By Charlie Johnston
When something unexpected comes out of left field that utterly confounds conventional analysis, it is called a “Black Swan Event.” In unstable times of great tumult, black swan events become more frequent.
Our last two election cycles were marked by significant black swan events. In 2016, for the first time in American history, a president was elected who had never held elective office or been a military general. In 2018, suburbs switched from leaning Republican to soft Democrat across the entire country. No switch that dramatic, that sudden, and that unanticipated had happened since the early 1930’s when black voters suddenly switched their allegiance from overwhelmingly Republican to solid Democrat.
We may be headed for our third consecutive black swan election. Despite the media and Democrats best efforts to paint President Donald Trump and his supporters as racists, his support among minorities in polls has risen to higher levels than for any Republican since the 1930’s. It partially explains why the media and Democrats are so desperate to paint him as a racist. The reality is that if Trump got as little as 12% of the black vote and 40% of the Hispanic vote, no Democrat would have a chance of beating him.
Some of the very efforts to paint him so are backfiring badly. When Trump sharply criticized the failures of the government in Baltimore, critics immediately decried it as racist. But a chunk of black folks asked themselves why it is racist for someone to say they deserve as efficient a local government as everybody else. It also focused attention on the fact that those large urban areas which have been exclusively run by Democrats for two generations or more are almost invariably the most violent, impoverished hellholes in the nation. Trump is doing a better job than anyone I have ever seen in exposing the massive gulf between sweeping left-wing promises and abysmal left-wing results, enough so that even the most inattentive voters are starting to take notice.
Suburbanites are the most insulated geographical cohort in America, largely immune to both the crime that is rampant in so many cities and the grinding physical labor necessary to thrive in genuine rural areas. In the suburbs, people have full opportunity to virtue signal with confidence that the consequences of their irresponsibility won’t actually reach their doorstep. They are wrong, but they are offended by Trump’s style. It will be a delicious irony if the very people suburbanites think they are advocating for – minorities (who actually have to deal with the consequences of leftist nostrums) – rise up in large numbers this time to preserve the actual gains they have made under Trump. Black swans all over the place.
We have a uniquely rough path ahead to next year’s election. For over a decade we have been engaged in a battle over whether we will remain a free constitutional republic of federated sovereign states or an authoritarian, centralized socialist state. Compromise can delay, but not resolve the conflict between these two contradictory visions. In his “House Divided” speech two years before he was elected president, Abraham Lincoln said the government of the United States could not endure half slave and half free. He was right. Neither can the nation endure with half its states committed to human liberty and half committed to socialist tyranny. In the same speech, Lincoln adamantly insisted that the institution of slavery must come to an end, but he believed that slavery would not end until “a crisis had been reached and passed.”
In the decade prior to Lincoln’s election, the crisis grew in an ever rising crescendo, immune to compromise. Compromise can resolve rival methods of achieving the same goal. If you want to reach the west coast from the east, a host of rival routes can bring you to your desired destination: it is just a question of which is most efficient. Compromise cannot resolve disputes over radically different goals. If half want to go east and half want to go west, one side or the other must prevail. We have just about reached the limits of our own rising crescendo.
The next two and a half months are going to be incredibly consequential in determining the terms in which the crisis we have reached will be passed.
Democrats and the largest cultural institutions (media, academia, even woke corporations) no longer pretend they are pressing for anything other than unadorned authoritarian socialism. In an Orwellian star turn, they have redefined any opinion that disputes them as “violence” while redefining violent riots that support them as “peaceful demonstrations.” If the media and corporate CEO’s actually knew anything about history, they would be terrified. Once leftist authoritarians secure power, they begin a purge of any segment of their supporters who could pose a threat to them. While I unyieldingly advocate for faith, family and freedom, if failure came for a time, it would give me some grim satisfaction to see the media and woke CEO’s destroyed by the very socialist demon they helped summon.
Democrats, media, and Silicon Valley executives are collaborating in bringing violence, intimidation and censorship to bear in their push for tyranny. Yet even as they claim (like all socialist revolutionaries before them) that their pursuit of power is on behalf of “the people,” their narrative is getting frayed around the edges. The folksies are getting skittish about all the violence, intimidation and censorship involved in this virtue signaling. Leftists never figure out that convincing people to shut up is not the same thing as convincing them.
The left is fully committed to its socialist transformation by any means necessary. The key questions now are how strong they actually are and how resolute their opponents are in crushing this toxic revolutionary fervor. I don’t think the hard left is very strong at all, maybe constituting eight percent of the population – certainly both the loudest and weakest eight percent. They have a lot of useful idiots in the suburbs, urban areas and cultural institutions, though, who serve as force multipliers – so long as the virtue signaling twits believe they won’t actually suffer any consequences for their vain stupidity. Just as soon as the useful idiots see that that is not the case, they will scatter in confusion and terror – and the force multiplier is gone.
