Electoral politics has always been a nasty business. There is a built-in incentive for each side to present the other as completely incompetent, terrible, demonic, and evil. Here’s how Jackson and his supporters saw the polite early 19th-century gentlemen on the opposite side:
And here is how Jackson’s opponents depicted him, as a devilish puppet master of sorts:
Dickens famously commented on that, when observing by chance the opening of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly: “The in’s rubbed their hands; the out’s shook their heads; the Government party said there never was such a good speech; the Opposition declared there never was such a bad one; the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly withdrew from the bar to say a great deal among themselves and do a little: and, in short, everything went on, and promised to go on, just as it does at home upon the like occasions.”
Meaning, the game was clear to Dickens even in 1842 – align, exaggerate, be either ecstatic or grave and exasperated.
However, as we treat most of our inheritances, we have warped and mutilated our inheritance of electoral politics as well. Despite the habit of exasperated disapproval when losing, the old game had been managed by clear rules until fairly recently – if you lose, you complain and denounce the other side, blame the people’s stupidity, the weather, your candidate, etc., but you wait in relative inaction for your turn until the next cycle of elections.
That last piece is no longer true. Across all Western democracies, and as always more bluntly and clearly in America, the Right is given a curious pair of options by the Left – to lose, or to not win.
If the Right loses, as in the current national environment in America, you have relative domestic tranquility. President Biden has indeed delivered on his promise of returning to “normality” and putting a stop to the “chaos” of the previous administration (who created the chaos?).
If the Right wins, as had been the reality during the now long-gone Trump administration, that is absolutely not allowed. The Right is only allowed to lose or not win, and therefore the fate of a winner on the Right is to not win. Chaos must be created at every step. The whole array of leftist institutions must be conscripted against the winner – no celebrities at the inauguration, no honorary doctorates from academics, no media support. An all-out judiciary warfare must be declared – every decision regarding immigration, schools, or trade must be blocked by over-zealous kritarchs; the President himself must be investigated, sued, shackled, and impeached.
Above all, and that’s a relatively recent novelty, the streets must erupt against the Right. The citizenry must be punished for their wrong choices not only through the spectacle of dysfunctional politics but through fire and violence on the streets. That will teach them!
This ugly sort of politics, along the lines of Sam Francis’s “Anarcho-Tyranny” actually works. We all feel the cost of daring to elect a man of the Right. Do we want riots again? Do we want a permanent circus of media and judiciary persecution? Living in a large city, would we dare to put up a conservative yard sign? No, we just want to go to work and put 3% into our 401K!
If to borrow an analogy from chemistry, the activation energy for healthy reactionary politics has become extremely high.
This method of increasing the activation energy to unbearable levels is so effective that it is aped worldwide. The Israeli Left has effectively shackled the triumphant Right; the Tories in England are absolutely useless; the French are not allowed to elect anything to the right of Macron.
Back to Dickens, looking grave and nodding our heads will probably accomplish very little. Once the rules are broken, they are broken. The Right should play accordingly.
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