The storming of the U.S. Capitol showed how, like the priestess Cassandra endowed with prophetic power, cursed never to be believed, my own five years of cautionaries, in Forbes.com, The Transpartisan Review and at Newsmax were not clickbait. The somber Mitch McConnell, too, used a phrase identical to one of mine: “Death spiral.”
Last week the liberal republic held.
We can’t take that for granted.
“Liberal” means respecting unalienable rights. The First Amendment holds sacrosanct the free exercise of religion, of the press and of speech. And of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Each of our inalienable rights must be exercised consistently with the others. Per Holmes (Oliver Wendell, Jr., not Sherlock), "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."
Last week’s storm was feral, not peaceable and, thus, not constitutionally protected. President Trump’s precursor tweet, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”? Unlike my own, surely meant as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In my long day I have attended many peaceable assemblies.
I attended the massive A16 march on Washington, April 16, 2000, held to protest the IMF and World Bank. Archconservatives like me shared the left’s fury at these oppressive multinational bureaucracies. So, inviting along the distinguished public intellectual Peter Roff, I went to check it out. We were the only two wearing ties in a sea of tie-dye clad protesters. Peter, wiser than me then as now, departed when a tiny faction called the “black bloc” – violent anarchists, the precursors of antifa – began breaking windows.
I, inveterately curious, wondered who was running the show. Nearby, a tall, rail-thin young man wearing a blazer and nicely creased slacks was carrying a walky-talky. Detecting an instrument of authority as a march organizer I went over and said to him, “I propose to liberate one of those batik banners lashed to the top of the lamp posts for my collection."
He replied, “Oh sir, please don’t do that. They are private property, promised to the Smithsonian. You may buy one on our website.” A protestor with excellent manners and stated respect for private property, cultural institutions, and commerce? Like a character out of Chesterton!
He, Patrick Reinsborough, turned out to be one of the left’s largely unheralded strategic geniuses and a worthy adversary — Moriarty to my Holmes (or, perhaps, Holmes to my Moriarty). Despite his repeated failures to recruit me to his movement we remained in occasional touch, me providing a glowing review of his co-authored brilliant book of cultural strategy, Re:Imagining Change. It belongs in the canon with Rules for Radicals and The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci … and irrespective of your ideology on your bookshelf.
Forward to 2009, I attended a RightOnLine conference in Pittsburgh. MoveOn.org’s then political director Ilyse Hogue, another formidable progressive strategist, graciously invited me to the afterparty for their continuing protest of the IMF, deejayed by Shep (“Obama Hope Poster”) Fairey. There I learned: Capitalize with capitalists but socialize with socialists. They throw much better parties.
Around then I had become a Tea Party leader, honored to co-emcee the July 4th 2009 Boston Tea Party in Boston Common. Brad Marston, a Tea Party mastermind, expressed concern that Boston was not issuing the required permits. So, I cold-called Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Boston office and asked his chief of staff to look into it, acknowledging our differences, citing our mutual respect for the Bill of Rights.
Within an hour, the permits quietly appeared … thanks to Sen. Kennedy, another worthy adversary and an honest liberal. Like, say, Joe Biden.
In 2011 I hung out occasionally with Occupy Wall Street in McPherson Square, D.C. I trekked to OWS’s epicenter, Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, to see for myself. In 2017 I observed the Greenpeace RESIST protesters flamboyantly hanging from a crane over downtown D.C.
Sometimes raucous, with occasional constrained violations by unwelcome fringe agitators, none significantly violated the peace. Unlike, say, those who stormed the Capitol.
Beforehand, the president’s own proxy, Rudolph Giuliani, wound up the crowd, declaring “So let’s have trial by combat.” And one cannot honorably ignore the coy declarations of a president who, as Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake observed, “is a master of hinting at things and then gently disavowing them when it becomes untenable, to give himself plausible deniability….”
Last week the republic survived the storming of the Capitol. Now heed me, your Cassandra. Ben Franklin, cautioned that the Constitutional Convention had given us “a republic, if you can keep it.” Keeping “it” was essential to making America great.
It is essential to making America great again.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.