The central question is how resolute the opposition is to putting an end to this revolt. Certainly, some Republican leaders have been helpful, but Donald Trump has been the unlikely but indispensable bulwark in the defense of faith, family and freedom. Now the official reports and investigations revealing how vicious and criminal the coup attempt against American legitimacy have begun to drop, naming names of the chief conspirators and what they did specifically. I have long since learned to never under-estimate Trump’s instincts and resolve, but I worry that he might not fully grasp the gravity of these revelations. Despite the shrieking accusations of the left, Trump is given to a broad magnanimity when he believes he has prevailed. It is a good instinct – but could be deadly in this case. If he thinks that revealing the malefactors is sufficient without holding them to account, his base would quickly evaporate.
Two years ago, Kurt Schlichter penetratingly told the left that, “Trump is not our last chance. He’s your last chance.” Trump’s support among normal people has been unmoved by even his most irritating quirks, specifically because he is the only major figure who can be counted on to consistently fight for the interests and welfare of God-fearing normal Americans. That confidence has been the primary restraint against sparking a counter-revolution by normal people against the depredations perpetrated against them by the left. If, however, the upshot of these ugly revelations were some sort of call to let bygones be bygones, that restraint would collapse, for it would mean that honest Americans will be railroaded by manufactured evidence and “crimes” – while leftist agitators would not held to account for real, criminal and malignant assaults on the body politic.
The decision by the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) NOT to prosecute former FBI Dir. James Comey after the Inspector General’s (IG) report excoriated him for illegal leaking and constant dishonorable behavior is unsettling. It could well be that the DOJ does not want to get bogged down in a weaker case when a much stronger one is on the way – but it could be a signal that officials think revelation of the criminal assault on American justice is enough. Pray it is not the latter. It is equally unsettling that Christopher Wray remains Director of the FBI. Wray has stonewalled every aspect of the investigations into official wrongdoing, hoping thereby to “protect” the reputation of the FBI – a reputation that no longer exists – rather than cleaning house and vigorously reforming the agency to begin restoring public confidence in federal law enforcement. It is unsettling that former FBI Asst. Dir. Andrew McCabe, whose criminal lying schemes have been fully established and attested, was not charged by the DOJ a week ago, as everyone expected. He probably will be charged, but it has not escaped the notice of vigilant citizens that not a single person involved in the serial assaults on Americans’ liberty has yet been held to account – going back to Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting of Christian and conservative groups. I am unsettled that, after over 10 months of investigation of Planned Parenthood in which ugly and criminal behavior has been substantiated, no charging decision has been made.
After things have been revealed, it is decision time. In his play, “Julius Caesar,” William Shakespeare made the memorable observation that, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” I pray that Trump knows fully that we are “at the flood.” If he fails to take advantage of this tide now, his supporters will not go to Democrats, but will lose hope that they have any champion who will reliably press forward. Heaven forbid that normal people conclude that we are on our own – and must forfeit or secure our liberty entirely by ourselves. The hand of restraint would collapse entirely.
Perhaps the fall opens up a shock and awe campaign that holds all the great malefactors to account. It will have the left screaming, rioting, and trying to overthrow the government. But it will invigorate ordinary people to stand strong in demanding freedom and equal justice for all, without resorting to revolutionary intrigue. If, on the other hand, the fall brings more revelations but little action other than expressions of impotent outrage by media figures and public officials, we have a long, brutal year ahead of us. The crest of the tide is in view. Whether or not it is seized will determine the course of the next year.
Not so coincidentally, affairs in Hong Kong are coming to a head as we enter the fall, as well. The Chinese government has warned Hong Kong protestors (which account for an astonishing quarter of the entire population) that “the end is near” for them. A close friend of mine predicted to me that if China invades Honk Kong, using the Tianamen model, it will ultimately topple the Chinese regime. It is a counter-intuitive take, but I think he may well be right. Certainly, nothing is so vulnerable as on ossified bully that thinks one time too many that it can always get its way by brute force.
China’s economy is terribly overstretched and vulnerable. Hong Kong is its safety net. No doubt China has the military might to subdue Hong Kong, but at what cost? It would likely destroy the Chinese economy. There is, perhaps more tellingly, the matter of China’s borders, which are not kind to that vast nation. China is completely surrounded by nations that are sometimes allies, sometimes enemies, and sometimes just quiet. In fact, from ancient times, China’s primary military and diplomatic strategy has been to keep its border nations pacified. In recent decades, it has sought to buy the quiescence of border nations by giving them vast “loans” that do not require reliable repayment. It has not been a bad strategy. A takeover of Hong Kong, though, would force border nations to make the choice of submission to China or coalescing with each other to confront the naked aggression. Rarely, in world history, when China has gotten aggressive, have nations on its borders chosen, en masse, to submit to its supremacy. Beyond this, many nations which have benefitted from China’s largesse have chafed under Chinese condescension. Cripple China’s economy and her satellite nations are more likely to disavow China, while trying to take advantage of her vulnerability, than they are to meekly submit to Chinese dominance.
