Three Chess Moves Ahead

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For various reasons, I consider this post as one of the more important things I have written. Not to overstate it, or to puff it up, or to give way to ungodly hype, but I do believe we are converging on a crisis moment in our nation, and the way we respond to that crisis moment when it comes will be critical.

This may be hard for some people to grasp because the last year and a half may have seemed like one crisis moment after another. You mean there’s another one coming?

Yeah, I think so, and I also think I know what kind of event it is going to be. At least all the early indicators seem to be running that way. So take it from someone who is not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but also as one who claims to have eyes in his head.

I saw a meme float by the other day that I thought summed up one part of our situation quite nicely. The sentiment expressed was pungent, provocative, and pithy. “You cannot screw up a country this bad in seven months unless it’s on purpose.”

That seems like a compelling observation, except for just one part of it. And that would be the question why? How would that benefit anybody? Cui bono? Who stands to benefit from a deliberate dismantling and degradation of the American way of life? Surely no elected official, right?

If you are the kind of person who likes to cut to the chase, I am going to summarize what I think the play is going to be in this next section. If you want to read some additional observations and supportive arguments after that, go right ahead. The rest of the post will lie before you. Nobody’s stopping you.

In the meantime, I would like to plead with everyone to think at least three chess moves ahead. Do not react in the moment.

Cut to the Chase

So here is what I believe to be our situation. I believe that middle America is being deliberately exasperated in order to provoke an unseemly and gaudy reaction sometime prior to the midterms. In other words, I believe that the ruling elites are picking a fight, trying to provoke unrest, and are doing so in order to be able to justify measures that are genuinely repressive. Repressive measures in the aftermath of some big incident could be trumpeted as “saving the republic” from her enemies. But if they do it without such an incident, the power grab would be just naked and kind of out there.

If that reaction finally happens—say a right wing protest at a federal building somewhere turns violent—it will be used as an excuse for emergency measures. The reaction from middle America will have to be violent enough to justify the emergency measures, but not violent enough to accomplish much of anything for the participants.

On top of that, the resultant emergency measures will need to be robust enough to alter or delay the results of the midterms. This is because the party in power almost always loses ground in the midterms, and if that pattern were to hold true in 2022, then the Democrats would lose both the House and the Senate. Now in the current climate, do you believe that they are in any frame of mind to lose the House and the Senate? I didn’t think so. Joe Biden is about as sharp as a pound of wet liver. Can you imagine a feckless Biden with a Congress controlled by the opposition? Sitting on top of a gigantic 300 million strong rugby scrum?

Can you imagine a feckless Biden with a Congress controlled by the opposition? Sitting on top of a gigantic 300 million strong rugby scrum?

If this were a time of ordinary politics, the Biden administration has already been an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats. But it does not appear to be an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats. Therefore, this is not a time of ordinary politics.

And so the takeaway lesson for conservatives is: don’t take the bait. Under no circumstances should we take the bait. I think I may have mentioned before that we should not take the bait.

Supportive arguments will follow. You have already read this far. Why not finish it out?

An Important Qualification

I might be talking about a conscious play being run from the White House, or there might be chaos and power struggles going on at the top, leading to one stupid decision after another. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. The way the withdrawal from Afghanistan was handled indicates to me that Biden couldn’t organize a two car funeral.

But the reason it doesn’t matter is that the same play will be run on us either way. Either the whole thing is planned from the top, or it isn’t. If it is, my cautions stand. If it isn’t being planned from the top, then this is the way that underlings are going to spin it as it comes crashing down on us. And that means my cautions are still in order. What is that caution?

Don’t take the bait.

In Microcosm

The initial reaction to this kind of thinking from many responsible middle-of-the-road types will be to lament the fact that the conspiracy nutters appear to have captured another one. “Sad that it had to be Wilson, who was showing so much promise with his mild and unassuming commentary. And his glittering prose. Don’t forget his glittering prose.”

Get real, they will say to us. Who would ever dream of doing anything like this?

But this is not wild speculation about conspiracies in back rooms. This play has already been run on us—successfully, I might add—twice within the last year. It has been run in microcosm, but it has been run, and right out in the open too. Here, let me point at them doing it. Follow the red laser dot.

The alleged COVID emergency was used to set aside longstanding election laws and procedures, and introduced a whole new way of voting, in the middle of a crisis, without any of the established safeguards. An emergency was used to justify doing something novel in an important national election, something we had never done before, and on the spur of the moment. In some cases, the emergency was used to justify flagrant violations of existing law, and then SCOTUS declined to hear anything about it—because other states that wanted fair national elections didn’t have “standing.” If this keeps up, another thing that won’t have standing for very long is the Republic. You can’t have standing if you no longer are standing.

