So here we are, 10 days out from the most momentous election of my lifetime.
Candor requires that I admit that I have often felt that sense of existential emergency around election time. But reflection tells me that the closest thing to the 2020 election was the 2016 election, and that was not because of its wild card—Donald Trump—but because of “sure thing” Hillary Clinton, the single most corrupt serious contender for president in our history.
That may seem melodramatic, but the truth is often melodramatic.
I did not, until recently, suspect Joe Biden of serious corruption. The ongoing revelations from Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell” have led me to reconsider that judgment, especially when combined with the ongoing bulletins from Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, who claims that Joe Biden, contrary to his repeated assertions, was involved in discussions about his son’s business dealings.
So far, I believe, the public is not privy to any smoking-gun evidence about Joe Biden’s involvement, but the gun is warm and the optics are bad. The implicit oath of omertà followed by the media with respect to the saga of Hunter’s laptop has been truly impressive.
Day after day, the New York Post, which first broke the story a week or so back, has been broadcasting more and more tidbits from this extraordinary trove of perversity and apparent corruption. No matter that the Post is the country’s fifth-largest paper: Twitter, Facebook, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and television news have joined forces to close the public’s eyes, seal its ears, and scream there is nothing to see here, move along, and pay no attention to those muffled cries from the oubliette. It has been an extraordinary act of malignant solidarity, worthy of the Politburo in the heady days of Joe Stalin’s airbrush.
I think this strategy is in the process of backfiring. Twitter may close down the Post’s account and forbid people to retweet its stories, but that, too, is news and the news, finally, will out. The Streisand Effect will not be denied.
I have limited curiosity about Hunter Biden’s choice in narcotics or prostitutes. His alleged influence peddling, however, trading introductions to “the Big Guy” for wads of cash, especially if some of that cash wound up in the Biden family fisc—well that is something else entirely. The implications of this story have yet to penetrate the consciousness of the mainstream media, who are playing the three wise monkeys for Halloween, at least so far as Democrats are concerned. But it won’t matter. Curiosity is a stronger passion than politically fired discretion. We’ll find out what’s on that hard drive, and we’ll find out soon.
Even so, it is not Biden’s alleged corruption that is the primary issue for me. If the allegations are true, they are heinous and disqualifying, indicating blatant corruption of the grossest, most damaging sort. Add China into mix—there are, after all, an awful lot of Chinese actors in this movie—and you have a thriller-level scandal waiting to happen. As Andrew McCarthy reports,
In November 2011, Hunter Biden’s business associates arranged meetings at the Obama White House for a delegation of the China Entrepreneur Club. Established in 2006, the CEC is led by high officials of the Chinese Communist Party, some government officials (including diplomats), and billionaire business executives with close ties to the regime.
This visit to the White House is said to have included a meeting with then-Vice President Biden. In discussions among themselves, Hunter Biden’s associates reportedly made it clear that they anticipated cashing in on business prospects that were expected to arise from providing the Chinese contingent with high-level access to the Obama administration.
I think of the phrase that the travel writer Alexander Kinglake wanted inscribed upon the lintels of all churches in England: “Interesting if true.” Still, these allegations, if true, though they would be enough to dissuade me from voting for Joe Biden, are not the reason that I think this election is the most momentous of my lifetime.
Is it because of the stark policy differences, then, between the candidates that I believe this election is so momentous? The differences are indeed stark, as a simple list of issues will demonstrate to cognizant voters: Taxes, regulation, immigration policy, environmental policy, energy policy, judges, foreign policy, affirmative action and everything that’s loaded into the charge that America is “systemically racist”—even to utter these words is to acknowledge that the differences between what Donald Trump has done and wants to do and what the Democrats promise is as night and day. President Trump is about “America First.” Team Biden is about “America Failed.”
But even those powerful differences do not, by themselves, describe why I think this election is so important. The real gravamen is this. The battle between Donald Trump and the Biden-Harris coalition is a battle between the forces of republican democracy, on one side, and the forces of socialist oligarchy, on the other.
I understand that “democracy” is more of a eulogistic than a descriptive word, a totem under whose soothing light every sort of regime, be it ever so brutal, wishes to bask. The fact that North Korea is officially known as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” underscores that fact.
I understand, too, that ever since Donald Trump made his fateful descent down the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his candidacy for president, uninformed people have been denouncing him as “authoritarian” and worse.
Those charges have not abated. On the contrary, they have become more widespread and hysterical among a tiny, though highly visible and well-funded coterie of the nomenklatura. But evidence of his alleged authoritarianism, to say nothing of his supposed “fascistic,” Hitlerian (literally Hitlerian) inclinations is never forthcoming.
Trump has governed not as a “fascist” but as a rambunctious and sometimes impatient businessman whose top priority has been to keep his promises. I have often rehearsed the impressive litany of Trump’s kept campaign promises and I won’t repeat it here.
But it is the other side of the divide that throws president Trump’s virtues into relief. He fights to make America great. The other side would make America prostrate. Donald Trump rode to victory on a wave composed partly of populist fury, partly of populist enthusiasm. The Biden-Harris coalition, even more than the Clinton candidacy, is a product of the swamp, the pulsing, self-engorging bureaucracy that regards itself as the only legitimate repository of political power. Although determinedly left-wing in its policy prescriptions, it is, as Joel Kotkin points out in his new book The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class, essentially feudal in its deployment of power and contempt for the masses it seeks to control with the panis et circenses of technological distraction and bottomless surveillance.
Donald Trump may be an odd ambassador of freedom. His motley may not pass muster in the salons and drawing rooms of our lords and masters. But Joe Biden is but a gibbering front for a vanguard that would destroy America as traditionally conceived—America, I mean, as a crucible of ordered liberty, limited government, and individual freedom.
The swamp would smother those ideals in a muck of group rights and the rule of diktat, not law. It would represent not the peaceful transfer of power but the destruction of that process by the substitution of political correctness for politics. No longer would it be a debate about policy. It would become instead a series of heresy trials, with a sort of spoils system benefitting lucky members of the new commissariat.
A preview of this new order was recently vouchsafed by the diminutive satrap Robert Reich. “When this nightmare is over,” he tweeted, “we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.”
Noted. And the truly frightening thing is that it would be susceptible neither to repeal nor revision but, having cast our political life into a Manichaean struggle between heresy and the regime, would hearken only to competing entreaties from its own medium of exchange, naked power.
The prospect of that malign dispensation is why I believe the 2020 election is the most momentous of my life.