Forty years ago there was a great show on NBC called Hill Street Blues. It was an early player in the gritty police drama genre, a-la The Wire or Bosch. The ensemble show was led by Daniel J. Travanti playing Capt. Frank Furillo and his love interest, the stunning Veronica Hamel as public defender Joyce Davenport.
In one episode the police had arrested a suspect for a particularly heinous crime and Davenport was his attorney. There was a giant mob in front of the jail demanding the suspect’s head. Furillo knew the suspect was guilty but the man refused to confess.
In order to “encourage” the suspect to confess, Furillo told Davenport that her client was being released. The suspect, knowing that if he walked out that door he would be set upon by the frothing crowd, decided to confess. Davenport was furious so we expect Furillo might have been sleeping on the couch that night…
That episode was an example of mob rule, albeit one orchestrated by the government. The more common form or mob rule is what happened down in North Carolina some weeks ago when the University of North Carolina gave in to the literal mob outside their doors and offered Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure. The university had previously offered the writer of the insidious 1619 Project a five-year contract – sans tenure, and she had accepted. Soon however Hannah-Jones decided that such a contract demonstrated UNC’s racism and soon the university was overrun by a mob demanding she be granted tenure. And as the cowards that university administrators typically are, they complied and offered her tenure. Something happened on the way to their final capitulation however… after the offer of tenure that Hannah-Jones had demanded came through, she decided she’d rather not.
That is episode is a microcosm of exactly what is going on in America today: Somebody feels aggrieved, social media engages and enrages an army of supporters to protest against the racist in question and they eventually apologize and acquiesce to whatever is demanded of them.
That’s not quite how civil society is supposed to operate. That’s particularly true as it relates to government action. If Target or Facebook or Coke or Nike or Disney want to beclown themselves by genuflecting at the altar of wokeness that’s their business and citizens have the option of shunning their products or services. With government, however, there is no such freedom. Government, by its very nature, applies to all citizens equally, or at least that’s the theory. As such, when government bows to the mob and acquiesces to its demands, the rule of law suffers.
The last few years have been a virtual tour de force of government acquiescence to the mob. One of the early examples of this was Baltimore and its previous mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. As the chaos erupted across the city, the mayor not only acquiesced to the mob, she literally gave them permission to wreak havoc: “We also gave those wished to destroy space as well.” That is the definition of mob rule, and the mayor of a major American city let it happen. As is usual with Democrat treachery, little thought was given to the rights of innocent citizens whose property was destroyed, whose lives were put in jeopardy or whose freedoms were quashed as they hunkered down in their homes hoping to survive the chaos and violence.
Not to be outdone by the vacuous Baltimore mayor, in the summer of 2020, in the midst of telling Americans that they needed to essentially live like hermits to battle Covid, mayors across the country not only allowed mobs to rampage via “mostly peaceful” demonstrations, they took up the mob demands of “Defund the Police”. The result has predictably been a skyrocketing of violent crime across the country with cities like Portland, Chicago, and New York leading the way.
The extraordinary thing about this acquiescence to the leftist mobs is that it runs contrary to the wishes of a majority of Americans, by a wide margin… and of virtually every demographic. But that is the modern Democrat party, which sits somewhere to the left of Stalin. Their goal is not to make the country a better place for their constituents, never mind all citizens, it’s not to empower Americans to find success and pursue happiness, it’s not even to reduce crime or improve schools. No, Democrats, like most politicians, seek one thing: Power. And they’ve found the most base element of human nature to gain it and hold it: the violence of the mob.
This brings us back to the beginning. Our Republic was crafted specifically to protect citizens against mob rule. The United States has never been a democracy because the Founding Fathers understood that mob rule was a recipe for tyranny and thus crafted the mechanism of our Constitution specifically to protect the nation from such. The staggered terms of office, the states appointing Senators, the recognition of individual rights in the Bill of Rights and more, all of those things were intended to limit government power and restrain the unbridled passions of mobs seeking to wield the levers of power. James Madison wrote in the very first line of Federalist #10: “Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”
Madison was talking about majority factions taking control of the government and using that position to trample on the rights of the minority. But today the mob doesn’t even have to go through the process of convincing a sufficient number of citizens of the benefits of their positions to get voted into office. Why bother trying to debate ideas or convince voters when you can accomplish your goals by utilizing violence or the threat of such to get the government – or private sector to do your bidding? The reality is, violence is an extraordinarily efficient means for accomplishing one’s goals, and it’s made that much easier when the government officials charged with enforcing the laws are sympathetic to your cause, or worse complicit in the threats of said violence.
The tyranny of the mob we are seeing spread out across the country would no doubt have saddened the Founding Fathers, but it likely would not have surprised them. Ben Franklin, when asked about the kind of government that emerged from the Constitutional Convention responded “A Republic if you can keep it” while Alexander Hamilton observed “Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” There’s something sadly ironic that a nation founded by such intellectual giants should be felled by imbeciles like Joe Biden, Nikole Hannah-Jones, AOC, and Bill de Blasio who have the luxury of attacking it only because it created sufficient prosperity in the first place that they never had to actually do anything productive in their lives.