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The Future of America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Carolyn Kaster

The American future is always in motion, and those who seek to shape it must understand the forces that move it. That goes double for those of us who try to work with the sense of the American people — versus the other side that labors against it. 


The year 2023 opens with the institutions of Silicon Valley and Wall Street alike seemingly on the precipice. A wave of announced layoffs coupled with grim fiscal forecasting portend the much-feared recession. What begins at the commanding heights of the economy, with Big Tech and Big Finance on the insulated coasts, inevitably ends up on Main Street in the American heartland. The flurry of major media stories announcing that the Biden Administration has, at last, conquered inflation gives the sense of a rearguard action asking the American people to believe anything but their own lying eyes. 

There is a surreal quality to the efforts at denial. The elites running progressive governance’s messaging apparatus in major media proceed as if their efforts matter beyond themselves. They used to: what appeared on the editorial page of the New York Times used to be a thing of national importance. The CBS anchorman could kill an American war effort in a single three-minute monologue. The Washington Post could doggedly pursue a presidency whose titular figure it disliked on mostly social grounds and destroy it. All that superstructure of societal authority is within living memory, but even Americans who remember it no longer hew to it signaling. 

The messengers forge ahead, however, and there is value in it — because it alerts the rest of us to what they do not wish for us to see. We aren’t supposed to notice that the disastrous economics of the Biden years are about to be visited upon American homes and communities. We aren’t supposed to notice that the most egregious hoarder of unsecured classified documents isn’t Donald Trump, but Joe Biden. We aren’t supposed to notice that the people who have spent the past half-decade fulminating about democrat norms and free speech are the same ones who implored Big Tech to shut down both. We aren’t supposed to notice that the original sinner of biographic fabulism in Congress was not a Republican Congressman from Long Island but a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts. Also, a Democrat Senator from Connecticut. Also, a former Democrat Senator from Delaware. 


The underlying phenomenon of all this is perhaps the signal phenomenon of the moment: regime protection. In place of a sense of democrat stewardship — an ethic of responsibility toward and for the American people at large — there is a perennial and endless scramble to solidify rule by a particular class. That class, highly credentialed and highly connected, lost power once — in November 2016 — and it determined never to see it happen again. 

This brings us to the value of in-group signaling to them. For us, the great mass of ordinary Americans, the incessant birdshot-peppering of increasingly preposterous talking points of the day — “drag queen story hour is good for kids,” perhaps, or most recently, “your gas stove is killing you” — can seem a bewildering snowstorm of weirdly tactical pinpricks. For the regime and its defenders, however, they are marching orders to a swarm. That swarm, activated and directed, has the virtue of moving on command, turning on a dime, and given the proper objective, overwhelming its victims. 

When we understand this, then we understand how to defend against it. If the regime employs swarm methods and tactical appeals, then we have recourse to the only real defenses — in nature and society alike — against them. Against swarms operating on received messaging, we generate our own masses of ordinary Americans, activated and alert. Against tactical and transitory attacks, we bring to bear the strategic and enduring. The other side understands this very well, which is why you see it readily elevate and promote self-described conservatives whose brand is mostly attacking the Right. 


We can do better. The future of the Right, and therefore the future of America, is in coalitions. We win not when we prevail on points of difference with our erstwhile fellow travelers but when we discover points of concurrence. That’s putting our movement first, as it should be. It is something else, too — to borrow a phrase, it is putting America first.

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