Monday, May 4, 2015

Corporal Al Sharpton, File-closer for the Regiment of Race

Those of you that have indulged in, e.g., the Napoleonic War era Richard Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell will know about file closers.

Armies of the era used to advance across the battlefield in line rather than in column. But of course as they advanced they would suffer casualties, individual soldiers that fell and left a gap in the line. The job of the file closer was to beat soldiers in the second rank of the line into the first rank, and thus "close" the file.

The necessity of keeping a solid line in battle goes all the way back to the ancient Greek hoplite soldiers, and forms the foundation of male honor, that you don't run away from your brother soldiers in line.

The way I understand the current spate of publicized police shootings is that the Democratic colonels are desperate to keep their rank and file in line. Democrats are getting hammered in congressional and state elections, and they must, they absolutely must keep their loyal base, especially the African American base, in line.

That's the job of file closers like Cpl. Al Sharpton, to help the colonels to keep the troops from breaking rank and creating a rout.

Because if the African Americans don't vote 90 percent for Democrats in 2016, or stay home because they are demoralized after the promise of the First Black President evaporated into despair, then the Democrats are toast.

But what about the unanticipated consequences of this race politics? What might middle-class blacks be thinking when three out of the six Baltimore police officers indicted last week are black, and one is a woman? What might other Democratic supporters think: Hispanics, Asians, single white women?

That's why I think that Democrats, despite their public confidence, are actually panicking. They are looking at the numbers on their polls and they don't like what they are seeing. They are trying to amp up the rage because without it they cannot get their supporters to the polls in 2016.

But the problem is that you can't keep people angried up for ever. That's the lesson that Crane Brinton draws from the aftermath of various revolutionary reigns of terror in his The Anatomy of Revolution. The reign of terror and virtue when everyone is mobilized against the national or class enemy breaks down after a while, in exhaustion. People can't work forever as machines; they need rest, recreation, laughter. They even need to misbehave. So eventually you get the "Thermidorean reaction," named after the month in which Robespierre was guillotined and France started returning to normal after the Reign of Terror.

In our democratic culture we formalize this process. The supporters of the "out" party -- Democrats in 2006-08 -- get pissed off at the corruption and stupidity of the "in" party; they eagerly embrace the candidate that offers Hope and Change, and surge out to the polls to turn the rascals out in a frenzy of righteous enthusiasm.

But now we are at the other pole of the process. Supporters of the Republicans are getting totally pissed off by the corruption and the illegality of the Obama administration and the intolerant arrogance of its social justice warrior supporters. They scan the horizon for candidates that offer them a feeling of hope and a chance to be proud of America again, someone who will get the economy moving again, stop the illegal executive orders and harassment of conservative groups, and stick it in the eye of the juvenile social justice warriors.

Meanwhile the Democrats have Cpl. Sharpton out trying to keep the wavering troops in line, and they are desperately trying to keep the race card going by saying that calling rioters "thugs" is as racist as calling blacks by the N-word.

But what happens if it doesn't work? What happens if Cpl. Sharpton can't keep the troops in line and/or the race-baiting turns the rest of America off?

That is simple. It would mean that instead of suffering a modest defeat in 2016, as you would expect after a two-term presidency, the Democrats will get clobbered, and we'll get the first landslide election since Ronald Reagan in 1984. (Bill Clinton in 1996 doesn't hit the 10% rule: he beat Bob Dole 49.2% to 40.7% in the popular vote.)

Stay tuned. More exciting coverage after these messages.

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