Lately I’ve been noticing an uptick in chatter from the “Let it burn” crowd. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the idea can be summed up as the idea that our country has passed the point of no return from inevitable decline and that we’re better off speeding up the process so that we can begin to rebuild sooner than later. This is nothing new to me, as I started making this argument four years ago. Here is an excerpt from one of Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletters for which I sadly didn’t grab a permalink that explains the fiscal argument:
I love Ben Sasse right now. But I’d point out that what he sees as one of the most pressing problems facing the country — “entitlement reform so that we stop stealing from future generations” is a non-issue to a majority of the electorate. In 2012, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on tackling entitlement reform; voters chose Obama. This time around, Trump ran against any cuts in entitlements. The largest unified chunk of the GOP primary electorate chose Trump.
One of the brutal truths of the past two cycles is that real entitlement reform is impossible, at least with the electorate we have now. If you’re thought you haven’t heard as much about entitlement reform this cycle because the numbers had somehow improved, they have not. As Charles Lane noted:
Seventy-five percent of planned federal spending between now and the end of the next two presidential terms is mandatory: Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, plus interest on the national debt, according to Congressional Budget Office forecasts. That money is going out the door no matter who’s president.
Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute has come up with an “Index of Fiscal Democracy” to express this vast, automatic commitment of resources, and the preemption of actual political choice it represents. The higher the index, the more possibilities we have for actually governing ourselves.
At present, the index stands at 19.7, which is the percentage of federal receipts left over after mandatory spending and interest, according to data compiled by Steuerle’s collaborator Caleb Quakenbush.
By 2026, however, the index will sink to 1.7, absent reforms. That’s the sliver of money we’ll have to pay for research, natural disasters, defense and everything else.
Nobody’s going to deal with this until the crisis is right at our door. And the American people chose to ignore the problem, again and again, year after year.
And Ace fleshes out the Let it Burn philosophy:
The fact is, a conservative country doesn’t “accidentally” elect Barack Obama twice. It doesn’t continue to send Democrats to the Senate who voted for ObamaCare and force the GOP to run as the saviors of Medicare.
People want the ever expanding welfare state, they simply don’t want to have to pay for it. They are happy to pretend they can “ask the rich to pay a little more” (it won’t work) or to pile on debt for some generation to be born later to pay for it. What they are very clear about in their votes is…”don’t you dare touch my “free” stuff”.
One foundation of conservatism is to see the world as it is, imperfections and all, and not the way we wish it to be. Unless we can admit the reality of the country we are living in, Let It Burn makes no sense.
We’ve tried to save the country from the folly of expanding liberalism and the country said, “we don’t want to be saved”. Let It Burn just means letting them have what they want and rebuilding later.
After 2010 I had some hope that we might be able to turn this massive welfare state around. The full implementation of ObamaCare means that isn’t going to happen. At least not absent a total collapse of our fiscal house of cards.
Let It Burn isn’t an option, it’s an eventuality. The questions are will we be complicit in it any longer and do we want to delay it? I say no. Let the liberals own it. Very few things are made better by delaying the day of inevitable reckoning.
The sooner it burns, the sooner we can try and rebuild.
And Geraghty has been the best voice I’ve read to make the case against burning:
“Burn it down” is the easy way out. It doesn’t require you to build anything, to prioritize, to compromise, to show patience. It’s the instant gratification of a temper tantrum, with no concern for any long-term consequences. It must feel good to destroy some perceived institutional source of discontent for daring not to follow your wishes. But in so doing, you ensure that institution will cease to exist for whatever legitimate purpose it was created in the first place.
What will replace it? You haven’t though that far ahead. If you’re raging at everybody, it’s because you’re too lazy to make distinctions. “Burn it all down” is a declaration that you can’t be bothered figuring out who’s doing a good job and who’s doing a bad one, who shares your values and who doesn’t.
I can’t help but wonder how many of the “let it burn” advocates also like to fantasize about how they would survive a zombie apocalypse. The problem is, we have to live through all the burning. Our kids have to live through all the burning.
Fair points. Burning hurts. It hurts a lot, and a lot of people who don’t deserve to be will get burned as well. But I’m a “rip the band aid off” kind of guy, and what hurts a lot worse is a low, slow painful burn. Around the 2012 election Rush Limbaugh said something to the effect of “America can survive another Obama presidency. What America can not survive is a citizenry that would re-elect him.” I also recall at some point leading up to the current presidential primary season Bill Whittle making a comment that reflected my thinking that started the day after Obama defeated Romney in 2012. He said something along the lines of “People will say that the upcoming presidential election is the most important in our nation’s history. It’s not – 2012 was.”
Exactly. Four years into the most spectacular failure of an affirmative action hire we were given the opportunity to elect what may have been the most decent human being to run for the presidency in many years, and a smart businessman with a history of turning around failed operations to boot. After running an efficient, sometimes ruthless primary race against his rivals when the general election came around Romney let himself be painted as some malevolent sexist, racist pig (sound familiar?). Worse, he never had the guts to punch back (thank you candy Crowley) and the rest is history. Combined with a Republican party that seemed to think that the phrase “opposition party” meant opposing their base, I joined many conservatives who were done with the Republican party. Sure, I pick my battles and help here and there, but in general I’m not going to support the Democrat-Lite party. But that still doesn’t get us to the point of “Let it Burn”, now does it?
You saw what I said earlier about our unsustainable debt – any attempt at even mentioning any kind of meaningful entitlement reform is political poison. Republicans still make the mistake of treating members of the mainstream press as anything other than the PR wing of the Democratic party. By not fighting at this level they let themselves start any battle from a disadvantage. We let the Radical Left take over our education system to the point where we have a generation of young people who think that Socialism works – even as Europe decays and Venezuela burns. Our unaccountable federal bureaucracy has usurped the power of Congress and can be weaponized against the citizenry. Our leaders think that infusing our country with foreigners to colonize and bring their failed societies’ customs unassimilated to the US is not only a good idea, but somehow it makes them compassionate.
Look at the two very flawed presidential candidates we have today. A number of prominent Republicans / Conservatives have gone #NeverTrump for various reasons. While I don’t agree with them, especially at this point, I respect their decision. Contrast that with the other side – have you seen one prominent Democrat or mainstream media figure openly come out against Hillary? Even more disturbing, they vehemently defend her and become incredibly angry when you dare to point out her multiple felonies. Think about that – roughly half the country will willingly overlook any transgression by their chosen political party. To clean up an observation that Stephen Kruiser said a while back to make it suitable for a family web site, Hillary could bring an unwilling Girl Scout to the floor of Congress and perform an unnatural sexual act involving a prosthetic device and the Dems would for a united front in defending her. If that sounds like a inflammatory exaggeration look at everything that’s been revealed about Hillary and the DNC over the last few months – name one principled Democrat who’s said “Enough”.
The craziness has reached peak insanity to where phrases like “You shouldn’t spend more than you make” or “Someone who has a d*** is a male” that were considered common sense and settled science just a few years ago are now labeled hate speech. I can go on with many more examples of the Radical Left’s lies and growing lawlessness and tyranny – college campuses, BLM, The Gaystapo, but you get the point. Recently a friend wrote a great essay based on Sir John Glubb’s essay “The Fate oF Empires and Search for Survival.” Unfortunately his take isn’t published online yet, but he starts off by summarizing Glubb’s essay, pointing out that we are following the same pattern as the other empires throughout history, each of which goes through six stages:
1) Age of Pioneers
2) Age of Conquest
3) Age of Commerce
4) Age of Affluence
5) Age of Intellect
6) Age of Decadence
Grubb’s essay is hardly a case of being a Monday Morning Quarterback, as it was written in 1976. A basic knowledge of American history can see how the US has followed this pattern, and you can take a wild guess as to which stage we’re in. And this is what leads to my argument:
If decline is absolutely inevitable, we have a moral obligation get through it as quickly as possible, as well as to suffer some of the pain for our own complicity in what led us to this point. We also have a responsibility to pass on our knowledge to the young of this nation and do everything in our power to help guide the rebuilding.
Alexander the Great’s empire spanned most of the known world at its time, and although I’m taking some geographic liberty, the remnants in Greece are a textbook example of a great society in decay. The Roman Empire? They would go on to be ruled by a pure Fascist in Mussolini, and aren’t too far behind Greece in terms of steps of societal decay and being an economic basket case. The example of a fallen empire that truly terrifies me is though is in Britain, and to some degree the northern European nations.
Here is what I do not want to see the United States become. I do not want to learn that someday that Little Bob gets arrested for having the audacity to fight off criminals trying to break into his home.I don’t want to hear someday that Little Bob’s daughter would not only get raped, but rather than bring her attackers to justice and prevent other women from suffering the same fate she would lie about their identities lest it create a negative impression of her rapists. I don’t want to learn on my deathbed that Little Bob’s grandchildren spent years as victims of a systematic child rape gang perpetrated by “refugees” and enabled by cowards in our law enforcement and local government agencies.
I do not want to see America decay to the point where incidents like this could happen, especially Rotherham. They are the mark of societies that simply decided that their cultures do not deserve to live anymore. It takes generations to rot a culture that heavily, and while we’re on that road there are many of us ready to fight. So I’d rather have the stupidity of the Radical Left rain on us now. Let’s feel the pain of Obamacare. And thank every idiot who voted for Obama and hang this on them. Let Hillary appoint Supreme Court justices who will seek to abolish the Bill of Rights for the next two or three decades. Let’s spend ourselves off of a cliff so that every dollar of tax revenue coming in goes out the door on interest payments on our debt. Let’s allow our military strength to erode so that the rest of the world has to stop enjoying or security Aegis and has to spend on defending themselves rather than their vaunted social welfare programs.
This destruction won’t happen overnight, either. It will take years and there will be a lot of pain. And I understand that I have a lot to lose personally when this comes down. I’m finally at a point where I have the biggest things I wanted out of life – a good home, a fantastic wife and a wonderful son. Going back to Geraghty’s counter points, I have no desire to live in a world like the Zombie Apocalypse. While Geraghty fairly points out that none of us have a plan for what will replace the order when the fire extinguishes, I haven’t seen a plan of attack from him to defeat the people who are working diligently to destroy America and have the audacity to tell us we should be thanking them.
Nor am I going into full Prepper mode, either. I’m not digging a bunker in our back yard, stocking MREs and ammo and warning Little Bob that it’s only a matter of time before the government comes for us. That’s not to disparage preppers, as they may in fact be ahead of the curve compared to me as to how far along we are. I can however, easily picture me getting a knock on my door from a friendly representative of Child Services accompanied by two armed brown shirted officers wearing rainbow arm bands who “just wants to ask a few questions” after I do something audacious like proposing at a local elementary school board meeting that instead of focusing on Transgender history we teach our kids trivialities like math and science.
Back to my friend’s essay, his solution comes down to three points that will be the foundation of how we come out on the other side:
1) Faith and Family
3) Political Mobilization
Unfortunately this post has gone too long for me to elaborate on each, but I think that most of you can get a good idea of what each entails. I still plan to live my life as normal as can be – after all, I do need to teach my boy about the life that’s worth fighting for. I plan to guide Little Bob the best I can. I’ll teach him about the greatness of this country and its history that made it the greatest nation that ever existed. I’ll warn him of the evil that’s crept into our once great institutions and how to defend himself against the people who will want to hurt him. I know it’s wishful thinking to believe I can mold him into a perfect Happy Warrior ready to take up the fight and rebuild. But I can make damned sure that he’s been educated as to how the peace and prosperity he’s enjoyed came to be. We may be a generation of trust funders, but I’ll be damned if he won’t have the knowledge to appreciate what we have. As for me, I’m not going to spend my days living in rage and fear – I’ll be grateful for my home and family, and savor the good things in life, like enjoying a few beers while I watch my beloved Philadelphia Eagles disappoint me as only they can. The final part I’ll leave you with is a few lines from an optimistic post by Jon Gabriel on how we will be the remnant:
As Donald and Bernie and Hillary shout to the masses, the conservative minority needs to speak truth to power, not worrying about the crowds grabbing selfies at political rallies. Popular opinion changes quickly, as we saw with the Iraq War, and even more dramatically with George H.W. Bush’s 89 percent approval rating 18 months before he lost reelection.
As we persuade with facts and ideas, keep in mind that a classical liberal remnant created the American Revolution while the masses created the French Revolution. This election cycle hasn’t been kind to fans of limited government, but we can charge on as happy warriors with the goal of ultimately restoring this nation to true greatness
yes, this will totally dispel the notion that DC is one big backslapping, self-protecting insider circle jerk https://t.co/eGljekMR7p
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) June 30, 2016
Cross posted at from Brother Bob’s Blog