Senior Editor Seth Leibsohn was joined on the radio by William B. Allen, scholar of the American Founding, to discuss his shift from the NeverTrump Right and what the politics of the current moment require. “Nothing has been more apparent since the election than that the Left is not committed to democracy,” Allen said.
Seth Leibsohn: Well, welcome back, Wednesday, August 23, 2017. This is the Seth and Chris Show. I am Seth Leibsohn. I am delighted to welcome to the show as a first-time guest, a professor Chris and I had in graduate school, one of the nation’s top scholars of the Founding in George Washington, in particular, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is Dr. William B. Allen. He had a tremendously important piece at the American Greatness website entitled, “It’s Not Trump They Hate, It’s Us.” Professor Allen, welcome to the show.
William B. Allen: Delighted to be with you, Seth.
Leibsohn: Thank you so much for, belatedly, all the scholarship you’ve given to Chris and me and all your teaching to the country. Let’s get into it, your piece. I want to ask you more specifically about Washington in a little bit, but one of the interesting things in your title, “It’s Not Trump They Hate, It’s Us.” You started out you write, as a NeverTrumper, as someone who could never support, at least throughout the 2016 election, Donald Trump, for a lot of the reasons many of us are familiar with in conservative circles. You can feel free to restate them, but you’re not exactly there now, you’re not in the same space you were then, correct?
Allen: Well, of course, the election changed everything and I don’t need to rehearse the reasons for my decision previously. What’s important is the decision I made on the morning after the election and that was the decision to stand behind the American people.
Leibsohn: It was the person both of us have studied, me, not as well as you, Lincoln, who talked about a country that seeds ballots to bullets. It’s not that we’ve done that quite yet, but there is a lot of violence on the streets and maybe not historically more than in the past, but it seems to be getting rougher. It seems like we’re in need of a new life scenes speech perhaps. There is something.
Allen: We certainly are in a greater pitch, aren’t we, a much greater pitch. It’s not just the actual violence, but it is the persistent, open threat of violence, which has perhaps reached levels that have not been seen since the era prior to the Civil War.
Leibsohn: Yeah. That’s the way to put it. That’s correct professor. I think that’s the better read on it. But, it is something against which you write, which is the refusal to accept an election, which is one of the most unhealthy things you could have in this country. I wonder if you might say a word on that.
Allen: It’s a tremendous irony in this particular historical era because if we recall as we approached the election the Left was up in arms about Donald Trump’s hesitation to write a blank check as they demanded that he endorse in advance the presumed election of Hillary Clinton. Now, this was just a matter of political tactics for him to refuse to do that because no one wants to create the impression that one doesn’t expect to win, and so there’s no point to answer that question. It was silly. But the point, of course, is that the Left drove the rhetoric of he’s not committed to democracy.
Allen: And, nothing has been more apparent since the election than that the Left is not committed to democracy.
Leibsohn: Right. They take to the streets here in Phoenix where we had this very well publicized rally last night. They were throwing canisters and tear gas and bottles at police. Let me repeat, they were throwing that at police as if this is Ramallah, as if this is the West Bank.
Allen: That’s correct and they are doing this all across the country. That’s been going on for several years. It’s only increasing the crescendo effect at this point. Remember, if we go back to the kind of protest you saw at World Economic Forums, at Seattle and elsewhere, it was already starting then, but the crescendo is increasing. It’s getting to be more frequent and it’s getting to be louder, it’s getting to be more violent, and it is all together staged.
Leibsohn: It is staged, and it’s ongoing. It doesn’t seem to be winding down. It seems to be winding up and over the toughest issues in America, over wounds that, I don’t know from your perspective, you chaired the Civil Rights Commission, and you’ve been at this a long time. It just seemed to me over wounds that seemed to be salved a really long time ago that have been opened up unnecessarily. I don’t know what our sense of it is.
Allen: I would want to agree with you on that, but I’ve got to say I can’t because, not because your instincts are wrong. Your instincts are quite right, but the country has been sleeping through a staged attack on the settlement. Yes, there was a settlement. Yes, there was consensus emerging, a consensus embracing civil rights for all. A consensus of putting to rest the past of slavery, the past of Jim Crow. The country was working it’s way through that until it came to be caught by the neck of this radical progressivism, which insisted on imposing identify politics, or as I prefer to call it, tribalism on the country and, therefore, renouncing that consensus in the name of what amounts to a dismantling of the political fabric of the United States, cause that’s what it’s all about.
I am so deeply concerned that what we’re really living through is something that is getting worse, not better. This is not just a spasm. For some reason, people spent their moment, and we need to step back and think about this for a second. Donald Trump won the election, but for the radical Left, this is their moment. They expect to use him to overturn the fundamental structures of the United States. That’s what resistance means. It’s not resistance to Trump, per se. It’s resistance to the pattern of the settled rule of law in the United States.
Leibsohn: Right. On that question of race, professor, I just don’t remember when I was a student of yours back in the ’80s, I don’t remember this country being that [inaudible 00:06:18]. We always were, obviously. I don’t mean to paper over or pardon the phrase, but whitewash the situation in America.
Allen: Yes. Right.
Leibsohn: But we just were … It seems it’s more tense now than it was then. More tension now than then.
Allen: I believe that’s true, and you must understand that because we’re getting over it, it became a cause to some people to put a stop to that.
Listen to the entire interview.