As a semblance of calm begins to settle on urban America following a spate of violent reaction to the execution of George Floyd, we find ourselves caught – again – in an almost inconceivably perilous moment in time.
As Americans of every stripe try ever so hard to revive from, or even come to grips with, the unparalleled devastation visited upon us by a bat virus, we bear witness to the killing with impunity of a non-violent man by stone-faced government authorities – for passing a counterfeit $20 bill. And then flash mobs bent on ruin roam the streets of the nation’s capital and its greatest cities largely unchecked, shamelessly, even proudly, exploiting the irresistible opportunity to employ their long-simmering nihilism and hatred in service of a greater cause: anarchy.
The twin towers of our freedom – ordered liberty tempered by the rule of law – have been transgressed to the point where ordinary Americans far and wide, already reeling from three months of destruction to their way of life, now have heaped upon them the sense of being personally violated by both the execution of George Floyd and the barbaric aftermath.
The promise of a long, hot, dreadful summer lies dead ahead. But let’s step back, take a breath, and realize something: As threatening as it appears now and, perhaps, right through the heart of summer, this mob violence will come under control if only because it is unsustainable. And the police will be held to account for the stomach-turning, murderous actions of those charged with enforcing – and upholding – the rule of law.
The question now becomes: How do we wrestle with all this? Well, that is where something known as a presidential election comes in.
As Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides has written, there is a remarkably analogous bookmark in time seared into the memories of those of us who lived through it. As a young boy growing up some 50 blocks south of Harlem (New York City), I well remember the summers of mob violence – in 1965 and again in the unforgettably harrowing summer of 1968 when it felt like the entire nation was coming apart at the seams. A people already reeling from the horrors of the Vietnam War and consequent upheaval across the land had been sent into a state of shock following the twin assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. The mobs went wild in the streets for what seemed an eternity.
Make no mistake, the palpable sense of fear was pervasive for those forced to pass the long hot summer in the city.
Feeling boxed into a corner, the people turned their lonely eyes to someone who had already been defeated for president in 1960 and then, after losing again two years later in the 1962 California gubernatorial race, promised never to return. “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore,” he famously declared. Nevertheless, the nation elected as president this man who, like our current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, was the target of hatred from the press so intense that it stood as the gold standard for media bias until Trump came along.
The election of 1968 was close – the previously disgraced Nixon defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey with a direct appeal for law and order in the face of chaos – but it was the aftermath of that November which is most revealing. The forces of upheaval developing throughout the 1960s were unleashed with a new fury after Nixon’s election – strikingly similar to the resistance over these last three years. And in 1972, the Democrat who perfectly embodied the Nixon-deranged elements of the party wishing for a radical reordering of society, George McGovern, went down to an overwhelming and ignominious defeat – against a president who, like Trump, was not even broadly popular. It was only Nixon’s ultimate disgrace and resignation and the Democrats’ rapid pivot to the center that allowed them to recapture the presidency four years later. If Democrats are turned out broadly in November, this could well serve as the party’s same basic playbook looking forward to 2024.
Can Trump channel Nixon? Well, as the week commenced, Trump left no doubt about his self-declared bona fides as a warrior for law and order. This served the dual purpose of “dominating the streets” and challenging Democrats to either stand up to the sociopaths of Antifa and their cohorts, or do what they seem to do best: defend the mobs.
Defense of Criminals?
With this backdrop likely to animate voters as they ponder what lever to pull on November 3, will they be more or less inclined to grant President Trump a second term? Well, if history is to be our guide – not rigidly, but thoughtfully – it would appear unlikely that everyday Americans will be more inclined to hand the keys to the kingdom over to a party which has tacitly or even explicitly defended the criminal behavior of the mobs as it simultaneously decries the criminal actions of the Minneapolis police department.
This confluence of police violence and mob violence evidently brings visceral satisfaction to the sociopaths splashed all over our TV screens in recent days. It certainly excites an elite media so far gone on ratings, virtue-signaling, and Trump hatred that they have turned out the lights on truth and reduced themselves to the very darkness in which democracy dies a slow death. And maybe it animates the nakedly socialist AOC wing of a movement and party hoping to recapture the White House.
But rest assured it will not be remotely acceptable for the broad swath of voters.
Joe Biden’s response? Mostly a defense of the rioters and an attack on Trump for “fanning the flames of racial division” – presumably by calling for an end to the wanton destruction of life and property. Head-shaking. Of course, as Biden has proven repeatedly by disavowing positions he had held for decades, the former vice president is entirely intimidated by his party’s woke base and is willing to do or say almost anything to satisfy the resistance. But this political landscape raises a series of unavoidable new questions for the Biden campaign. How can this D.C. lifer continue to satisfy the rabid instincts of his infuriated base now that their anger has been taken to a new level? Does this ugly mess make the selection of a social justice warrior such as Stacey Abrams for vice president more or less likely? Does it make the selection of a white woman as Biden’s running mate that much less plausible within the resistance wing of the Democratic Party?
Ultimately, will the base of the Democratic Party show up in greater or lesser numbers in the aftermath of this triple nightmare of recession, transparent police brutality, and out-of-control violence in our streets? You can bet Trump’s people will show up in massive numbers. Will Biden’s?
Cause or Cure?
The one thing we know for sure is that this election will have enormous consequences. It will result in one of two stark alternatives: a completion of the Trump revolution or an about-face and return to the days of Obama. So in a nation already turned upside down by the pandemic and now thrown into an even greater sense of chaos and confusion, will the people decide Trump is more the cause or the cure?
Read more from Tim Donner.