But there I go again, pointing at the clear and obvious monkey business that surrounded our last election cycle. This wasn’t going to be one of my examples, but it does fit right in, so let me just mention it. Did you know that, according to the National Terrorism Advisory System, under the Department of Homeland Security, people who are opposed to COVID measures, who claim that there was election fraud in 2020, and who mark religious holidays, are—get this—”potential terror threats”? And if you see something, you should say something. Unless of course you have something to say that might contradict the official narrative. If that is the case, you would be well-advised to say nothing. Somebody might hear you saying what you think, and then they might say something.

The second striking example of this play being run is the reaction to and the rhetoric about the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Let me go on the record (yet again) by saying that the Capitol breach on that day was a travesty. In fact, the whole point of this post is to try to head off a similar travesty on a national level. “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute” It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.

In fact, the whole point of this post is to try to head off a similar travesty on a national level.

The reason it was a blunder is that it gave the regime plausible cover for a draconian over-reaction on stilts and steroids, and the last thing we should give them is plausible cover for anything. The Capitol is now surrounded by barbed wire, four Capitol policemen on duty that day have since committed suicide, the authorities won’t release the thousands of hours worth of surveillance footage that would show what actually happened, which we are apparently too stupid to see, and the DHS thinks you might be a terror threat if you say merry Christmas too loudly. And the reason they are getting away with these absurdities is because they are responding to “the biggest threat” our nation has faced “since the Civil War.”

I swear, sometimes I think these people are trying to make the cat laugh.

They would love to have a plausible excuse to do this to the whole country. But before you rush to say that I am hallucinating again, just remember that they managed to keep you under house arrest for a year on account of a really bad flu season. You did stay indoors, didn’t you? And now I see an actual argument online that the vaccine isn’t to be feared because its fatality rate is less than 1%. Oh, good. The cure is only as deadly as the disease it is attacking.

Godwin’s Law and the Reichstag Fire

This is not complicated.

Godwin’s law, for short, or, if you prefer the long version, Godwin’s law of Nazi analogies, states that the longer an Internet discussion goes, the more likely it is that a Nazi analogy will be invoked. A variant of this law states that in any given Internet debate or discussion, the first person to invoke a Nazi comparison loses. The problem with this coy smarter-than-thou online-rule-to-live-by is that it assumes that Nazi comparisons are never ever appropriate, not even when they have become stinking obvious.

The Reichstag fire occurred shortly after Hitler took power, and was apparently the work of a lone communist. But Hitler blamed a vast communist conspiracy for it, and so was able to ratchet his initial electoral success into the formation of what then became Nazi Germany. For his purposes, it did not matter who set the fire—what mattered was who defined the meaning of the fire for the public. It could have been a lone commie, it could have been a bunch of commies, it could have been a false flag Nazi operation, or it could even have been a bunch of FBI agents trying to kidnap the governor of Michigan. What mattered was who set the narrative after the fact, and Hitler was the one who did that.

What made January 6 such a blunder (in addition to being a crime), was how easy it made for the bad guys to tell outrageous lies about it. It was like a bunch of commies marching on the Reichstag in red baseball hats the afternoon before the fire.

It’s a Trap

In the mid-19th century, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., at that time a cocky and self-assertive Harvard undergraduate, took it upon himself to criticize Plato. He had examined the ideas of the great philosopher and had found them wanting. He wrote a paper to this effect, and sent a copy of it to Ralph Waldo Emerson. In return, he received a shrewd observation that carried with it an implicit rebuke. ”When you strike at a king you must kill him.”

This is particularly true when the king is trying to get you to strike at him so that he might have grounds to throw you into the dungeon, the deepest one, the one with all the rats.

If the ruling elites are trying to pick a fight, and they get one, and if they were to lose it badly, then obviously they were being too clever by half. But that is not very likely. So if they succeed in getting an explosive reaction from the normals, with high symbolic value (like the Capitol riot had), then the protesters/rioters/tourists/buffalo-hat-men/whatever are doing exactly the thing that the current regime wants them to do.

Do not take the bait. Do not think about taking the bait. Do not pray about taking the bait. Do not organize any bait-taking protests. Do not have any red ball caps made that say, “We Are Going to Take the Bait.”

Answering Objections

Allow me to take a moment to respond to some anticipated objections.

Not Taking the Bait Is Not the Same Thing as Rolling Over

But some folks are already pretty exasperated, and they see this exhortation from me (which has been, to be clear, don’t take the bait) as being a counsel of surrender. They see it is as a form of defeatism. We need to rise up now, they say.

Fine. Rise up. Do something. But don’t take the bait.

