When it comes to political chess, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is if the other side manages to collect all the powerful, important pieces.
Do you ever feel as if you’re living in a giant metaphysical chess game? Right now, I’m struggling to find patterns and connections in America that make any sense to me. I think the problem for me is that we are experiencing a vast ideological clash in which two competing realities are fighting it out for national supremacy. Moreover, not only do these ideologies not overlap, they cannot exist in the same space at the same time. They are the ideological equivalent of the common sense observation that, in the ordinary physical world (no advanced physics or metaphysics here, please), two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If the cat wants the dog bed, the dog is dispossessed.
In many ways, we are living through a battle to the death pitting the American against the French Revolution. Back in the 18th century, the American Revolution sought to replace the tyranny of the monarchy with the freedom of the individual; the French Revolution sought to replace the tyranny of the monarchy with the tyranny of “the people.” It’s a giant chess game, with the winner controlling the board for generations.
Those of us who call ourselves conservative (or classically liberal or libertarian) are still fighting the American revolution, in that we want maximum individual liberty, with the state existing to facilitate, rather than to destroy, that liberty. Arrayed against us are those who are battling hard to replace our somewhat repressive government with a highly repressive government.
Conservatives are fighting their battles in traditional venues (polite Tea Party protests and respectable vote-casting) while the Leftists are fighting their battles in the institutions (taking over government, taking over academics, taking over media, etc.). The battle is asymmetrical because we don’t have common venues. Like chess, rather than defeating your enemy face to face, fighting it out to bloody death within a single square, the player with the most pieces wins. If they take the government (as in the Deep State), the universities (as in creating an ideologically brainwashed leadership class), and the media (leaving no voice for competing ideas), does it matter if we bring 1,000,000 to a polite street protest or even win in the polls. They’ve won the most important pieces. We may have the pawns, but they have enough control over the board to say “checkmate.”
All of which gets me back, again, to those connections and patterns. I can’t make them happen in a world in which I’m on the black squares and you’re on the white squares, and our facts do not align.
I see a duly elected president with a rather crude, but highly effective communication style, doing everything traditional Americans should like: appointing judges who follow the law, securing America’s borders, putting fear into our overseas enemies, withdrawing the government from the marketplace in order to create a successful free-market environment, etc.
The Lefties sit on the black squares, though, and see an entirely different game. My duly elected president is their interloper who bought an election with the aid of Russia (which was, until the moment Trump triumphed, the Lefties’ old buddy); my shrinking down the government is their claim that Trump is a fascist because they hate shrinkage; my treating people equally under the law is their claim that anything other than preferential treatment for non-whites constitutes a Hitler-esque purge tantamount to a Holocaust; my making America a nation respected by others, with dangerous tyrants brought to heel, is their “nobody we care about likes him and that’s dangerous”: and my free market is, God alone knows how, crony capitalism in the service of the rich (never mind that it’s the middle and working classes who benefit spectacularly from Trump’s withdrawing government from the marketplace).
I see no way to create connections and narratives from these two views of the world. Scott Adams promised that, as the facts revealed themselves, those whose reality did not align with the facts would have to accept the reality . . . but they’re not. Instead, as each of their carefully constructed paradigms collapses before their eyes, they double down.
This doubling down shows itself most clearly in the whole collusion/obstruction narrative:
- In fact, there is no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia for the specific purpose of winning the White House.
- In fact, there is significant evidence that, using various well-paid intermediaries, the Clinton campaign colluded with elements within Russia for the specific purpose of winning the White House.
- In fact, there is no evidence that Trump acted to obstruct justice.
- In fact, there is significant evidence that the
TrumpObama administration, the DOJ, and the FBI, either working in concert or independently of each other, spiked the inquiry into Hillary’s violation of national security laws, while using Russian-obtained rumors to mount a false investigation against Trump and his campaign.
Those facts ought to shift into a new conservative paradigm, but they don’t. That’s because, on the chessboard, the Lefties may not control the facts, but they control the important pieces in a non-bloody asymmetrical war: media, Deep State, academia. Checkmate.
While I once would have said that facts, those stubborn old things, would always prevail, today I’m not so sure. — and why should I be? After all, Kim Jong-un managed to be the third in line to run a Kingdom built entirely on fantasy. The Soviet Union had a 71-year-long run on fantasy ruling. Facts may be stubborn, but fantasists are more stubborn.
Sorry that this is a bit of a discursive post (not to mention one ignorant about the finer points of chess). I’ve been trying to figure out, though, why I’m not blogging lately and it’s because I’m having a hard time pulling a single narrative out of the violently clashing facts and lies that are washing over America. I would have thought it would be easier to handle competing narratives — one based on facts, one not — but I’m finding it unusually hard to wrap my mind around fighting chimeras.
Photo credit: Chess Kings and knight winning by Andreas Kontokanis; Creative Commons, some rights reserved.