Thoughts on the Most Important Political Fault Line in American Life
"Liberals’ greatest threat is the Woke, who have taken over once-liberal institutions -- the ACLU, the New York Times, Yale University -- Some Conservatives cheer when Liberal institutions are ruined by the Woke, which is disastrously short-sighted."
I really want to be charitable with this sentiment, but I'm finding it difficult. Abigail, Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, and others want to make a distinction between themselves (the liberals) and the woke. However, to conservatives, this distinction is far less obvious.
At nearly 50, I have endured years of alleged "liberals" (Democrats) saying the following about me and those like me:
Social security reform: "Republicans want to kill grandma"
Welfare reform: "Republicans just hate the poor"
Abortion: "Conservatives want women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen"
Marriage: "Republicans oppose redefining marriage because they hate gay people"
Immigration: "Conservatives are racist for wanting the border enforced"
Liberals have been calling conservatives racists / grandma killers / poor haters / greedy / heartless pigs for as long as I can remember. Today the Woke are calling us all of those same names. Same song; new singers. Why should I care?
In fact, that some of you liberals are now being attacked by your own revolutionaries seems less tragic and more karmic.
The question I have in the back of my mind is this. Why should I stick my neck out in solidarity with liberals now, when I'm pretty sure you will happily slice off my head the moment the woke threat to your own side has abated? How can I now trust the very people who spent years calling us racists, bigots, haters, and Nazis just because we saw the world differently than they did?
This is not a rant. It is a serious question. We may all agree that the "woke" are evil, but we conservatives harbor not ungrounded suspicion that you liberals will happily throw us under the bus again when given the chance. What evidence can you provide that we are wrong?
I'm sorry, but the holocaust is not sacrosanct. History MUST be studied and understood in all its nuance. The Nazis ran Wilhelm Reich out of the country because his "Mass Psychology of Fascism" was essentially the precursor to today's "mass formation psychosis." I'm having a hard time believing there's any such thing as a principled leftist (though I consider myself one) when the likes of Elena Kagan and Amy Klobuchar endorse mandatory medical experimentation and spend all their political ammunition on fairy tales like January 6 rather than anything beneficial to the social fabric. Today's dems are totalitarian reactionaries that value only one thing: groupthink. Show me ONE at any level of elected government who stands openly against vaccine mandates, gender ideology, critical race theory or any other sacred cow. The fever must break by running every God-damned one of them out of office (I say this as a former dem who helped put some of them there). Then maybe a few of them can crawl back in through the doggy door when we find out what a disaster the Republicans are too.
I’m Jewish and I called Congressman Davis’s office to say he was absolutely correct in his comparison of what is being done to the unvaccinated today and how the Holocaust started for my relatives. Dehumanization, demonization, blame for spreading disease, exclusion from public life, prevention from earning a living. How can you not see it? To observe and state this does not trivialize the Holocaust; it is a warning of where this might lead. To hear the ignorance about viral transmission and dismissal of Constitutional concerns of Kagen, Sotomayor and Breyer was stunning, and so depressing—because I do believe in the history of American goodness.
I feel like this article is very close, but just misses the mark in execution. For starters, forced/coerced medical practices is very nazi like. Given a lot of the Western world is engaging in such practices, including my country Australia, it is not a specific slight on America. Secondly, vis a vis foreign policy, those three countries are very, very different situations. When the overblown Anti-Russian rhetoric is cast aside, Ukraine has no strategic or moral relevance to the USA. Plus, It doesn't take a cynic to observe 21st century American interventions have been poorly executed.
But the key point I think you miss is this- many, if not an overwhelming majority, of conservative leaning cynics DO believe in fundamental American values. The problem is, they look around and see a country that does not embody these values. The cynicism is merely a reflection of current realities.
I don't see everything in black (cynic) and white (believer) like you do--you act as if there's no middle. You are also too quick to dismiss what's happening in the US (totalitarian measures and most especially, the demonization and let-them-die type attitude and treatment towards the unvaccinated) is similar to the early pre-WWII Nazi treatment of Jews.
"Donald Trump, who often evinced as much “move fast and break things” contempt for our institutions as Silicon Valley titans."
Moving fast and breaking things is exactly what should be happening to the very much contemptible deep state. Other than that, I generally agree with the piece.
Let’s see, Pfizer paid the largest fine in Pharma history(2.3 billion) for fraud. It has zero liability for its Covid shots and recently sought via the captured FDA to seal the licensing/safety data for 70 years. So this is the product that we are mandated to inject regardless of age, previous infection etc. Just shut up and bring over your 6 year old or don’t try to take her to a museum or attempt to get her an education. This is pure evil. This is an agenda being pushed by Democrats whether you like it or not ( I am a lifelong Democrat by the way). So I don’t like your false equivalence. People being fired, losing their livelihood and being excommunicated from society is kinda a big thing. And all this, shockingly, for a vaccine that does not prevent transmission. In fact, in three recent studies it showed “negative effectiveness “. Get real. This is unprecedented. This is a type of totalitarianism and we don’t know where it will lead. Stop minimizing it. It has already had terrible effects on many.