We are at a moment when their swollen and despotic appetite cannot be denied, and they will soon refuse to be bound by even the forms of constitutional restraint—by which I mean meaningful elections every two years. They have been circumventing the substance of constitutional liberty for decades now, but they have not yet gotten to the point where they have been willing to disregard the external forms of liberty. When they do that, as I believe is close to happening, then at that point it is safe to say that all bets are off.

At that point, active and self-conscious resistance is fully justified, and as far as I am concerned, there is no problem with Gideon threshing out his grain in his wine vat (Judg. 6:11). So there will be many creative ways to thwart the despotism—sick-outs, strikes, tax-withholding, lesser-magistrates kicking, and, right near the end, massive street protests. Massive street protests have their place in this, but to put them in the wrong place is to take the bait. Which, as I believe I have mentioned . . .

Let me add an important note, just in case I get interviewed by the FBI over this post. I am not advocating sedition against the United States. I am advocating resistance to something called the United States, but then only after the Klingons have taken it over. Surely there can be no objection to resisting the Klingons, right?

Why Trust the Midterms?

If you believe, as I do, that there was significant fraud in the last presidential election, then why put any confidence at all in the midterms? If we are going to need to have it out at some point, then why not now? Why not at the first opportunity?

The first answer is that you shouldn’t do anything that makes the strategists for the enemy feel like they fell into a chocolate pie. I think it must have been Clausewitz who said that. If they really want you to do it, then you should think at least three times about doing it. And they are wanting, wishing, pleading for us to respond to their provocations in a way that gives them something to work with. Don’t do it.

The second answer is that our Electoral College system of voting by state, with its “winner-take-all” approach for most states, made it possible to cheat in a national election by cheating at a handful of pinch points—Fulton County in Georgia, Maricopa County in Arizona, and so on. The congressional and senatorial races in 2022 will be quite a different matter. Cheating there would be much more of an uphill climb for them. There will be places where they could cheat, but these places are already in their corner, already safely blue. In addition, there have been a number of voting reforms passed in various states. In short, there is still reason to believe that the elections in 2022 can be a reasonable indicator of what we all think.

Unless somebody goes and puts a big MAGA hat on the Statue of Liberty or something, and they have to postpone the elections because of this assault on our shared values, not to mention its desecration of the icon of our common liberties.

You People Have Lost Your Minds

“All this dystopian talk! You people have lost your minds, haven’t you? You keep talking like America could turn into Australia. That’s not even a possibility. There is no way that such a thing is even on the table . . .”

Right. But listen to yourself. Remember just a couple years ago it was unthinkable that Australia could turn into Australia. How did that happen?

Always remember how the responsible voices like to coo to us. First they tell us that situation x will never happen. Then they tell us that it might happen, but that it is too soon to act on it. To act now would be premature and irresponsible. And then they tell us, once it has happened, that it is too late to do anything about it now. We have to reckon with the post-Christian realities on the ground.

The video version of last Monday’s post, the one on the biblical legitimacy of fake vaccine IDs, was taken down by You Tube. It was on its way to becoming our most-watched episode ever, and this was obviously too much for somebody. To be clear, this is like AT&T deciding that a conversation you are having with a friend contains too many errors, and as a result of their concern deciding to end your call. I have had too much experience with cancel culture to put up with sunshine being blown at me. So don’t tell me that we aren’t losing our liberty.

We are not only at the point where we can be gagged when we have something important to say, we are also at the point where professing Christians will defend the censors, coming up with lame excuses for it. “Well, it is a private company” or “you shouldn’t have been writing that way in the first place,” or “why are you people so full of cussedness and vinegar?”

Don’t know, actually. I think it is a gift.

Sheep Without a Shepherd

I fully grant that when the sheep are without a shepherd, they can act foolishly. They can be manipulated and scattered. All Israel is scattered on the hills, like sheep without a shepherd (1 Kings 22:17). There are things that they tend to do which they should not do. I will give you that.

But the one thing that makes me want to draw a fighting line is this. Those shepherds who were hirelings, and who saw the wolves coming, and who took to their heels, should not then occupy themselves with writing critical think pieces on how the sheep are not handling the situation correctly.

Well, they might have done better had the shepherds not run off like they did.

“But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”

John 10:12–13 (KJV)

I’ll show you some cussedness. I will pour out just a little vinegar. I will draw myself up to my full height, and I will utter one of the more fearsome curses in my arsenal. It is not that severe, but it is the best I can do when dealing with fellow believers. This is directed at all those Christian leaders whose central response to this crisis has been their attempts to shush any Christians who have been trying to respond to it. And so here it is.

May all of your rabbits die, and may you be unable to sell the hutch.