Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, contains a message of hope for all who look to the invincible juggernaut of state power. She writes, “The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson . . . for hundreds of years . . . it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten . . . One night, lightning struck the oak tree . . . The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside-just a thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind.”
She set the novel in a dystopian United States with characteristics we can recognize today as we look around. An expert class reorganizing the American economy to fit social justice objectives blames unknowable causes for the steady economic decline that attends their utopian programs. Only by seizing more power over the economy can these experts restore prosperity, they claim. But the cycle repeats as things increasingly fall apart.
In Rand’s conception, beneath the apparent power of the statist movement lies a hollow, rotten core. One crack of the hard exterior causes the whole thing to come tumbling down. More than 30 years before the fall of the Soviet Union, during the arguable apex of Soviet power under Stalin, Rand saw the inherent weakness of a system that survives by crushing freedom.
Social justice, climate change, criminal justice “reform,” gender-affirming “care,” critical race theory, ESG—all of these utopian ideals have made things worse. The great spasm of protests and violence in 2020 following the death of George Floyd aggravated race relations by normalizing “trainings” in workplaces and schools during which openly bigoted propaganda shamed Americans for the color of their skin. The trillions spent on climate change have not changed or reversed the trajectory of the climate. Woke corporate executives engage in soft embezzlement as they redirect scarce company resources to profit-destroying social justice objectives. And pushing “gender-affirming” sex surgeries results in more teen suicides not fewer, as the proponents promised. Homelessness, inflation, race relations, crime. It matters not which of the Left’s social programs you pick. They all burn money to make the problems they promise to solve worse. Looking into her crystal ball, Rand got things almost exactly right.
But the spell is breaking. Inflation, above all else, hurts the very people the Left promised to champion. Some Americans are now skipping meals to accommodate the stolen purchasing power that funds the Left’s vision. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) prospers with suspiciously prescient stock buys, she “rejects” that voters are more concerned about inflation than her January 6 television show. If they cannot find bread, let them eat ice cream.
Being a public servant is no bar to living in luxury. Pelosi isn’t the only one. FBI Director Christopher Wray pays coach fare to take the FBI’s luxury jet on vacation and weekend trips to family in Atlanta. Nothing is too good for the man overseeing the FBI’s complete conversion to an agent of political oppression.
Political oppression, which the Left has merely piloted thus far, will need to ramp up dramatically if the Left is to maintain power. Promises of freedom, prosperity, and equality soon gave way to oppression as restive citizens asked for new leadership in Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. When you hear the Left promise the “end of democracy” if Americans vote them out of power, you had better listen.
Democrats have already started talking about “safeguards” and “guardrails,” to counter a loss in the midterms. What might these entail? Censorship? Arresting Biden’s 2024 political opponent? Using the FBI to harass elected officials? Sending the FBI to intimidate local activists petitioning their school boards? Unlike what happened after Trump won in 2016, the plans aren’t secret. These methods are already in use or being floated in our supposedly free press, which works tirelessly to prop up their authoritarian movement.
And unlike the wave midterms in 1994 and 2010, the Democrats see this one coming. In an example that typifies the reaction of most elites to the coming smackdown, however, “The View’s” Joy Behar reacted with dread that American voters weren’t buying the narrative that a potential loss for Democrats threatens democracy itself.
Will the Left allow disobedient voters to wrest the elected government from their control? Will unfolding election results suddenly go dark for hours or days while Democrats implausibly reverse Republican leads with undated mail-in ballots? Will partisan judges tamper with voting rules to keep elections in play long enough to discover new votes? Read this list of confirmed incidents of voter fraud that have already been documented this year.
Even if the Democrats lose both houses of Congress and the lion’s share of local government contests, they will retain much of the real power within the corporations, universities, and federal agencies. But they are losing or have lost significant portions of the population, including many of the new immigrants Biden hoped would guarantee permanent Democratic majorities. On inflation, crime, immigration, education, and a host of other issues, the Democrats have lost the faith of the persuadable independents.
Left-wing power, at its source, really boils down to a single tool: The power to shame and ostracize its opposition. But that is increasingly fading: whistleblowers in the FBI, pro-free speech Elon Musk purchasing Twitter, failed cancellation efforts against J.K. Rowling and Joe Rogan, and lawsuits exposing government coordination with social media to censor. Even comedians are beginning, cautiously, to poke fun at the absurdity of the Left’s cultural dictates. You can see spiderweb cracks spread across the monolith of left-wing power.
All of the institutional power the Left possesses will mean nothing if they don’t have the ability to intimidate. And the power of intimidation begins with a great big bluff against the far more powerful American citizenry. The Left’s power rests on the shoulders of a great American Atlas—millions of ordinary Americans who silently seethed through the past six years of left-wing power grabs. And that Atlas need only shrug at the next round of faux crisis hysteria, and the Left’s power will collapse overnight.