By Bob Barr
On October 27, 1964, Ronald Reagan, still two years away from serving in public office himself, delivered one of the greatest speeches in modern American history. Delivered to a nationwide radio audience in support of then-GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, the former movie star declared America at a crossroads. Failure to grasp and aggressively defend against the dangers then faced by our country would, Reagan warned, push us into “a thousand years of darkness.”
While the specific dangers about which Reagan then spoke were external, his call to action against existential threats applies with at least equal validity to internal forces tearing at the foundations of our freedom.
Looking back at the last month of insanity surrounding the confirmation process of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it seems we are standing at Reagan’s shoulder, staring directly into that black abyss.
The disturbing level of irrational hatred and willingness to use violence demonstrated by those protesting Kavanaugh was outshone only by the level of contempt Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Mazie Hirono, Cory (aka “Spartacus”) Booker, and Chuck Schumer displayed for their constitutional “advice and consent” duty. And, if not for Sen. Lindsey Graham slapping many of his Republican colleagues (notably Sen. Jeff Flake) back to their senses, we might have just taken that last step into darkness.
The mobs of seething liberals may have physically receded temporarily from the halls of Congress and the steps of the Supreme Court, but the effects of their psychotic breakdown remain. Already in the Beltway media, liberals are pushing the idea that Democrats were insufficiently “ruthless” in their resistance and political chicanery. Enabled by the lack of pushback from local governments, Leftists grow bolder still; literally overtaking the streets, destroying public property, and threating public officials with whom they disagree.
The historical parallel with Nazi “Brown Shirt” groups that were formed specifically for the type of political intimidation we see today, is apt if not ironic; but a more accurate comparison is with Ancient Rome.
In the waning years of that empire, leaders were routinely murdered whenever dissatisfaction with the status quo peaked. The constant changes of leadership dramatically weakened Rome’s ability to effectively control its vast territory; but the real damage was the undermining of the rule of law in Rome. Thus was bred unsustainable instability as public confidence in government eroded. Eventually, the empire became too weak to stand, and fell to the barbarians crashing the gates.
In modern times, a civilization’s fortifications against barbarians are not as much physical as they are legal and philosophical. A codified system of government responsibilities, undergirded by the rule of law, ensures society can function freely, peacefully and productively. However, when the rules become fluid or systematically ignored, violence seeps through fissures and accelerates the structural decay. This can be as clearly seen in Ancient Rome as in Venezuela today.
Our Founding Fathers understood these dangers, and provided firm and workable safeguards for our Republic to protect the rule of law, as much as individual liberties, from mob rule. The Electoral College protects high population enclaves from exerting undue power over low population areas; the balance of power among the three branches prevents rogue action by presidents, Congresses, and even the courts; and, due process ensures liberty for individuals, regardless of what regime may be in power at the time.
Yet, the New Left would undo all of this because it finds itself currently out of power. Combine philosophical anarchy with an embrace of violence in society writ large, and one can see just what is in store for America if this strategy of Leftist mob rule continues. Reagan’s thousand years would be quickly upon us.
The path to avoid the darkness created by rejection of reason and due process, is not an easy one, but it is clear; and here again, we can learn from Reagan’s speech 54 years ago. The always-easy path of appeasement and accommodation to radicals – whether foreign or domestic – will yield only more of the same. It is the very rejection of reason, logic and due process from which the New Left draws energy.
President Trump, Majority Leader McConnell, and Judge Kavanaugh were right to stand rock solid against the mob rule fueled by Hollywood elites, George Soros money, and hyper-partisan members of Congress. If voters fail to back them up on November 6th, we will have taken that awful step into that darkness against which we were warned by the 20th Century’s most prescient leader.