Audio 03.24.2021 27 minutes

The Ruling Class Strikes Back: A Special Edition of the American Mind Podcast

The American Mind podcast uncovers the ideas and principles that drive American political life. In each episode, it engages Claremont scholars, friends, and challengers in thought-provoking conversations about the causes of our current political and cultural reality—always with an eye towards restoring America to civic health.

In this special edition of the American Mind podcast, we look back at how the last year has demonstrated the size, scope, and nature of the challenges facing conservatism, and look forward to the questions we must grapple with if we are to overcome them, survive, and thrive as a nation. The podcast features Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams. It is narrated by James Poulos, Executive Editor of the American Mind, and produced by ChangeUp Media.


The Ruling Class Strikes Back

RYAN WILLIAMS: Thank you once again for joining the Claremont Institute’s American Mind for another special edition podcast. I’m Ryan Williams, president of the Claremont Institute, and publisher of The American Mind and the Claremont Review of Books. In what follows, we assess the extraordinary political and cultural revolution that was 2020—a year that brought down on normal Americans nearly every dangerous trend of the last century of progressive government in America: rule by unelected experts, emergency suspension of normal deliberation and lawmaking, the arbitrary and unequal enforcement of the laws depending on one’s standing with the ruling class, and worst of all, the separation of political majorities from the normal, regular, and unmanipulated exercise of informed consent. As always, thanks for listening, and thanks for your support of our work.


JAMES POULOS: 2020 is the year the Ruling Class struck back.

During a year of destruction and discontent, the Ruling Class did what it could at every level to impose its will on tens of millions of everyday Americans, who simply wanted to see their way of life restored, and preserved—or at least, acknowledged, and respected.

In so doing, the Ruling Class exposed the size, the scope, and the nature of the challenge facing us all.

It’s a challenge that transcends any one office, branch of government, or party.

And it concerns whether we are, and will be, America, or America in Name Only.

It demands of us that eternal question posed in the movie The Untouchables:


Then, we’ll ask what can and must be done to triumph over that challenge—for ourselves, our posterity, and the country we love.


The seminal events of 2020 showed us that at every turn, the fix was in.

The Ruling Class was, and continues to be, fully in command of the regime.

It had those Americans who dared to reject its rule outgunned, outmanned, and outplanned.

When we say “the fix was in,” we don’t mean it in some conspiratorial way. We are simply observing what is right out in the open—a spectacular sequence of events that unfolded in a single year. Collectively, these events reveal a Ruling Class unleashing the full force of its fury upon us.

Consider the influence that those at the commanding heights of our society—in government, business, media, and across our cultural institutions—exerted on the crucial events of 2020.


The effort to impeach President Donald Trump demonstrated the power of the Deep State and its legislative branch lackeys. It was driven by unelected insubordinates in the national security and intelligence apparatus who opposed the president’s policies.


These bureaucrats colluded with like-minded establishment legislators, backed by a radical left already out for blood, in an effort to redefine the president’s investigation into the apparently corrupt foreign dealings of the former vice president as a high crime and misdemeanor. 


That same former vice president, of course, would ultimately serve as the presidential candidate for the Deep State, establishment, and radical left.


The coronavirus crisis demonstrated, and augmented, the power of administrative state “experts,” potentate governors, and their adjuncts in Big Tech, Big Business, and academia. This was a crisis to which the ruling class uniquely contributed, and one they would not let go to waste.


The pandemic created an opening for rule by technocrats at the federal level, and tyrannical executives at the state level—who collectively trampled upon our most fundamental rights under the guise of public health. 


They showed us their arguments from public health were disingenuous—that Politics, not Science governed their decisions—by ignoring restrictions for social justice warriors, while imposing them to an impressive degree, on faithful Jews and Christians. 


Carry a billy club and you were good to go. Carry a Bible, and you might be arrested.

The fact that public policies diverged from the hard evidence on the efficacy of mask mandates, school closures, and indiscriminate shutdowns, only further proved the point. Friends would be rewarded. Enemies would be punished.

