And how our form of government survives with him.
Can the Right Win a 2020 Election “Street Fight”?
What it will take to hold our own.
“Planners need to take seriously the notion that this may well be a street fight, not a legal battle; technocratic solutions, courts, and a reliance on elites observing norms are not the answer here.”
So it was written in the report about the now-infamous war game prepared by the “Transition Integrity Project.” This “bipartisan”—which is to say Democrat- and Never Trump-led—effort purported to be an analysis of how President Trump might refuse to concede, but ended up showing the lengths to which the opposition would go to seize power even if it is they who do not win the election outright.
Claremont Senior Fellow and Trump Administration alumnus Michael Anton found this TIP report—filled as it is with talk of secession and military’s intervention—troubling. He wrote as much in his now-viral piece, “The Coming Coup?” The Left responded first with silence, then with death threats and conspiracy theory slander.
Meanwhile, Big Tech is currently blocking anyone—including the Trump presidential campaign, the GOP House Judiciary Staff, elected Republican senators, or anyone else—who dares share New York Post stories about Chinese and Ukrainian corruption tied to Biden.
The Big Tech crackdown is intended to ensure the Great Meme War of 2016 will not be repeated. Back then, self-described MAGA “sh**posters,” on their own initiative and largely for their own amusement, dominated the digital media space with witty, and sometimes vulgar, but shockingly effective messaging that routinely went viral.
As the aggrieved party—a role it has played to perfection over the past four years—the Left has chosen the means by which this 2020 duel for the future of America will be fought.
And they have chosen: Election by street fight.
Whose Streets? Their Streets.
The Democratic Party’s leading members have repeatedly and unapologetically supported sustained sieges of courthouses and police precincts for months on end by their anarcho-marxist shock troops. Their donors and backers have contributed millions to a movement led by “trained Marxists” at whose instruction the most damaging riots in American history have been perpetrated.
The Left cannot reject their foot soldiers. Even if they desired to do so, which they do not, it is exactly these forces who will fill the streets in their proposed “Color Revolution” to unseat the president, should Trump indeed appear to be the election winner in the twilight hours of November 3.
Their street-level lieutenants are openly calling for “Civil Resistance” when being polite, or “Disruption” when less so. The goal is simple. Fill the streets with people targeting the appropriate centers of power, with one message: if you want normalcy restored, Trump must go.
The Left is capable of accomplishing this task because they are old pros when it comes to revolutionary politics. They never abandoned rough-and-tumble street politics—partly for ideological reasons, partly for practical ones. Leftists have always had a soft spot for true revolutionaries and made room for them in their ranks. Their alliance with labor unions meant old-fashioned lessons of radical organizing never went entirely out of fashion. Their control over academia made the study and practice of protest organizing a respectable field, and its adoption and monetization by the elite NGO class made it lucrative, as globe-trotting “advisors” did very well teaching foreigners how to “non-violently” overthrow opposition governments.
This reality about the Left prompted the Right’s mixture of fascination and disgust with community organizer Saul Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals (1971), which, it pays to remember, is merely one book in the veritable Library-of-Alexandria-sized collection that contains the Left’s historical memory when it comes to the dark arts of political warfare, direct action, and street politics.
The Right spent the better part of two decades hooting like the apes at the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey about the Left’s devious community organizing tactics. This was ineffectual. For their part, the Left continued to merrily club their foes into submission (sometime quite literally).
A Paul Revere Ride to Nowhere
The dirty secret of conservative politics is that (despite the feverish projections of the Left) there are not and never have been hundreds or thousands of patriots waiting in the wings for orders from the president to fill the streets. Conservativism, Inc. is filled with ten thousand Paul Reveres, each one dutifully writing his columns and articles (or obscure blog posts) and hoping for that Fox News contributor spot, so he can tell the Right of the coming threat as he sees it.
Yet while they fitfully argued on Twitter whether it will be one if by land or two if by sea, they ignored the sad reality: there were never any trained minutemen (a metaphor here for trained conservative activists) to be awakened.
Two notable opportunities arose to change this reality, and both were smothered in their cradle. The first was the rise of the blogosphere in the early 2000s, and the second was the foundation of the Tea Party Movement in 2009. Both were short lived, co-opted by a conservative establishment, and then snuffed out.
While the early blogosphere was filled with knowledgeable and mature people writing and analyzing politics from their own lived experience, they were largely replaced by standard conservative media companies whose young Millennial writers know precious little about anything, have no time to learn as they are pushed to write dozens of articles a day, sweatshop-style, and are anxious to jump ship to the mainstream media where the money and societal respect is better as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
The early Tea Party featured groups of locals getting together to hold real protests and challenge their elected officials. It ended with ScamPACs sending out emails demanding more donations to replace one establishment conservative disappointment with another.
