Braveheart And The Republican Party
At or near the top of my favorite movies is “Braveheart.” Never mind Mel Gibson’s subsequent occasional rants in his private life, including some drunken anti-Semitic remarks to a police officer, the genesis of which I don’t understand. So he’s human. That’s not exactly shocking. But the movie dramatizes the Scottish Wars Of Independence, almost 700 years prior to the film’s production in 1995. The actual history of William Wallace’s life is obviously sketchy, with only a few battles, the general social structure, and Wallace’s ultimate execution and dismemberment agreed upon. So, much is introduced to create the drama. So consider the story irrespective of historical merits.
The general roles are fairly typical of human conflicts in any organization. The Scots are dominated by the English king against whom they fight for their independence. Though he is thought to have been of low nobility, Wallace is presented as an insurgent leader of a movement and fighter of commoners. The Scottish nobility swings between support of the movement and conciliation with the English king that guarantees their title status and estates, as their practical calculations dictate. The movie depicts Wallace executing one of the Scottish nobles after collaborating with the English forces in deserting a battle. And one leader of the nobles is sent to betray Wallace on the battlefield. A landmark of the movie is Wallace’s realization of that betrayal.
Years ago, I saw parallels in the American political struggle. And they now seem more clear as the stakes are more stark. Though of course all Democrats aren’t after suppression, the Democrat agenda and the party leaders seem to be the English monarchy that seeks to dominate and restrain the liberties of the Scottish people. The Tea Party grassroots constitutionalists are the commoners fighting for liberty. And the establishment Republicans are the Scottish nobles, maneuvering for their survival and position. We see some of them devising to defeat elements of The Tea Party that they are certain will doom them to defeat. Sure, The Constitution is a nice idea, but we’ll have nothing if we fully face off with the opposition and are conquered. And I think the ultimate power they fear is the influence of the popular culture in media and education that the public is bathed in. And that fear is particularly acute among those, generally older Republicans who learned the trade after the decades when all mass communication was controlled by Republican adversaries, before its broadening with the developments of pay television and the Internet. In the movie, the commoners ARE ultimately defeated. But we are in a battle of ideas and principles. We really risk less by fighting nobly for them.
However among those dithering conservatives, those early lessons are not easily dismissed. They are certain they will lose a direct confrontation even though many of them believe they are the custodians of the truth about what is just and effective and the principles the nation was founded on. The truth may be a fine thing, but they see it as of no extraordinary power in the battle. And when push comes to shove, the liberties of the commoners fall behind their calculations of practicality. You will hear them say, “We agree on objectives. We just disagree on tactics.” And I agree. Plainly, many understand and articulate the virtue of our objectives. But believing and speaking are one thing. Fighting and bleeding are quite another. I believe it is their tactics that are the loser. It is the feebleness of those tactics that loses ideological ground continually and finds constitutional principle in the battered condition in which we find it today. The truth deserves more noble and assertive representation. The commoners should campaign with the establishment. But they should watch their backs.