How a Free People Comes to Want a Strongman


David French’s kick-off point has to do with a clear-cut case of the federal administration’s creating new law in an unconstitutional way — even skirting the rules for implementing regulations — by simply interpreting statutes to mean whatever it wants via memo.  Specifically, he mentions the finding that somehow existing law forbids school districts from separating boys and girls in the bathroom.

However, his conclusion applies much more expansively:

This is how you start to lose a democracy. When an unprincipled elite exploits public ignorance to trample the rights of those out of power, it builds resentment. But unless the resentful are informed and aware, they’re vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by their side’s own “elites” and its demagogues. Thus, here we are, facing the most miserable presidential choice in generations, with two major-party candidates competing for the right to desecrate the Constitution to their own ends.

So don’t roll your eyes at the “bathroom wars” or any of the other countless brush fires stirred up by post-constitutional, lawless leaders left and right. We can’t always choose our battles or our issues, but we must choose whether to resist.

We have the civic structures that we do precisely so that we can disagree in substantial, fundamental ways and still work together as much as possible.  I’ve written before that this boils down to a requirement for three basic freedoms:  the right to speak your mind, the right to work to change the government, and the right to leave.

The problem is that for a variety of reasons — notably a fundamentalist conviction that they are correct, a lust for power, and a political strategy of buying off constituencies — the modern Left will not allow disagreement.  Within our country, they want homogeny.  They want to be able to go anywhere within the nation’s borders and know that their worldview is enforced as law.  And they believe that no rules should hamper their ability to implement Objective Moral Truth.

Obviously, a society cannot long remain free when that view gains ascendancy; slightly less obviously, it cannot remain peaceful.  At some point they tyrants either have to crack down with violence or they are resisted with violence, and the walls that they’ve knocked down in order to get to everybody else can no longer protect against even more-objectionable intrusion.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “the modern Left will not allow disagreement.”

    “Liberals always say they welcome opposing opinions, until they find that there is one”