"What's your wife think about that?"

Explore the psychology and ideology of the "Lynchriot" through Lakeland mayoral candidate Saga Stevin's weird, sexualized answers to public policy questions and the words of a very needy commenter.


As I’ll fully explain in a moment, I consider Lakeland mayoral candidate Saga Stevin a low stakes scrimmage for a Big Game I hope does not come. That’s why I’m spending the time I’m spending to explore and document her candidacy. It’s useful for thinking ahead.

Saga talks often about the Confederate statue the Lakeland City Commission voted to remove a couple years ago as the centerpiece of our downtown. I don’t know if she’s ever visited its new location, a mile or so away, among a monument garden of other war memorials that is part of the RP Funding Center complex.

I’ve heard Saga say multiple times that removing the statue to a low-traffic location of commemoration — not civic power in downtown — sparked her very decision to run. But she has never said, with any clarity, if she will vote or advocate to return Confederatism and the statue's pro-slavery messaging to what she considers its rightful place in the heart of Lakeland’s civic and community life.

She’s ignored my written questions on this and other matters. So I decided to get her on video at an event in Lakeland where she was publicly campaigning. Our discussion started with this:

“I’m Billy. Hi.”

“You’re the one totally crushing on me. Omigod, you are so in love with me. What’s your wife think about that?”

See the rest here:

This is the person who, if elected mayor, would most fully represent and give public voice to the values and culture and commerce our city projects to its citizens and the outside world.

The demon and the PATRIOT

Now let’s put a pin in Saga for a second.

Let’s meet a person calling himself “Just Joe.” He recently spent some portion of his life in which he might have been doing something more productive or rewarding to read and comment twice on an article I wrote. I generally avoid quoting comments from addled people. Very little good tends to come from it. But this one is useful, I think. Pay particular attention to the deeply needy sentence in bold, not the grievance-drenched, Saga-esque fake bravado that surrounds it.

I believe that Billy Townsend is demon possessed with his hate speech. What has any PATRIOT done to hurt you? You obviously have not attended any of the gatherings to see many who look different in attendance! You are literally racially divisive and a hateful human being. Anyone who listens to your dribble and believes it must have issues like you.

I too attended these events. If you find the truth you will stop the rantings against Roger Stone. Why are you bashing those who voted for President Trump? WE THE PEOPLE run America. Government works for us and we are the majority. Your small minded base will see the TRUTH! IT IS COMING. EVERY LIE WILL BE REVEALED…

What has any PATRIOT done to hurt you? That’s such an intriguing and approval-seeking question. There’s so much happening with the language — so much weakness buried in the aggression and projection of menace and literal “demon”-izing.

Don’t you see we’re lynching Congress and nullifying your vote for your own good? Why do you make me do this to you, honey?

My heart bleeds for whatever pain turned this person into this person — and how it affects his family and loved ones. If I can ever help him or them, I will. But, at the same time, those of us who are not broken must deal with the reality of what Just Joe and Saga embody in our communities today. If we don’t, they will fill the vacuum in our moral and civic spaces with their petty viciousness and cultural vandalism.

Neither patriot nor PATRIOT

Common American political vocabulary is not up to the task of accurately describing this ongoing battle for American moral and civic space.

Our political words, like “liberal” or “conservative” or “centrist” or “right” or “left” or “moderate” or “fascist” or “socialist” or “communist” do not help us understand or improve America’s civic factions, power structures, and citizenship behavior. I spend a lot of time and thought trying to coin better, more accurate, more behaviorally-defined descriptions.

And I’m indebted to “Just Joe” for helping me do that. The vulnerability of his question got me thinking about how to answer it for him. But I found I couldn’t do that without addressing the word “PATRIOT” and how he includes himself in it.

So, Just Joe, let me answer your question directly by rejecting your inclusion in its premise: I’m sorry; but you’re not a “PATRIOT” or a “patriot.”

