Is There Any Basis For Consensus In American Public Life?

Barbara Bush’s death prompted an outpouring of respect and affection on the part of many Americans. But that was not a universal response. Professor Randa Jarrar of California State University, Fresno, denounced Mrs. Bush as a “racist.”

This engendered some criticism, so Professor Jarrar doubled down:

The people of California pay Professor Jarrar to teach hate to college students. Presumably the administrators of California’s university system and the state’s ruling Democratic Party politicians don’t like it when diabolical viciousness like that expressed by Jarrar draws adverse publicity, but they don’t have a problem with the underlying agenda. Everyone who disagrees with the Left is ipso facto a “racist” or a “white supremacist,” whatever those terms might mean these days. Just ask any Democratic politician in California.

Is Professor Jarrar a fringe figure? I hope so. But Judge Kimba Wood, whom Bill Clinton nominated to be Attorney General, isn’t. She allowed the disclosure in open court of the fact–if it is a fact–that Sean Hannity is one of Michael Cohen’s three clients. (This is perhaps symbolic: the Left has the vast resources of America’s legal establishment on its side, while Mr. Cohen is trying to make a living with clients he can count on one hand. I hope Donald Trump pays him a lot of money.)

Sean Hannity has nothing to do with Bob Mueller’s investigation into Stormy Daniels, which in turn has nothing to do with what Mueller is supposed to be investigating. There is no suggestion that Hannity has done anything wrong–let alone criminal–or that Cohen has done anything wrong in connection with any representation of Hannity. Hannity says that he is a friend of Cohen, but not, in fact, a client. That depends on whether he has written Cohen any checks. But seriously, who cares? Why is it any of our business?

As Andy McCarthy explains, the public exposure of Hannity as a possible Cohen client violates all judicial precedent as well as Department of Justice standards. It is an outrage. In a different universe, or merely a different time, this would be something on which political opponents could agree. But that is not the world we live in. The Democratic Party media were orgasmic over the opportunity to link Hannity’s name with Cohen’s, to no end other than implicit slander of a political rival.

We could multiply examples endlessly, but that is enough for now. Instead, a broader point: In my current job, I have a long commute. After two years of spending an hour and a half or more per day in my car, listening to top 40 country music along with sports and news talk, I decided to turn off the radio and listen to audio books. Currently, I am listening to a 19-hour lecture series on ancient Rome.

I have taken away this lesson: the Roman republic, flawed as it was, deteriorated and finally disintegrated over a period of many years, because leaders abandoned traditional but unwritten norms that had held the polity together. Ultimately, as one tradition after another was violated, political assassination and armed antifa-like gangs became more or less accepted political tactics.

We are not yet at the political assassination stage, although I don’t think I would want to issue a life insurance policy on Donald Trump. But the trend is ominous. The Left, which has wholly taken over the Democratic Party, is Jacobin. It brooks no opposition. Wherever it can–universities, liberal-dominated companies like Google, perhaps Facebook and Twitter–it stamps out conservative speech.

In this environment, is there any common ground on which people who disagree about policy can stand? It doesn’t seem so. We can’t even agree on paying respect–sincere or not–to a former First Lady. For the first time since the Civil War, a faction of Americans has declared war to the death on the rest of the country. And unlike the South in 1860, the Left, while still not very popular at the ballot box, controls most of the levers of power. Reconciliation is a long, long way off, at best.

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