My late father rarely gave me advice, so when he did, I listened. One of those times was especially memorable and has always stuck with me. He advised me always to understand the roots and consequences of your own and others’ political views, so you can properly espouse or, if need be, oppose them. It was not unexpected advice from a public school teacher.
Consequently, in 1977, when I was 12, he began an intermittent process of handing me the three books he felt I needed to read, prefacing each book loan with the phrase, “Know your enemy.”
The three books were John Toland’s Adolf Hitler, Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, and Alfred Steinberg’s The Bosses, about corrupt Democrat and Republican urban political machines in early 20th-century America. The enemies? These three insidious ideologies threatening our free republic: fascism/racism, socialism/Communism, and “bossism.”
Though my father was a staunch Democrat and a union man, none of the three books tendered for my edification were intended to proselytize me into embracing the Democrats by bashing or otherwise denigrating the Republican Party. No, my father—who never doubted America is the greatest nation on earth—understood as most Americans did at the time that both of America’s two major political parties could agree on this basic truth, and at the same time differ on how best to forge a more perfect union.
What my father was endeavoring to impart to me was the simple truth that the United States of America’s revolutionary experiment in liberty and self-government is always the target of dictators, tyrants, terrorists, and barbarous regimes bent upon subordinating the people to the state; and the three books were provided for my edification to know and fight these enemies of human freedom and America.
In sum, my staunchly Catholic father was emphasizing the primacy of the individual—the soul—over the state.
He was right. Hence, America’s very existence is not only an obstacle but a threat to their aims, for the foundational sovereignty of America is reposed in the breasts of our citizens not in the state; thus, the consent of the citizenry is required for the legitimacy of all governing by their public servants. This is America’s great protection from and challenge to antithetical, inhuman ideologies containing the fuhrerprinzip, a “vanguard of the proletariat,” or a corrupt ruling elite.
Because of their intrinsic rejection of citizen sovereignty over the state and the fact fascism and Communism were identified with nations posing a martial, existential threat to the United States, the vast majority of Americans readily rejected and defeated these alien ideologies in World War II and during the Cold War.
Domestic urban “bossism” was not so easily bested.
Bossism provides the illusion of the consent of the governed: “Hey, the voters chose us.” Yet, in reality, there is no choice. Expert in the practice of transactional politics, the governing cabal of the political machine abuses the civic and political powers at its disposal to rig the electoral outcome and ensure its primacy by cementing a coalition of the corrupt with their dependent constituencies.
Thus, in ways similar to the patterns of fascism and Communism, bossism is a materialist ideology implemented to deny the free exercise of the franchise by the sovereign citizenry. That “50-percent-plus-one” of the citizenry is seduced by government largesse (or, more accurately, the never honored promise of it), does not justify its rule any more than it would that of fascists or communists who took it by force. The thing all three of these ideologies have in common is their inherently evil impact upon those who disagree and dissent. Nonetheless, as with the scourge of racism, the good people have united to support good government and made great strides eradicating bossism, though much remains to be done in both instances.
Will it be done?
In 1809, Thomas Charlton wrote, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Today, vigilant citizens are witnessing a recrudescence of these three dangerous ideologies, due to the increasingly secular Left’s unholy ideological trifecta: employing fascist tactics to impose socialism administered by an unelected, elitist bureaucracy that has already abused the police powers of the state to rig the 2016 presidential election (unsuccessfully, thank heavens). They mean to continue to act similarly by redistributing wealth to their dependencies and cement a 50-percent-plus-one electorate that would ensure the perpetual hegemony of the administrative state over the sovereign people.
While examining and confronting the roots of the Left’s unholy trinity of ideologies, a curious insight occurred to me: my father never thought I’d read one of the three books and agree with any of them. He believed American exceptionalism was a self-evident truth even a 12-year-old would see. I did.
Ironically, in its perverse way, the Left agrees. This is why the Left strains to impose upon our free people a “cancel culture”; unconstitutional bans on “hate speech” (i.e., anything with which the Left disagrees); the campus silencing of conservative views and the creation of “safe spaces” from the free exchange of dissenting opinions; and, yes, relegating the books of dead white males down the memory hole—with the exceptions of The Communist Manifesto and other inked screeds of similarly loathsome ilk.
Aiming as they do to eradicate free speech, their full list is as long as it is wrong and dangerous for the perpetuation of citizen sovereignty over the state, for all are designed to advance the Left’s totalitarian agenda encompassing the three vile ideological threats to America. Such intellectual cowardice is necessary for the Left, because their hateful aims cannot survive the scrutiny of dissenting views by a free and sovereign citizenry.
Perhaps my father, who passed away in 1984, was more perspicacious than I thought. In 1980, the lifelong Democrat voted for Ronald Reagan. Nineteen years old in 1984, so did I. It was my first act of eternal vigilance against the unholy trinity of ideological viruses threatening our free republic.