If the conservatives have no knowledge of street organizing, and if unlike the Left they cannot muster protesters to take to the streets, is there still time to meet this challenge? What can reasonably be done with the time remaining?
First things first. If you are one of those conservatives who spends time every day posting memes and sharing news stories to a dozen conservative groups on social media, make plans right now to get offline. With Big Tech lining up behind the Left to suppress conservative reach, spending another single day growing your social media reach is a waste.
Prioritize the people who care about the things you care about that you either know in the real world or with whom you could reasonably meet up without much difficulty.
The guys you golf with who get a little political in the group chat? The other “secret” conservative in your kid’s play date group? Those are great prospects.
That local “Moms for Trump” group you joined? Make arrangements to meet in person if you haven’t already. At least get real-world contact information, like phone numbers and emails. Do a Zoom call together.
The 25,000-member “Memes for General Flynn” Facebook group you post to? Useless, ditch it.
Find a group of people who share your concerns and desire to do something and get together. The Left would call this your “affinity group,” which means literally just people you have an affinity for who cooperate to take some kind of real-world political action.
Once you get a group together, then what?
Civil Society, not Civil Resistance
In the days immediately prior to, and immediately following the election, the Left has threatened to take to the streets. Professional agitators will be leading marches and protests will be held. Public parks may be occupied by protestors, streets and highways may be blocked. Unions may strike. The goal of the Left will be to show that they can make life unbearable. They will hope to show by sheer force of numbers that the country rejects Trump, and that things will come to a halt unless their demands are met.
Our job will be to keep things going, and to demonstrate that their astroturfed claim to represent the will of the people is false. The President has shown that he can create big crowds of supporters at rallies and events. But conservatives will need to demonstrate this capability without the President’s help.
Here is a little secret about conservatives. While they don’t know much about community organizing, they do know quite a bit about community. Mothers who have never participated in an election day GOTV effort routinely organize multi-car carpools to get kids to school on time. Dads who would never organize an Occupy Event have led 200 cub scouts at a jamboree and gotten each one of them set up and organized in his very own tent. Across this nation in every small town, people who would never organize a protest march have prepared extensive 4th of July Parades. Kindly church ladies have set up potlucks that could feed an army, and some of the older ones actually have.
The greatest irony of the Left’s superior organization for political action is that they require extensive doctrines and plans to accomplish the kinds of things Americans do every day in normal civil society. It just never occurs to most of us that these “normal” things can be utilized for political purposes. But these basic elements of civil society are really the root of all political life, which is why totalitarians of every sort seek their co-option or destruction.
If You Don’t Know What to Do, Do What You Know How
Sit down with your group and have everyone write down five things they do well, and five things they are concerned about. If you are too embarrassed to say what you do well, ask someone else to write down five things about you. Then try to match things you are good at with things that concern you. If the things you’re concerned about are too big, break it down into two or three smaller tasks that would help accomplish your larger goal. One task might be to recruit other groups with similar concerns to help you reach that bigger goal.
Let’s say you’re a good baker, and you’re concerned about the Left defunding law enforcement. Put them together and organize baked goods to help keep up the morale of your local police or hold a bake sale and donate the funds to get police the gear they need. If your friends are good at artwork, make a banner or sign to display. If you are not into marching or protesting, that is totally okay. By making materials available to others you will be performing a useful service. Match your concerns with your abilities, and then utilize your like-minded group to get them done.
Be Not Afraid and Keep the Peace
To win their post-election street fight, the Left requires an enemy. They have stoked their anger and justified their own violence with a fantasy notion that Trump supporters in America are violent white supremacists and armed militia members. One recently discussed leftwing organizing document from the Disruption Project and the antifa-linked Shut Down D.C. uses the words “militia” or “white supremacist” 18 times in just 39 pages.
The primary purpose of Antifa is to prevent political organizing or participation, not from the fringe but from the mainstream. They do this first by convincing you that your neighbors and community members are deplorable racists and extremists, unfit to meet and work with. And secondly, they want to scare you into refusing to stand up for what you believe. This is why Antifa routinely attacks unarmed women, African-American conservatives, and of course, the very police officers whose job it is to defend civil and peaceful gatherings.
The more violent the Left gets, the more important it will be for the Right to show itself as level-headed and peaceful. Images that play to the Left’s stereotype will be quickly be used as justification for the Left’s disruption.
No matter who is inaugurated in January, and no matter what post-election disruptions occur, efforts taken now to build up your own community and network of like-minded friends in the real world will not go to waste. Too many on the Right spent their time in digital conversations and digital communities that can be taken away in a snap of the fingers by Big Tech, which has shown itself more than willing to do so. The Left never abandoned the notion that politics is performed by real people in the real world. Conservatives mistakenly believed that politics was something that happened only between the time you logged on, and the time you logged off.
Unless real political life—and political power—can be recovered by the Right, the Left will be tempted to make every election a street fight.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.