With the Republican primaries having devolved to the Establishment’s preferred scenario, and all the Tea Party-favored candidates having been either eliminated or marginalized, some are beginning to ask an unavoidable question: Was the constitutionalist revival just a passing fancy with no staying power, or a conservative social club with no heart for a real fight? Is there even anyone left in the room to hear the question, or is the only reply one can hope for the echo of one’s own despondent voice filling the hollow chamber?
At this moment, when so much appears to have been lost, and so quickly, perhaps it’s time for some good news: There are still some genuine constitutionalist warriors out there, they are in the fight for the long haul, and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to win. You will meet a couple of them shortly.
First, the bad news, by way of an overview of the war so far: In early 2011, when the Republican nominating process was still in the speculative stages, many hoped that constitutional conservatism would continue its orderly and friendly takeover of the GOP. Tea Partiers were organized, they were motivated, and they were riding high on their extraordinary success in the 2010 elections, in which they, and they alone, saved the country—not to mention the Republican Establishment—from at least two more years of congressional wave-throughs for President Obama’s anti-American agenda.
A year later, however, the mood is quite different. And so are the results. The Establishment, having grudgingly accepted the mighty assist of the Tea Party in 2010, was determined to make sure the same “usurpation” of the GOP brand (as they saw it) would not happen again—and certainly not in the process of choosing the defining face of the party heading into a presidential campaign.
The struggle began in earnest immediately upon the swearing-in of the new Republican congress. The first half of 2011 featured a lot of Tea Party-baiting talk from the congressional leadership, but was much less heartening in terms of action. The votes did not match the rhetoric. The meek compromises being held up as victories smacked of business as usual. The photo-op rounds of golf with Obama, the pathetic whining about controlling only one half of one-third of the government, the debt ceiling debacle, and on and on—the overall effect was disheartening in the extreme to constitutionalists who had hoped to see immediate results from all of their hard work.
Undoubtedly feeling burned and spurned by all of the defeats “their” Congress was finding a way to snatch from the jaws of victory, many constitutionalists went into the presidential primaries with big dreams, but a much less hopeful perspective on the possibility of realizing those dreams in the face of an Establishment that had clearly targeted them as Enemy Number One. Their fears were realized, and with an ease that has shocked many devoted Tea Partiers into silence and despair, while exposing others as well-intentioned but ill-equipped weekend activists. Less than a month into the actual primary voting process, the race has effectively been reduced to a showdown between the Establishment’s chosen one, Mitt Romney, and the Establishment’s chosen ersatz constitutionalist, Newt Gingrich. That is, the party brass has all but ensured that no genuine spiritual outsider—no one who might actually clear out the Establishment’s house, spray disinfectant, and invite some new guests to replace the old partners in decline—can win the nomination.
This disturbing reversal of fortune for constitutionalists, coming so closely on the heels of their dizzying peak of success, has seemingly left some of them wandering aimlessly in search of a reason to carry on. They are having to come to grips with the discomfiting reality that all the sober warnings about how long this cultural war would need to be waged were true. Indeed, even the soberest of those warnings may have underestimated the difficulties ahead. The imperatives the future holds have to do with more than merely finding and voting consistently for the truest conservatives, and being patient. What is needed is no less than a will to devote a chunk of one’s life to long-term victory, which requires a continual cultural debate, a willingness to withstand constant assault and ridicule from acknowledged enemies and alleged allies alike, and a staunch refusal to settle for the tempting immediate gratification of a victory in name only, which the Establishment uses to divide and conquer the patriots. What is needed, in short, is an American Resistance, equivalent to the French Resistance in World War II.
The French Resistance was a loose affiliation of disparate groups with two shared purposes: to undermine an occupying force, and to maintain a kind of underground shadow of the French Republic to counter the collaborationist regime that was the country’s official, above-ground face. In America, the Democrat and Republican Establishments are the rough equivalents of the occupiers and collaborationists, respectively—the one seeking a socialist overhaul of the nation, the other always willing to meet the “occupiers” halfway, out of a combination of self-protectiveness and lack of principle.
