How the Left wins.

One thing’s for sure: conservatives and traditionalists are lousy at organizing and fighting back in the public square. In fact, too many times they turn on each other, which makes the Enemy cheer us on.

The Left is good at setting aside small differences for the sake of a larger goal – which usually has to do with destroying something good, true and beautiful. They even can work with enemies, as in the case of the inexplicable alliance the Left seems to have with radical Islam (cf. Andrew McCarthy’s book US HERE – UK HERE).

One of the things one learns from a) coming from a state where a caucus system is in place, or b) working within an organization that follows rules of order, is that c) to govern you have to show up and that d) to take control you have to use – or change – the rules.

I read a piece at PJ Media by J. Christian Adams which was disturbing, because it is dead on target.   This concerns mostly secular politics, but try to imagine this dynamic with the Church, universal and local.

The Left Transforms America [the Church] by Transforming the Rules

Others have used the term “post-constitutional” to describe the current era in which we live.  Most of us remember a time not long ago when the Constitution and the Rule of Law weren’t under open attack by so many institutions.

What do I mean by post-constitutional? There are couple of characteristics.

Law is used by those in power – often bureaucrats – to advance their ideological views through their power.  Law is no longer a fixed, largely agreed upon principle.  Instead it is becoming something elastic, subjective, defined by the latest best argument cooked up at Harvard Law School or Yale.

In the good old days, law was the great leveler.  We could all agree on the basics.  Everybody essentially agreed that election law, my field, was designed to ensure the integrity of the process.  [Think of A Man For All Seasons and More’s speech to Roper about law and the Devil.]

If we learned that large number of noncitizens, aliens, for example, were registering to vote – something I’ll discuss shortly – then all sides, Democrat, independent and Republican, would look for fixes.  Nobody would cook up excuses to defend the practice, excuse the practice or preserve alien voting.  It would be confronted and fixed.

But now, law professors and the academy view law as a means to keep and enhance power.

Law schools and law professors sometimes seem busier dismantling the Constitution because of their dislike of it and the people who wrote it, than they are teaching what it actually says.  After all, why teach what it actually says when you aim to replace it?

Do I overstate the case? Is this fanciful? Is it a conspiratorial fantasy that enemies of the Constitution are seeking to replace it and Machiavellian bureaucrats and lawyers manipulate the law to achieve partisan ends?

In 2010 when I left the Justice Department, I thought such a claim might have been hard to swallow.  But the perpetrators of these views have obliged us by being very explicit in the last few years.

Enemies of the Constitution are now hiding in plain sight.  Let me briefly note two examples (there are many, many others).

Who can forget the editorial by Georgetown Law Professor Louis Seidman in the New York Times called “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.”  After all, as he put it, “a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries and knew nothing of our present situation and thought it was ok to own slaves disagreed” with what progressives want to do.  This is in the New York Times by a Georgetown Law professor.

Then, getting closer to my area of expertise – election law – there was a law review article in the Stanford Law and Policy Review by an election law professor — University of Michigan’s Ellen D. Katz — “Democrats at DOJ: Why Partisan Use of the Voting Rights Act Might Not Be So Bad After All.”

When I say they hide in plain sight, these are the things I mean.  There are many more examples of outright hostility to the Constitution becoming mainstream.

These are threats to our Constitutional order against which, I will submit, our old means of defense are largely ineffective.

We have entered a new battlespace between left and right.  No longer do we have gentle disagreements about public policy.  Instead, the Left has sought to criminalize many disagreements, has weaponized the law to attack their foes – both personally and substantively – and is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a multi-front war to transform the remaining institutions that they have not already transformed.  They seek to silence their opposition [This is what writers such as Michael Sean Winters of the Fishwrap doe.  Like a member of the New catholic Red Guard, he points and jumps up and down and blows a whistle when he imagines that someone has transgressed against the content of his prized Little Red Book.  Thus, he tries to aim those with power at his targets.  This is what he did to Prof. Chad Pecknold the other day.  This was his tactic in a green-inked hit against Catholic University of America just as the board of CUA was about to meet.]

I am afraid that the scholarly voice is no longer an effective rebuttal – and hence I believe you can explain one reason why President Trump was elected.  The American public, who believe in the Constitution, who believe in the Rule of Law, saw it under attack from so many places.

Let me turn to a few examples where this is happening in my own field of expertise: election law.

The transformative Left understands that process drives policy.

[NB – He gets into all important PROCESS.]Process means the rules, the boring things, if you will.  Conservatives are focused on ideas, policies, reasoned debate.  Naturally so, as they care about the issues. Whereas the left is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy your policies through the transformation of process.

What are example of process issues in election law?

I mean the rules that govern elections.  The rules that govern speech.  Control over the institutions.


Read the rest there.

Process… process… process.

Keep bashing away and wearing down your opponent through insistence on process.  (“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” … “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”)   Endless court cases… endless accusations and filings and complaints and indictments….  Fight every law, decision, election, finding and drive it back into the courts.  Keep asserting the same referenda over and over and over, until they drive through.

