Many Americans, young and old, no longer seem to care about the rule of law. They only seem to believe in the rule of their party and it gaining power or more power. Their rationale is that their goals are so noble that they can justify doing anything, including burning cities and the destruction of the dreams of many Americans who took years to build small businesses.
In Portland, Chicago, Seattle, New York and countless other cities big and small, the violence is persistent. By the way, in New York, during the rioting this summer, I saw stores being looted. Cops were there and did little or nothing. This happened in part because prosecutors were reluctant to press charges. I saw this happening in a number of cities.
The police in these cities were obviously told to go easy on making arrests.
The Party Line?
This came at the same time when very few Democratic officials have strayed from what seems to be the new party line: Don’t criticize the rioting. Pretend that all the people in the streets are peaceful protesters—some of them are—who are upset about police misconduct. Let things continue to get worse. Blame it all on “Trump’s America.”
As the carnage of cities continues, as the looting and violence rises, before you know it Democrat Joe Biden will be elected president. Trump will be gone. The Democrats will control Congress and the presidency. The United States will be remade.
For anyone playing this political game, tacitly or explicitly, this is a dicey, amoral game. It is a game that could blow up and hurt everyone, including those who believe in it. It seems to be based on the fallacious idea that the violence can be turned on and off like a water facet; that de facto partisan militias will stand down when told to do so.
Same Time Next Year?
But, assuming the Democrats win the presidency, will the violence then stop? I think not if Republicans believe that the Democrats used rioting to obtain power.
Maybe next year, it will be Republicans rioting against a Democratic president. And then maybe Republicans prosecutors will be saying that they can’t press charges against anyone. The insanity could go on and on.
A Plea to Our Ruling Class: Wake Up
Without endorsing Trump, Biden or anyone here, I will say anyone who ignores the non-partisan rule of law is playing a cynical game. It is being played by morally challenged pols in an election year. They do it, I believe, because power is at stake. So much of our political ruling class both left and right only seems to care about one thing: Winning the next election. The career pols of either party don’t seem to care about who or what—including millions of small businesses—is hurt in the process.
But although many have been killed and injured—especially in countless tragic shootings and murders in a place like Chicago—and many businesses have been ruined, there is actually something as important as who wins in this election year: The rule of law. Without it, society falls apart and the rule of the jungle reigns. The latter is what many Americans already feel, given skyrocketing crime rates in many big cities.
Do I exaggerate? I don’t think so.
Espana 1936 and the United States Hoy
The ruling Democrats and Republicans, in their fervor to win the election at all costs, should think seriously about where their efforts could take this country. They should, for example, think about Spain in the summer of 1936. Spain was on its second republican government. Violence, under this leftist government, was becoming persistent as people lost faith in the rule of law. An extremist leftist group committed an atrocity against some Catholic church property. As the property burned, the government did little to penalize the lawbreakers. To the extreme right, to generals Franco and Molina, here was the signal for the beginning of civil war in Spain.
The Spanish analogy isn’t farfetched. Writes one historian of the four months prior to the formal civil war in 1936, “160 churches had been burned to the ground.” There were “269 mainly political murders and 1,287 assaults of various seriousness.” (“The Spanish Civil War,” by Hugh Thomas)
The war would last about three terrible years. It would tear the country apart, with terrible crimes committed by both sides. When it was over, Spain’s economy was wrecked. It would take generations to recover. It had a fascist government, a fascist government that did some terrible things—against the Catalans, for example—but also smartly stayed out of World War II. That was a pragmatic opportunist policy that drove Hitler crazy over the course of World War II. Hitler had provided Franco with lots of aid in the civil war and had expected payback. He demanded the Spanish take Gibraltar from the British, a strategic island in the Western Mediterranean which, if it had fallen, probably would have finished the British in the darkest days of World War II in 1940.
Franco never declared war on Britain, despite talking a big game. The point here is not the left or the right had the moral high ground in the runup to Spain’s civil war. It is that both sides, to their fervor to win, ignored the damage they did to their country.
He’s the Devil! No, He’s the Devil!
I see similar conditions in the United States to what was happening in the Spain just before the civil war. I see a nation in which left and right seem to regard each other as apotheosis of evil; in which neither side can ever see any gradations.
All Republicans are bad, many Democrats tell me (I hear it a lot since I live in a thoroughly Democratic city and state). All Democrats are bad, many Republicans tell me when I watch Fox network.
I see a nation ready to go to the polls convinced that the elections will be rigged if they’re on the losing side. It makes me glad I’m a libertarian. It makes me think we need new parties to replace our sad sack ruling parties.
The great danger is this extreme partisanship means some Democrats and some Republicans consciously or tacitly condone the violence we have seen in many of our cities.
A Plea for Sanity. A Plea for Peaceful Change
Do our ruling parties understand the dangerous forces they are directly or indirectly condoning and where those forces could lead? Do they understand that if the November elections are not strictly honest, that millions of Americans could be angry and that they could take the law in their own hands? Do they understand that this could lead to something that someday, everyone, could rue?
The forces that have been unleashed here recently could lead to civil war if this fall’s elections produce a result that is under a cloud of fraud.
What should be done? More in part 3.
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