In literal, practical terms, America is buried in irredeemable debt, her institutions responsible for fostering good citizenship (education and the free press) are morally bankrupt, and her federal government is dedicated to maximizing its regulatory control over every aspect of private and commercial life—liberty, prosperity, and decency be damned. The basic difference between the two dominant parties is the degree of commitment each feels to the goal of micro-managing individualism out of existence: The Democrats are hell-bent on this result, the Republicans merely bent on it.
The “constitutionalist resistance,” then, is more than a fanciful analogy, and requires more than a fanciful form of fervor. Men and women must be prepared to dedicate themselves to the cause, to whatever degree they can—and without making weak, self-absorbed excuses on the question of what degree of dedication they can afford to offer. Everyone, of course, cannot and will not devote himself to his nation’s survival and renewal. That is precisely why it is incumbent upon those who understand how great the stakes are to accept that they cannot leave the task to others.
Of course, a resistance movement is likely to suffer defeat, defection, and disillusionment as often as it experiences success; more often, in fact. That is why one of the most important elements of the French Resistance was its underground press. People who are risking themselves for a cause need the reassurance of knowing that others share their fight; that even while those in their immediate circle might disappoint with their weakness of will, or susceptibility to the siren song of the Establishment, there remain people out there who have not compromised, who are deeply committed, and who can unite you, spiritually, with others who share your struggles.
In America’s constitutionalist resistance, the underground media is not actually illegal—at least not yet. Its importance to the cause, however, is no less real. It is a gathering place for those who care about their country’s future enough to fight for it. And those prepared to preside over such a gathering place are performing a valuable service to their country and, in this case, the planet—they are a port in the storm for weary warriors. As such, they ought to be held up as a model of legitimate, rational patriotism, just as were the best examples of the underground French press during WWII.
Meet Guy Green, a grandfather in Brainerd, Minnesota, and host of a talk radio program, The Speakeasy with Guy Green. The show airs five nights a week, from 6-8pm, on 3Wi Radio, as well as being live-streamed and archived on the internet. It features well-informed, engaging, and unostentatiously witty political discussion, focused on a brace of issues that might collectively be called, “The abyss and how America can avoid falling into it.” Green and his co-host, Tony Bauer, are highly personable, well-read, and articulate constitutional conservatives.
So serious and ambitious is their project that, in spite of its small, local scale, and the fact that they have been on the air for less than a year, their recent guests have included Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion, and influential foreign policy specialist Michael Ledeen, who has appeared multiple times.
The program is noteworthy, and deserves the attention of conservatives, merely on the basis of its depth of analysis and discussion of the issues of the day, its unapologetic constitutionalism, its well-grounded historical perspective, and the geniality of its hosts.
And then there is this: Green is paying to keep this program on the air out of what ought to be his own retirement savings. He has said that he pays more for the show than he pays for his mortgage. He borrowed money to get the show up and running.
Why is he doing all of this? Green explains: “The Speakeasy wants to contribute to the revitalizing of citizen journalism, and citizenship in general. We want to prove that not only was Jefferson correct in stating that Liberty’s price was eternal vigilance, but also that the price is well worth paying.”
As for more personal reasons, Green sums up a motive that is undoubtedly shared by so many of those who have joined local Tea Party organizations, contributed to the campaigns of conservative candidates, or otherwise put their money and/or time where their mouths are: “The motivation for launching The Speakeasy with Guy Green was simply the determination to do whatever I had to do to insure that my grandchildren would never have to wonder what Grampa was doing when the feces was flung into the fan.”
In other words, he and Mr. Bauer see the immediate existential peril facing the American republic—and thus the threat to the survival of individual liberty on Earth—and are determined not to go gently into that good night.
