Will the guilty ever have to answer for the damage they did by pushing the Corona-Panic and disastrous policy responses, including the “Big V”?
This week Matthew J. Peterson weighed in with dark visions of a future of CoronaPanic-politics worth some attention and consideration. Peterson is a U.S. right-wing intellectual, writer, editor, and publisher of some influence.
He hints at a coming backlash, reckoning, or other unsavory follow-on effects amounting to a kind of political insurgency to come at some time in the next two years, against the accumulated and ongoing damage from the Corona-Panic.
Peterson has, I believe, in the same commentary also signaled, indirectly, that he will support Ron DeSantis in 2024 over Trump. Read his own words (in full, below) to see if you agree with that interpretation.
I quote Matthew Peterson, who posted the following on June 18, 2022 (lightly edited for formatting):
“Virus response is Trump’s biggest weakness and DeSantis’s greatest strength.
If Trump wants to run [in 2024,] he should make clear he wasn’t for mandates, etc., because what all the cool kids know is that when the terrible truth about the vax starts spilling over the dam, the Left will blame Trump. DeSantis knows this. And is best positioned to win as the single greatest reasoned opponent of Fauci in America.
I also think it’s unclear what kind of psychic break this development will cause in the next two years for many who have enthusiastically gone along over the last two years. It’s so difficult that it may be everyone just ignores the data and lives in denial. But if it does out—and the current numbers are bloody bad—the political and cultural consequences will be wild and unpredictable. I’m talking extremely wild, extremely unpredictable in ways I can’t state publicly without attracting federal attention.
I support both Trump and DeSantis. It was a complicated situation for everyone. But Trump will need to get ahead of this issue and address it in the next few months if he wants to position himself in the primary.” [End]
Now, understand that this statement is not one private person spouting off an opinion. Matthew Peterson is the editor of The American Mind, one of the publications associated with the Claremont Institute, and holds a high position within Claremont itself (as “vice president of education”). Claremont is a right-wing think tank, and an important nexus of one kind of intellectual and respectable, more-or-less “in-system” right-wing activity and thought since the 1980s.
As a public personality and leading figure within the Claremont Institute, Peterson himself counts as a political actor in his own right, punching far above his “weight” (if you incline to measure “weight” by a crass social-media-follower-count metric). In terms of possible influence on people like DeSantis and Blumpf, Peterson and other key figures of the Claremont School are a big deal, even if the typical politically active person has not heard of them. They have close ties to both DeSantis and Trump, and there are plenty of pictures and video to prove it. DeSantis gave a keynote speech at their annual gala in late 2021.
The moral courage shown by Ron DeSantis, to openly oppose the might and fury of the Corona-Panic Monster at the height of its social-cultural-political mighty and fury, may itself ensure that Ron DeSantis is the next U.S. president—as well it should.
UPDATE: The following is from a June 15, 2022, discussion with Matt Peterson, published by The American Mind and the Claremont Institute:
Spencer Klavan: It’s incredibly offensive to me…that the things we are being told constantly to get emotionally invested in and assert our virtue over, that they are distorted parodies of things that are actually “life and death,” that actually do matter. When you step back and think about the fact that all of these ideas–like “our democracy”–that they’re constantly evoking are actually real things, it becomes even more infuriating that they’re being paraded like “shadows on the cave wall” by these midwits.
Matt Peterson: Yes, and in the meantime the government intercepts all information, and Democratic law firms sift through it to exploit it for political gain. While we’re supposed to be amused by the “shadows.”
In the meantime, the gun law stuff is is real. The arrests are real. Even the mainstream media is reporting on Gascon in Los Angeles, and about how regular Democrats are just dumbfounded. This really is a guy who wants to disarm the good guys and let the bad guys run rampant over a city and commit crime.
They’ve taken real sacred things, important things, and…they’ve denigrated them. They’ve reduced it to rubble, rhetorically, and make these things meaningless. They’re in this kind of cycle of rhetorical destruction. And given as all the real things happening, it’s dangerous. We’re burning out cultural capital for any kind of normalcy. We expect, now, to see nothing but “fake news,” all the way down, all the time. That lack of trust is a real thing.
I do think there’ll be a reckoning. You don’t get away with this, for long, without real division. Civil disobedience and violence. I don’t really see an ability to pacify everyone.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot with the with the virus. To say something ‘spicy’: It really looks like there’s a real problem with the Vaccine. It’s not a joke. It doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to keep that under wraps. When they do [talk about it], they’ll probably blame Trump for it.
