“The revolution is upon us,” Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation has warned, in an eponymous essay published September 4 by “Law and Liberty.” Mr. Gonzalez’s is one of several warnings to the same effect that I have read in the past week or so. Is it justified?
Chesterton, in his small essay “In La Place de la Bastille,” speaks of the French people’s “natural faculty for feeling itself on the eve of something—of the Bartholomew or the Revolution or the Commune or the Day of Judgment. It is this sense of crisis that makes France eternally young. It is perpetually pulling down and building up, as it pulled down the prison and put up the column in the Place de la Bastille. France has always been at the point of dissolution. She has found the only method of immortality. She dies daily.”
The American people have gone along with liberalism from their country’s founding, and with a mild but very real version of socialism since the New Deal. They have done so because they imaged that liberalism and leftism represented the new, and thus the future, to which they have always been inclined and which they–being Americans–have therefore admired. In fact, liberalism when it is pressed into leftism represents the old, and not the best of the old–which was the British constitutional monarchy the American colonists rebelled against—but rather the worst of it; which was the tyranny of European despotism, whether of the Enlightened sort or of the cruder, unenlightened type. It is despotism of the latter kind that the American revolutionary left threatens us with today—despotism made worse still by the unprecedented means modern technology gives modern despots to impose and enforce it. The present challenge for the American people is to rediscover the best of what is old in American government and society, and to reclaim it.
America for the past century has been dying every day, while being born every day as well. Indeed, the first implies the second, as one generation of Americans makes way for the next. In this sense, America has always been a child–a nation of children who never quite reach maturity. Consequently, she has always been childish. But nations, like human beings, cannot live out their lives as children. It is time for Americans and America to grow up, by refusing always to accept the new because it seems to them bold, freshly imagined, and unprecedented. Perpetual revolution is only another name for perpetual tyranny.
At the end of the first fifth of the 21st century, America (and Americans) have had enough of revolution. The first stage of the counterrevolution began four years ago with the election of Donald Trump as America’s president. Now is the time for stage two to follow up with it. One half of the American people, at least, is poised to vote for it. I am hoping–and betting—that they will do so.