Last week a chilling essay by Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira made waves on the margins of the Twittersphere, where it was re-tweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and subsequently blasted by British conservative James Delingpole. Yesterday the piece was cited by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post, which has brought it fully into the media mainstream.
The thesis of the Leyden/ Teixeira piece is that "in this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward." U.S. politics is so polarized in the Trump era that it can be re-framed as something akin to a "civil war," the authors write. In energy and economic policy, in particular, we see "two different political cultures already at odds through different political ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews. They see the world through different lenses, consume different media, and literally live in different places. They start to misunderstand the other side, then start to misrepresent them, and eventually make them the enemy. The opportunity for compromise is then lost. This is where America is today."
Leyden and Teixeira might be right about where America is today. But what's the solution? "At some point," they write, "one side or the other must win—and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated — not just for a political cycle or two, but for a generation or two." Here's the pièce de résistance. "Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history." The G.O.P. is "the party of climate change denial," and of "rule by and for billionaires." What is needed, Leyden and Teixeira conclude, is "Democratic one-party rule."
This is happy-face tyranny—of precisely the sort conservative bad boys like Jonah Goldberg and Dinesh D'Souza have been warning about for years. It is impossible to know what kind of traction the Leyden/ Teixeira thesis will have on the American left, or indeed whether such burn-down-the-Reichstag rhetoric, until now the currency of anti-Trump intellectuals like Professor Timothy Snyder, will turn out to be a timeless gift to the right. But it ought to give Americans of every political stripe pause—particularly young Americans, for whom one-party rule for "a generation or two" would mean a lifetime under the yoke.