What kind of psychic break is going to happen if it does turn out–and I think it already has happened–that we’re causing a lot of of death through something that everyone was already so religious about [i.e., vaccines]. Forget about partisan politics. I think that’s going to look really nasty…
[end quote from Matt Peterson]
On the Claremont School and its opposition to the Corona-Panic
Peterson’s visions of a backlash or “reckoning” are not quite typical of Claremont Institute’s normal discourse. Many people reading this I am sure are asking, “What is Claremont.” It is a late-20th-century right-wing intellectual tradition not easily describable especially because it is so academic.
Any discussion of the “Claremont School” of intellectual conservatism, or neoconservatism, and what it is now or was ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago, can get complicated quickly. But important is this: the new generation of leading men are not repackaged old-line Neoconservatives. They are something more like intellectual nationalist-leaning populists. Granted, the Neocons’ tentacles are always probing for openings and the interpersonal ties and non-Christian ethno-cultural-political affiliations of some of them will have their impact, but it’s probably not worth making too much of that.
Suffice it to say, for present purposes, the Claremont School people became Trump backers, and remained so in 2020. They also became vocal and consistent and radical critics of the Corona-Panic in essentially all its forms, or in the terms I have used, they joined the Anti-Panic side.
In late 2021, I published a commentary on a political cartoon out of Claremont purporting to depict America’s Ruling Class as of the early 2020s, one feature of which was a mad-scientist shoving enormous needles at people, raining them down on faceless and disorganized people down below.
(Those interested in what the Claremont School looks like in practice in recent years, should consult writings by Michael Anton, one of the leading commentators of the Claremont School in recent years, who was a diehard Trump partisan until the end after many of the rest of us wavered or gave up on the man. Anton is criticized by paleoconservatives and right-wing libertarians for the usual reasons the Claremont School is criticized, its vision of what America is, or originally was. // Another Claremont name of note is the right-wing legal scholar John Eastman. This man is lately in the news due to his memo, in capacity as special advisor to the White House, in December 2020, that the vice president could and should legally delay the counting of electoral votes because several state legislatures were petitioning for time, to allow states to investigate the hundreds of thousands or more of tainted ballots and mystery ballots in the key states, and other irregularities and questionable practices involving top-down rule changes, which had illegally nullified the power to regulate elections which always belongs the state legislatures—all in the name of a Flu Virus Emergency, of course.)
My reading of Matthew Peterson’s statement, in light of his position as a Claremont figure, is this:
(1) “Corona-Politics” is not over, as a Reckoning is yet coming. That is to say, just because the masks are gone and it’s out of the news, it doesn’t mean the damage is gone, or forgotten, or even over;
(2) Peterson’s statement is tantamount to an outright endorsement of Ron DeSantis for president;
(3) Peterson’s statement is a guarded criticism of Dernald J. Blompf, specifically hiss failure to forcefully enough resist the Corona-Panic in 2020, his failure to emerge as a consistent opponent of the ongoing Corona-Panic Monster in 2021, his continuing silence even now and his never admitting error or failure, all of which disqualifies Trump from any political future. Peterson inserts a tactful denial, at the end, that this anti-Trump line is what he means.
When Peterson says he supports Trump, I interpret that to mean he supports the symbol of Trump. As I say, he has to be more circumspect in his position than a more polemic writer. We are entitled to interpret his meanings in this light.
Another reason Peterson is not openly critical of Trump is that Peterson knows his voice could influence Trump and may want to influence Trump to reform and use his (Trump’s) demagogic talents and bully-pulpit to oppose the remnants and the evils of the Corona-Panic and its ugly and unsavory legacy. So far, Trump has failed to do this, and it seemed to me Trump was “over” when he began getting booed by his own supporters who had specifically come out to see him, when he started bragging about the miracle vaccines. I detect some of the framing Peterson gives as an appeal to Trump’s vanity and addiction to drama (the prediction that the Left will concertedly blame Trump for the vaccines when it is revealed how many died of side-effects).
But the more interesting contribution to the discussion from Matthew Peterson is that a backlash could be coming. How bad will the Democrats lose in the legislative election in November 2022? If the Republicans take some huge number, like 260+ seats in the House of Representatives and 56 Senate seats, which would mean winning virtually every competitive race, the opponents of the Corona-Panic would probably be empowered enough to push the matter. But it sounds like the dark visions Matthew Peterson has will manifest not from “above” as from in a Congressional hearing but from “below.”