By Roger Kimball
What motivates people?
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes thought that, at bottom, there were two things: the desire for power (an expression of a more general desire for self-perpetuation) and fear, also an expression, though a negative one, of the desire for life.
In a famous passage of “Leviathan,” Hobbes writes, “I put as a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”
The other side of this general inclination, Hobbes thought, was the “Desire of ease, and sensual delight,” allegiance to which was the soft side of that tyrannical “Fear of death and wounds” that induced men to obedience and conformity.
A lot of ink, mournful or triumphalist depending on its source, has been spilled making predictions about what will happen in the United States should Joe Biden become president.
Another theme, running softly like an obbligato through that mighty narrative, also deserves our attention.
We know about the Dems in charge. They’ve promised higher taxes, nonstop wokeness and virtue signaling, more climate hysteria (here’s looking at you John “reporting-for-duty” Kerry), more Mullah-coddling and China-appeasing, and hordes of new Democratic voters hustled over our Southern border.
They have also promised to regulate coal and fracking and fossil fuels out of economic contention, which is another salient in their attack on prosperity itself. (Remember John Holdren, Obama’s prophet of “a massive campaign to de-develop” the United States? He would be back in a Biden administration.)
All of that—and I leave out of account what would happen should the Democrats also flip the Senate—all of that, I say, might be aggregated under the plus column of the Hobbesian typology of human motivation: the desire for, and exercise of, power.
But what about the other side?
The 2020 presidential election, however it is finally decided, will be important for what does not happen as well as what does.
I have no doubt that Democrats were highly motivated in the election in order to pursue their socialist, anti-American agenda.
But they were also powerfully motivated by fear.
Consider some of the things that will not happen should Joe Biden assume the presidency.
John Durham. Remember John Durham? He’s the fellow who has spent months and months and months investigating the investigators, looking into the cesspool of corruption and partisan malfeasance that underwrote what I have called the greatest political scandal in American history.
I mean the whole Russia Collusion Delusion, featuring Robert Mueller G-man extraordinaire, and a host of supporting actors from James Comey, Christopher Steele, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, John Brennan, and James Clapper on down.
Poof. Gone. The Durham investigation would be gone. Thanks for your service, John, but it’s time to think about spending more time with your family now and, besides, we need that office space for some Title IX inquiries. Just leave your files next to the shredder on your way out.
The Clinton Foundation. You remember the Clinton Foundation. That was the siphon through which hundreds of millions of dollars passed from influence seekers into the pockets of the Clinton family coffers. There were people in the DOJ looking into that operation, too, but you can be sure they would be furloughed before being exiled entirely should the Biden-Harris circus come to town.
Hunter Biden and his laptop from hell. Depending on where you get your news, you may or may not have heard much about Hunter’s laptop on the run-up to the election. It was one of the stories of the season, but since it was election season, the Media Industrial Complex closed ranks and put the story in a hermetically sealed container.
Alas, telling the saga of what Rudy Giuliani rightly called the Biden Crime Family’s corrupt dealings with China, Ukraine, and elsewhere, depends on a Trump victory.
That story, already half under wraps, is destined for the oubliette should Biden become president.
Fair and Free Elections
My point is this: fear as well as greed has been a powerful motivating force in explaining the desperate tactics employed by the Left to secure the presidency for the disagreeable and senescent political hack at the head of the Democratic ticket.
The agenda he and—more to the point—his leftwing puppeteers hope to enact was one motivating factor.
Their desire to free themselves from scrutiny for their years—in some case, decades—of corruption was another, equally powerful motivation.
Doubtless, many of them of them believe they can breathe easy now. Joe is almost president, isn’t he?
Well, is he?
I said that the whole Russia Collusion hoax was the biggest scandal in American history.
That award might be about to be transferred to the 2020 presidential election.
Fair and free elections are essential to the maintenance of democracy.
Perhaps we have just witnessed how difficult it is to assure their perpetuation in the face of concerted partisan interference.
The first U.S. presidential election was held in December, 1788. We’ve come a long way in two hundred and thirty-two years.
It was a good run, maybe the best in history. It would be sad to see it go.
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”
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