Yelling man

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Typically the Left relishes a good intramural squabble on the Right, highlighting such in-fighting to illustrate the supposed disarray of a truly ideologically diverse coalition.

If it believes an intellectual bomb thrower can serve the Left’s political ends — namely damaging conservatism — the Left might label such an individual a “maverick.”

If the thinker in question disavows some of the seminal policies of President George W. Bush, he might even become a transcendent figure, featured in the papers of record in New York and Washington, and celebrated on the bicoastal elitist cocktail party circuit as a courageous, free-thinking dissenter.

This is why the Left’s hysterical reaction to the outing of newly minted Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Michael Anton — a former Bush administration NSC staffer critical of such actions as the Iraq War, previously known by the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus — has been so interesting.

The usual suspects, perpetually in the throes of Trump Derangement Syndrome, do not see Mr. Anton — he of the prescient and provocative “Flight 93 Election” piece — as someone to be cheered, but rather someone to be smeared and feared.

He does, after all, work in the Trump administration. He has had the gall, in spite of his establishment bona fides and intellectual background, to provide a coherent and compelling theory of Trumpism, and why it might best serve America’s national interest.

As Professor Steven Hayward chronicles in Powerline:

Since the Weekly Standard outed Michael Anton a few days ago as the notorious “Decius,” the left has been having a proverbial cow. Why, he’s even worse than Steve Bannon! Jonathan Chait says in New York magazine that Anton is “America’s leading authoritarian intellectual,” which is pretty rich coming from someone who just published a book singing hosannas for the “audacity” of Barack Obama. (This must also come as deflating news to Melissa Click and other campus authoritarian wannabes.) And some body at a thing called “Policy Mic” calls Anton “a shadowy, far-right figure.” Shadowy? This is a guy who wrote a hilarious book about men’s fashion style. And never to be outdone, Salon calls Anton a “dystopian prophet.” (Again, liberals must hate it when anyone else intrudes on their dystopian turf.)

Slate’s headline is even richer, with Jamelle Bouie seizing on Anton’s hiring to declare that “Government by White Nationalism Is Upon Us.”

The notion of Anton-as-bogeyman, the intellectual driving force behind an odious ideology emanating from the White House, is perhaps the ultimate exercise in Leftist projection. Or does it believe the last eight years were dedicated to the expansion of liberty?

Perhaps in these Reductio ad Hitlerum times, such a reaction should not be surprising. But the Left, in leveling these slanderous attacks at Mr. Anton, nevertheless deserves scorn and opprobrium.

For consider some of the primary themes of Anton’s writings at both the Claremont Review of Books and American Greatness:

  • The American experiment is in dire condition as a result of the progressive march
  • The principal institutions of the conservative movement have proven utterly incapable or unwilling to put up a serious fight against progressivism for decades, while the institutions themselves continue to prosper in spite of such objective futility;
  • Adding to conservatism’s troubles, the deck is stacked against it in terms of the dominance of the Left in media and academia, the Right’s self-censorship — lest it run afoul of the PC thought police —Nah and the mass importation of immigrants who have largely supported the progressive agenda;
  • The two major political parties at the federal level have merely been fighting over who controls the technocratic administrative state that puts the power in the hands of a progressive bureaucratic elite whose interests are not aligned with those of the people, and who are wholly unaccountable to the people; and  
  • In light of the foregoing, Anton contends, absent a fundamental change in both direction and tactics, the Left will unilaterally control the country, and even a modicum of what conservatives wish to conserve will disappear.

What Anton argued in “The Flight 93 Election,” in part, was that self-righteously suicidal policies and people — and the dedication to doing the same thing over and over again while the country plunged into the progressive abyss — defines conservative insanity. Given the perilous state in which America finds itself, perhaps only an anti-PC, bull in a china shop who put America first might enable America to survive and have any hope of even creating the conditions necessary to implement a conservative agenda and thrive.

Donald Trump, and Trumpism, represented for Anton a fundamentally different force both stylistically and substantively that might be the only thing in this day and age to prevent the total triumph of progressivism.

While people of good faith may challenge this thesis, and indeed Anton himself welcomed such challenges, attacks on Anton as an authoritarian are asinine.

Is an argument for “secure borders, economic nationalism, and America-first foreign policy” authoritarian?

Does the lauding of “virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character, education, social norms and public order, initiative, enterprise, industry and thrift, and prudent statesmanship,” and the condemning of “paternalistic Big Government, the decay of our educational system, and the cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions” mark one an authoritarian?

Is it authoritarian to assert that it is “the right of the sovereign people to make their government do what they want it to do, and not do things they don’t want it to do, in the teeth of determined opposition from a managerial class and administrative state that want not merely different policies but above all to perpetuate their own rule?”

