Fortify or Die 

There are no easy solutions to the problem of our republican decline. Some have proposed a “fortify or die” approach just to guarantee Republicans the ability to compete in elections with the increasingly despotic Democrat Party. Others argue that to participate in the same electioneering tactics as the Democrats—even if legal—is tantamount to joining in the destruction of the political. 

In “Hard Truths and Radical Possibilities,” Glenn Ellmers raises the most thoughtful objections to using all available legal means to turn Republican losses into victories. To exploit the present rules of the game like the Left may be not only harmful to (small-r) republican recovery, but may also hasten our moral decline. Ultimately, he may be correct. To abide by his objections, however, is tantamount to swallowing the black pill. 

More succinctly, his proposal guarantees continued losses. To describe in an imperfect analogy: to leave points on the field is like a football team refusing to kick a 3-point field goal to win the game even though it is legal to do so. If the MAGA Republicans do not adopt all the available legal electoral practices, they will lose. Every time. 

There are two essential things MAGA Republicans must accomplish to secure victory: 1) protect their voters and 2) bank their votes in order to achieve the first. Instead of theorizing about what we hope to achieve (Election Day only voting with paper ballots), we must embrace reality and realpolitik: the laws in place right now will almost assuredly be the laws in 2024. We can theorize all day about what is best in principle, but there are only two things that will count in 2024: how many ballots did Republicans send out, and how many did they collect? And, of course, was it more than the Democrats harvested? The rest is sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

In the 35 states where ballot harvesting is legal, this ballots out, ballots in machine will include voter registration to increase voter rolls, serious attention to educating voters on absentee ballots and prodding them to request them in order to increase the number of ballots being sent out. It will include banking as many votes in the early voting stage as possible, which in some states starts 45 days before Election Day. Those are the rules of the game. Unless we can change them, we must play by them. You can hate it, you can howl at the moon about it. But if you refuse to embrace the game as it is, you will lose every time. 

The objections to banking votes suffer from the flaw of assuming Democratic and Republican voters are the same. The objections also assume that the manner of banking votes between the parties would be identical. It would not and should not be. MAGA voters are high-information voters, while the Democrats are low-information. There is more of a presence of enlightened consent in the former than there is in the latter. 

If the Republicans aim to protect their voters, then they must secure the ballots of their voters; if they are to preserve the consent of the governed, then they must protect their voters from disenfranchisement. This is no different from what Republicans did during Reconstruction to secure the votes of the former slaves, who then supported the party overwhelmingly. 

Banking this vote ahead of Election Day is a means to preserve consent, not destroy it. While Democrats refuse to debate the merits of public policy, Republicans continue to make a public case to their voters about why they deserve the vote. This is not a distinction without a difference. Democrats have forgotten and thus disdain consent; MAGA Republicans continue to appeal to the reasonable mind of their voters. 

MAGA voters understand that Democrat electoral schemes seek to shortcut consent through the manipulation of the vote. If those laws are to be changed to level the playing field, MAGA must win. We understand, “the principle of the ‘consent the governed’ is the supreme discovery of the political art for directing government towards the benefit of the governed.” These voters understand “the natural equality of man,” which is evident for the eyes to see at any Trump rally. 

Admittedly, the practical application of this project is daunting. The Democrats have an easier time of it. All they have to do is secure the ballots of their base in the cities. The density of their operation makes for quick and easy work to procure ballots. Such will not be the case for more rural Republicans. Any banking of ballots will take more time and effort than what is required of Democrats, who have enslaved their voters on their new plantations in the cities. They have the benefit that their voters are a captive audience. MAGA voters are not that way, so getting past the mental block of conceiving of elections as “ballots out, ballots in,” mail-in voting, and early voting affairs could be difficult, but since the recent midterms much of the base has already realized their voting behavior must change. 

The recent debacle in Arizona reveals just why banking votes is important. The entire slate of excellent candidates ran, in part, on the promise to clean up elections, making them more open and free. The publicly announced strategy was to overwhelm the system by voting on “game day.” Thus, the ruling class thwarted this strategy by disenfranchising Republican voters with supposed “machine malfunction.” The number of votes suppressed easily would have put the entire slate over the top. As Charlie Kirk noted, potentially 100,000 voters were turned away that day. Then, anyone who questioned the reliability of the election results was threatened by the despotic Democrats if counties did not certify the stolen vote. 

The lesson from Arizona is if the Republicans are going to protect their votes, and their voters, they must bank votes before Election Day. The salutary effect of this is that far from relegating consent to the dustbin of history, it would preserve it—especially when facing the reality of the latency effect of stolen votes

Democrats want to rule without our consent; MAGA wants to live in a republic by consent. This is no small difference. Republicans must win in order to preserve it. 

If it is true that the Democrats are “immune to rational persuasion,” then the securing of the majority through whatever practical means yet within the “boundaries of the moral law” would be salutary for all citizens. We face a similar obstacle that, as Lincoln noted, our government cannot long survive without the consent of all the governed. Yet, it is not a fatalism to the country to secure a legitimate and reasonable majority by means of banking their votes.  

There is one more consideration that should be addressed: the proposal above may not work. What then? 

It has been suggested that should elections obviously become meaningless, we engage in non-participation in any system that would make us de facto slaves. This has merit. But a mere “secession of the plebs” is not a solution in our present situation. In the four or so Roman secessions noted by Livy, all of them were predicated on the notion that the republic still had enough shame to consider their demands. The plebs were successful in securing from the oligarchs, offices, and honors in each instance. Would a withdrawal from fake elections and politics secure something similar in terms of concessions? Very unlikely. The Left is too emboldened and will rejoice that they do not have to contend with a defiant peasantry. A mere secession today will only further embolden their tyranny and increase the pitch of their cruelty—just ask the January 6 political prisoners. 

If the only peaceful means at our disposal is to withdraw from federal political participation, the only redoubt we have will be in the states. In the meantime, we have a moral imperative to secure our votes by all legal means possible, and to protect our citizens as a matter of natural right. As we would not be masters so, too, let us not be slaves. 

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About Ned Ryun and Erik Root

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun. Erik Root, Ph.D is a writer living in North Carolina.

Photo: ZACH GIBSON/AFP via Getty Images

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