Progressives weaponize pandemic response to subvert national sovereignty

Progressives weaponize pandemic response to subvert national sovereignty
© Getty Images, Yuichiro Chino

The world’s first authoritarian regime of the left — spawned by the cataclysm of the French Revolution over two centuries ago — established behavioral templates that, with remarkable consistency, have continued to characterize ideologically-driven governments ever since.

The goal of such regimes is invariably to transform the entire society in ways that the rulers declare to be beneficial to all. To achieve the power needed to enforce such changes, the classic strategy is to generate fear among the people — fear of both internal and external enemies — and use the attendant confusion and anxiety to justify the subversion of traditional liberties in all spheres of public life.

Today, progressives in the United States are advancing their “transformation” agenda by following this script with great fidelity, and to date it has worked well for them. The terrifying global pandemic is the external enemy and domestic terrorists are the internal enemy. Because both enemies are “unseen” — Where is the virus? Who is the terrorist? — both readily lend themselves to exaggeration and fearmongering. 

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Of these two enemies, the pandemic is far and away the more dangerous because it is undeniably real, with a massive toll of death and social/economic disruption to prove it. Fear of the virus crosses party and regional lines. Regrettably, it is also useful for those who wish to make it into an engine of social and political transformation. At the time of the worldwide financial meltdown in 2008-2009, President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, memorably counseled his fellow Democrats to “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

The party took that advice to heart then — and now progressives have embraced it with even greater fervor by seeking to methodically weaponize the nation’s pandemic response and turning it into a battering ram to drive a radical policy agenda they’ve long believed but never achieved.

The main reason the progressive (i.e., socialist) agenda has never gained serious traction here is that the United States, throughout its history, has been a successful sovereign nation governed under a Constitution built upon checks and balances, a central purpose of which is to frustrate radical change and allow it only when election results clearly point in that direction.   

Accordingly, progressives have sought to demonize the Constitution and the very idea of sovereignty as outdated, unfair, undemocratic and even racist. They apparently believe that in today’s complex world, all important matters are global issues, so parochial national governments must be superseded by international bodies (e.g., the United Nations), international agreements (e.g., the Paris Accords), international taxation (e.g., the Global Minimum Tax), and international law (e.g., the World Court).

Illustrative of this metastasizing fantasy and the perverse utility of the pandemic in the eyes of progressives is a recent article in The Hill, in which the authors decry the fact that rich Western nations are actually giving vaccine priority to their own citizens and lament that “commercial entities are making billions of dollars” while selfishly defending their own intellectual property rights. Predictably, this “vaccinate the world” manifesto ends by declaring it is “time to create a global public health network for a global challenge.” A new World Health Organization (WHO) but bigger and better! As always, the goal is to disempower nation-states, while elevating distant bureaucracies beyond the reach of any democratic accountability.

When, in December 1793, the French revolutionary government — menaced by the twin enemies of external invasion and domestic revolt — granted supreme power to the ironically named “Committee of Public Safety,” led by the fanatic ideologue Maximilien Robespierre, the infamous “Reign of Terror” was unleashed, which led to unimaginable slaughter and mayhem.  In less than a year, popular revulsion and disgust over these excesses led to the overthrow and execution of Robespierre and his followers. Ever since, this dramatic turnabout has been known as the “Thermidorian Reaction.”

In a recent column in the Wall St. Journal, Peggy Noonan reflects on France’s past travails and sees a parallel with our own current tempestuous politics: “The woke regime cannot continue forever. It is unsustainable; it will fall of attrition and exhaustion.” Like many other Americans, she is left “wondering if we aren’t inching toward Thermidor.” On one point she is certainly correct: Our current malaise is utterly unsustainable. The stakes hardly could be higher. 

William Moloney, Ph.D., is a Fellow in Conservative Thought at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute who studied at Oxford and the University of London and received his doctorate from Harvard University. He is a former Colorado Commissioner of Education.