Maybe it is support for “conservatism’s aims: ‘civic renewal,’ ‘federalism,’ ‘originalism,’ ‘morality and family values,’ ‘small government,’ ‘limited government,’ ‘Judeo-Christian values,’ ‘strong national defense,’ ‘respect among nations,’ ‘economic freedom,’ ‘an expanding pie,’ ‘the American dream’” that renders one an authoritarian.

Anton puts his contention to those who would call him an authoritarian thusly:

My argument was and is a lament. I differ in no respect from my conservative brethren in my reverence for constitutional government in general or for the United States Constitution in particular. No respect, it seems, but one. They seem to think we are one election away from turning everything around—only, you know, not 2016 … Whereas I fear we are one election away from losing the last vestiges forever.

We know of course that the charge of authoritarianism, which is to hint at Nazism — of course was not the Nazi Party a national socialist party? — lobbed at all Republicans is disingenuous.

And was it not the previous administration again that expanded the role of the state in every aspect of our lives, ruled by pen, phone, and blunt parliamentary procedure and committed all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors?

Now, someone diametrically opposed to such policies, who believes that the Trump train is the superior vehicle to halt and reverse them, is the authoritarian?

The characterization of Anton’s views as “white nationalism” is, of course, meant to paint him as a racist (and again, alas, a Nazi). Presumably, this label stems from his argument against mass immigration.

Anton’s criticism of mass immigration is at core about culture and ideology. That these are third rails in context of immigration tells you all you need to know about how far astray our country has gone, and why an America First agenda was so compelling to millions of people.

Anton’s opposition to mass immigration is premised chiefly on the idea that the immigrants we have been absorbing have by and large held a progressive worldview. He laments “the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means,” which renders the electorate “more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle.”

The real aim of such attacks on Anton of course – readily apparent in the Left’s attacks before, during and after the election – is to damage and seek to delegitimize the Trump administration and all who serve in it.

The real aim of such attacks on Anton of course – readily apparent in the Left’s attacks before, during and after the election – is to damage and seek to delegitimize the Trump administration and all who serve in it.

Never asked is the question of why Third World countries are Third World.

Is not one explanation that such nations are the way they are because they lack institutions based on the principles on which America is based: Namely individual liberty, private property rights, the rule of law, and the Judeo-Christian values and principles that animate such institutions? Do not the institutions themselves stem from the people?

While to be sure, some immigrants seek to leave the Third World precisely because they yearn to live in a truly classical liberal land, voting patterns would suggest that they either represent a small percentage of said immigrants, or that such immigrants are being denied entry in favor of others.

Other areas of concern for Anton regarding mass immigration concern practical effects he deems detrimental, including among other things lower wages for native American citizens, higher crime rates, and jihadism.

Is it bigoted to assert that given these effects, perhaps we should consider reversing course?

Anton’s critics will not grapple with these issues. Instead, they will argue that our country was built by immigrants, while failing to acknowledge the cultures from which such immigrants came, their motivations for coming here, and the fact that they were assimilated into a united, classically liberal American culture, rather than a multicultural, progressive hodgepodge.

The real aim of such attacks on Anton of course – readily apparent in the Left’s attacks before, during and after the election – is to damage and seek to delegitimize the Trump administration and all who serve in it.

The Left has aimed its sights in particular at the National Security Council in its dishonest savaging of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, having already claimed the scalp of Dr. Monica Crowley by presenting her as a plagiarist in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

For to kneecap the National Security Council would be to prevent a sea change in national security and foreign policy — a clean break with the failed bipartisan establishment’s Wilsonian internationalist policies of the last 15 years and beyond.

In particular, the Left likely cannot bear a national security policy that is threat-oriented — that sees the size, scope, and nature of the global jihadist threat, among other ones, and wishes to orient our policy towards eliminating it.

To that, we should pose the question as to why? Why trust Iran? Why trust that current vetting procedures keep out Sharia supremacists? Why trust that in spite of growing jihadist attacks, rape, female genital mutilation, and honor killings in the West that all is going to be fine?

When a determined enemy says it wishes to kill you, does it not behoove you to drop the politically correct blinders and consider taking it seriously?

As the howls of Nazi, racist, sexist and bigot begin to lose their sting, depreciated in their overuse and misattribution, expect the campaign to toxify anyone associated with the Trump administration to grow more desperate and dishonest.

For when you find a desperate and dishonest opponent, you are likely on to something worth pursuing.

Ben Weingarten is Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax and PJ Media on national security/defense, economics and politics. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.