The police officers you and Saga hate, who fought Lauren Boebert and Mike Lindell and Roger Stone and Donald Trump’s Capitol Lynch Mob, are patriots — even though “America’s Sheriff” Grady Judd is afraid to praise them or morally challenge the culture that created and protects Jonathan Pollock, an actual Lakeland-area, police-brutalizing, Capitol Lynch Mob fugitive.

The police officer who righteously killed mob leader Ashli Babbit to single-handedly secure and protect the retreat of unarmed, duly elected representatives of American self-government is a patriot — even though he’s been swarmed with death threats from Just Joe and Saga’s fellow travelers. Full account of the heroism of these patriotic police officers here.

Those officers and millions and millions and millions of constructive Americans are patriots. By contrast, you, Just Joe, and Saga, are Lynchriots. Or LYNCHRIOTS, if you prefer all-caps, as you seem to.

How do you know you’re a LYNCHRIOT?

Here are some key points:

  • If you publicly praise Mike “My Pillow” Lindell on your campaign stuff, you’re a Lynchriot:

  • If you promote Q-Anon congresswoman Lauren Boebert on your campaign stuff, who called the Capitol Lynch Mob “1776” as it was happening — you’re a Lynchriot.

  • If you tell pollsters that the Capitol Lynch Mob was “defending freedom” or practicing “patriotism,” you are a Lynchriot.

Rather, fake election fraud lets you fantasize about something much much darker and more violent and murderous, as participants and sympathizers of lynch mobs always have: that the rest of us aren’t entitled to share your country or society or citizenship.

You want to believe that we exist by your grace; and that you can dispose of us “demons” however you choose with full impunity from official and social power. That’s what American lynch mobs have always done. You’ve always had that gear in you, just like your ancestors did. And somehow you want us to understand and approve of that today. You really do. Again, look at Just Joe begging for my approval of Roger Stone:

I too attended these events. If you find the truth you will stop the rantings against Roger Stone. Why are you bashing those who voted for President Trump? WE THE PEOPLE run America. Government works for us and we are the majority. Your small minded base will see the TRUTH! IT IS COMING. EVERY LIE WILL BE REVEALED…

All Donald Trump did was give all of you the excuse to find that Lynchriot gear and enjoy it and chant about it in big mob rallies. You have always mattered a lot more to all this than him; and it’s the “impunity from official power” part — the Grady Judd part — that will determine how many of us patriots you LYNCHRIOTS kill and torture as things escalate in 2022 and 2024 and perhaps beyond. That’s a very very open question.

When official power sanctions and protects lynch mobs and pogrom mobs, as it did for the vast majority of American history, it’s impossible to overstate the “governing” force mobs can bring to bear by terrorizing and mutilating constructive citizens. Lynch mobs and the spectre of legally-sanctioned, extra legal violence and theft, have been every bit as important — arguably much more important — in shaping modern America’s power structures as the Constitution.

We actual patriots are engaged in a worthy struggle with you LYNCHRIOTS to instill and enforce the American founding ideals — and the 14th amendment post-Civil War re-founding ideals — over your violent objections. We patriots are also engaged in a struggle with a smaller, but more powerful faction of Americans — those who either wield official power or benefit the most from an American civic and economic order that has become stagnant. I wrote a little bit about that here.

I’m going to write more about America’s actually existing “three-party system” — the Constructives (largest group), the Lynchriots (nastiest and most coherently anti-American), and the Masters of the Stagnant Order (smallest, but most powerful) — in future articles. But you can imagine how poorly those actual factions flow into our legacy political identities and parties and structures. The clashes of these factions will define how America develops from the challenges of this time. And, of course, we Constructives do not agree with each other on all or even most things. But we are committed to sharing a frame of citizenship and bettering our collective communities through the ongoing, peaceful process of self-government.

That is the opposite of a lynch mob.

