You are not crazy. It is happening. There is an emboldened effort to “spike the right,” silencing conservatives defending free speech, worship, assembly, self-defense, limited government, and diverse thinking, what used to be called “classical liberal” thought. Needed are level heads.
The effort has spread from a few “neo-progressives,” ignorant of history, promoting Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, atheism, anti-Semitism, and neo-Soviet ideas to a wider body of “why not?” Democrats – ready to shut down political opposition, in pursuit of power.
This development is troubling, even dangerous – in the context of American history. Most Americans honor our history, even with backsteps. They understand our idealistic founding on liberty and equality – the greatest possible individual liberty consistent with equal opportunity. That is what Americans died for in places like Normandy and Iwo Jima.
Most Americans understand their rights. All know when they are treated unfairly. Today those who speak up for accurate history, Constitutional liberties, and rule of law, are often targeted, blocked, even intimidated – by leaders of an increasingly intolerant Democrat Party, national media, social media, and their violent surrogates. Americans see all this – know it is not right.
Contrary to the spirit of the First Amendment, a move is afoot to silence those who seek more government accountability, who worry about centralized power and eroding constitutional rights. Suppression of speech is an old tactic of the left. It must be stopped – but stopped wisely.
Conservative Americans are being shut down – then told not to be angry. Congressional Democrats, media “talking heads” (like CNN’s host who derided a double-amputee veteran), and social media billionaires beg for overreaction. That would, however, be the wrong answer.
Three dangers loom. Thoughtful conservatives must see and avoid them.
First, the left wants to instill fear. We must have no fear advocating free speech. Governments have coercive power. Our founders tried to limit that power, but it exists. Historically, unchecked governments thrive on fear. History is replete with examples. Give it any “-ism” you like – communism, socialism, fascism. These ideologies use fear to suppress speech.
That is why we have our First Amendment. Our Founders knew mistakes are corrected by speech. They also knew suppression of speech was dangerous. Government-sanctioned suppression, as by unaccountable social media monopolists, is inherently dangerous.
So, the first danger is fear. Threats to conservative thought must be met by more speech, not less. Fear cannot be allowed to hobble conservative ideas. Whether in writing, peaceful protests, lawsuits, boycotts, new media, political recalls – fear cannot triumph over free speech.
Second, anger can be a motivator – but must be controlled. While Americans traditionally enjoy unfettered speech, they have no right to political violence – on left or right. Read Supreme Court cases, revisit Shays and Whiskey rebellions, see how 1960s violence triggered crackdowns.
Here is the second danger: When media and left-leaning Democrats call conservatives violent – historically not true – they prompt resentment. Unfair narratives cannot become a source for reactive violence. Conservatives must use this moment to promote non-violent answers.
After the Capitol melee, military uniforms are arrayed across Washington DC and state capitols, to deter “conservative riots.” So be it. On one hand, deterrence is sound and political violence always wrong. On the other, one wonders if hyping the threat is not a political strategy, a way of recasting last year’s runaway leftist violence as secondary. Conservatives should not be baited.
To be clear: Conservatives believe in the Constitution – even under pressure. They believe in our republic’s institutions – even under pressure. They believe in elections, rule of law, stability, protection of property, power of persuasion, peaceful protests – even under pressure. The point is to make our system accountable, not destroy it – and not empower others to do so.
In short, the left wants conservatives to become violent, justifying their own violence, stripping conservatives of high moral ground, upending norms for the tolerable, and bringing a hammer down on those who traditionally defend rule of law, conservatives. That is why anyone conservative should disavow political violence. Think about it.
Finally, the third danger is reading Jefferson too literally. A revolution “every so often” is NOT what Jefferson would advocate today. Political violence birthed our nation – greatest in history – but it does not preserve a republic. It gives others the chance to take that republic down.
Jefferson would advocate patient work to preserve the Republic, one to which he gave his life. He would hate the government’s big size – and strive to shrink it. He would hate our big debt, work to reduce it. He would disdain failures in education, morality, and national security, work to reform all. One thing he would not do is destroy what we have built over the past 230 years.
So, to be clear, as someone with relatives who fought in the American Revolution, dozens buried at Arlington, and served in uniform – I love this country. I fear for this country. But the way forward is to speak with conviction, not allowing fear, incitement to violence, or a misreading of history further restrict our freedom. The left wants to “spike” the right. Conservatives need to be smart, smarter than the left, and level-headed.