The Attack on Our Constitutional Republic Cannot Go on Forever

By Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Where Next? Western Civilization at the Crossroads.”
January 20, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022


I keep a few books close at hand as much for their titles as for their contents.

Ralph Buchsbaum’s zoological classic “Animals Without Backbones” is one such volume.

I always put it on my desk when writing about academic administrators, in order to remind myself what species of creature I’m confronting.

An even more useful volume is Walter Pitkin’s 1932 classic “A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity.” At 574 pages, it’s short only in relation to its gargantuan subject, for which it’s the barest précis.

By the early 1960s, Detroit was the most prosperous city in the United States, which, at that moment, also meant that it was the most prosperous city in the world.

Then came the Democrats.

Within a generation, they destroyed the city.

It was the scene of violent race riots.

The whites moved out, leaving the city a shell of its former self.

For many years, it was essentially in receivership, sustained only by massive federal subsidies.

What the Democrats did in Detroit they now want to do to the rest of the country.

About the first thing that Eric Adams did upon assuming the mayoralty of New York—after hiring his brother Bernard to be deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department—was to sign a bill that would allow the state’s 800,000 legal non-citizens to vote in New York municipal elections.

That’s probably about 20 percent of the total eligible voters, now locked in for the Democrats.

How is that likely to work out?

The Democrats seem keen to find out, because that’s exactly what their so-called voting rights legislation was supposed to achieve (though they wouldn’t have been sticklers about distinguishing between legal and illegal).

I say “so-called” because, of course, it had nothing to do with voting rights and everything to do with the abrogation of voting rights for the sake of partisan manipulation of the vote.

Fortunately, that truly stupid idea has been pushed off the table, for now.

Indeed, President Joe Biden’s entire legislative agenda is in tatters.

You might think that would be grounds for celebration, but, in fact, it’s grounds for concern and anxiety.

Of course, it would have been horrible had Biden gotten his way.

But Biden stymied is like a rat cornered.

That’s why he has taken to shouting during his talks and press conferences.

He’s been thwarted, and he can’t understand why. So he gets angry and lashes out.

It’s a bad sign, as even people in his party are acknowledging.

The observation that madness consists in repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result has been attributed to authors as various as Albert Einstein and G.K. Chesterton.

Maybe they both said it.

In any event, here we go again. Just the other day, a respected Democratic pollster took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to tout Hillary Clinton as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.

That wasn’t so much an effort to reclaim retreads as a bout of necrophilia.

Yet, what else can the Democrats do?

Biden just declared war on half the country, castigating anyone who disagree with him as a bigot and a racist.

The New York Times did the same thing a couple of weeks ago when the paper’s editorial board issued an extraordinary manifesto vilifying the millions of “regular citizens” who happen not to agree with their left-wing agenda.

There’s only one acceptable position to entertain on the character and competence of Donald Trump: He’s horrible and must be ritually shamed and rejected.

There’s only one acceptable position on the hordes of immigrants pouring across our southern border: They must be embraced and signed up as Democratic voters and future welfare recipients.

There’s only one acceptable position on the election of 2020: It was the fairest in our history.

Similarly, the protest at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was the worst incident since 9/11, since Pearl Harbor, since the Civil War.

If you disagree, you’re a “conspiracy theorist” and “domestic terrorist” who’s out to subvert “our democracy.”

All this is what Democrats call “diversity,” i.e., strict conformity on any contentious subject.

They don’t want democracy, which requires debate, compromise, and genuine bipartisanship.

Rather, they want obedience and conformity.

That is what they mean by “our democracy”—the shoring up of their oligarchy.

It would be comic were it not promulgated in earnest and with earnest, real-world consequences.

The United States is now governed by a shadowy administrative state apparat whose figurehead is about as stable as the character portrayed by Tommy Smothers.

The economist Herb Stein famously observed that what cannot go on forever, won’t.

The attack on our constitutional republic assuredly cannot go on forever.

Eventually, if unchecked, those striving to transform the United States into a third-world hellhole will succeed.

I used to think that those fomenting this disaster would discern where their policies were headed and recoil. I underestimated their willingness to barter national security and widespread prosperity for personal aggrandizement and the exercise of their own power.

That was naïve, I now see.

But that doesn’t mean that Stein was wrong.

There’s a marvelous line in Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s “The Leopard,” in which one character suddenly becomes serious and says, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

I sense that many people are waking up to that truth.

The question is, are we too late?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.