Big Tech meanwhile revealed its anti-scientific bias by censoring dissenting views on the nature of the coronavirus.


These acts created the precedent for still greater, often-selective infringements upon our rights to congregate, worship, and speak freely in the future.

Sad to say, millions of Americans reacted in a servile fashion as the goal posts shifted from “two weeks to flatten the curve,” to endless months of rolling shutdowns. This itself reflected the power of a Ruling Class to bring the People to their knees through perpetual, “expert”-driven, media-amplified hysteria, social ostracism, and rule by law.

The shutdowns also had the effect of crippling those who worked outside of the so-called knowledge economy. Conversely, those inside the knowledge economy, and other industries that could operate remotely, or who were conferred the government-granted privilege of being able to stay open did stay open, with the result that the Ruling Class and its partners not only survived, but in some cases grew their businesses. They picked up market share as competitors collapsed.

Jeff Bezos won. Mom-and-pop lost.

Seen in its totality, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a massive power transfer to public health bureaucrats and statist politicians, and a massive wealth transfer to Big Tech and Big Business.

Other beneficiaries included the teachers unions, who used the irrational, medically unsupported, classroom closures—which punished suffering parents and their out-of-school children alike—as leverage to demand ever more egregious concessions. Those concessions had little if anything to do with their safety, and everything to do with their power and benefits.


The World Economic Forum had a name for Ruling Class exploitation of the pandemic: “The Great Reset.”


It came complete with a white paper, splashy website, and associated articles, and videos.


During the summer, the anti-cultural revolution in America’s streets, and across its board rooms, demonstrated the power of the Blame America First academy, media, and culture, over and across civil society. The revolutionaries, aided by their useful idiots, true believers, and cowed captives, helped snuff out, silence, and even physically assault dissenters from the 1619 Project vision of America as a systemically racist bastion of evil. They demanded the purging of racists, and the erasure of our racist founding values and principles. By their definition of racism, that means you, and the country you love.

As discussed in a prior podcast, the Ruling Class used the racial Marxist mob as a stalking horse in its pursuit of power, signaling its virtue, while demonizing and demoralizing the half of the country that rejects such views—all to reimpose progressive rule.

As Marxist BLM co-founder Patrise Cullors put it: 


President Trump was a direct target of impeachment, and the coronavirus was leveraged against him unendingly, up to and including the apparent concealant of highly positive coronavirus vaccine results until the first Monday after election day. The president, and the millions of anti-Ruling Class Americans he represented, were also targets of the Marxist mob and its Ruling Class enablers during the 1619 Riots and the “Summer of Love.” 

Trump was merely a symbol for the Deplorable, un-Woke, unwashed masses.


The presidential campaign would prove the ultimate exercise in Ruling Class power, the apex of the perpetual coup, and the summation of its efforts to take down Trump as a means of taking down you.

It showed that the Ruling Class’s power stretched from the highest reaches of the legislative and judicial branches, to local election authorities and vote-counters.

The Democrat establishment’s dramatic clearing of the field to push a floundering, hermetically-sealed, septuagenarian candidate to the top of the ticket will itself go down as a seminal episode of machine politics in U.S. history. Amazingly though, in this story of calumny, it is almost a footnote.

The Democrats’ remarkable efforts to drag the career Swamp Creature across the presidential finish line without running an actual campaign, nevertheless garnered the most votes of any candidate ever by more than 10 million.

But the final weeks of the campaign, into the wee hours of election night and its aftermath, led America across a new Rubicon.

Chastened by what happened in 2016, the Party left Biden to his devices in a Delaware basement during in the weeks leading up to the election, never to face a question from the press, nor to have to barnstorm across the country. At the same time, we saw an unprecedented Big Tech crackdown. 


Derogatory information about Biden’s candidacy was censored. So were the allegedly dirty dealings of his son and other family members—implicating him, and U.S. national security.

