“Did you hear they’re removing Trump from the ballot in Colorado? What do you think is going to happen, J6?”

I don’t know why people ask me these questions anymore. My track record at predicting the future – like everybody else’s – is a trail of embarrassments. I can see clearly certain inevitabilities, but the timing and path to these inevitabilities are obscured. To speak more plainly, I feel in my heart we will win, but I don’t know how.

Much of the reason feel this is that nobody really knows. You can have a battle plan, but combat is dynamic – things rarely go as you’d expect. One unit overperforms and achieves an unanticipated breakthrough you must exploit. Another collapses creating a critical situation on your flank you must rush reserves to defend. Fortune swings constantly back and forth. The only certainty is that as the battle goes on, the options – the moves on the chessboard – gradually diminish. You have flexibility in decisions until that decisive moment; then the skirmishes are over. Your forces are engaged; you either commit fully or you lose.

That decisive moment in our war for America will come in 2024. Which is why the only thing I can say is what I think everybody else already feels: it is going to be a dramatic, even cataclysmic year. Do I think Trump will win the 2024 election? What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? There is no way he can lose, but there is also no way they will let him win. The fight is existential – for them and for us. I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility for there not to be an election at all. Do not be surprised if this regime, getting checkmated, decides in spite to simply flip the board.

These events, whatever they may ultimately be, will come upon all of us as surprises out of the ether. I can’t tell you how to prepare for them and respond, nor would I. Due to my “special status,” this very essay is being screened by the Counter-Terrorism Task Force and the Bureau of Prisons Signals Intelligence Service, in a quintessential allocation of government resources. And believe me, they would love to find something in here to misconstrue and punish me for.

So instead, let me talk about something a little more abstract; something I’ve been thinking about a lot in here: what is the character of an American – what is the American Soul? And how does this American Soul, in times of crisis and opportunity, think and respond?

This concept of a nation’s soul is something I first began to consider after reading a fair share of Russian literature. Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy, and others all regularly reflect upon what it means to be a Russian – what distinguishes him from the rest of the world. The Russian, in their estimation, has a stubborn resilience that no matter the circumstances, says “Onwards!” and a greater depth of feeling – a profound spiritualism, and commitment to the truth at all costs. Communism, of course, put mockery to at least the latter half of that ethos, but to the credit of the Russian people, after decades of living in a society whose very institutions functioned on collective dishonesty, they have climbed out of the morass, and seem to be returning to the roots their great authors once described. While I have no desire to emulate Russia’s political system, the Russian people are almost alone in the Western World in refusing to parrot the lies promoted by the “collective West”, and in declining to be intimidated by what is – let’s be blunt – two decades of NATO harassment and imperialism. As an American you may hate to hear this said out loud, but part of having integrity is facing yourself: to the rest of the world we are the terrorists; we are responsible for the destruction of numerous nations and millions of dead and displaced civilians. If they feel a certain way about us, can you really blame them?

I know, I know… Some of you are now stammering, “But, but… Ukraine!” Truly, I wish I had the time to educate you on the history of the war and the region – the stories they didn’t tell you in the newspapers. Then you might understand that once again, we are the real aggressors, that we armed Ukraine to the teeth, that we routinely violated the Minsk Agreements designed to preserve peace, and that the very conflict itself has its roots in the 2014 Maidan Coup, which installed a radical anti-Russian regime with the express agenda of removing Russian culture and language from the country, even if it meant the persecution of half the population. This coup was, of course, implemented by the U.S. government, through the usual suspects like our current Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Nuland, who is herself descended from WW2’s West Ukrainian Nazis. Some of the agent provocateurs on the ground in Kiev during said coup in 2014 were also identified in Washington on January 6th, 2021, to give you an idea of how absurd it is to oppose Biden and support Zelensky – the latter is simply a puppet and proxy of the former. But to go here is a digression we cannot afford. It is enough to say in the eyes of the world, Russia is not at fault for the war, and perhaps more relevantly we have no moral authority to judge when we ourselves have been such a force for evil. Hard as it is to accept, especially for the older generations, the Russian is no longer the Soviet. He has rediscovered himself by standing against the world’s bully – us – and he has a right to feel proud. His essence has returned, his soul is intact. But there is no reason for us to feel bitter. For the Russian is not opposed to the American, but rather the same force that is oppressing the American. The American Soul should not be offended by the Russian Soul’s resistance, it should be inspired; the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

But what exactly is the American Soul? Characteristically the American has always been confident, innovative, and individualistic. He’s marched to the beat of his own drum, there was no problem he couldn’t solve, nor task he wasn’t up to. He possessed the “can do” attitude we’ve heard so much about growing up. Our history is filled with examples of these brave and resourceful Americans, both famous and forgotten. But rather than further glamorize the greats, I’d like to focus on a smaller figure; a man of little prominence like you and me, but who rose to the occasion when the nation required it: Lieutenant Stephen Decatur Jr.

