden, it cannot dominate those who refuse to submit.  They would not call us terrorists if they were not wary of us, but we need not be terrorists to give them cause for their apprehension, we common men and women.  We can vote and speak against them, and should the necessity arise, we can resist, peaceably.

We face an ordeal.  The mutual pledge that others in the eighteenth century made of their "Lives, [their] Fortunes, and [their] sacred Honor" now escapes the parchment and commands rehearsal in our own lives.  The pledge at this moment is not to make a revolution, but to remain steadfast in defense of the Constitution and way of life that those others by revolution bequeathed us.  We retain the power to stand faithful and to comport ourselves as free people, at the polls but also in the public square, to refuse to be dominated by the leftists at whatever sacrifice is necessary (there will be no "unity" with them).  In that power lies the residuum of hope.

Image: Lars Di Scenza via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

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