The interviewer is asking about both the past and the future. Anton talks about his experiences in the 2016 election and in the Trump administration. And then he asks about 2024. Here Anton sounds very much like those on the dissident right who feel that the time for elections fixing things is over. It feels like there is a convergence going on on the Right.
Back in the before time when 2016 was shaping up to be a contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush I first read Michael Anton’s essay “The Flight 93 Election”. And the fact that someone with an academic background and a connection to Washington understood just how bleak the Uniparty options were for this country impressed me greatly.
And afterwards as I perceived that he was pursuing those at at the far outer edges of conservative thought to provide fresh ideas for a political movement that was hollowed out at the top I was encouraged Because we really do need much more coordination and honest dialog if we’re even going to survive the onslaught of the monolithic Left.
Now I’m not a great thinker. I’m just a schmoe who got tired of being thrown off of photography and science fiction websites because I didn’t kowtow to the Left’s shibboleths and put together my own site where I can say whatever damn thing I want to. But I practiced in my own humble way what Anton was doing. I read far and wide on the on the internet. Back in 2015 and 2016 there were all kinds of crazy people involved in the pro-Trump movement. And beyond the pro-Trump movement there were the dissidents for whom Trump was just a symptom. And I learned quite a bit about the various factions and ideologies and to be honest, the various hates that exist on the Right.
And I can see that there are strengths and weaknesses in each of them. But what is also true is that the Left’s use of surrogates on the Right to disqualify anyone dangerous to the Left has been one of their most successful strategies. William F. Buckley was famous for this.
And the neocons tried to do it to Donald Trump to stop him from being elected. So I made a point to keep an open mind about fringe thinkers. And so I read people like the Z-Man. And I’ve found him to be spot on about a whole raft of things that affect our lives. He’s a very smart guy.
But he’s just one guy. We need about thirty million guys working together just to stop this train from going off the cliff. So on balance I have to give the prize to people like Anton and even Gottfried who may disagree on a multitude of intellectual points but at least are willing to hold a discussion about their differences. To my mind honest disagreement can be enlightening for both sides. You don’t have to convince the other guy but you do have to make an effort to clarify your position for the readers. And I believe that’s how we’ll end up with some kind of a coalition.
So I woke up this morning and I saw I had some traffic coming over from American Greatness. Now I wrote a couple of posts for them a few years back but nothing recently so i was interested. and there I saw this post by Michael Anton. He quoted a blog post I wrote a week or two ago going over my thoughts on the Anton / Z-Man war.
I won’t deny I was pretty happy thinking that somehow Michael Anton had visited my site. After all I had read his article about seven years ago and it had been one of the inspirations for my blogging and many other activities I had engaged in over the years. He had crystallized many of the thoughts that had been growing in my mind ever since the George Bush presidency had destroyed my belief in the Republican establishment.
But beyond my own private satisfaction in being noticed, it gives me hope that there are people trying to build something bigger than just Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis or Twitter. We need an actual identity and a mission to save this country. We at least have to agree on what we’re trying to save. I think Anton believes that.
It’s a start.
Over at the American Mind, Michael Anton has a long essay about the desirability of re-drawing the borders between some of the states and also allowing the states more independence to live their own way. On paper it sounds great. But how does it happen with the Left in charge of the federal government?
The only way I see this happening in reality is for one or more of the strong Red States to nullify the most unconstitutional federal laws and then make it stick. I’m looking at you Ron DeSantis.
Michael Anton and Curtis Yarvin are sort of the polar opposites of the intellectual world that opposes the Woke establishment. If you are interested in what the intellectuals think about our current mess these two men will sort of cover the territory and listening to them disagree about what it means and where it is going might clarify your own thinking. But if you don’t like that sort of thing don’t touch it. I think it’s about two hours long and I’ve only gotten through the first thirty minutes.
My sentiments are with Anton’s point of view. But Yarvin’s cynicism and pessimism is something that I hesitate to ignore. I read his substack and it by turns, angers, depresses and sometimes makes me think. Yarvin is a renegade elitist. But he is at least honest about it. But so is Anton in the sense that he is an academic and a government apparatchik. But Anton’s sympathies are with us. Yarvin doesn’t really have any sympathies. Mostly he is full of scorn. I’m going to watch the whole thing and then I might write a post about it.
Back in 2016 Michael Anton wrote the essay called “The Flight 93 Election” that characterized electing Donald Trump as a last-ditch effort to save the country from the globalists. In 2020 Anton and everyone else is saying that once again this is the most critical election of all time. So that got me thinking.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Office Space” you might remember the scene where the protagonist, Peter Gibbons, is talking to a hypnotist about his problems. He explains that every day at his office the boss ratchets up the misery a little more. So, every day is worse than the one before and that guarantees that every day is the worst day of Peter’s life.
In the same way, because in each and every year for decades now, the political and social situation in America has gotten worse, the next election is by definition the most important election in your lifetime. And so, it’s important to do all we can do to get good men in office and push for the changes that we need, to make this a free country again.
But guess what? Elections and politics are not the most important things in our lives and we should be thinking about these other things even more than we do about the politics. In fact, the worse the politics get the more we have to spend time figuring out ways to live happily despite them.
And here the analogy with the movie continues. The hypnotist provides a hypnotic suggestion to Peter that he will no longer worry about his job. But before he has time to restore Peter to normal the hypnotist has a heart attack and dies. So now Peter is completely unconcerned about being fired and goes through his day in a relaxed manner ignoring anything his boss says that he doesn’t like and speaking absolute truth about what he thinks about his job. Of course, eventually everything comes crashing down, but his new found composure gives him the chance to re-evaluate his life and escape from the career and personal entrapments that had made his life a living hell.