As thoughtful patriots, as opposed to blind optimists, they see that the war is not merely electoral, but primarily moral and cultural—and that their side has been losing for a long time now. They also see that this war will outlive them. As Green told me, “We will do The Speakeasy for as long as it takes and as long as we can talk.” They will do as much as they can. And what they can do is no mere pittance. Their mission is not quixotic. The value of a friendly voice in the night is not determined by the number of people who hear it, but by the extremity of the need for companionship in those who do hear it. As I can personally testify, based on some of the reader response I have received for my own writing at Canada Free Press, the need is real—and growing.
It is growing because, as I have noted above, and explained elsewhere, recent events have damaged the Tea Party movement, primarily by dividing those who are truly prepared to be carried out on their shields from those who needed this to be a lot easier, on the one hand, and those who lacked the foundational principles to resist the Establishment’s machinations, on the other. The first of these three groups—the one which will have to determine the outcome of this civilizational conflict, if the outcome is to be a good one—has proved to be a minority. Expanding their numbers will be the key to any chance of long-term success, and this will require continual debate within the ranks of self-described conservatives, as constitutionalists seek the most effective means to articulate and disseminate the case for a rebirth of America’s founding ideas.
An invaluable branch of this long-term effort will be those “citizen journalists,” the media wing of America’s peaceful but far from passive resistance, who feel no stake in any established “system,” but who have rather declared their allegiance to a cause beyond short-term personal success. The cause is an America worthy of the name, of the men who have died in its name, and of the men who, less than ten generations ago, truly risked everything—life, limb, family, and country—on an idea that had never fully been attempted in practice before, and has never fully been attempted in practice since: a society founded on the natural rights of man, and deriving all of its legitimate collective authority from those rights.
During the occupation of France, paper was a restricted commodity. Therefore, much of the Resistance press consisted of one-page newspapers, all of them, naturally, dangerously clandestine. Nevertheless, the value of these little amateur efforts—the ultimate in “citizen journalism”—cannot be overestimated. It can, however, be quantified. In the northern region of France, for example, the primary underground newspaper was distributing 10,000 copies in the summer of 1941; by 1944, through various name changes, distribution had reached 450,000 copies.
As I have said, it is impossible to overestimate the value of these publications. They disseminated ideas. They passed along valuable information. But perhaps most necessary of all, they inspired courage. They were a means of reassuring those in darkened cellars, who had every imaginable reason to give up, that the fight was continuing in the darkened cellars of the next town, and hence that there was still hope.
America’s modern Resistance media are constitutionalists who are putting themselves, their money, and their reputations on the line to provide a spiritual link for others—to provide grounds for hope. They deserve the support of all those who recognize, as these citizen journalists do, that their present battle has more in common with that of the Founding Fathers than with any other battle Americans have had to fight, because whereas their grandparents were fighting to preserve America as a free nation, today’s constitutionalists are trying to regain a freedom that is quickly being lost.
I asked Guy Green about the present presidential picture. His initial response was typical of his insouciance in the face of impending catastrophe: “I would vote for Yosemite Sam before pulling the lever for any Democrat, much less Barack Obama. An urn of Reagan’s ashes, resting on a shelf in the Oval Office, would be preferable to the current dilemma.”
When I rephrased the question, however, to focus on what issues are most pressing for him in 2012, he offered this: “The 2012 election is a referendum on Western Civilization. The Progressive mindset is nothing short of a narcissistic compulsion to perfect the human condition by application of power. The twentieth century was a testament to the madness of that endeavor. It has been the chief source of human agony since the Tower of Babel. Any step away from it, however small, is our duty to our children and our God. One more step toward it will, I fear, be one too many. In that light, there are no other issues that can really fight for the microphone.”
(Note: Apart from having had the pleasure of being a guest on The Speakeasy a couple of times, the author has no affiliation with, or financial stake in, the program or its hosts. My stake in their success is strictly that of anyone who wants American constitutionalists to win back their country.)
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