On a positive note: perhaps traditionalists could make use of this dedication in a parish by being always the ones to show up for parish events, being the first to volunteer for something to be handled, making themselves indispensable to the pastor, the choir director, the religious ed coordinator.  Show up and transform.

Yeah… that‘s gonna happen.   Too often, people show up for “their Mass” and then disappear, having even ignored or undernourished the collection basket.

I think that has to change.

But back to the more secular application of these tactics.

This fellow has made a strong case.  It is disturbing.

Si vis pacem para bellum! v. ¡Hagan lío!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MrsMacD says:

    “Yeah… that‘s gonna happen. Too often, people show up for “their Mass” and then disappear, having even ignored or undernourished the collection basket.” This is me. I rarely ever go and if I do I run away afterwards. I don’t want to be involved. I just want to go to Mass and get home. Obligation fulfilled. And it seems to me that it’s better that way… after all what am I capable of doing? I have to take care of my family. I don’t have time to contribute. If we had something going. I could contribute altar boys, and maybe sew some linens or simple vestments, but start something? I just don’t have time. That’s why we have unmarried priests because their job is a big, heavy, hard one and having families of their own would overburden them. Plus why would I put money in the collection basket to fund more ‘renovations’ and screens and microphones and development and peace? I don’t support these things.

  2. maternalView says:

    Yes he is right the left has weaponized the law and the process.

    Perhaps the alternative for us is to strengthen ourselves in our Catholic communities? Yes we will still have to fight them. But we will be coming from a community that could be an excellent example and source of strength. Like St. Benedict who met the world from a place of strength not retreat.

    But no such culture/ community will occur as long as even traditional Catholics won’t support traditions, rituals, traditional Catholic media etc etc by showing up and by financial support.

    So long as secular things take precedent in our lives then we will be fighting the secularists on their terms.

  3. philosophicallyfrank says:

    If I may; may I suggest a more specific “Grand Plan” that goes back to 1919.
    In 1919 a new political party was formed; called “The Communist Party, USA”. The treatment that Pres. Trump is experiencing is similar to what Pres. George W. Bush had to deal with. It is the same as Pres. Reagan had to deal with as Pres. Nixon had to deal with as did Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater had to deal with as did Sen. Joseph McCarthy. When Sen. McGovern lost his Presidential bid; he remained in charge of the Democrat Party and began moving it further leftward which has continued to this day. I would suggest that the Democrat Party has merged into the Communist Party. Had Hillary won; They could have celebrated their 100th anniversary with the completion of a bloodless coup of the United States. Try and come up with just one substantial difference between the Democrat Party and the Communist Party, USA.

  4. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I dont mean this in a snarky way at all, but to be fair, traditionalists (I am one) are usually the ones having a half dozen kids or more. There is very little time or money left for most families at the end of the day.

    I keep hearing this: “traditionalists could make use of this dedication in a parish by being always the ones to show up for parish events, being the first to volunteer for something to be handled, …Too often, people show up for “their Mass” and then disappear, having even ignored or undernourished the collection basket” etc.

    My wife and I would love to help more with parish activities. We did in our first few years of marriage, but now we have 5 kids under 8 years of age and when Mass is over it is past nap time for 3 of them and we’re trying to get them home before the nuke of numerous small tired children explodes in the parish hall. There is almost continuously a rowdy toddler and a screaming newborn in traditionalists lives. Doing anything to help parish or participate on random weeknights would require babysitters, which are expensive…especially if you live in a big city with no family to help (like we have since we started having kids). We dont even use babysitters to ever go out as a couple for dinner, much less so we could help at a parish dinner or event.

    Meanwhile, the retired 65 year old hippie couple who had 1 child that now lives in another state and no grandkids has all the time in the world to volunteer. No wonder they are more “involved and indispensible.”

    It’s just the reality of how little time traditionalists have in the midst of child-rearing years. Believe me, it isnt necessarily a lack of caring or interest on the part of traditionalists that they aren’t more “involved and indispensible” to the pastor…they’re busy being those 2 things to a bunch of small children…

  5. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    and, as per Malcom Feely, the process is the punishment, regardless of ultimate outcome.

  6. Pingback: PROCESS: He’s Telling Us Something… | The Deus Ex Machina Blog

  7. Hidden One says:

    MrsMacD and Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda,

    Would childcare offered by/at the church during events aimed at adults/older youth help? Is there any such thing at your parishes?

    I do know a number of families with 4, 5, and ~10 children who are and long have been pillars of their parishes… but precisely because I know them, I also know that thay has been a major sacrifice for them, and usually there have been important factors that have mitigated the difficulty to some real extent and which are not present for many families. (For example, a single income in a field that brings in more money than two incomes might for the average family in the same parish.)

    But there are also unmarried or widowed EF lovers, and empty-nesters, and families where most of the children have moved out, and families where the kids are all old enough to help out in the parish, and infertile couples, etc. Let everyone pitch in.

