Start By Boycotting The House

Right-leaning Americans are living as if occupied by a foreign power intent on denigrating and destroying our way of life, impoverishing us, and punishing us for objecting. But to get away with this, the oligarchs who control America’s public and private institutions need us to respect their mastery of us. Hence the only way for us to preserve our way of life is to separate from institutions they have turned from common to all Americans to partisan instruments. By so doing, we deprive them of legitimacy, as we patronize or create alternative ones. The long list includes America’s largest corporations, educational institutions, the media, and government itself. 

Separation between conservative America and the oligarchy is happening spontaneously as Americans sort themselves into mutually agreeable groups. It’s also a result of the oligarchs pushing dissenters into what they believe is the Outer Darkness.

But in order to preserve republican freedoms, those of us who want them require leadership from our elected officials. We can start by boycotting an institution that undeniably, has become ruinously partisan: the House of Representatives. 

From Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), to committee chairmen such as Homeland Security’s Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), with no dissent in the ranks, the House Democrats assert their Republican colleagues are “enemies within,” accusing them of complicity in the January 6 Capitol riot, and claiming that Republican members endanger their lives. That the Democrats don’t believe a word of this lie only underlines why they repeat it ad nauseam: to pin the label “terrorist” on Republican leaders and voters, thereby depriving us of standing as citizens who must be respected and justifying all manner of oppression. 

This is deadly serious. The Democratic Party contends that its political opponents have stepped outside republican legitimacy. The Democrats endow their baseless accusations with seriousness by treating Republicans as if they were terrorists. The media dismiss the Republicans’ defensive denials in part because, were the Republicans truly outraged by the Democrats’ insulting accusations, they would give the Democrats no more respect, concede to them no more legitimacy, than the Democrats concede to us. After all, what serious person continues to deal with people who call him a terrorist and accuse him of attempted murder, unless he has a guilty conscience? 

In short, today’s Democratic Party joins with centers of power—corporate America, Wall Street, the professoriate, etc.—in grounding their claims of legitimacy on each others’ approval. This oligarchy’s claim of legitimacy is so exclusive that it excludes the legitimacy of its elected opponents. But to deny the legitimacy of elected officials is to deny that of the voters, and of popular government itself. Conversely, elected officials who are willing to uphold the primordial authority that flows from elections are all that remains of the American Republic founded between 1776 and 1789.  

What, then, should congressmen and senators do about those who deem them ultra vires, illegitimate? Denying their legitimacy, putting them beyond the pale, separating from them, taking no part in what they do, is the indispensable foundation of seriousness, for clarifying what we are about, and for building our own environment. 

Being present in the House of Representatives as currently constituted and led can do no good, and only do harm to conservative voters. House rules allow the majority to do whatever it wills. Today’s Democrats have no intention of sharing any of the House’s powers with the minority. 

Republican members cannot influence what the House does. They cannot call witnesses at hearings, never mind get bills or amendments voted on. As they and their constituents are called illegitimate, they are powerless. They cannot call the country’s attention to their case. Their presence in the Democrats’ proceedings makes them co-responsible, and gives the false impression that due process is being observed. Their presence is a pretense from which only the oligarchy benefits. 

Far better for House Republicans to rent some D.C. hotel’s public rooms and there hold plenary and committee sessions that parallel and contrast the Democrats’ agenda as well as take up topics that the Democrats shun—e.g. the social media companies’ censorship, and their monopolistic practices.

They could run hearings on the naturally collusive relationship between, say, the White House chief of staff and his lobbyist brother, and between the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and his former partner who runs Hunter Biden’s defense. As the media cover the House’s position on energy matters and on civil rights, they would be compelled to mention that these are strictly the Democratic Party’s doings. And when they refer to what the other near-half of House Members think on any governing matter, they would have to refer to fully developed positions. 

In short, they would have to acknowledge the existence of legitimate alternatives. American government in general and Congress in particular were never meant to be purely partisan. James Madison wrote that congressional deliberations should draw “the deliberate sense of the people” out of a multiplicity of cooperating and contrasting factions. Since Woodrow Wilson, however, Progressives have touted what they call “responsible government”—meaning rule by a single party, wholly empowered to implement its agenda and for which it may be held wholly responsible. 

Today’s Progressive Democratic Party has taken complete power over the whole federal government. The least that Republicans can do for conservative America is to hold them fully responsible for what they do.

About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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