Victor Davis Hanson recently questioned whether the Biden Administration’s radical policies would lead Americans, as often happens, to push back. Hanson recalled the corruption of the Renaissance Church that prompted first the Reformation and then the Counter-Reformation of reformist, and more zealous, Catholics. He noted how the economic and cultural excesses of the 1920s were followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and how the destabilizing 1960s counterculture led to Richard Nixon’s landslide reelection victory in 1972.
Hanson then moved his analysis into contemporary American politics by noting that “the Bush-Clinton-Obama continuum of 24 years cemented the bipartisan fusion administrative state” with Trump and his “Make America Great Again” agenda serving as pushback. He noted that “social, cultural, economic, and political extremism prompt reactions—and sometimes counterreactions.” Yet “the counterreaction to the populism of the Trump reset or Trump himself—is as of yet unsure.”
But in the early days of the Biden Administration, this counterreaction to Trumpism is appearing with the country—as Hanson notes—in a “revolutionary frenzy.”
The evidence is everywhere. Biden has signed more radical executive orders in a shorter amount of time than any other president. There is growing talk of censorship and punishment of conservative views. “On almost every issue—open borders, blanket amnesties, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, promoting the Green New Deal, and hard-Left appointees Biden is touting positions that likely do not earn 50 percent public support,” Hanson writes.
But has the Biden Administration actually alienated and insulted the American people sufficiently to “reap the whirlwind of the wind they are now sowing”? Or, are changes emanating from things like voting laws, COVID-19, Antifa and Black Lives Matter uprisings, and the January 6 Capitol riots pushing the electorate further leftward so there will be little reaction at all?
Will Trump Even Push Back?
Since leaving office, the former president has largely stayed out of public view while Congress moves forward with his second impeachment trial. He has endorsed his former press secretary Sarah Sanders in her bid for governor of Arkansas and vowed to take revenge on Republicans who he feels have betrayed him, like Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia or House Republican Conference chairwoman Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking member of her caucus to vote for impeaching the former president.
So far, Trump has not discounted the possibility of running for election again in 2024, forcing other would-be Republican candidates to consider their own strategies as they lay the groundwork for the next presidential campaign. But Trump and his allies have shown no interest in ceding control. The question might be, as explained by former U.S. Representative Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), whether Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party or one of the leaders of the political movement within it that’s identified closely with Trump.
John Hudak, Christine Stenglein, and Elaine Kamarck of the left-liberal Brookings Institute speculate on Trump’s options in “Trump’s future: Nine possibilities.” Half of the possibilities depend on the results of Trump’s likely legal entanglements, which many on the Left hope will keep him bogged down.
But a few offer more reasoned predictions of a Trump future, including one in which the former president leads a “Trumpublican” faction of the GOP. Another is the unification of the MAGA forces to form a third party such as a “Patriot Party.” There is also the possibility of a continuation of calls for some type of action such as the one on January 6 at the Capitol. And finally, there is the possibility of creating his own communications company after being banned by social media.
Sorting Fact from Fiction
Moving attention on pushback away from Trump for a moment, it’s important to look at collective beliefs permeating much of American culture in the early months of 2021. Perhaps one of the largest is the belief that false information is being spread. According to a December NPR/Ipsos poll, a strong majority of Americans are concerned about the spread of false information and specifically the information received on social media.
Much of their belief in the notion that false information is being spread relates to misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and related questions. According to the poll:
- More than eight in 10 (83 percent) say they are concerned about the spread of false information, and a majority (54 percent) report being very concerned.
- Eighty percent are specifically concerned about the spread of false information about the coronavirus and vaccines.
- More than two-thirds are concerned both that the information they receive on social media is not accurate (69 percent), and also about foreign interference in social media (67 percent).
The belief that false information is being spread is further fueled by the “gaslighting” events of cable news media such as calling the burning cities of last summer’s riots “peaceful protests.”
The belief by Americans that they are increasingly receiving false information, has been a major force behind the growth of conspiracy theories, or simply, alternative views of reality to the standard views broadcast around the clock by corporate media and other cultural devices such as entertainment, sports, and education.
The Prophesies and Passivity of Q
The “mother of all conspiracy theories” to take root during the Trump Administration was remains is the QAnon theory that began to be pushed in October of 2017 and argued that a cabal of evil “Black Hat” Satanists were controlling a global “deep state” and that Trump was in charge of the “White Hat” forces of good against them.
Originally only followed by a handful of people on obscure Internet channels like 4chan, QAnon soon grew into a cottage industry with flags, caps, t-shirts, and the associated paraphernalia of a super star’s fan club. The clothing and flags began to appear more and more at Trump rallies, and many claimed that Trump secretly acknowledged his belief in Q through various signs. The growing QAnon movement fostered many responses in the corporate media and leading liberal publications like The Atlantic in June 2020 with “The Prophecies of Q: American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.”
So, with Hanson’s question about pushback in mind, it would seem that among the ranks of the millions of QAnon followers might be the best place to look for “ground zero” of this pushback.
And just what are they being told?
Largely it is to do nothing and simply watch the show. As the popular spokespersons for QAnon, the trio of American Mark Steele and Brits Charlie Ward and Simon Parkes advise, “Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.” Through daily video programs, their constant message is that the “White Hats” have everything under control and will soon implement the great takeover of the government where the “Black Hats” will be arrested and tried.
Yet it is becoming more difficult to believe in their predictions since the great insurrection forecast for January 20 did not happen nor the big event predicted for February 5. Now, the date for the big event has been moved to March 4, the date that QAnon believes Trump will be sworn in as president.
In the interim, the QAnon message is kept alive by labeling the new administration a fake show by QAnon spokespersons. In effect, Biden is not in the real White House but rather the set of one in Los Angeles. And arrests of many “Black Hats” have already been made and the FEMA troops are ready to move.
But if nothing happens on March 4, the chances are good it will be pushed further into the future on some other date. In this way, any actual “pushback” action by millions of Americans is being neutered by this constant dangling of future dates for the government takeover in the faces of people who might otherwise organize for reasonable political action. One recalls the old trick of dangling the proverbial carrot on a stick in front of a donkey so that the donkey would never reach the carrot.
The QAnon spokespersons continue to suggest no pushback. Only inaction. It is more important to be a spectator to everything rather than to offer any solutions. Stay inside, “sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show” is their continued directive. As they say, “Trust the plan. Enjoy the show. Nothing can stop what is coming.”
Evidently, the show must go on. And on. And on.