    And maybe let’s learn from our separated brethren, perhaps helped by those of the faithful who used to be separated brethren, and do a much better job of providing (free) childcare in order to help families with children participate more in parish life.

  8. nine man morris says:

    Why should we get involved in Church if hell’s not real, communion’s just symbol of sharing, and the homilies sound like a lame Eckhart Tolle with no challenges for growth or change?

    This boat’s sailed long ago. If there is a Catholic Church in 50 years that’s recognizable as being continuous with the past Catholic Church, it’ll be because SSPX has gathered the remnant.

  9. SKAY says:

    I agree with you philosophicallyfrank. Don’t forget Bella Dodd and her information about
    what was being done within the Catholic Church by the Communist Party during those years.

    I have found it interesting that the Communist Party USA stopped running their own candidate
    a while ago and just back the recent Democrat candidates.

  10. boxerpaws63 says:

    The left controls the narrative.Take it away from them. They use clever linguistics. Who would oppose such things as choice,Planned Parenthood, or Black Lives Matter (to name a few).Their trick is to make terrible things sound good so that anyone who would oppose it would have to be crazy,racist,radical…you name it.When they supported same sex ‘marriage’ they used the motto,”love is love”.See how that works?Who would oppose love after all?Who controls the language,controls the narrative. Conservatives tend to preach to the choir. We became an echo chamber among ourselves.In the meantime , as SKAY noted, the Communist Party started backing Democrat candidates. John Brennan-the CIA director(not sure how he got clearance)actually supported a Communist Party candidate. Now they don’t have to-they just support Dems.Same thing. What to do? Go on offense, take back the language & start writing the narrative again.I can remember-sure many of you do-when we had culturally Catholic neighborhoods. We stuck together. Of course, much has changed in the country since those days. We are not staying in the same neighborhoods and even families have moved further away from each other.We may have to take that into consideration and use other means to connect.We may have to connect with like minded persons outside the Catholic Church too.There are many values we share with our evangelical brothers and sisters for example. I don’t mean become more Protestant. In fact,I mean become MORE Catholic; just recognize we share values.If all Catholics would have voted accordingly abortion and same sex marriage might never have been legalized in the first place.Now we have a long hard battle ahead of us and it begins with the linguistics of truth and taking back the narrative we once had.

  11. yatzer says:

    I’d second the recommendation for some kind of childcare at events. As a former Protestant, this was one of the unexpected differences I discovered. The separated brethren are much better at this, and it makes it sooooo much easier to participate–timewise and financially.

  12. TonyO says:

    There is a specific way in which the political methods of the left in PROCESS are being used in the Church: the advancement of clerics to the position of bishop. If you imagine the selection of a new bishop as if it were similar to the advancement of a local leader to a legislator, you can see some of the same forces at work as Adams is talking about.

    In the reign of Paul VI and JPII and Benedict, the process of selecting bishops did not change much. Mainly, priests are proposed by the bishops of a province to the papal legate, who forwards his recommendations to the Vatican (I am guessing to the Congregation for Bishops), with the Pope making the final decision. But because the Pope cannot make a decision about someone who hasn’t been proposed, and his decision can only be made on the basis of information given to him by others (such as the local bishops, the legate, or the Congregation), effectively the Pope is almost completely guided by what these others tell him.

    The process is SUPPOSED to present candidates who are outstanding in faith, good morals, zeal for souls, wise, and prudent. (Can anyone seriously argue that these criteria have been successfully met by the vast majority of the bishops? Prudent? Really?) There is no specific inclusion of a criterion of “politics” or even “conservative versus liberal” in there. Popes Paul, John Paul, and Benedict seemed to respect the process and the concepts behind it by not clearly and overwhelmingly advancing only conservative, orthodox priests, but in allowing their advisors to push forward men seemingly from “all perspectives” into being bishops. Seemingly. At the minimum, these popes did regularly advance as bishops priests who did not see eye to eye with the pope on a number of issues, which means that the popes were intent on respecting the process as being sort of “neutral” in some sense.

    Not Francis. It seems to me that that old, quaint neutrality is out the window. Francis seems to have a much clearer sense of purpose in using the process, rather than accepting the process, in order to create a set of bishops that think like he does. Can there be any other rationale for advancing someone as inept, foolish, imprudent, and downright icky as Cupich as Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago? No. But Cupich sounds just like Francis, (except he is even more extreme / cutting edge than Francis, by which Francis can push the envelope).

    Should we be concerned? You bet we should. Francis has already, in only 5 years, appointed more than half of the current electors of the College of Cardinals. He is “packing the court” as it were, putting more and more of men who do see eye to eye with him, and the ranks of the men with different perspectives dwindles. Not only do they dwindle and thus end up with less ability to affect any decisions, as they grow fewer the remaining ones receive less support in staying the course and standing up to the pressure. And these are the men who are in complete control of the process of advancing all future bishops for the foreseeable future. I don’t know of anything scarier than this, for our future prospects: one pope we can outlive. A whole curia / bishopric rigged is self-sustaining.

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