The Cynics are destroyers, The Believers are builders. Sane people go with the Believers. The corporate state driven dehuminzation of the unvaccinated is far more dangerous than conservatives saying mean things and Orange Man's mean tweets.
Cold, hard cynicism is a foundational principle of conservatives and the Founding Fathers. The Constitution was written based on the premise that all power would be abused and corrupting.
Many argued that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary, because the rights it forbids the government to intrude on were already protected by the lack of authority to tread on them in the structure of government based on the Constitution. Nevertheless, others successfully argued that, where the Constitution did not forbid government authority, therein would power encroach.
The Bill of Rights itself did not originally apply to states whatsoever except to reserve for them all authority not granted to the federal government. Power hungry Supreme Court Justices invented a doctrine of incorporation to allow them to arrogate authority over state laws to themselves. Similarly, they invented absurdly broad definitions of things like interstate commerce to open the floodgates to federal power.
Seeing exactly the concentration and abuse of power the Founding Fathers expected isn't to betray their legacy: it is to confirm it. Cynicism of power is the foundational principle of this republic and straying from it has cost us our freedoms.
To go even a bit further, what distinguishes the American right from the European conservative traditions is radical mistrust of power. European conservatives of the Burke school believe in cautious reform and respect for traditions. American conservatives believe in individual liberty and constraints on government power even when those require a radical break from tradition and current institutions. The radical commitment to limited government isn't born out of some sort of faith in a piece of paper like the Constitution, but a deep and abiding mistrust of power in all it's forms. Conservatives ascribe to what Sowell calls the tragic view of human nature and eschew the belief that any human institution is perfectible-- no matter how well intentioned.
It is telling that your appeals to idealism involve military adventurism of the worst sort. As a veteran of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom,' I assure you that my cynicism about nation-building is quite well informed. If you'd like to provide a warm body for the preservation of international democratic traditions, please see your local recruiter at any time.
I'm sorry. Comparing vaccine mandates to Nuremberg is not whitewashing. The mandates are LITERALLY against the NUREMBERG CODE. It appears Ms. Shrier wants to portray herself as above the fray when she just has not paid attention to the actual arguments.
Wow, I loved the first piece that you wrote, but I held off on financially supporting your Substack, because I wanted to see if you were a one hit wonder. Now I know that to be the case and I am so glad that I did not send money.
If you actually understood what was going on, you would be thanking God every day for the work that the "cynics" are doing to block the imposition of vaccine passports. Clearly, you are in denial of what is going on.
I'm a Believer, I couldn't leave her if I tried......
Enjoyed the article very much.
I think Abigail’s points are absolutely correct….
The political divide is being massively redefined as a division between those who believe in America’s aspirational promise, its institutions and its form of decision-making (she calls those folks the believers) versus those who believe America is irredeemably flawed to the point that everything - literally everything - needs to be burnt to the ground and rebuilt (she calls these folks the Cynics).
She then points out the policy positions people are advocating for are based on whether they’re believers or cynics. She points out that the political fault line is now shaping up to be less and less about what was previously thought of as “right” vs “left” and more and more about whether America still works and is worth saving or not.
In this regard, she is exactly correct….
I am a believer and I hope many more people will understand the very dark path that the cynics wish to take society…
For a post made on MLK Day (who was a believer!), she points out how much the political fault lines have changed.
I care more about the children who are suffering in this country, presenting themselves at ERs as suicidal and not getting educated than I do about those suffering in other countries. I certainly sympathize with the other countries’ people but I can’t do a anything about it. Here I can vote, volunteer and demonstrate for those suffering in the US including the homeless, the young men who are being left behind, the girls who have lost their identities as you write about. Let’s help our own country folks first.
Abigail I respect you but I find this analysis to be very muddled. I can’t figure out to which of these distinct & opposing “camps” I belong according to your descriptions of them. For example, I cherish our founding principles as codified in our founding documents, love this country like family & know it is the greatest nation ever created on this earth. However, I’m angry & disgusted by what is being done to it by cynical, destructive & intentional forces & firmly believe we are on the precipice of losing the republic. So which am I, a believer or a cynic?
What were Trump’s attacks on the “institutions” that warrants his inclusion on the list of cynics? Doesn’t the attacks on Trump by the institutions of the DOJ, FBI, CIA, the Brookings Institute warrant a mention? Surely Hilary Clinton’s creation of the Russifate scandal from whole cloth counts as cynical, yet no mention of her unique poison here