The social and corporate media companies collectively sought to control the Official Narratives, on this and much else. The former controlled the engines by which the narratives were propagated—flooding the zone with “trending” stories supporting their political position, while suppressing stories to the contrary, and silencing those sharing them. The president, and his supporters, found themselves simultaneously censored, and under withering attack.

As the truth nevertheless bubbled to the surface, the putatively non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which consisted of a grand total of zero Trump supporters, shifted the topic of the final debate—which had historically been reserved for national security and foreign policy—to other issues.

Against this backdrop, the Ruling Class had been engaged in a relentless effort to systematically undermine the integrity of the vote for months leading up to the election. Its lawfare had the effect of making vote fraud on a mass scale far easier, and harder to trace, than ever before. If nothing else, this had the effect of irrevocably undermining American confidence in our elections. As logic and evidence showed, and, as even the Ruling Class itself had admitted, the further we got from real Americans, identified by signature, voting at a physical precinct on election day, the less sure we could be about the legitimacy of the vote. 

What did the Ruling Class do to delegitimize it? As Hans von Spakovsky warned in The American Mind, Democrats and left-wing groups filed over one-hundred election-related lawsuits, bolstered by the coronavirus response bills filed by Democrats in the Speaker Pelosi-led House to:

…game the system…to change the rules in this manner mid-game. They are trying to force states to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters, despite the known inaccuracies of state voter rolls. At the same time, they are trying to: get rid of voter ID and witness signature or notarization requirements for absentee ballots; override state deadlines for absentee ballots to be either returned or postmarked by Election Day; void state laws banning vote harvesting by third parties; stop or erode signature comparison procedures; and require that voters be sent postage-prepaid envelopes for the return of completed absentee ballots.

What is clear from all of these lawsuits is that the Democrats and these organizations are trying to change the rules governing the administration of the November election…

They succeeded, in tandem with lawless state officials and courts, once again using the coronavirus as an excuse to create the first mass mail-in election in American history. 

Consequently, as Ben Weingarten wrote in The American Mind:

Today, half the country may never trust an election again, not because of the…outcome, but because of the process by which we arrived at it.

Everyone knows about chicanery in Democrat machine-run districts. But never has there been anything like what transpired at the apex of the perpetual coup on November 3rd. In the middle of an election night on which the president made historic gains with blacks and Hispanics and romped in the two bellwether states of Florida and Ohio; in which his Republican colleagues stunned pollsters by dominating Democrats in toss-up and even Democrat-favored races; in which the president was up by large margins in every major battleground state, suddenly, without explanation, the counting stopped.

Were the machines kicking into gear to conjure up the votes needed to stop the catastrophe of the president winning re-election? Certainly such things had been done before in isolation, but in the urban centers of several states all at once? Could a fix of this magnitude really be in?

The media had to that point refused to put clear Trump victories in the win column, while declaring Biden the winner in hotly contested states—ensuring Biden would not trail in the electoral college. Was this a conscious effort to set the narrative, or another coincidence?

In the wee hours of the morning, suddenly tens of thousands of votes started to be reported from the bluest cities in the battleground states, some dumps apparently consisting of 100% Joe Biden votes, contradicting prior totals from those areas.

In the coming hours and days, parties fought and even defied court orders that Republicans be permitted to oversee the counting. Why were they hiding the counters?

Evidence grew of alleged “voting irregularities,” altered ballotsillegal ballotsdirty voter rollssoftware “glitches,” unlawful ballot harvesting, and statistically improbable outcomes.

A mass of recounts, audits, and related litigation [followed].

Every single one of these battleground states might have broken Joe Biden’s way in a normal election in which Americans cast their votes in person, with proper identification.

But the foregoing has cast a shadow over our elections: the way in which the election count unfolded, seemingly breaking entirely in Biden’s favor after an election night freeze; the anecdotal and in some cases more robust evidence of corruption and fraud. 

Our faith in the integrity of our elections, and our republic itself, have been shaken.

