By Charlie Johnston
I once had a candidate who was intensely focused on polls. He would ask me several times a day what new polls I had seen on his race. He knew I did not put near as much stock in polls as most operatives did (except for issue and messaging questions – which most observers never see or hear about) and that I actually considered them something of a distracting nuisance. He knew it annoyed me, but he couldn’t help himself. One day, we were walking through the state capitol when he asked me for the umpteenth time that day. I looked at him solemnly and intoned, “In those days, there will be polls and rumors of polls.” He was silent for a moment, then burst into raucous laughter. “Polls and rumors of polls” became a running joke between us whenever things got too ponderous.
I often disagreed with polls. While I had a few big blunders, usually when I disputed a poll I was right. I had my own little ways of doing ersatz focus groups. I think I have spoken before of my “coffee shop” gambit. I loved to pull into a busy coffee shop, bring in a paper to pretend to read and have a cup of coffee while listening to friends talk to each other. People say what they are really thinking to their friends in coffee shops, not what they think they are supposed to say (as they often do to pollsters). I called the historic GOP takeover of the House in 1994 in March of the same year on my radio show– and stuck with my prediction all year. Whoo boy…got a lot of attention on that one. The night before the last election, at dinner with a Christian broadcaster who asked, I bluntly predicted Trump would win – and do it quite handily if he wasn’t swamped beneath the largest indicators of massive vote fraud I have ever seen.
This time, more than any time in my life, I am uncertain of what will happen. Oh, the raw temporal evidence suggests to me that this is going to be a shocking Republican blowout. But I am uncertain what my country is, any more. A large – and very vocal – segment of the population has adopted attitudes that are literally unhinged. Perhaps more telling, many ordinary people have accepted this as normal – and tolerate it.
Many people imagine themselves to be virtuous without expending any effort, commitment or even actual virtue in the process. They claim to be saving the planet by opposing plastic straws – while merrily chugging away at the little plastic bottles of water they so love. The plastic bottles could be eliminated with no ill effects at all – but that would involve using tap water and would not be “cool.” The neo-virtuous are not so committed to the cause that they would crimp their fashionable pose. I don’t care whether you like bottled water or straws. I don’t much care for either – but I don’t delude myself that I am “saving the planet” because of my personal preferences. Saving the planet with no real effort…how cool (and utterly banal) is that? All it does is make privileged children feel good about themselves.
Newspeak has taken over. The path to power and privilege is to claim victimhood points. Middle and lower class white males are among the least privileged people in modern America. They are routinely victimized, largely without complaint. The only people more consistently victimized are minorities who publicly self-identify as conservative or traditional Christian. People like Elizabeth Warren (who may well be the whitest white woman in America) enhance their power and influence by claiming minority status they don’t have. In fact, the Democrats have revived their old Jim Crow “one drop” standard to try to defend Warren. “Virtue” without reference to the “content of your character.”
Everything is a posture. People who do the real work of keeping things going – building homes, collecting garbage, farming, mining…any sort of real, hard physical labor are derided as ignorant deplorables. Quick question: if an EMP knocked everything offline for a year, who would most likely survive, the sturdy yeomen I mentioned earlier or the social justice warriors? And who would the social justice warriors have to rely on to have even a chance of surviving – the very people they treat with such vile contempt.
Much of our country has succumbed to a mindless and violent banality while constantly reassuring themselves they are intellectually gifted. The great mass of those who congratulate themselves on their “gifts” know next to nothing about history, economics, philosophy or any useful trades. It is painful for me to watch network news because almost every historical reference they make gets it wrong. Fox is a little better – it only gets the history wrong much of the time. Our elite classes are dumber than they ever have been – and smugly proud about it. Lord, it truly is maddening to be condescended to by your inferiors, as Peggy Noonan so bitingly said.
Around the country, leftist violence is growing. Just in the last few days, Republican operatives and candidates in Minnesota and Nevada became the latest to be physically attacked by Democrat operatives. In Charlie Kirk’s delicious phrase, colleges in this country have been reduced to “mob assembly lines.”
In the justice system, the most pernicious gossip is cited by leftists as “evidence” against conservatives and Christians, while the highest mountain of evidence against a leftist is routinely dismissed as irrelevant. The offenders are so mightily privileged – and yet so furiously angry. There is such a sad pathos to them that, if they weren’t so deadly dangerous, it would make me feel terribly sorry for them. How lost must you be to eagerly take on such unrelenting misery?
In a healthy society, this lunacy would not be tolerated. It would be decisively hooted back to the fever swamps where it belongs – and the purveyors of it would get the counseling they need to build meaningful lives – or sent to jail if they can’t learn to play well with others. The antics of the atheist neo-fascists do not disturb me near as much as the tolerance which normal Americans are showing such destructive nonsense. If we normalize all this, it becomes…normal. It is terribly destabilizing. In previous successful totalitarian takeovers, one or more failed attempts were made before the successful takeover. In Revolutionary France, there had been substantial agitation for a decade before the old regime fell. In Russia, a failed revolution was mounted in 1905 before finally succeeding in 1917. In Germany, Hitler’s near-comic beer hall putsch of 1923 was prelude to his successful takeover in 1933. What enabled these totalitarian movements was, in part, the culture’s tolerance of them as part of their “normal.”