For us, the liberating situation is finding out that both parties are a rigged game against us. Knowing this makes it possible for us to try and navigate around all the various entrapments that have been built into the system. We can consciously make choices to minimize the impact of these traps. We can develop work arounds and we can form alliances with others like ourselves who have stopped drinking the Kool Aid. And amongst ourselves we can speak openly of the truths that the establishment papered over. We can openly say that illegal immigration must be stopped and that the corporations are outsourcing all our jobs and that a man in a sun dress is not a woman. Spreading the word that the Democrats and the Republicans have been gaslighting us for decades and working against our interests makes it possible to see clearly who is on our side and who isn’t. The system is still rigged against us but at least we’re no longer flying blind.
And the final analogy with the movie is the ending. One of the other victims of the oppression at the Office is a crazy guy named Milton. The boss tortures Milton by moving his cube into worse and worse spaces. Finally, Milton ends up in the basement and is told to spray for roaches on his way in and out. But as a last straw the boss takes Milton’s beloved Swingline stapler. So, he snaps and burns the company to the ground. In this analogy I’d say the crazy guy would be the fringe right who may finally get so fed up with being bullied by Antifa and BLM that they go toe to toe with them and essentially blow the whole thing up.
Not everyone, including myself, would see that as a desirable outcome but it wouldn’t be a shock if it happened. The provocation from the left has been monumental and the fact that some major blowback hasn’t happened is only because everyone is waiting for the election to happen before settling scores on the street. But even if the conflagration isn’t an actual explosion but only a political reaction it will happen and it will provide a resolution. The seething hatred on both sides is palpable and what is left of the moderate middle is being boiled off by the heat of the moment. It is pretty much impossible at this point to imagine the two sides of the country reconciling. We just dislike each other too much. Probably the best case would be a looser federalism that would allow each side to occupy their own territory without trying to impose their values on each other. But how we get to that best-case scenario is the part I can’t figure out yet. Can we get there without a real conflagration? Let’s hope so.
Long time readers of this web site know I am a big fan of Michael Anton or as he was known when he authored the Flight 93 Election, “Publius Decius Mus.” He, Angelo Codevilla and other members of the Claremont Institute have thrown their support behind the Trump presidency and its attempt to save the country from the globalist cabal of democrats and establishment republicans who want to turn it into their private fiefdom. Anton went to work for the Trump administration and now is re-entering private life. And he is leaving on very good terms with the President and his administration despite what the press contends. I found this article interesting.
Publius Decius Mus (author of the anonymous and influential article “The Flight 93 Election” has been revealed to be Michael Anton. And he has taken a job as the White House’s, Communications Director of the National Security Council. Anton immediately found himself attacked by the usual suspects, leftists and never-Trumpers. He’s all kinds of bad things. He’s a Nazi (of course), a fascist, a reactionary. He’s too smart to just be a deplorable. He must be an evil genius. Anton was part of the George W Bush administration and a card-carrying neo-con. But he saw the mistakes that were made and recognized the overreach and delusion that defined the Bush view. He saw that Conservatism Inc. (his term for the pundits) was not interested in the issues that faced the everyday people. They were uninterested in either rampant illegal immigration that depressed their wages, rampant globalism that exported their jobs or unchallenged cultural Marxism that demeaned their beliefs and proselytized their children.
The Flight 93 Election article was clear and I think convincing. It provided the logical reason for even a high-powered intellect to embrace the Trump presidential bid as the only hope of avoiding a fundamental and probably irreversible degradation to the American way of life. I remember agreeing with the article completely and finding comfort in knowing that someone clearly intelligent and literate had expressed in the public square what I also believed was at stake in the 2016 election.
So why am I writing this post? Because once again, the Trump administration has done something good. They have plucked a former W insider who was part of the Iraq War catastrophe and because he believes in what the Trump White House wants to get done, they’re using him. Smart.
People keep telling me how crazy Trump is, how dumb he is. Well if he is then he sure knows how to hide it. Admittedly when he goes off script he sounds like Ralph Kramden of the Honeymooners talking to the members of the Racoon Lodge about how he is going to put one over on their wives. But every time he makes a move it turns out to be the right one. One theory I’ve been trying out is that Melania is the puppet-mistress pulling The Donald’s strings. Well, if this is so then lucky him. But more likely, he has learned how to size up advisers. And he’s surrounded himself with people who know what they are doing. If that is true, then hiring Anton is just another good example of Trump recognizing good people. I’ve read some of Anton’s non-political writings and he is witty and clear.
Well, all this sounds just like a puff piece. Where’s the dramatic tension? I’ll tell you where. I’m disgruntled. Trump and his people knew Decius was a Bush guy but reading his articles must have convinced them that he should be part of the team. I consider myself a great intellectual too. And I’ve written dozens of posts on Trump that put him in a good light (well I do poke some gentle fun at you, schmoopy). So where’s my cushy Washington job with a view of Pennsylvania Avenue? Come on Donald, you know where to reach me. Send the helicopter and let’s do a meeting. As your science and technology adviser I can streamline all these boondoggle programs and actually get something useful done. With my help, you can make nerds great again. But this is a short-term offer. On January 9th 2025 this offer will be null and void (well, unless you’re listening too Mike Pence, errr, sir). So, hurry up schmoopy.