The media sneered at those seeking answers about logical questions raised in an extraordinary election. It covered its eyes and plugged its ears in the face of dozens of logical questions begged, hundreds of sworn affidavits proffered, compelling statistical analyses, and disturbing anecdotal and empirical evidence about what transpired, while dutifully pushing the Biden transition along. 

Truth-seekers found themselves unable to investigate the election machinery on the ground in the jurisdictions where the most anomalous and election-turning votes amassed, and unable to get a fair shake in court.

Lawyers litigating on behalf of the Trump campaign found themselves facing threats to life and limb.

The truth could not get a hearing. Civil discourse had given way to naked power. We all suffered from it.

The effort to supplant Trump with a generic lifelong Swamp Creature whose campaign consisted of periodic tightly-scripted addresses, was itself a message: We can beat you anywhere, anytime, with anyone we choose.

In the days following the election, members of the media and activists pledged to expose and hound out of public life anyone who dared work in the administration, putting them on enemies lists. That alone should have sufficed to show even the most naïve observer that we were facing an existential threat to America.

Yes, much of this was about defeating President Trump. But really, it was all about defeating anyone who would dare challenge the Ruling Class.


The Capitol Riot—which undermined the legitimate controversy over the 2020 election—provided the accelerant, an excuse for routing dissenters.


Now, half the country would be labelled actual or would-be violent extremists. A new domestic war on terror, using the full powers of the federal government, was to commence. 

No longer might Americans lose their Twitter accounts, or jobs. Now they might face the fate of jihadists.



Take any one of the events of the last year, and ask yourself, is it conceivable the same thing would have transpired if the parties were reversed?

The answer is obvious. Conservatives could not execute on any one of these gambits, nor would they even consider trying them.

Now remember what may be in store for us going forward: court-packing, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood, mass amnesty, universal mail-in balloting, a war on undefined “extremists”—that is, dissenters from prevailing Ruling Class orthodoxy. The list goes on and on.

As we indicated at the start of this podcast, the question we must answer is: Faced with the challenges laid out herein, with an out-of-control administrative state, a political class consisting of progressive tyrants on the one hand, and their feckless controlled opposition on the other, a judicial system that is at best wholly unreliable and incapable of preserving our rights—and their auxiliaries in Big Tech, Corporate Media, Big Business, and the academy all seeking to purge us from American life—what do we do?

How do we grapple with the administrative state? Do we seek to infiltrate it? To what extent can we defang it? How do we go about doing so?

What do we do about a political class that almost universally, regardless of Party, seems intent on punishing the tens of millions of Americans who reject it and hold it in contempt? How do we get better representatives? What qualities should we be looking for in them? What must we demand of them when in office?

When it comes to the courts, how do we get so many of our conservative jurist picks wrong? What do we do to make sure we don’t screw them up going forward? How should we operate in a post-Kavanaugh confirmation world? What do we do to prevent court packing? How can we keep decisions that have no place being adjudicated in courts out of them in the first place? 

Can voter integrity be restored? If so, what reforms can and must be implemented? What’s the plan, and who is executing it?

Should we break up Big Tech? How? What should replace it? Who is going to build it? What are our contingencies if we fail?

What do we do faced with a situation in which Corporate Media serves as a progressive communications arm that is not only biased, hypocritical, ignorant, and arrogant, but out for absolute blood?

How do we counter a corporate world that is rejecting all non-believers in Wokeism? How do we protect those Americans who dissent?

How do we reclaim an academy aimed at indoctrinating the next generation of Woke managers and community organizers, rather than developing critical thinkers, armed with basic knowledge across a broad range of subjects that is civic-minded, patriotic, and virtuous?

And then what of this new Domestic War on Terror?

In all of these questions, we must also ask who should be playing what role: Political leaders, intellectuals, or other civil society actors? Conservatives have to be willing to wield all levers of power in defense of our founding values and principles, or we will be guaranteed to lose to a political opponent that will use every power at its disposal to win.

In the coming months, we intend to shed light on, and begin to answer the questions weighing on us. Our Republic depends upon it.

We resolve here, and now: We will rise to the occasion.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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