Finding Hills to Die On

Whether it’s #MAGA, #RESIST, or #NEVERTRUMP, there are far too many politically engaged Americans who are too busy “making a stand” to think past tomorrow.

Welcome to the latest issue of Self-Evident. In this issue, I discuss the general dysfunction across the board as so many fail to think ahead, as well as touch on the defeatism so many on the Right have embraced and how cancel culture has once again reared its ugly head.

Finding Hills to Die On

“My Shot” is my favorite song from Hamilton. Not only is it a catchy tune, but there are meaningful lyrics scattered throughout that give the song amazing depth. While it would be impossible to decide which section is the most powerful, these sections combined are definitely up at the top: 

Foes oppose us, we take an honest stand
We roll like Moses, claimin' our promised land
And? If we win our independence?
Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
Or will the blood we shed begin an endless
Cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?
I know the action in the street is excitin'
But *****, between all the bleedin' 'n fightin'
I've been readin' 'n writin'
We need to handle our financial situation
Are we a nation of states? What's the state of our nation?
I'm past patiently waitin'
I'm passionately smashin' every expectation
Every action's an act of creation!
I'm laughin' in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I'm thinkin' past tomorrow

Alexander Hamilton’s at the point where his ideas are turning to action, and he’s catching a vision beyond the moment he’s in. The moment becomes a movement because it’s about more than simply taking a stand; it’s about building something for the future and believing in that future. 

These lyrics are of unique resonance to me right now because we’re living in a nation that’s become motivated, from top to bottom, by negative partisanship. Everyone is so wrapped up in the resentment and anxieties of the moment that they’re not thinking past tomorrow.  

Trump’s die-hard supporters and enablers are so convinced that Trump’s defeat would mean the end of the Republic that they're straining for gnats as they reach for any excuse to call the election illegitimate. Never mind that they’re sinking the conservative movement and the Republican Party into a morass of conspiracy and grift that’s doing real harm to their chances of keeping Georgia’s Senate seats, let alone have an electoral future. 

And, have #NeverTrump conservatives spent the last four years building new institutions built firmly on unblemished conservative values and policy to fill this vacuum of principles and leadership? Nope.

Instead, far too many have embraced the narrative that Trump presented an existential threat to the nation's future and busied themselves with setting aside every substantial policy agreement with the Left as they essentially became Democratic partisans.

To the extent they thought of the future, it was in the belief that they could grant a massive mandate to an increasingly progressive party and build a new party in the ashes of a Republican Party they burned to the ground (as if Republican constituents would follow the authors of such political arson to a new party).  

Finally, “resistance” figures like AOC are busying themselves with making lists so they can engage in some sort of Robespierre-inspired inquisition while the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi are spiking the football on a supposed progressive electoral mandate (as if this kind of behavior didn’t help fuel the rise of Trump in the first place). Instead of learning the lessons of 2020, they seem hellbent on assuring that Biden is only a one-term president. 

Essentially, across the board, everyone has embraced a Trumpian view that “fighting” is the most valued action. Everyone is so interested in staking out a grassy knoll to die on. No one is building towards tomorrow. But I guess when so many people get wrapped up in narratives that claim there won’t be a tomorrow, what else can be expected? 

The Embrace of Defeatism 

A sense of defeatism and a demand for retreat has engulfed and consumed both the conservative and liberty movements. 

It’s shocking, in some ways. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by engaging in a politically motivated withdrawal from Iraq and allowed Syria to spiral out of control by demonstrating feckless international leadership. One might think that the rise of ISIS and the flood of Syrian refugees in the wake of Obama’s defeatist approach to foreign policy would have taught some lessons. 

Instead, a lot of people who should know better want to pretend that power vacuums don’t get filled by our enemies, that the Taliban is a credible anti-terrorism partner, and that anyone who argues for maintaining residual forces in strategic areas of the world are teeth drooling war-mongers who just want perpetual war. 

I remember America in the wake of 9/11. I would never have guessed that “Never Forget” had a twenty-year expiration clause. 

Cancel Culture Again 

Recently, Mandalorian star Gina Carano shared some tweets that could be construed as anti-mask, putting herself in hot water as the Twitter rage machine demands she should be dropped from the show for her views.  

Now, I’ve gone on the record supporting masks and often stated my belief that it’s a free citizen’s duty to do everything in their power that could protect fellow citizens from harm. But I’ll never stand for efforts to silence people who might disagree with me, and I’ll definitely oppose efforts to attack careers for political beliefs. 

Freedom of speech means freedom of speech. My biggest frustration with cancel culture is how it’s led so many to embrace the notions of “liberty for me but not for thee.” 

I’ve stated often that I don’t appreciate professional athletes disrespecting the flag, I find corporate-approved woke messaging in a non-political professional sphere distasteful and unhelpful, and I haven’t appreciated the appropriation of athletic events and patriotic ceremonies for political messaging by very wealthy members of society who have platforms to speak out on, off the court/field, that many Americans could never dream of having.  

It’s uniquely revealing that the same Twitter hoards that defend athletes engaging in on-the-job political demonstrations, because they agree with the message, turn around and demand an actress be fired from her role because she tweeted something, off-the-job, that they don’t like. 

This kind of illiberal liberalism is far more destructive to the ideals of a free society than anything Donald Trump ever did as president. 

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Stay Free My Friends,

-Justin