Why A Conservative Can (And Should) Defend Trump’s 1776 Commission EO

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has made clear his intention to counter subversive and seditious programs in public schools across the nation, and I want to make sure—very quickly and briefly—that conservatives understand that we can wholeheartedly support this effort without compromising our stance for limited government and respect for our system of federalism and states’ rights.  

Yesterday (September 17th), Donald Trump announced his intention to sign an executive order to create the 1776 Commission that will promote patriotism in education.  This initiative will be tasked with countering the subversive and frankly seditious 1619 Project launched by radical Leftists and the New York Times

A lot of conservatives think we have to be entirely hands-off.  They think that because education is a state issue (and I fully support it remaining a state issue), the federal government and the President have no role. They are wrong. In a recent Supreme Court case, Justice Thomas made some simple points that are important to consider in light of this debate. 

The case was Agency for Int’l Development v. Alliance for Open Society Int’l, Inc. (Yes, Soros) Soros’ group challenged a government policy that requires foreign organizations to articulate a public stance against prostitution and sex trafficking to receive federal funds from one of our aid programs. 

The Court determined that *foreign* organizations (here, Soros affiliates) must comply with this policy or forego the U.S. funding. Justice Thomas wrote a concurrence in which he made an excellent point that is good to consider in the context of this dust up about the 1776 Commission.

Thomas said: “’The First Amendment does not mandate a viewpoint-neutral government.’ Thus, the Government may require those who seek to carry out federally funded programs to support the Government’s objectives with regard to those programs. After all, the Constitution itself ‘impos[es] affirmative ideological commitments prerequisite to assisting in the government’s work.’ It excludes viewpoints such as communism and anarchism, stating that those engaged in government work must swear an oath to support our Constitution’s republican form of government. See Art. VI, cl. 3.” (internal citations omitted). 

Thomas makes very good sense. The states accept a lot of money from the federal government, and comply with the various requirements that Congress attaches in order to receive those funds (hello, South Dakota v. Dole in which SCOTUS held that highway funds can be conditioned on a drinking age of 21–every state complied). Public schools receive federal funds. The idea that America has to stand by while public schools teach our children to hate their own country is suicidal and downright insane. We don’t have to fund seditious programs; we can mandate pro-America curricula.

Throughout this whole debate is the underlying reality that, as a society, we have lost the idea of objective truth. People no longer think they can make a definitive judgment on what is right and what is wrong. That’s a terrible error. We have to have the courage to make real judgments again and defend our principles.  I am very proud of President Trump for taking this step, because all our efforts are in vain if the next generation thinks this country and its Constitution are oppressive and evil.  Let’s support Trump in this and help him defend the Constitution. 

Vindman’s Attitude Is Typical of the Rebellious Bureaucracy Undermining the Constitution

On Sept. 14, The Atlantic ran a profile on Alexander Vindman. Vindman was one of the National Security Council officials who listened to President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman “blew the whistle” and became the star witness in impeachment proceedings against the president.

The Atlantic article cast Vindman as an idealistic patriot. Vindman, who lists “Defender of the Constitution” on his Twitter bio, referenced his reverence for democratic ideals and the U.S. Constitution multiple times throughout the interview.

Leftists and militant Never-Trumpers throw two terms around as if they are sacred, but in practice trample all over the principles the words represent. One word is Constitution, the other is democracy. The left claims to champion democratic values ad nauseam, yet they have betrayed the most basic of those values in America—the primacy of the will of the people in the peaceful transition of power… The rest of this article is available here.

If You Don’t Want To Be Forced Into A Mandatory Vaccine, Start Protesting Now

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend, former Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings declared on Instagram her rebellion against mandatory masking. Jennings explained she had recently been inspired to resist restrictions more actively because “our freedoms won’t come back unless we are willing to push back and stand up for them.” She shared that her small act of pushback was to go to the grocery store without a mask.

Predictable condemnation ensued, and on Monday Jennings published a quasi-retraction she titled “Truce.” While Jennings repeated parts of the formulaic apologies typical of stars who incur the wrath of the mob, she didn’t capitulate entirely… Read the entire article at The Federalist here.

Photo Jernej Furman / Flickr

The Federalist/Governors Can’t Use Coronavirus to Indefinitely Declare a State of Emergency

Published on The Federalist on August 11, 2020

Antonin Scalia often noted that the primary safeguard of our constitutional liberties is the structure of our government.  Every banana republic has a bill of rights, he once said, but the strength of the American system is the separation of powers.  At the federal level, there are three separate, co-equal branches of government that must operate together for our representative republic to function properly, and this balance of power is mirrored at the state level.  Unhappily, our system today is not functioning as designed.

