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Josh Hammer / January 29, 2021

American Elites Seek to Rig the Game

The ruling class seeks uniform control over defining the contours of permissible opinion and tolerable belief.

In the aftermath of the disgraceful Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the American ruling class has flexed its muscles like never before.

Big Tech oligarchs moved in unison to kneecap upstart Parler, a would-be Twitter competitor, and ban former President Donald Trump and scores of other conservatives. Simon & Schuster, one of the nation’s most reputable book publishers, canceled a book deal that it had commissioned with the conservative Sen. Josh Hawley. President Joe Biden, in direct defiance of his campaign-season vows to unify the country, oversaw a deeply divisive and ideological first week in office. And just this week, popular retail brokerage Robinhood took severe measures to restrict trading of GameStop’s stock after a populist Reddit-induced stock-buying frenzy dramatically spiked the firm’s share price and wreaked havoc for short-selling hedge funds.

One harkens back to that most paradigmatic of progressive mantras, once uttered by former Obama White House Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Emanuel’s rank opportunism is highly revealing. But the American ruling class seeks more than mere political opportunism. Instead, the ruling class seeks uniform control over defining the contours of permissible opinion and tolerable belief, and it is willing to wield all available levers at its disposal in order to do so.

But in order to achieve this goal, the ruling class — which, in the United States in the year 2021, is effectively coterminous with elected political left and left-adjacent, quasi-“private” appendages such as “woke capital” corporatists — needs some extra assistance. The ruling class needs more tools in its arsenal than simple gatekeeping based on requisite diplomas and proper partisan affiliation.

The ruling class’s tool of choice is to rig the game. Across all of American society, the left increasingly plays the game by one set of rules, and the “deplorable” right plays by a different set of rules. While such discriminatory tactics were, for a while, devised in subtler fashion, promulgated behind closed doors and concealed beneath euphemistic public-facing language, this concerted effort increasingly plays out before our eyes in broad daylight.

Consider how, in every presidential election since 2000 won by a Republican, Democratic congressmen and/or senators objected to at least some portion of the Electoral College result. Yet in 2020, when some Republicans in both the House and Senate did much the same, following a midpandemic election that saw the unprecedented proliferation of inherently destabilizing mail-in balloting and myriad mid-election season changes to states’ election laws, those involved are tarred as “insurrectionists” and “seditionists” because of the unrelated lawless actions of an impassioned mob. And those same Republicans lose donors, book deals and even event-space availability for fundraisers, to boot.

Consider also how, for four years during the Trump presidency, Democrats endlessly bleated and promoted the wholly implausible “Russiagate” narrative, wherein Vladimir Putin and vague “Russian bots” somehow colluded to steal the presidency for Trump. Hillary Clinton has still, to this day, never fully reconciled herself to her defeat — nor, for that matter, has Stacey Abrams ever formally conceded the 2018 gubernatorial race. But for continuing to raise questions about an election decided by a smaller margin of voters than the previous one — roughly 43,000 votes spread out across three states in 2020, compared with roughly 79,000 votes spread out across three states in 2016 — Silicon Valley oligarchs banned from social media everyone from the leader of the free world, Trump himself, to the founder and CEO of MyPillow.

Finally, consider how stock exchanges and trading brokerages this week halted trading — and, as appears to be the case, sometimes induced forcible stock selling against retail investors’ will — of GameStop’s stock in a barely concealed attempt to protect favored short-selling hedge funds and undercut mom-and-pop investors spurred on by the “WallStreetBets” subreddit. As everyone from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Ted Cruz pointed out, such actions reek of cronyism and illicit market manipulation. It is difficult to recall the last time the stock market has been so clearly revealed as a pawn of the ruling class, under which high-frequency traders and individual 401(k) savers so clearly play by different sets of rules.

The great irony of our current politics is that the very populism so decried by the ruling class is only buttressed by that very ruling class’s censoriousness and attempts to rig the game in its own favor. It is not yet too late for elites to look in the mirror, take some deep breaths and stop before it is too late.

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