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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Democrats Are Using The Recent Capitol Riot To Consolidate Power

The Capitol Hill riot was an inexcusable, pathetic, and disgraceful display. Its consequences will extend well beyond the bloodshed and property damage inflicted by those who shamefully acceded to the left’s view that force is legitimate means of persuasion — exhibited repeatedly via the left’s normalization of political incitement and violence throughout President Trump’s term in office.

The riot not only overshadowed the corruption that marked the 2020 election and undermined the MAGA movement’s people and principles, but set up Americans of all political stripes for an onslaught on their rights and cherished freedoms. The riot was an accelerant for what was already likely planned under Democrat rule in Washington: crushing dissenters from its leftist orthodoxy as part of an effort to achieve total power by disenfranchising the opposition.

President Trump has personified this dissent, but the effort to delegitimize, de-platform, and ultimately destroy him and anyone around him is merely the opening scene of the “Godfather”-like settling of scores with all who threaten the ruling class’s power and privilege. This effort will directly harm not just the thousands of peaceful patriots who had descended on Washington D.C., and their tens of millions of like-minded neighbors across the country, but all Americans.

The coming crackdown on dissenters in the political realm was pre-ordained in the wee hours of Jan. 6, when both Georgia Senate seats flipped to the Democrats. Now, should Senate Democrats successfully blow up the filibuster, they will work to pass an agenda in which any one item, let alone all, could put Democrats in a virtually unshakeable control of the federal government for years to come.

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They have made no secret of their agenda, which includes such items as mass amnesty for illegal aliens, statehood for Washington, D.C., statehood for Puerto Rico, and federal enshrinement of mail-in voting through a re-upped H.R. 1. Needless to say, total leftist political control will erode liberty and justice, and be used to target dissenters in cruel and unusual ways.

In the near-term, the Capitol Hill riot has served as a pretext for other corrosive political acts: calls for the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president, a second impeachment vote; consultations between the speaker of the House and the Pentagon about preventing the president from accessing the nuclear codes and discharging his other duties; and calls by our national security and legal apparatus against conservatives and their speech — all under the pretense of combatting domestic terrorism and punishing “incitement.”

This is not purely an issue of politics, for it will encompass all of civil society. The coming assault on dissenters will play out in arenas that far transcend our increasingly unrepresentative government.

Its adjuncts in big tech, woke capital, corporate media, and beyond have already started participating in the purge, of their own volition, in a continuation of the anti-cultural revolution of summer 2020. It is nothing less than the weaponization of civil society institutions against political dissenters, in conjunction with and often indirectly supported by the state. Americans are now primed to punish their fellow Americans for Wrongthink to a greater extent than we have seen before.

It will go far beyond banning the president of the United States from major social media platforms, purging countless like-minded voices, and stymieing their alternative means of communication. It will go far beyond pulling a U.S. senator’s publishing deal. It will go far beyond even firing people purportedly acting peacefully at political rallies. Ultimately, it will extend across every aspect of the digital world, and affect real life as well.

Yes, we are headed towards something like China’s “Great Firewall,” where, albeit without the power of a government gun, big tech will silence speech that challenges the ruling class’s official narratives, disappear the digital profiles of those who run afoul of its ever-changing terms of service, and take down websites where alternative ideas might proliferate.

The left has similarly signaled that it will work to censor free speech on radio and television by reintroducing the hypocritically named “Fairness Doctrine.” More chilling is this thought: What is to stop the crackdown from going beyond communications to where and how you can work, bank, travel, eat, shop, obtain health insurance, and send your kids to school?

Think, for a second, about everything you do in daily life. Consider how reliant you are on goods and services controlled by entities in whole or in part run by executives who either hate your political views or think they can survive by currying favor with those who are contemptuous.

The left has already said it is making lists to prevent Trump administration personnel from getting jobs in the private sector. What’s to stop them or their allies in the media and corporate America from doing the same to any of us?

Is there any apparent limiting principle that will keep us from developing a CCP-style “social credit system with Western characteristics” — as my Federalist colleague Sumantra Maitra has put it — whereby private enterprises grade us on ideology and determine what we can and cannot do based on how closely we hew to its ideology?

In a world where politics has become all-pervasive, virtue-signaling demands not only disavowing but punishing the 74 million enablers of what the left has been asserting for years is Nazism. As in so many other matters, they have been projecting onto the right what the left itself endorses.

If you accede to the view that anything that challenges the prevailing progressive orthodoxy constitutes violence, then you will take any means necessary to snuff it out. There are an awful lot of true believers, useful idiots, cynics, and cowed people across American life seemingly willing to adhere to such a principle. It will likely push us to ideological segregation, which will only further fuel hostilities, strife, and chaos.

America’s Cold Civil War will only heat up as those with all the power take precisely the wrong lessons from the Capitol Hill riot and, rather than seeking to represent millions of Americans and address their concerns, simply chooses to punish or silence them.

Ben Weingarten is a Federalist senior contributor, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and fellow at the Claremont Institute. He was selected as a 2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow of the Fund for American Studies, under which he is currently working on a book on U.S.-China policy. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.



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