Salvo 09.29.2020

No Coup For You


Democrats are preparing to win by any means necessary. What’s the Right going to do about it?

Michael Anton’s warning about the upcoming election, “The Coming Coup,” continues to roil the public square. Will Republican leaders do their best to prepare for the crisis of legitimacy—caused purposefully by Democrat Party changes to our normal voting procedures—that now almost surely awaits us for weeks after November 3? We hope so.

But note well: for all the controversy it has caused, no one on the Left has yet tried to refute Anton’s article, point by point. Instead, slime continues to ooze forth from the usual crevices. At first, no one on “the other side” except Ed Kilgore at New York magazine responded. As we said in “Stop the Coup,” Kilgore, much like everyone else in the mainstream press, simply “sidesteps outrageous statements from leftist activists and Democrat Party royalty indicating they do not plan to concede even if Trump wins.” But at least Kilgore nodded towards to the substance of Anton’s article.

The TIPsters Strike Back

The next round of responses revealed what has become the new normal for the American Left. Let’s take three quick examples.

First, a scurrilous, poorly constructed hit piece appeared (listen to us discuss on our ‘The Roundtable’ podcast here) smearing Anton, The American Mind, and the Claremont Institute as anti-Semitic for daring to mention George Soros’s name. As Newt Gingrich—recently silenced on Fox News for the same supposed sin—responded here at The American Mind: “This is ludicrous.” Once again, the article did not deny or disprove anything asserted in “The Coming Coup.” Instead, it absurdly called us racists.

Nonetheless, Nils Gilman, a think-tanker and PhD from UC Berkeley and one of two central co-founders of the Transition Integrity Project that Anton called out in his article, retweeted this execrable piece of garbage and upped the ante—using it to declare that our friend and colleague Michael Anton “deserves” to be shot to death. Writing such a tweet is unthinkable for anyone in a similar position to Gilman on the American Right; we all know such a public statement would lead to unemployment and full-fledged cancellation.

The letter that Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams sent to Gilman’s employer in reply, read in part:

This is incitement to political violence. Mr. Gilman has yet to retract his inflammatory words.

Is the official position of the Berggruen Institute that its political opponents should be killed? Does the Berggruen Institute countenance or tolerate advocacy of political violence by its employees? If not, why has the Berggruen Institute not disavowed this threat? Why has the Berggruen Institute not terminated the employment of Nils Gilman?


I call on you immediately to disavow, explicitly and publicly, political violence against Michael Anton or anyone else. Failure to do so will constitute an endorsement of political violence by the Berggruen Institute, its staff, and its donors.

Gilman and his friends laughed it off. The tweet is still up. The Berggruen Institute has not responded. And as Claremonster Steve Hayward wrote in City Journal, even the moronic Never Trumpers got in on the act.

Charlie Sykes, an anti-Trump conservative, this week tweeted, “For no particular reason, this morning I’ve been thinking about Nicolae Ceaușescu’s last public appearance.” The Romanian dictator’s last public appearance, of course, was the execution of him and his wife following a ten-minute trial. This is not just unsubtle; it isn’t even artful.

There is something especially pathetic about having to watch these cringing wormtongues writhe in action. Charlie Sykes is being paid now to be a useful idiot for the Left; he will not be pleased with the ultimate fate of his career should they win.

Another TIP member, Edward Luce, recently chimed in with lies and false gossip about Anton in the Financial Times. As Anton replies in “From Death Threats to Lies”:

It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. TIP’s initial strategy of ignoring criticism of their open coup talk was starting to fail. They realized they needed to get back on the offensive. Hence the recent slate of “Trump Is Attempting a Coup!” articles, on which I hope to have more to say later. These latest attacks are part of a counteroffensive, pure and simple.

The counteroffensive consists of attempts to slander us and distract the audience from the central problem.

What Now?

Many of the folks above know better. Many in the audience know better. But they know something else, more viscerally—especially those in the upper middle class whose professions are tied to larger forces and elite trends—namely, the white-hot ruling class fury at the Orange Bad Man. They feel it keenly now more than ever. They see the ruling class marshaling its forces, readying the purge of the heretics who dare oppose them. During these times, it is unlikely that those beholden to such forces will stick their necks out. Instead, it is easier to believe the acceptable propaganda of “polite” company.

At present, that propaganda includes two big lies that serve as the bedrock assumptions used by the powers-that-be to stir up and scare the upper-middle, professional classes—the otherwise-very-intelligent-people—many of whom still believe Trump was a Russian agent and Vladimir Putin his handler.

  1. “Trump will not leave office. The President of the United States is prepping to refuse to peaceably transfer power if he loses the election.” This, of course, is part and parcel of the coup narrative that Anton has helped bring into the light. When the results of the election are unclear and disputed in the courts due to their own efforts to change voting procedures throughout the nation, they will say that Trump is refusing to lose office while they are on the side of the angels.
  2. “Trump is telling people to vote twice/break the law.” This is rated fake news even by fake news itself. But the whole story fits very well with the coup narrative as it delegitimizes the President and the election.

So here, again, is the question of the hour: Do Republican leaders understand the purpose of the two false statements above and how enthusiastically—and successfully—they are being wielded as rhetorical weapons at present?

What the other side is doing is smart. They wish to win, by any means necessary. But where is the Right’s George Soros? Where is the Right’s Transition Integrity Project and accompanying war-gaming of the possibilities this fall? Are Republicans preparing for the political complications that will inevitably result from the hundreds of lawsuits Democrats have filed and will file in the future? Where are the Republican party’s 600+ lawyers-in-waiting? Where are the Right’s meetings for activist and lobbying groups to plan to protect the polling places and put people in the streets for weeks after the election?

What we know for sure is that it is very likely that we will not know the results of the election for weeks after election day. This should now be the assumption of every thinking person on the Right. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

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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