With the latest entry in his record-shattering succession of executive orders, Joe Biden has attempted to federalize elections, facilitating the permanent implementation of the type of changes to election law that are widely believed to have produced his own victory in the 2020 presidential election. And to affirm his position further, he came out in support of a bill that has passed the House, expanding voter registration even further than in 2020, when it was reported that an almost inconceivable total of 159 million votes were cast.
This full-court press designed to have our betters in Washington overrule the states’ constitutional prerogative to decide election law for themselves leads us to a serious question: to what degree does our constitutional republic remain intact? Have we crossed some sort of rubicon? For many, the takedown of Donald Trump is living proof we have inched ever closer to that territory which is neither democracy nor tyranny, but a gray area somewhere in between. And the worst part is that such middle ground actually draws upon the worst elements of both systems.
The Few, the Proud, the Oligarchs
It’s called oligarchy, and if you’re not familiar with the term, now would be a good time to get up to speed. This form of governance dates back more than 2,500 years to the Greek city-states of Sparta and Athens, ruled by an elite group of educated aristocrats. It means that control of a country, organization, or institution rests in the hands of a small group of people.
It is governance by the few, but it is the type of elite conduct which can touch – and ultimately control – any form of government, from democracies to dictatorships. The privileged class is generally known for characteristics such as wealth, family, nobility, corporate interests, religion, politics, or military power.
No country has ever declared itself an oligarchy, for many reasons. First, it is essentially a term of art, not an invented form of governance. Second, much like the term dictatorship, it is a pejorative, one which the oligarchs themselves would fervently deny.
They generally distinguish themselves from tyrants by citing free elections and free enterprise. But elections in oligarchies are never actually free because competing candidates are subject to unrelenting vilification by state-controlled media and even political persecution at the whim of – you guessed it – the oligarchs. And enterprise is only free for the chosen – and tightly connected – beneficiaries of government largesse.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China are widely viewed as oligarchies. But Exhibit A would be Russia and Vladimir Putin, who has accentuated his country’s centuries-long oligarchical heritage by jailing his political enemy, Alexei Navalny, for “disturbing public order” and “leading unsanctioned protests.”
But halfway across the world, we have borne witness to a deep state tearing apart, limb from limb, a man who delivered stunning results for the United States before a plague hit the land.
Donald Trump: Enemy of the Statists
What president would not in any other circumstance glide to re-election on the strength of full employment, a booming economy, energy independence, multiple Middle East peace accords, and trade deals, among other things? Well, it would be one who dared take the most aggressive steps ever taken to neutralize the deep state from whence these oligarch wannabes draw their strength.
After all, civil servants, the permanent bureaucrats who fill the halls of official Washington, cannot be fired except under extraordinary circumstances. They tend to view every president as a mere transient, someone they will outlive in the Swamp. But in Trump, their outspoken – and often hidden – resolve in protecting their cratering credibility was taken to a whole new level – that of a resistance movement.
Consider also the continuing inability of tens of millions of people to make sense of an election that defied logic. It pitted a man who created a movement and stirred legendary enthusiasm in delivering everything he promised and more in an audacious reform agenda versus an aging and enfeebled career politician with virtually nothing to show for his almost five decades in the deep state Swamp. Anyone dropped in from Mars, examining only the facts, would conclude that the outcome should be obvious.
So, absent the unceasing depiction of Donald Trump as Hitler redux, an evil and irredeemable white supremacist – by a media transparently doing the bidding of the Trump-deranged self-appointed oligarchs – would we have gotten the result the martian would fully expect? Instead, a small group of inside-the-beltway power brokers, joining forces with an activist media and an increasingly oligarchical big tech and corporate empire, succeeded in slaying the dragon that threatened them and placed a compliant yes-man in the Oval Office.
One of the popular theorems about oligarchy among scholars is the so-called “iron law of oligarchy,” which asserts that all political systems – from democracy to despotism – eventually evolve into oligarchies. With the events we have witnessed over these last four years, it certainly begs the question of whether America has indeed crossed that rubicon.
Read more from Tim Donner.