Since March, the separation of powers has been off-kilter—shifted disproportionately to state executives who are ruling outside the boundaries of their proper authority.  In a moment of national panic, Americans permitted their state and local executives to take power—to declare states of emergency and to implement lockdowns—and now those executives won’t give that power back.  

American Greatness/Don’t Take A Knee

Published on American Greatness, June 21, 2020

The protests and riots that have ravaged the country this past month have brought with them demands made to police and military personnel to kneel in solidarity with protesters.  Donald Trump is under increasing pressure to soften his stance against protest kneeling.  Kneeling is billed as a small concession to make—an easy olive branch, but Trump is right not to take a knee, and as the Commander in Chief and the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, he needs to set a strong example for our soldiers, police, and the American people. Taking a knee is not a small concession, it signals support for a growing movement of people who believe that America is a systemically racist nation and who are bent on destroying the Constitution and remaking America in an unrecognizable new mold.

The Federalist/Mandatory Masking Is About Social Control

Published by The Federalist on May 27, 2020.

On May 26, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam announced that wearing masks outside one’s home will be mandatory effective May 29. He first hinted he might issue a masking order a week ago, likely to test the water. 

A new refrain in public discourse is growing in volume by the day: “Things will never be the same.” The certainty with which we are assured of this pre-determined future is perplexing. Whether or not “things” will ever be the same is not at all clear, but that some people hope things will never be the same is certain. To those looking to benefit politically from emergencies, COVID presents an opportunity to advance plans targeted to transform American freedom and the American way of life. Mandatory-masking policies provide a valuable foundation to weaponize the virus against American liberty—now and in the future. 

Much of our freedom is maintained by the collective resistance of the American mood. When the Minnesota governor excluded churches from his Phase I reopening plan, the Catholic and Lutheran leadership announced, through counsel, that their churches would reopen with or without the state’s blessing. 

The governor’s resulting about-face was probably not due to a legal epiphany. Rather, he understood he’d pushed the envelope too far. Minnesotans wouldn’t put up with any further abuse of their religious freedoms. 

Would Virginians, outside of the blue D.C. suburbs, be willing to accept a masking order? To take our freedom from us, people with anti-American agendas have to mobilize some initial quorum of consent from the population. 

Mandatory masking seeks to build that consent. In addition to extending the fiction that we are in an emergency sufficient to trigger the extra-constitutional authority of local and state executives, mandatory masking acts as a peer pressure-fueled signal that encourages conformity to our coming “new normal.” 

An April 18 article in the Washington Post underscores the strategy, presenting the mask controversy as a left versus right debate. People resisting mandatory mask policies are, per usual, painted as unreasonable, headstrong, and backward—displaying ignorant American bravado while rejecting science and good sense. (That caricature is itself a tool to mock, marginalize, and silence dissent.) 

The most telling passage of the article is this one:

For Trump’s supporters, declining to wear a mask is a visible way to demonstrate “that ‘I’m a Republican,’ or ‘I want businesses to start up again,’ or ‘I support the president,’ ” said Robert Kahn, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis who has studied Americans’ attitudes toward masks. “Masks will quickly become the new normal in blue states, but if social distancing continues through 2022, the mentality among Republicans could well change, too: If I can go to work and the cost of marginal improvement in my life is wearing a mask, maybe Americans of both parties do accommodate ourselves to it.”

And that’s the key. If we want to marginally improve our lives, we will submit. The masks, aren’t the endgame. The point of the masks is to teach the American people that if we want to get some sense of normal, we have to accept an abnormal normal. 

If everyone is wearing a mask, it telegraphs a society-wide acceptance that the status quo has changed, and with that consensus other changes can come, too. Society will be primed to accept measures that most normal Americans would reject in any other time. Our new normal will include a permanent expansion of the bureaucracy and alarming new COVID-related regulations. 

The truth is you aren’t irrational or obdurate if you are skeptical about masks. The “experts” have admitted that masks’ efficacy is usually negligible. Dr. Anthony Fauci himself, in a “60 Minutes” interview early in this pandemic, dismissed masks as essentially useless.

“There is no reason to be walking around wearing a mask. When you are in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel better, and might even block a droplet,” he said with almost an eyeroll, “but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think it is, and often there are unintended consequences…” 

Fauci may have changed his tune, but plenty of sensible doctors are still speaking up. Last week, a doctor in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that cloth masks—the type worn by the overwhelming majority of the population—are not very effective, echoing Fauci’s earlier admission. The WSJ author noted that even the N95 masks fall short: “They’re considered effective at blocking coronavirus particles only when they’re form fitted and tested to make sure there isn’t any leakage.” 

In short, cloth masks are largely symbolic. The science hasn’t changed, but the agenda has. 

