AMAC Exclusive – by Cal Palmer
In his memoir published in 1953, legendary Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht summed up the moral universe of American pop culture at the time. On screens big and small, there were “no problems of labor, politics, domestic life or sexual abnormality but can be solved happily by a simple Christian phrase or a fine American motto.”
There is a moral universe of American politics today too, shaped by the media’s leftist bias: there are no problems which cannot be solved happily but by embracing radical understandings of “systemic racism,” “climate change,” and “misinformation.”
These are the left’s three emergencies. And the left deploys them at will.
President Joe Biden told us right from the beginning that his administration would defend us from an “attack” on “truth,” the “sting of systemic racism” and a “climate in crisis.”
We’ve watched that shameless defense for ten months now.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pushes infrastructure spending because systemic racism was “physically built into some of our highways.”
Vice President Kamala Harris blames the border crisis on “the lack of climate adaptation” in central America.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested that “misinformation” is so prevalent on social media that the federal government may need to step in and censor speech on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
But here’s the important part: the loudest voices on the left have supported limitless domestic spending, open borders, regulation of speech, and centralized economic planning for decades.
The three emergencies are pretext. They are mental imports. Sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious, the three emergencies are cheap to manufacture, flimsy to the touch, and easily substituted for one another.
And, because the left frames each as an “emergency,” they act as trump cards.
Why? Emergency rhetoric works.
The left understands that when a plane loses an engine at 20,000 feet, passengers are more concerned with a safe landing than with the airline losing their luggage.
The left knows they’ve switched your bag and it’s headed to Spokane. They need you to believe the sky is falling and they can land the plane.
But the real power of the three emergencies—their force in shaping the moral universe of our politics—comes from their comprehensive and self-perpetuating dogma.
Each is its own religion. And the power to deliver salvation and excommunicate heretics along the way belongs to the church of the federal government.
Conservatives recognize this danger. In fact, the strongest tie which binds conservatives of all stripes and for different reasons is the belief that Government cannot and should not be our God.
Submitting to a total authority demands submitting to total power. In private worship, that’s one thing. In a voting booth, it’s another.
But that’s why ideologies acting as religions are so appealing to the left. More power is the goal.
They believe that government is an always sufficient and often necessary replacement for God. And they want to be the high priests.
Of course, we’ve seen all these forces at work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overcoming our ongoing “emergency” takes priority over important individual rights and decisions. And when fully vaccinated Americans walk outside alone with masks on, it’s hard to see it as anything but a statement on morality.
Time will tell if the pandemic becomes a permanent emergency used to justify, years from now, everything from affirmative action to bigger pensions for government workers.
But one thing is already clear about this proposed fourth emergency. It proves the danger of the first three.
(Cal Palmer is the pen name of an analyst and fellow at a national think tank. He is an attorney and officer in the US Army Reserve.)
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