This has, in many ways, been Legal Insurrection’s greatest year ever. I probably should have spent more of this post cataloging our successes, but I’m completely focused on three weeks from now.
12 years ago today, Legal Insurrection website turned on the lights, on October 12, 2008, with the post Obama is “Door No. 2″.
Each year since 2013, I’ve written anniversary posts which include information about what the website looked like in the early years, some of the people I’ve met along the way, and the sometimes emotional journey.
Perhaps no anniversary post was more emotional, and elicited a bigger reader reaction, than my 2017 post. It was, in hindsight, prescient, Legal Insurrection is 9 years old, and filled with dread:
The attempts to unwind the 2016 presidential election have changed everything.
I’ve written before how the attempts to intimidate the Electoral College electors into changing their votes was a game changer for me. That went beyond politics into attempted coup territory. It wasn’t just a matter of opposing Trump or Trump policies, which is legitimate, but an attempt to nullify an election. Criticize Trump all you want, I certainly did during the primaries, but respect the vote. If you don’t respect the vote, then you are not just political opposition, you are a danger to our system.
If the assault on the Electoral College was the game changer for me, a runner up was waking up to implications of the concentration of power in a small number of social media and internet companies who have been weaponized to shut down speech and expression. Google, Facebook, Twitter and two handfuls of other companies now completely control our ability to communicate with each other, while internet backbone companies are poised to block internet access altogether.
Imagine living in a repressive country in which the government blocked access to and suppressed internet content. You don’t need to move. It’s coming here but from private industry. This is, in many ways, more dangerous than government suppression of free speech because at least in the U.S. the government is subject to the First Amendment, and can be voted out of office.
I don’t know if there are any uncorrupted institutions left that matter. The education system, from public grade school through public and private higher ed, is gone. The frontal assault on free speech on campuses is the result. If you think this is just a Humanities and Social Sciences problem, stay tuned. In 3-5 years, if we’re still here, we’ll be writing about how the social justice warriors have corrupted the STEM fields. It’s happening now, it’s just not in the headlines yet.
There is a rising tide of absolutism in ideas and enforcement of ideological uniformity that is palpable. I feel it in the air, even at Cornell which is far from the worst. Incredibly, the new Cornell President has charged a newly-formed task force to explore, among other things, “legal mechanisms [which] are available to the university to prevent, address and counter situations in which protected expression on campus is harmful to those vulnerable to its effects.”
Even language as a means of communication is corrupted, with terminology manipulated and coerced to achieve political ends. It started on campuses, and it’s moved into the AP stylebook and the mainstream.
The press could stand as a bulwark against this slide, but it too is corrupted. The greatest threat to freedom of the press is … the mainstream press itself which has abdicated even the pretense of neutrality and joined #TheResistance….
So I’m thinking through what it will mean to live without institutions.
The loss of institutions is worse now, STEM is going down the woke hole fast.
The one exception is the federal judiciary, which has been substantially rescued from the decline of institutions. That’s yuge, which is why Democrats are so furious that the Supreme Court likely will be 6-3 conservative-liberal by election day. We have lost almost every institution, they have lost one, and they can’t stand even that.
What we have learned in recent months confirms that this country has undergone a coup perpetrated by the Clinton campaign, DNC, some elements in the intelligence community and FBI, and the media, as Senator Ron Johnson eloquently detailed in The Wall Street Journal recently, The American Coup:
The U.S. is in a constitutional crisis. It began on the day of President Trump’s election, when unelected bureaucrats mobilized against his presidency. This is a crisis in the executive branch, perpetrated by subordinate officials who don’t see themselves as answerable to the president. They have effectively established a fourth branch of government—a permanent, unaccountable bureaucracy….
Throughout this constitutional crisis, many journalists abetted the plotters by abandoning even the pretense of objectivity and claiming that Mr. Trump poses a grave threat to the country. These members of the press were willing recipients of leaks that created and perpetuated the false narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Personally, I think it's vindicated now. They robbed 52 million voters of one moment of satisfaction that he won and they hobbled his presidency from the beginning.
— Melissa Mackenzie (@MelissaTweets) October 7, 2020
I’ve struggled about what to write in this year’s anniversary post just three weeks away from the presidential election. Would it be more “dread”?
Well, to some extent, yes. A Biden win, particularly combined with Democrats taking over the Senate, would sweep in a very repressive agenda. “Cancel culture” will be given a green light, and the ongoing purges would accelerate once the full power of the federal government was put behind the intolerant left. I’m realistic about it, and what life under that scenario will be for me and many of our readers. Do not underestimate how bad it will be.
I’ve been dusting off (or should I say, downloading) books I read long ago by Soviet dissidents like Vladimir Bukovsky, and his brilliant book, To Build a Castle: May Life As A Dissenter, reading up about Yuri Orlov, and rereading my own writing about Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky.
It’s become trite to say this is the most important election in our lifetimes. But you know what? This is the most important election in our lifetimes because there are few liberals left, mostly only leftists and far leftists. There is political recovery from liberalism, there is no recovery from leftist control, because leftists never cede control easily and they have promised to change the system to make sure that control is permanent.
But are the fears of a leftist sweep rational? Yes. That doesn’t mean certain, but rational. The polls may be off as they were in 2016, but we don’t know and can’t count on it. And right now, “the polls” favor a large Biden win.
Against that rational dread are equally rational factors suggesting maybe the polling is wrong, at least where it counts. Americans view themselves as better off than they were four years ago by a margin of 10 percent, the highest recorded by Gallup. That’s not normally the recipe for sweeping an incumbent out of office. The percentage of people who say their neighbors are voting for Trump is much higher than say they are voting for Trump — and the percentage who think their neighbors are voting Trump has surged. Perhaps that’s a sign of the ‘silent’ Trump vote.
Detailed analysis of polling in battleground states also contradicts the narrative, with Trump close to or better off than he was in 2016. Other Democrat pollsters have said the race is closer than it appears, and even Democrat operatives have dismissed polling showing double-digit Biden leads in places like Florida and Pennsylvania.
So there’s rational polling dread on the one hand, and rational polling doubt on the other. So ignore the polls, and keep fighting.
What next year will look like will depend on the election outcome. If Trump wins, there will be meaningful likelihood of significant reform, particularly in education, a real possibility to wrestle those institutions back closer to the center. We would be part of that reform effort, in higher ed and elsewhere. If Trump losses, it’s going to be a ‘virtual’ guerilla warfare of ideas, fighting in the proverbial forests, Samizdat all over again.
I should at least mention the life-changing experiences I went through at Cornell Law School starting in early June. There is no going back. There is before and after. That will drive so much of what I and we do.
My thanks, as always, to the writers and readers, and even the commenters. And of course, the wife and my family (did I tell you I now have two grandchildren with a third on the way?)
This has, in many ways, been Legal Insurrection’s greatest year ever. I probably should have spent more of this post cataloging our successes, but I’m completely focused on three weeks from now. We need to run not up to the finish line, but through it. It likely will be that close, and there’s that much at stake.
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