Weimar America?

For those of you who haven’t listened to our latest “Three Whisky Happy Hour” podcast where “Lucretia” and I ponder Bari Weiss’s Tablet article “Stop Being Shocked,” we summarized and extended her case that the post-liberal progressivism now clearly ascendant in the Democratic Party represents an existential threat not just to Jews, but eventually to everyone who dissents from woke-progressive-social justice orthodoxy.

This in turn sent me back to Leo Strauss’s famous “autobiographical preface” to a new edition of his early book Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, where he explains in profound detail the dilemma of Jews in a liberal democracy, specifically Weimar Germany where the problems were evident even before Hitler came to power. And recalling Allan Bloom’s famous comment that modern America was becoming “a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic,” I read this passage from Strauss in a new light:

The election of Field Marshall von Hindenburg to the presidency of the German Reich in 1925 showed everyone who had eyes to see that the Weimar Republic had only a short time to live.

If the polls are right, we’re about to elect our equivalent of Field Marshall von Hindenburg, in the form of a 78-year-old with obviously failing mental capacity whose career in any case has shown him always unable to resist the blandishments of the left. Biden is, at best, a transitional figure to the complete wokification of the Democratic Party, and the further extension of the administrative state that is its preferred instrument of rule.

If you think I exaggerate, check out this Tweet from former Labor Secretary and major leftist celebrity:

Just think of it as the Fourth Reich.

Which bring me to Thomas Klingenstein’s recent speech, recommended last week by Rush Limbaugh among others, which presents the stakes of this election in a larger context than the usual transient bread and butter issues of the economy and such. A bit of background: Klingenstein told me that a year ago, when the NY Times first came out with its 1619 Project, he visited a number of Republican officer holders in Congress, and brought up the 1619 Project. None of them had heard of it. It’s one thing for Republicans to regard the NY Times with contempt and to ignore it most of the time, but it is political malpractice to maintain this kind of studied ignorance of something as significant as the 1619 Project, which is of a piece with the broader revolutionary aims of Black Lives Matter. Hence the feebleness of Republican resistance to the leftist tsunami of 2020.

Here’s the key section of Tom’s message:

The multicultural movement, which has taken over the Democratic party, is a revolutionary movement. I do not mean a metaphorical revolution.  It is not like a revolution; it is a revolution, an attempt to overthrow the American Founding as President Trump said in his excellent Mt. Rushmore speech. Republicans should say the same thing.  Republicans everywhere, at every level and at every opportunity. . .

This suggests one way to frame the coming election: as a contest between a man, Trump, who believes America is good and a man, Biden, who is controlled by a movement that believes America is bad.  I do not think it is any more complicated than that.

His diagnosis is hardly unique. If you missed the September issue of Commentary, Abe Greenwald had a fine piece entitled “Yes, This Is a Revolution.”

The battle for the survival of the United States of America is upon us. It has not come in the form of traditional civil war. There are no uniformed armies, competing flags, or alternate constitutions. The great showdown is not being fought within the physical limits of a battlefield. It is instead happening all around us and directly to us. It defines our culture, sustains our media, and gives new shape to our public and private institutions. In this fight, there is no distinction between what was once known as the culture war and politics rightly understood. The confrontation stretches through time and space, reframing our distant past even as it transforms the horizon, erupting from coast to coast, and constraining our lives in subtle and obvious ways. And it’s happening too fast for us to take its full measure. . .

We know it’s different this time because the stakes are continually articulated by the enemies of the current order. They are demanding, and in some cases getting, a new and exotic country. The police are indeed being defunded. The statues are coming down. The heretics are being outed. The dissenters are being silenced. The buildings are burning, and the demands are ever growing.

Amidst this new scene, there is something perverse about complaining that President Trump is “shredding” our democratic norms. I must have missed where he pulled down statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Teddy Roosevelt, let alone prescribing wholesale changes to the Constitution (abolishing the electoral college) and changes to settled political practices (size of the Supreme Court, new states admitted purely on a partisan basis, etc). To complain that Trump is “rude,” and vote primarily because of that, is an extravagance that could cost us our country.

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