The ripple effects of instability around China could even de-stabilize Western Europe. England, France, and to some extent Spain and Germany have made themselves into “soft” targets to massive waves of Muslim immigrants. (In military parlance, a soft target is one which cannot easily defend itself, while a hard target is one that can). England bullies its own citizens while running protection rackets for the criminal element among Muslim immigrants, refusing even to effectively protect young girls from Muslim rape gangs. France’s disdain for its traditional, ordinary citizens led to the massive “gilets-jaunes” protests earlier this year, while some Muslim-occupied areas of Paris are so dangerous even the police won’t go there any more. If Jihadists decided instability triggered by a Chinese invasion of Hong Kong was a ripe moment for a full-scale Jihad in western Europe, they could wreak havoc, for it is doubtful that western European nations can mount anything other than a flaccid response.
The whole world is become a deadly dangerous place – and getting more dangerous as we enter the fall.
Meantime, I suspect the implicit schism in the Catholic Church could become horribly explicit with the Amazon Synod coming up in October. I don’t think the hierarchy in America understands how tenuous the levies of loyalty in the pews have become. I know that the Vatican does not understand. After blowing off any effective Christian action against a hideous conspiracy of sexual abuse – and routinely assaulting Scripture and the Magisterium, top church authorities seem poised to glibly launch an effort to re-imagine the Church as a neo-pagan and neo-pantheist enterprise that prunes Christ and His inconvenient teachings out of the picture, reducing the Lord to a mere cultural artifact.
If that becomes the case, I don’t think those levies will hold. I pray that the loyalty will not be lost to the faith, itself, but only to those faithless and haughty clerics who seek to depose Christ from His throne. Pope Emeritus Benedict’s prediction of a much smaller Church will become a reality for a time.
Yet Christ is not mocked. He is in charge. What is happening is a great separating of the sheep from the goats. There are several types of goats. Some make overt war against Christ and His teachings – and do so from prominent positions within the Church. They seek the approval of the men of this age. They have their reward. Others, in their zeal for reform, seek to overturn the very hierarchy that Christ, Himself, established. It is a failure to trust God.
This is a time for heroes. Reject the abuses and the abusers, but hold even more tightly to those in leadership who keep faith with the Lord, even if they are timid, daunted by the storm growing more violent by the moment. When people attack Christ, they destroy themselves. In times of crisis, it often pleases God to demonstrate how paltry the power of even massive numbers of men are – and how great His own power, even when demonstrated through a handful of men. About 135,000 Midianites were arrayed against Gideon, who had, at best, 32,000 men at his disposal (Judges 6-8). The Lord continually whittled down the number of men at Gideon’s disposal, telling Gideon that even his vastly smaller number of combatants were way “too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me’.” (Judges 7:2) Only when Gideon had whittled his force down to a mere 300 men against the Midianites’ 135,000 did God give him leave to go forth to battle. With those 300 men the Lord routed the Midianites entirely.
Those who assault the teaching of Christ are the new Midianites. Those otherwise faithful Christians who count on their own strength and numbers to prevail are the men God sent away from Gideon’s cohort. Those who keep the faith and trust firmly in and obey ALL the promises of the Lord are the 300.
When confronted with a faithful, yet timid Bishop, remember that Gideon was a notably cowardly and timid man. (You can look it up by reading Judges). The angel of the Lord was being more than a little ironic when he greeted Gideon by saying, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Gideon’s trembling response to the angel’s direction for most of the rest of the chapter is intentionally comical. But Gideon was obedient, even if timidly and reluctantly so. Finally, at Judges 6:34, the inspired author records that, “…the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet…”
If you have not read closely the story of Gideon – or just have a plaster saint in mind, read it again and with understanding. It is a story for our own time. Badly outnumbered, this cowardly man was nonetheless obedient to God, though he tried desperately to hide that very obedience from his enemies. He trusted not in the force of his own arms, army or courage, but trusted the Lord’s promise. And at the Lord’s appointed time, because of his obedience, faltering and timid as it was, he was filled with the Lord’s spirit and boldly led his men to victory over a force almost 500 times as strong as his.
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is only your fidelity to and trust in God that makes you a participant in accomplishing His will. Let us be counted among Gideon’s 300 in these times.