Implementing mandatory mask policies across a society of 300 million because it makes some people feel better is absurd on its face. But the policy makes a lot of sense if you understand its purpose and usefulness to shift the American mindset. 

The Post inadvertently summarized the game. Mandatory masks are a critical predicate to current and future abuses to our liberty. Mandatory masking provides the foundation on which state and local governments continue to justify emergency measures and rule-by-executive-fiat, and it creates a national mood of consent that America will accept suspect indefinite government expansion because we face a “new normal.” 

Photo: Russ Allison Loar

The Federalist/How We Morphed From A Free State To A Quasi-Police State – And How To Roll It Back

Published on The Federalist, May 18, 2020

Several days ago, Dave Portnoy—an internet personality and the founder of a popular sports blog called Barstool Sports—released a three-minute video in which he vigorously ranted against the ongoing lockdowns.  Portnoy’s basic point was that the goalposts have shifted from flatten the curve to find a cure, and he pointed out, in blunt and colorful language, that economic suicide in pursuit of the latter goal is pure insanity. His video went viral. Portnoy is not a political figure.  His anger over the current economic crisis and his sense that, having done our best to slow the spread, we have the right to take a risk to survive, resonates with a lot of normal people. One of Portnoy’s repeated questions throughout the video was, when did this happen? When did we go from flattening the curve to tanking our economy, our livelihoods, and our futures? When indeed. 

Last night on Tucker Carlson, Andrew Napolitano offered a related reflection when he described a free state as “one where the laws are written to uphold personal liberties,” while the definition of a police state is “one where the laws are written, legitimately or not, to uphold what the government wants.”  He went on to note that there has been a transition in America that has not been gradual: “In a period of six weeks we have gone from a free state . . . to a police state.”

Alarming as it is, Napolitano is right. While COVID is an obviously serious and frightening virus, our leaders (and many fellow Americans, too) seem oblivious to the destruction we are self-inflicting on our economy and on millions of American lives.  The bureaucrats and local would-be dictators concocting their various plans to protect us all from each other have to be relieved of their power or the police state will be permanent.  So how did we get here, and how do we reclaim our liberty and the right to take risk to survive? 

We got here because, as a nation, we agreed to the lockdowns in the first place. In late March and early April, as the virus was spreading in densely populated American cities and horror stories were pouring out of Lombardy, Italy, the mood among Americans shifted. Lockdowns started in coastal states where the threat felt most immediate, and all but swept the nation shortly thereafter.  The lockdowns happened, though, because the national mood, as intangible as that sounds, favored the lockdowns.  Politicians knew that they could call on their emergency powers and impose the restrictions because they knew they would not meet resistance. Collectively, we consented. 

Do not underestimate the power of a national mood. Wars have been won and lost based not on the military might of a nation so much as the will of its people to either prevail or to fold. Nowhere is the spirit of a people more a force to be reckoned with than in America where freedom and individual autonomy are part of our DNA.  This invisible force is a very real influence in politics, and many constitutional abuses have never been attempted over the years, not because they were unconstitutional, but because politicians and leaders understood the actions would not be tolerated. In some sense, we are free because we choose to be free. 

We did consent to the lockdowns and now are suffering under the insanity that has flowed from them—economic suicide and petty local laws that serve no purpose other than to nanny us into submission. So how do we muscle out of our bind?  How do we return from the police state we have become to the land of liberty that we enjoyed a mere three months ago?

One answer is certainly that we must enforce our constitutional rights by challenging the myriad overreaches in court. That is a critically important effort and just the type of pushback I have applauded for many weeks now. But, in tandem to that effort, and really prior to it, we have to shift the mood again.   

Not everyone seething about the ongoing abuses by local potentates is going to file a lawsuit, but everyone can contribute to a shift in the national mood. When people honestly express to others their opposition to continued lockdowns, the sentiment spreads and the “mood” strengthens. Portnoy’s video went viral not just because he is a popular guy; it went viral because it gave voice to people who weren’t sure their gut reactions were “acceptable” and to people who felt encouraged by seeing someone with whom they identified step up and voice opposition. We all need to step up and speak out. Everyone has a zone of influence, large or small, and when you speak, you add to a critical growing momentum.  

At the end of the day, we lose freedom because we let bad people take it from us.  Freedom is not taken by force only; it is often taken slowly and quietly, with our foolish consent that is given by silence.  

America was not founded to be a police or nanny state; it flourished because it was the land of the free and the home of the brave. It grew to greatness because people were willing to take risks to survive and succeed. The will of the American people is not just a political platitude—it is a tangible and powerful force for freedom when properly activated. If we want to roll back the abuses—if we want to break the police state and reclaim our livelihoods, our futures, and our political autonomy—we all have to affirmatively contribute to a new national mood.