In the early 1800s, America suffered a terrible defeat: the U.S.S. Philadelphia, one of the country’s top-of-the-line ships, was captured by the Barbary Pirates. Most Americans do not remember the Barbary Wars, but they were a consequential episode in early American history. Essentially, the area that today comprises Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya was at that time a series of “pirate states,” that were routinely raiding American commercial vessels and enslaving (yes, literally enslaving) their seamen. The United States was a young and poor nation at the time, initially even without a navy altogether, and was unable to pay the exorbitant fees the pirates were demanding to allow their vessels to pass through the seas unmolested. After years of humiliation, eventually, it came to war; but the loss of the Philadelphia was a catastrophe. While it was for now in the pirate’s port undergoing repairs, once operational, it could single-handedly stymie the entire U.S. Navy’s operations in the Mediterranean. All seemed lost until young Lt. Decatur volunteered to sneak into Tripoli harbor with a small detachment of men and burn it.

The plan was ambitious, however, and soon began to run into problems during execution – Decatur’s support ship fell behind, leaving him with only a fraction of the men called for. But faced with the choice of either pressing on against stark odds or retreating, he chose the former, telling a comrade “the fewer the number, the greater the honor.” Even if they couldn’t escape themselves, they could still accomplish their mission. Under the cover of darkness, they quietly slipped into the harbor and boarded the Philadelphia, fighting the guards hand-to-hand to avoid gunshots that would trigger an alarm. In the end, Decatur and his men prevailed, killing or scaring off all the pirates, suffering only one injured despite it being an evenly-matched fight. They set fire to the Philadelphia and miraculously made out to the sea in safety, as cannons fired after them in their wake. Because of Decatur’s actions, America’s position in the Mediterranean was saved. A year and a half later, the Tripoli Pirates would surrender, and America’s reputation as a naval power to be reckoned with would be secured.

Lt. Decatur was a remarkable man, even in his day—a man who truly embodied the American Soul. But it seems in the Spring of America, Decatur’s values were hardly uncommon. America was filled with brave, adaptable men who took their rights seriously and were willing to risk deprivation and death even to just protect the symbol of their freedom. These were the children of the American Revolutionaries; they had grown up in the shadow of men who had sacrificed it all to bring about a new form of government. Even 20 years after independence was achieved, the question still remained around the world whether the experiment would survive. Those young Americans had a lot to prove.

220 years later, in the depths of America’s winter, a more diminished sort of American has emerged. I do not need to list the grievances the public should have against the State – the endless regulations, taxes, double standards, and corruption – the sheer contempt the politicians who claim to represent us have for their own constituents. Unlike in Decatur’s time, the greatest threat to the American way of life today isn’t coming from abroad nor are the American public’s greatest indignities. They are coming from our very own government. Truly, the relationship between the governing and the governed is far more oppressive now than it was in 1776 when we seceded from Great Britain.

Yet where is the American? No doubt, there are millions – even hundreds of millions – in this country who are tired of the boot (or the knee!) being pressed onto their neck. They like the idea of freedom, and they fly their flag and sing the national anthem on the 4th of July, like good, patriotic citizens. But what do they do to realize their professed feelings? Do they run for local office, do they organize protests against crooked politicians and their power grabs, do they volunteer to watch polls? For the most part, they do not. They complain to their neighbors, and maybe even create a (preferably anonymous) account to vent online. But there is no real action taken. They can’t risk losing their job, they can’t risk attracting the ire of the IRS – it’s a constant refrain – they can’t, they can’t, they can’t. They just don’t have the ability or the time. Trump will do it for them. They hope. Trump will take down the Deep State, and Make America Great Again.

I apologize for the bluntness, but I have news for you: no he won’t. Trump is currently under siege, facing hundreds of years in prison, an endless stream of frivolous lawsuits, and a concentrated attempt to confiscate his whole fortune. God Bless him, he continues to fight undaunted, not simply at this point for his own survival, but for yours and mine.

I did what I could. They benched me. This exhortation is the last arrow in my quiver – and if their response to my previous less emphatic writing is any indicator – it will likely cost me what little I have left to let it fly.