It is a tricky business. Most totalitarian revolutionary movements tap into some genuine disaffection in society. Ruthless actions to suppress such movements usually just exacerbate them – unless officials of the old order act with equal decisiveness to address the underlying causes of turmoil and churn. Yet tolerance of violence and rioting by such a group almost guarantees a slow-motion prelude to revolution that ultimately explodes seemingly out of nowhere. The oddest thing, for me, is that our current revolutionaries on the left are agitated about nothing. All their issues are frauds. While almost all revolutions are ultimately really about power, the current neo-fascism carries not even a fig leaf to cover over that that is what it is about. There will be no negotiation out of this impasse. There is no middle ground between freedom and totalitarianism. In this case, one side must decisively win and the other lose to settle things. I am almost certain that real war will come upon us. The left would make war rather than acknowledge the liberty and autonomy of any who do not agree with them. I pray that the right will accept war rather than forfeit that liberty.
Complicating all this is my certainty that God is playing an active role in human affairs right now – that Aslan is, indeed, on the move. But as I have said, God is a very tricky Fellow – and His ways really are not our ways. Many of us wish we had a solidly orthodox Pope who was committed to eradicating abuse and keeping faith with defined doctrine. The Vatican now often seems to want to redefine itself as a generic political leftist advocacy center intent on wiping out all doctrine that prevents it from being so…when it is not busy acting as a mutual aid society for abusive predators. Still nominally pro-life, abortion and population-control advocates are welcomed and honored at the Vatican while critics of the junk science called man-made climate change are shunned. Yet if we had gotten a solidly orthodox Pope this last time, firmly committed to the Magisterium, the rot would still be there. It is just that the rotters would not have so imprudently revealed themselves. God’s ways are not our ways.
Again, I go back to the phrase that has rung in my head all year: “Let there be light!” I suspect the election is going to turn in a way that best promotes God’s long-term plan to heal our poor, bleeding world. I just don’t know what that is. If Republicans win a landslide, it will make it most easy to repel the violent ugliness of what leftism has become. Yet it may not fully reveal every man’s duty to choose where he stands – and may encourage an unpleasant hubris on the right. If Democrats win in a landslide, it will ensure war in the future – for it will endorse their methods of violent repression of dissent. That would require war to preserve liberty. That would force everyone to take personal responsibility – so that might be what best reveals the hearts of all. Heroes and saints are born of existential crises. If it all just splits the difference, that just prolongs the struggle – but that could more deeply reveal who everyone is, while buying time for people to choose whom they will serve.
I think larger powers and principalities are involved here. But my life has been mostly spent as a political and cultural analyst, whether in media or in politics. So I will end with my best temporal analysis. As I said, the polls are more tainted than I have ever seen when one digs into the internals. Polls are a mixture of art and science. The art comes when a pollster decides what assumptions to make when choosing the characteristics of his sample. An honest pollster tries hard to make such decisions on objective criteria – for the sample hugely influences the results of the poll. How will turnout between Republicans and Democrats shake out? What will be the proportion between men and women in the turnout? What will be the rural versus the urban turnout? Understand, the pollster makes these choices BEFORE polling anyone. If the choices are bad, the results will be bad. This is the art in polling.
For over a decade, pollsters have consistently oversampled Democrats. This year, the pollsters have gone insane in making absurd sampling decisions to favor Democrats. This piece by Nicholas Waddy covers the absurd assumptions pollsters are making to make their polls come out favoring Democrats. Obviously, some pollsters are just dummying it up because of their partisan narrative – but the whole “Blue Wave” narrative was designed to spook even the most honest pollsters into over-sampling Democrats. That they have to go to such absurd lengths to come up with models that favor Democrats tells me they are panicked and hoping to depress Republican voters. You don’t taint the sample when an honest count is in your favor – and the samples are more tainted this year than any I have seen in over 40 years. That reflects panic in left-wing boardrooms, not confidence.
So, from the best temporal evidence I can garner, I stand by my prediction earlier this year. The Republicans will pick up 7 seats in the Senate and 32 in the House. Then God protect us from any hubris on the Republicans’ part. Healthy people will turn in revulsion and self-defense from the growing violent totalitarianism of the left. That is not the same as embracing all Republican priorities. And I don’t know if we are fundamentally a healthy people any more. What I do know is that, before all is settled, each of us will have to choose – and publicly declare – where we stand. All hearts are being revealed. God will move in whatever way best reveals and purifies them. Woe to those who think they can sit idly on the sidelines waiting to see how things come out. Woe to those who gleefully bear false witness against their opponents. Woe to those who jettison honor in the pursuit of power.
We must seek ardently to be holy as Our Lord is holy. Give thanks to God if He gives us the easier way – and don’t abuse it. Give thanks to God if we get the harder way, knowing that the hardness of our hearts requires it – and grateful that God gives us the opportunity for it.
When I was on my pilgrimage, I developed a deep insight into the ancient prayer, “Lord, lead me in a plain path…” Going uphill when heavy laden is very hard. Surprisingly, so is going downhill, as your legs are constantly acting as brakes. Any hilly country is challenging, for even when you are going down, that just means that soon you will have to struggle uphill again. A plain path for a day is as refreshing as a cool stream. Pray that the Lord leads us in a plain path.