The Mock Inauguration

The conservative Catholic columnist John Zmirak ends his inauguration day column for The Stream with this expression of profound disgust:

So by all means enjoy the mock-inauguration of a corrupt, senile hack as the fruit of ballot-box stuffing and fake COVID panic. But remember that now we all live in a tinpot Bananas Republic. And a disciplined, fanatically nationalist, resurgent Red China is smiling. The virus it shipped worldwide succeeded beyond its leaders’ wildest expectations.

I quote Zmirak’s peroration because of the openness of his loathing for the administration that began its reign on Wednesday. Pat Buchanan, Roger Simon, Newt Gingrich, Roger Kimball, and Michael Walsh have all recently produced informative and eloquent columns underscoring the lies, deceit, and intimidation that they associate with the woke Left. These columnists have also documented the extent of leftist control and underlined the need to resist their odious domination.

The conservative movement has reacted to this political and existential crisis in one of two ways: either by turning viciously on the outgoing president to accommodate hoped-for talking partners on the Left, or by sounding the call for resistance, which seems the admirable position of this website.

Morally and emotionally I’m a résistant, but I think the Right must face certain problems in working out how best to resist the cultural Marxist power grab.

What we are observing is not a recent development but part of a revolutionary process that began decades ago. The Left moves incrementally, while the Right usually reacts to the most recent crisis. The Left also puts itself in a position to determine the meaning of emotive terms like “equality” and “fairness.” Leftist activists took over mass education and the culture industry without breaking a sweat. Our side allowed this power grab to go mostly unnoticed, except for a few discordant voices who failed to prevail.

In the battle for political and cultural control, the other side planned well, while ours, with isolated exceptions, was conflict-averse or easily distracted, until it was too late.

Another (more controversial) argument I would make is that the conservatives who oppose the victory of the radicals have been in denial about the other side’s long road to victory.

Typically, the Right focuses on the present moment, which they view separately in isolation from what went on before. But first- and second-wave feminism preceded and prepared the ground for third-wave feminism, which the conservative establishment is now decrying. Most of the leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s who are still around can be found in the left-wing of the Democratic Party. 

It is foolish and dishonest to pretend that there is no connection between the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the present leftist views of James Clyburn and (until his recent death) John Lewis. These figures cooperated as members of the same movement, and most of the radicals of the 1970s, however just their cause may have been, went on from earlier to more advanced stages of an incremental revolution. Out of these efforts came a vast government bureaucracy to ferret out and punish “discrimination,” as the victims included under that term continue to expand.  

But equally relevant a similar process of radicalization has unfolded in Canada, Germany, England, France, Sweden, and Spain, even without the stimulus or example of the American Civil Rights Movement. In other parts of the West, anticolonialism and sometimes bizarre reactions to the Holocaust have fueled their own versions of cultural radicalism and accelerated a war against Judeo-Christian, bourgeois moral standards. Needless to say, the Left is always in a position to impose its revisionist history in view of its commanding position in both the media and educational institutions.  

In brief, we are dealing with a Left that has taken decades to emerge and seize the power it now possesses. If Pat Buchanan is correct when he says, “the Left has it all,” that grim success did not happen overnight. Revolutions are not single events but processes, and the Left has been moving for decades in the direction of its present ideological hegemony.

Although there are lots of properly indignant Americans on our side, we should not exaggerate the value of our hand. The best course for us to pursue given our relative weakness would be to try to isolate our opposition. Do nothing to cooperate and concede no ground. There should be no plan for “bipartisanship” or for reaching out. I can’t see the benefit of either, and as I watched Matt Continetti, Geraldo Rivera, and then Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) going after Trump for “inciting a riot” during his last weeks in office, I was struck by the futility of this groveling to the Left. 

Conservatives in Congress should treat the Biden-Harris Administration exactly the way the Democrats treated Trump’s presidency, by totally dissociating themselves from any of its actions. This resistance could have started (and for many did) by ignoring the “mock inauguration” that John Zmirak so pungently described.

And, oh yes, avoid the word “president” in designating the implausible new occupant of the White House.

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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