But what about you? What have you done to help him – what have you done to help this country except fire off a few tweets and get off your ass once or twice every 4 years to vote in an election that was tampered with? When I was arrested, one of the common refrains I heard from people was that “Trump hung you out to dry,” as if I’m some sort of patsy. Some child who didn’t make his own decisions based on his own convictions, who needs Daddy to take care of and protect him. Whether Trump should or shouldn’t have preemptively pardoned the J6ers before he left office will be something historians will discuss, but let me give you my own candid opinion: I’m glad he didn’t. How is it right, or even practical, that this country be rejuvenated if only one man – Trump – is made to suffer for it? Let’s say we sit back and do nothing, yet somehow through his own Will he wins, and even cleans out most of the deep state. What then? Will power really be returned to the people, or simply to Trump? Perhaps we have 4 years of benevolent rule – a Golden Age under our own Augustus – but the underlying rot in the country, the Complacency won’t be extinguished; it will fester even more under our prosperity. It was unearned—we didn’t fight for it. When the good emperor one day goes on, a bad one will soon follow. The Republic will die—this time for good.

The truth is America will only be made great again if you are willing to suffer for its greatness. If when that decisive moment occurs, you are willing to throw caution to the wind—if you are willing, like our forefathers, to risk your life, liberty, and property for the cause. I say this not to encourage any sort of violent action—quite the opposite—but to underline that they have little scruples about using violence themselves: just ask Ashli Babbitt or Seth Rich. Even acts of non-violent civil disobedience—nationwide Solidarity-esq strikes—are likely at least at first, to be met with force—so dangerous and effective would they be at crippling and discrediting the regime. Accordingly, I can’t promise it won’t cost you, or that you won’t end up like me in prison. But I can tell you this: worse than prison is living under a regime that arrests its political opponents and bars them from running for office. If you think the tyranny we’ve experienced so far is bad, this is just the amuse-bouche—I hope you enjoyed it. The main course will be a far more extravagant experience.

The good news is all your timidness—all your meager sacrifices—up to this point can be forgiven. It is understandable you have still maintained some vague, desperate faith that what is left of our democratic institutions will do something to protect you—to protect Trump. And you have not been wrong, nor unpatriotic, to watch this process play out—to observe: how deep really is the decay? Can America actually be salvaged? It’s an unanswered question still, but barely. The Supreme Court darts around the board like a Bishop, checking attack after attack – including one against yours truly – but there is only so much a panel of judges, who have a limited docket and were never meant to take such an active role, can do. The new Speaker of the House – nominated by a miracle – does what he can to slow their agenda, but we know whatever the balance of power on paper says, he’s outmanned and his hands constrained. Perhaps the greatest hope lies in the States – large ones like Florida and Texas – who will call the Federal government’s bluff, and start taking matters into their own hands. But these fissures and cracks could end up being a pyrrhic victory: the dissolution of the Union, with a new iteration of free States and slave.

Many have already defaulted to this last option, believing it is the only one left on the table should Trump fail. But what is this option, really? It is a contemptible one: the surrender of a 250-year birthright to the machinations of a handful of international bankers and globalists, and once again outsourcing your agency – your future – now to governors, who may not themselves be as well-intentioned as you imagine. Remember there are multiple pathways to destroying America – who wins if the country fragments? Do we? If you believe this nation is truly divided into red states and blue states you have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the propaganda – there are no blue states, there are only blue cities. The skewed vote totals and absurd policies you see in these states and localities are the result of the same infiltration and capture we see federally, not popular consent. But even if you don’t believe me on this point, it’s irrelevant. Official statistics show there are as many Republicans and Independents in California and New York as there are from Louisiana to Virginia. Should those millions of people, and the nation’s most valuable provinces simply be abandoned, because you are too afraid to do anything about it?

There is a class of patriot that mocks those who live in other parts of the country; he feels a smugness that his own little corner is less compromised, a bit cleaner. Nevermind that these individuals rarely put the work in themselves to maintain their polity – what they miss is that much of the reason things are better where they are is because their location was less populated and wealthy, and thus less juicy of a target. California was blood red 25 years ago and New York City had a Republican mayor. It was common for states and even cities to vote for different party candidates every election. Curiously, it was only since voting machines were introduced in 2004 that the electoral map suddenly started to calcify into red and blue, and the perception of a divided America began. This of course isn’t to say there aren’t some genuine political differences across the county, or that the individuals in these more blue locations don’t deserve some blame for their complacency—nor is it to denigrate or dismiss the work of those in these more red locations who helped to keep it red. It is simply to say that these differences are greatly exaggerated and amplified by media narratives, cultural programming, and predetermined election results, which promote division and affect how we view each other. This manufactured image is not a justification to forsake these tens of millions of Americans, to force them to leave their homes and relocate across the country “or else” – that’s ethnic cleansing. It is self-centered and disgraceful to concede all is lost – that only you were smart enough to see what’s coming – and that those who didn’t leave some of the most iconically American places, places their ancestors settled, somehow deserve what they get.

