For those involved in politics, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a permanent victory. Politics isn’t set in stone. Your decisions, or the decisions you are a supporter of can easily and quickly be reversed when power changes hands. As an example, look at the reversal that took place when Trump replaced Obama. That being said, there are methods that can be employed to slow down and hinder the potential for a course reversal. The struggle that Trump has had and continues to have with disloyal bureaucrats acting as political activists is an example of such a strategy. It wasn’t for fun that Bannon at this year’s CPAC conference stated that “the deconstruction of the administrative state” was a major part of Trump’s agenda.
Another illuminating example is the difference between executive orders and supreme court decisions. Executive orders can be killed with the stroke of a pen, while the supreme court has been designed intentionally to require significantly more effort to have its decisions challenged. Although the supreme court is slower to change, it still changes with the times, albeit slowly. The remarkable success of the Democrats Obama-led sabotage through bureaucratic holdovers shouldn’t cloud our perceptions of the true fleeting nature of current politics. Although disturbingly successful in this instance, as the placing of “saboteurs” is effectively acting like a time-lock on a safe, politics at its core is malleable.
When one side wins an election, or gets a proposed law passed, it doesn’t erase the wishes of the opposition. They are chomping at the bits, ready to lick their wounds and fight again for their desired outcome. I was reminded of this after having finished Anna Funder’s “Stasiland”. It was illuminating to read through her interviews with former Stasi (East German Secret Police) officials, and see the deep-seated desire many of them displayed for a return to the way things used to be. The instincts and mindset created after decades of a surveillance state don’t disappear overnight.
The mind quickly wanders to our own reality when thinking about the abuses and excesses of the Stasi. Just like the Stasi didn’t lack informers, social media users are today all too happy to report content they find objectionable. Although today’s Twitter users aren’t carted away to some secret prison for torture, the principle and concept behind are the same as they were in East Germany. Neighbours, colleagues at work, even spouses and friends tattled on each other to the regime. Just because the consequences and potential sanctions are “lesser” than in the GDR, the psychological desires driving modern day “informants” aren’t dissimilar to those found before the wall came down. The yearning for a return to a surveillance state is disturbingly shallow under the surface, especially amongst snowflake millennials.
Another point I want to mention are conservatives. Mark Collett’s takedown of modern conservatism’s failure to conserve in his “The Fall of Western Man” is apt. What seems to us now as inevitable social “progress” isn’t necessarily so. Issues related to LGBT rights are a prime example. The reasoning behind the feeling of inevitability has more to do with social pressure and social convention than with the realities of politics. The failure of conservatism creates the perception in the populace that permanent social/political victories can be had.
The impermanent nature of politics is important to consider when battling seemingly insurmountable foes, such as the so-called Deep State, bureaucratic inertia, unified political opposition, social and cultural changed and so on. Impermanence applies both to defensive and offensive politicking. Don’t take your own victories for granted and don’t be disheartened by your losses. In the era of Trump, anything is possible.