an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.
We’ve had 3 insurrections in the past 12 months. Version 1.0 was done by some in public health who thought they could suspend the Constitution (somewhere I have a quote from a public health person who actually said that). Version 2.0 was a combination of Antifa, anarchists and right wing provocateurs, and version 3.0 was extreme right pro-Trumpers on January 6th.
Insurrection seems quite common – is it stoppable? I think so but it requires a government that truly listens, bases decisions on evidence and logic, explains clearly and is transparent.
Unfortunately, seems unlikely we will see that soon.
Insurrection Version 1.0
In late winter and early spring of 2020, public health authorities stripped Americans of basic freedoms, locking us up in our homes and threatening us with arrest if we stepped outside. They prohibited us from seeking non-emergency health care and soon mandated we become anonymous people with covered faces.
Some public health experts even said the Constitution is suspended in a public health emergency. While the law gives public health wide latitude, the Constitution is never suspended. If it were, then our government would itself no longer exist.
Courts subsequently ruled that Constitutional protections remain in place.
Public health authorities staged Insurrection version 1.0 – it took the Courts to put a stop to their insurrection. Their actions fit the dictionary definition of insurrection.
Insurrection Version 2.0
I used to live near Portland, Oregon. The day after Trump was elected President in 2016, Portland was subjected to six nights of “mostly peaceful protests” that caused over $1 million in property damage and resulted in one person shot.
These actions led to the online creation of “The Resistance” which staged “mostly peaceful protests” in many areas.
In late May of 2020, a “mostly peaceful protest” led to over 1,000 buildings destroyed or damaged in Minneapolis, MN, causing an estimated $2 billion in insured losses. “Mostly peaceful protestors” demanded police be defunded – and if they were not, they would “intensify” their “mostly peaceful protests”.
On June 2nd, public health “experts” promoted these “mostly peaceful protests” saying protesting was now more important than fighting a virus (Yes, really).
By the late spring of 2020, nightly mass protests began in Portland that lasted every night the rest of the year. These “mostly peaceful protests” involved significant acts of violence, injuries, breaking windows, setting fire to buildings and other property damage.
These “mostly peaceful protests” were at first connected to the Minneapolis protests and issues but soon devolved into anarchy, involved a self described group known as “Antifa” and at times, right wing extremist groups such as “Proud Boys” whose intent seemed to be to antagonize Antifa. While these “mostly peaceful protests” became smaller (hundreds instead of thousands of people) and sometimes merely dozens, they continued, mostly, up through New Years Eve, Dec 31, 2020 – when the mostly peaceful protests led to more property damage in Portland.
This was Insurrection 2.0 and fits the dictionary definition, above.
Insurrection Version 3.0
On January 6, 2021, “mostly peaceful protestors” from extreme right wing groups surrounded the U.S. Capitol and later rushed inside, breaking down windows and doors, causing property damage and looting. Subsequently, the FBI has arrested about 135 people, some of whom have been charged with attempted murder as evidence suggested they were out to kidnap or kill members of the U.S. Congress and the Vice President of the United States.
Most everyone saw this for what it was – open sedition to overthrow the U.S. government and our democracy. This action needs little explanation of what took place by extremist groups, many of whom shared beliefs that were literally insane.
Insurrections 2.0 and 3.0 were made possible by social media platforms, each of which was used extensively for propaganda operations, recruiting and organizing.
Social media is a frictionless platform for the spread of propaganda. Anyone may most anything – and through Likes and Shares – spread messages far and wide. Past research shows that most people merely read “the headline”. Virtually no one fact checks anything. And few will confront their “Friends” about sharing falsehoods. As a result, disinformation spreads like wildfires in high winds.
Unfortunately there does not seem to be any way to control social media – except for public education for the people to turn off the spigot and walk away. But the dopamine hits from positive feedback may be too difficult to shut off – and social media may continue as a net negative for society.
How to Stop the Insurrections
The solution is for government to return to the basics, of, by and for the people, operating with the consent of the governed.
This means government employees and politicians must listen to the public.
This means government rules must be formed in calibration with the people, not over the people.
This means the government must be transparent and honest and fair.
Insurrection 1.0 was staged by public health authorities – who, even with broad powers – failed to explain what they were doing and why, and frequently went beyond what was legal for them to do (and were eventually overruled by the Courts). Public health staged an insurrection.
Second, public health had no mechanism to seek public input. It is understandable that an emergency requires temporary authority to get emergency actions underway. In my state, however, the Governor can issue an emergency proclamation (which she did) and renew it every 60 days (which she did). Under the emergency, agencies are not required to obtain consent of the governed – or even listen to public feedback.
This devolves into public health authoritarianism forever. 10 months later we still have no exit strategy.
These actions placed over a free society with well established cultural norms created frustration and anger. They closed many businesses, laid off millions of workers, and are acknowledged to – by the time this is over – have set kids’ education back by 12 to 18 months.
Of course the people become suspicious, begin to believe conspiracy theories, and begin to take actions – literally leading to insurrection movements.
The solution is to return to good governance and listen, listen, listen, listen to the people. We’ve had bad government at multiple levels, from Federal to local. Until government returns to respecting the people – and listening – we will continue to see insurrectionist movements.
More authoritarianism is not the solution – it will only lead to more insurrection movements.
And just like that, protestors that appear to have self identified as leftist protestors (not a misprint) are attacking the Democratic Party HQ in Portland Oregon after Biden was sworn in.
Their sign says “We don’t want Biden – we want revenge”, “For police murders”, “Imperialist Wars” and “Fascist Massacres”. Per other news reports, dumpsters were set on fire and an an onramp to I-84 was blocked by the protesters.
The culture of perpetual outrage lives on! These people are as crazy as the MAGA pro-Trumpers on January 6th – both of which subscribe to crazy conspiracy theories delivered mostly through social media propaganda.
There had been threats of large protests at all 50 state capitols but apparently none of those happened.