Fortunately for all involved, lynch mobs and pogrom mobs and the people who take part in them are likely the most cowardly social organisms on earth. They differ from any other type of mob, historically, because they always believe deeply that they act with the blessing of official power. A lynch mob is defined — before violence or racism or lawlessness — by the iron belief that it will face no actual consequences for its behavior. Ever. The Capitol Lynch Mob certainly thought it was acting with the official blessing and impunity of the outgoing president of the United States.

When there are real consequences, lynch mobs crumble quickly because they’re made up of indulgent cowards. Indeed, the Capitol Lynch Mob of petty criminals and wife beaters and bored inheritance babies and anti-vaxxers and gun fetishists and mass shooter sympathizers and Nazi cosplayers lacked any conviction whatsoever for their violence. The only conviction of the Jan. 6 Lynchriots was self-indulgence; and that’s why a single patriot cop was able to tame them by killing Ashli Babbit.

Real “insurrectionists” would have come through and risked whatever that lone anonymous officer could do to them. He could not have stopped determined insurrectionists all by himself. Sure, he would have killed a few more before they killed him, but freedom isn’t free, right?

How we Constructives — we patriots — use the cowardice and anti-Americanism of Lynchriots to force the Masters of the Stagnant Order to confront and defeat Lynchriotism along with us and improve the Stagnant Order is going to be the story of America for a while.

Saga is valuable practice for what might be coming

Thus, I’m sorry to burst Saga’s considerable bubble of self-regard.

I’m not “crushing” on her; I’m practicing on her. She’s useful for testing theories about how to force official and unofficial power to side with the Constructives (the patriots) to save and enhance the country. And there is no downside to this public engagement, even if it elevates her.

Saga is likely to lose. The Lakeland city electorate is a pretty “moderate,” and she’s a bad candidate who gets worse the more she talks. I’m hopeful we can use the momentum of a loss to bring pressure on more consequential Lynchriots who actually wield power. But if she wins — and she might — we get to keep practicing; and not much will happen to Lakeland. Progress will temporarily slow; and she’ll regularly embarrass local Big Capital and Big Guns by saying a lot of stupid things in public.

Indeed, if you follow the arc of the video I shot, you can see Saga demonstrate the weakness of an individual Lynchriot cut off from the strength of numbers and impunity. You can see that she lacks the personal capacity to lead, for worse and better.

Step by step:

  1. Immediate, expansive aggression and trolling before I even ask a question. Watch the instinct to fill and dominate the civic space between us, immediately — by sexualizing herself and using it as an attack on me via my wife. I’m just here to politely ask her a clear, legitimate public policy question.

  2. I just keep asking questions; and she keeps ducking them. But the sexualization thing is gone because she didn’t rattle me.

  3. She then moves on to a bunch of dumb interruptions and non-sequitors, which, like the sexualization, are just instinctive personality tics designed to wrongfoot or dominate. That doesn’t work either because she’s afraid of a yes or answer and the weakness accumulates through the fake bravado.

  4. She realizes that it’s going bad for her; so she grabs her phone to tape herself performing for supporters — and she goes back to the sexualization of herself. She’s looking for the comfort of an audience other than me.

  5. At one point she dances in response to something I said that she takes as some sort of validation.

  6. Then, with nowhere to go and no one dominate, she finally does what Lynchriots do when they don’t have the initiative or the numbers, she retreats, and says meekly: “I’m done.” And she never did answer the simple, yes or no, public policy question I asked about the core rationale of her entire campaign. That’s weakness.

I’ve always thought this is how we constructive patriots take back our moral and civic space from vandals — without becoming vandals ourselves.

We seize initiative; we don’t give them an inch; and we don’t allow them to provoke us. We provoke them into demonstrating what and who they are in a way that is difficult for power to ignore or countenance. They’re not changing or going away on their own; and they won’t constructively engage with fellow citizens of their own volition. They will expand as far as we let them.

So we have to create the incentives that bring them back into the shared frame of citizenship; or we have to confront and marginalize them.

I’m grateful to Saga for providing some proof of concept of my thinking about how to accomplish that here in Lakeland.