A few weeks ago in this space, I quoted an exchange between two characters in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises”:
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Here we are, less than three months into Harris–Biden administration, and already the sense of things spinning out of control is palpable everywhere.
Under President Donald Trump, illegal immigration along the Southern border had been slowed to a trickle. Now, in a matter of just a few weeks, it has become a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Moreover, it’s a two-headed humanitarian crisis, posing grave threats not only to the illegal migrants, who are crowded into dangerous and unsanitary holding pens, but also to the surrounding American populace that must deal with the crime and COVID-19 that are rampant among the migrants.
Under Trump, the U.S. military underwent a $2 trillion rehabilitation.
True, its upper ranks were shot through with politically correct Obama-era holdovers, but that didn’t become fully evident until after Jan. 20, when the world was introduced to the most “woke” secretary of defense in our history—President Joe Biden can’t remember his name, but it’s Lloyd Austin—and we learned that “maternity flight suits,” female body armor, and taxpayer-funded gender reassignment surgery were now military priorities.
Under Trump, we saw the nomination and confirmation of hundreds of federal judges and three Supreme Court justices whose judicial philosophy was, as Trump promised, akin to that of Antonin Scalia, i.e., devoted to the task of interpreting the law in light of the Constitution, not to imposing policy by dint of politically correct hermeneutical ingenuity.
During the presidential campaign, candidate Biden said that the voters had no right to know his mind about the issue of packing the Supreme Court.
Now that he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he is happy to tell us.
Last week, he announced the creation of a “bipartisan” commission to “study” “reforming” the Supreme Court, including “reforming” its size and membership.
Trump had left us with a court in which conservatives ostensibly enjoyed a 6–3 majority. It’s only “ostensible” because one of those votes, that of Chief Justice John “Mr. Wobbly” Roberts, is ostentatiously unreliable.
Still, thanks to Trump, the high court is by and large the sort of institution that the founders envisioned: “the least dangerous branch,” as Hamilton said, because it wielded no policy-making power but merely judgment.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a flaccid ally, but he was right that the ambition to expand the Supreme Court to alter its political composition would be “a direct assault on the nation’s independent judiciary.”
Will Harris–Biden dare to upset that dispensation?
Biden, setting his sights on the Second Amendment, just told us that no constitutional amendment is “absolute,” so who knows?
The Constitution itself was designed to protect the people from the coercive power of the state. The first thing that coercive states do is disarm the populace.
So what are we to make of the Harris–Biden attack on the Second Amendment?
One thing we can conclude is that those who promised that electing Biden would result in a return to “normality” were wrong.
Many of them, I am convinced, knew they were wrong to begin with. That is, they lied about Biden and the Deep State machine that put him into power.
They knew that what he (or, rather, they) were ushering us into wasn’t a return to normality, the reinstitution of “moderation” after the supposed extremism of the Bad Orange Man. On the contrary, it was a supercharged version of President Barack Obama’s (or perhaps I should say Saul Alinsky’s) promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”
Deep and Scary Cynicism
Which brings me to a larger point.
The Deep State–Harris–Biden compact hasn’t only presented us with a situation in which the velocity of change has been turned up to 11; it also has presented us with a situation in which the proposed depth of change is far more radical than anything contemplated in “normal” American politics before.
All the talk about “equity,” about “systemic racism,” and about a new regime of “Jim Crow” is aimed directly at the integrity of the U.S. system of government, based as it is on the sanctity of individual liberty and equality before the law.
It also reveals a deep and scary cynicism whose ultimate criterion is simply this: the acquisition and exercise of raw power.
That’s perhaps the most sobering lesson in this latest chapter of the American saga: No matter how low you thought, it wasn’t low enough. There is no ideal that won’t be trashed and inverted in order to advance the agenda of that power, no rhetoric that won’t be cynically deployed and emptied of meaning.
These are the sorts of disillusioning revelations in store for us in the era of woke radicalism.
You thought you understood how bankrupt and cynical the game of politics was.
It turns out you didn’t know the half of it.
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.