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter. Even if you were to realize some guilty satisfaction at the destruction of your foolish, contemptuous, you wouldn’t maintain that conceit for long. Peaceful separation is a pipe dream – nevermind the economic and demographic calamity – the very powers you are running from would never allow it. Your “Free State of Florida” is a pipsqueak in geopolitics – you truly think they will just allow you to craft some perfect and prosperous little utopia right on the border of their totalitarianism, and not view you as an existential threat? It is time to accept the reality, the only reality: we are all Americans; United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Even your average blue, liberal neighbor is not your real enemy – they may be deceived, some may even have acted as “useful idiots” for the regime, but most of them are good, caring people who love this country too, in their own way. They are not cheering on its destruction, even if due to their own sympathies they have inadvertently voted for it. It is petty and self-defeating to turn your angst against them; forgive them. By the end most will understand; indeed, many already do. Your only focus should be on the corrupt and illegitimate apparatchiks, the ones holding the levers of power, issuing the dictates. These are the ones who are taking away your country, and these are the ones that must be held accountable.

If all this sounds like a lecture, it’s because I feel I must emphasize the stakes; to make the average, Trump-supporting American – the ones who know 2020 was stolen, but still haven’t gotten engaged in the fight – understand: if you let them take 2024 from you too, you let them take it all. This next year they will up the ante as they become more desperate. There will inevitably be fresh false flags, psyops, and crises, and they will use these events to consolidate power, to further delegitimize the voting process, and if all else fails, to either make it so a national election is impossible, or take Trump out – metaphorically, or even if they can, literally. They won’t care if all this achieves is a livid population; they expect that, and will direct your danger – if you’re not careful – towards each other, towards civil war. After all, we are dealing with globalists here – their agenda reaches far beyond America. If they can’t control the country, the next best thing is to destroy it.

Which is why, if and when the time comes that what’s left of our institutions fails to check these schemes, you – the American Citizen – must not fall into fear, and must keep a level head. You must take up the banner, and match the regime’s bets – and even raise them yourself. You must not be intimidated; you must say firmly and resolutely, “NO.” If you do not – if you blink at that decisive moment, or respond recklessly – it is all but certain you will lose your freedom, or find yourself fighting for it in a worse way later, from a far more disadvantageous and desperate position. And you will deserve it.

How all this plays out, what outcome we achieve, depends on how many Lt. Decaturs we have left – on the American Soul. It depends on whether the light of our national character which has been dimmed by decades of apathy and immorality – of self-inflicted humiliations and depravities – is once again able to reignite and reactualize itself. It depends on whether the American can remember that it is not in our nature to be fat passive subjects but to be daring, righteous, and sovereign. Ours was a government founded by the people, for the people; but representative government can only be held accountable to their charge when the population has the self-respect and conscientiousness to get involved – to appreciate that self-government means you – yes you – must take personal responsibility for what goes on in your town, your state, and your country. There is no such thing as a democracy or republic with a lazy, indolent population: that is an oligarchy or dictatorship with a self-flattering veneer. If you want rights, you need to stand up for them. It is not up to Trump or someone else to protect them for you. He might be your President, your leader, but you must still show up on the field of battle with him, and take your own share of arrows in the fight. Anything else is a betrayal of the American ethos – it is cowardice, and it bodes ill for the future of the country.

By the time this is all over, and the dust of 2024 has settled, this country will be brought to its knees. In a technical sense, it may even flatline and die; this war might shatter our institutions so much that we may realize we need to reconstitute them altogether, and reestablish a brand new relationship between the states and the federal government: a Second American Republic. But however this plays out, the pivot point – the decisive factor in either victory or defeat – will be the American Soul, and whether it still has some fire left in it.

After the Constitution was ratified, Benjamin Franklin famously challenged his countrymen: “You have a Republic, if you can keep it.”

Three years ago, over a million Americans showed up in Washington to try. Some paid the ultimate price and hundreds more have since suffered behind bars, with many more to come.

When that moment of truth arrives, don’t let us down.

-Pat Stedman

Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution