The Silence of the Shepherds

Republican officials’ timidity with regard to the outrages that the Democratic Party is committing against the American people under the Biden Administration dampens the American people’s urge to resist. Their default of leadership helps the Democrats’ seizure of long-term oligarchic power. The people’s deep resentment, however, will follow whoever and whatever ventures offer protection. As ever, leadership falls to whomever actually leads.

Unanimously, Republican officials denounce the Biden Administration’s decision to suspend laws requiring rent payments, while continuing to enforce landlords’ obligations to pay their mortgages. But no official is organizing landlords to band together to withhold their mortgage payments from banks. 

Nearly all Republicans decry the government’s collaboration with airlines, schools, and big businesses to establish vaccine passports as conditions to return to normal life. The same goes for mask mandates. All know that public health is an excuse for long-term social control. Yet no one is organizing the majority of Americans who object to this into groups the size of which enable them to stop this power grab. 

No Republican official dissents from the vast majority of Americans who are aghast at the opening of our southern border, and at certain Democrats’ assertion that illegal aliens are essentially “Americans” who should have the right to vote. No Republican has suggested that the next Congress and president has the power and obligation to deport each and every one of them. 

Countless Americans seethe at being targeted as white supremacists whose every objection to government power is presumptively criminal. But no Republican politician has promised to hold to account any and all officials who so abuse their fellow citizens. 

Most Republicans denounce the Biden Administration’s expenditure of trillions of borrowed dollars to further empower themselves, resulting immediately in higher prices for everything, and pricing more and more Americans out of home ownership. Yet nearly half of Senate Republicans voted to approve the $1.3 trillion “infrastructure” bill.

And yet we may be sure that any number of Republicans imagine themselves as candidates for the presidency in 2024. One may ask on what basis senators, who might have used their national standing to organize and lead Americans into collective protective actions but chose not to, will ask for the people’s votes. All will point to statements of theirs that complain about each and every abuse. But joining in the beleaguered Americans’ complaints does nothing to relieve them. Attitude is not the same thing as leadership. That goes for all, from former President Donald Trump to Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Republicans who hold state or local office, and who use their powers to their limits, are in a category of their own. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, the most prominent of these, has effectively interposed state authority to protect his citizens insofar as that is possible. Some governors and legislators have pledged non-compliance with eventual federal legislation that does away with requirements for identification in elections. Any number of county sheriffs have declared they will not enforce many actual or threatened regulations. In North Carolina, newly elected Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn led a group of citizens to protest a school board’s imposition of a racist curriculum. 

In short, wherever real leadership arises, the people reward it by following it. At some point, local leadership must translate into national leadership, if only because that is the only kind of leadership that now exists.

Perhaps, then, there is little use in decrying the Republican establishment’s effective abdication. They act as they do for a variety of reasons of their own. Some hold back for fear of presuming Donald Trump’s supposed prerogative to lead. But as time passes, Trump’s partisans become as compelled as anyone else to ask where, precisely, words without practical consequence would lead? Others’ reticence is all too clearly connected to their fear of taking upon themselves the wrath of a now nearly all-powerful oligarchy. For whatever purpose, most of the Republican Party is disqualifying itself for reasons of no relevance to the rest of us.

This is what has happened in California. Republicans have not challenged Democrats statewide for nearly a generation. The Democratic Party, exercising a supermajority in the legislature as well as control of each and every institution in the state, has governed in a way that alienated the majority of the state’s residents, causing uncounted numbers of citizens to flee, seeking refuge in other states. The effort to recall the governor who symbolizes this state of affairs came from ordinary people, not from Republican officials. And the Republicans who have sought to profit from those efforts have drawn little public support—money notwithstanding.

And yet it seems that the recall is poised to succeed. And who is most likely to be the next governor of ultra-liberal California? None other than conservative talk show host Larry Elder because he actually is followed by what seems to be a plurality of the people. In an environment in which trust is very low, any amount of the genuine article, earned by exposing oneself to the worst that the establishment can dish out, is priceless.

In sum, the combination of establishment misrule and Republican impotence leaves the field open to whomever takes it upon himself to lead.

 

About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty Images

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