Earlier this month, NBC News hosted a debate with GOP candidates for president. Donald Trump did not attend, and this seems to have been a wise choice. It’s not obvious that anyone who was at this debate benefitted. Perhaps they scrambled the favorite among the pack a bit but the debate did not increase the likelihood of any of them grabbing the brass ring.
I watched in hopes of some substantive something to come out of it. But it was not to be. It was, as usual, a waste of time.
A major factor was the questions themselves. They were strangely focused, truncated, and pitched at every issue except the major ones about which the GOP actually cares. None were on the COVID response, of course. None dealt with the problem of the administrative state. None dealt seriously with the issue of the vanishing Constitution.
All the questions seemed to be chasing dead-end and beside-the-point issues. I could not really figure out what was going on so I chalked it up to the general stupidity of the press.
Vivek Ramaswamy said the most true thing all evening: NBC should not be hosting. The debate should be hosted by the GOP itself and the questions should be asked by Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk, and Joe Rogan.
It took me a few weeks to realize something. The questions were not stupid. They were part of a plot. Each question was designed, not to find difference between candidates, but rather to peel off support of some constituent bloc from supporting the GOP candidate whomever it might be. The entire event was a setup to harm the entire chances of the party.
Early on, for example, there came a question about whether TikTok should be banned. This is a major problem for the GOP because, yes, the China-based app bugs people and rightly so, and it is a massive time-waster for a whole generation.
I know of no responsible adult who would rather not see it disappear. But using government power to ban an app that is massively popular among millions of people under 25 is a tremendous abuse of government power. It would set a precedent for a domestic form of digital central planning, or, rather, intensify what is already in place. It also contradicts the larger message of the need to cut government intervention.
There would have been good ways to answer this. For example:
“Look, I’m not a fan of TikTok, or any of these goofy apps out there. I would rather the kids be reading real books and furthering their education. But banning an app is not going to get us there. It puts the government in charge of our online lives and I think we’ve had enough of that. Further, I see exactly why you asked this question. You are hoping that we say yes, ban it. This way you can alienate a whole generation from supporting Republicans. You aren’t fooling anyone.”
None of the candidates said this. Instead, they fell immediately into the trap, like beginning chess players foiled in the first four moves.
Then came the question about whether the U.S. should use military force against fentanyl labs in Mexico. This is the kind of ridiculous talking point that has emerged in Republican circles, a kind of rhetorical braggadocio that candidates fling around without much thought. The notion of the U.S. bombing Mexico would be completely outrageous and achieve nothing.
But here again, the Republicans took the bait like trout eating flies off the top of the water. They mostly said yes, they are willing to use military force to violate the territorial sovereignty of the Southern neighbor.
The smug reporters sat there and put another check in the box of yet another major constituency fully alienated: in this case Hispanic voters who would rather not see a U.S.-Mexico war. Later, Ron DeSantis made it worse by promising to tax remittances to Mexico. Whoever talked him into this policy proposal is a fool who knows nothing about how the market works.
It got even worse with immigration, cuts in the retirement age, abortion, and various foreign wars. Each question was crafted not to bring out the differences among the group but to elicit opinions and answers that would harm the popularity of the entire party, including Trump, among a particular constituent group. In this way, the entire setup was deeply dishonest.
NBC knew for sure that it could count on the candidates on stage to fall for each set-up trap. And they did. Only Vivek really called out the racket for what it was. He also put the blame where it belongs: on the GOP chairperson Ronna McDaniel who approved this entire debate structure.
Also crucial were the questions the candidates were not asked. There was nothing about lockdowns, nothing about toxic shots and the mandates, nothing about censorship and digital surveillance, nothing about the prospect of a central bank digital currency, and really nothing that impacted at all on the general good of the country or any of the issues that are truly motivating the base.
Once you see the scam for what it is, you have to ask yourself another question. Why is the mainstream of the U.S. media so completely dedicated to keeping in power the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as the political arm of the U.S. establishment? Why are there such huge efforts being made right now to confound and foil the rise of a serious populism that would threaten to overthrow the whole of the oppressive system that has wrecked American liberty and prosperity?
The answer is that the mainstream media itself is an important player in the system that growing numbers of people in the U.S. utterly despise. Confidence in the media is at a record low. So too for confidence in government, academia, elites in general, major corporate players, and the dominant technology companies. Put it all together and you have the makings of a populist revolt against the entire establishment. That is precisely what the media and their government and corporate sponsors are trying to prevent.
All of which is to say that a massive priority of the media today is keeping a lid on the revolt that they know for sure threatens them daily. This is why they smear anyone and everyone who manages to break through the barricades to clarity that they have erected over the years. It’s why people like Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk are denounced and hounded daily. They are dissidents and the entire ruling class apparatus is focused on destroying their influence.
What the U.S. elites fear more than anything else is what just happened in Argentina. The most anti-establishment, angriest, most determined, and most pro-freedom candidate swept the elections with an incredible 12-point victory margin. Javier Milei has a mandate for revolutionary change, which involves abolishing the central bank and dozens of destructive government agencies.
What if the spirit of the people in Argentina begins to spread around the world? What if it already has and we do not know it yet? The anger of vast swaths of the American public has been growing year after year for most of the 21st century, reaching the boiling point following the COVID lockdowns. There is nothing normal about American politics today.
The commanding heights of American politics and culture are working desperately to stop public anger from finding political expression at the polls. They are willing to enact extreme measures to stop it. Just look at how the DNC faked the footage from Jan. 6, 2020, to paint patriotic protestors, many welcomed into the Capitol by the police, as violent insurrectionists! The hearings that took place on Capitol Hill were nothing but theater worthy of the movie “Wag the Dog.”
There are many burning questions with no obvious answers at this turning point in history. Just how angry are the American people right now? What effect will that have on election results if the system is rigged to silence their voices? If not through elections, precisely how does a growing populist revolt find expression and make a difference in the future of the country? How can a tiny ruling class maintain its current level of control in the face of a public that utterly despises hegemonic elites?
We have no real historical records of what a true pro-freedom revolution looks like in a highly developed industrial democracy. I’m not talking about budget cuts here and there and some contracting out of public services to private agencies. I’m speaking about a real rout of the whole administrative state that has dragged down so many once-free nations into a bit of bureaucracy, stagnation, and population-wide demoralization.
It’s all got to go. But how and when? Clearly, the establishment is working overtime to prevent the revolt that might in fact be inevitable.