18.5.17

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

The New York Times stands up for the ancien regime.  Special prosecutors?  Impeachment? Endless scandal-mongering?  The people who voted for Mr Trump may be having none of it.  "Mr. Trump’s fans are not eager to see a return to the establishment-dominated political order he promised to demolish."  The Times, predictably, roll out longtime Trump skeptic Charlie Sykes, to well, if not gaze into the basket of deplorables, at least allude to the misinformed voters, now suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Mr. Trump has created his own political culture, and its devotees are strongly and emotionally committed to it.

“They took a huge risk, and they are deeply invested,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative author who has been critical of Mr. Trump. And the news cycle they inhabit, he added, is only hardening their beliefs.

“These days when people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, this really looks terrible, was I possibly wrong about Trump?’ they quickly go on social media or see the shows and instantaneously find something that reinforces their opinion,” Mr. Sykes added. “And they cling to that.”
It's true that Mr Trump is doing some foolish things, and I'd not object to an intervention where his early-morning use of social media is concerned.  But there was more to his candidacy than Not Hillary. "[Trump supporters] have been struck by the discrepancies between informed opinion, as represented in the pages of the elite newspapers in the country, as well as the scholarly journals of academic societies, and their own perceptions on a wide variety of topics. Such discrepancies are not necessarily signs of unwisdom, of course; they may reflect differences in experiences and world views that lead people to base their opinions on different sets of facts or to interpret the same facts in different ways."  That's from Texas philospher Daniel Bonevac, making the case for his vote for Mr Trump.  There's a lot in the essay, and this passage, in particular, is one that perhaps I can riff on in some future post.
The Democratic Party and its allies in the media and academia have pushed a narrative for decades that portrays free enterprise as cruel, corrupt, and unfair, and government as caring, altruistic, and just. Freedom creates problems; government solves them. Sometimes, that narrative is accurate. Often, however, it is not. The gap between the narrative and reality has been growing as government grows beyond the problems it knows how to solve. And those upholding the narrative seem increasingly incapable of recognizing the divergence. They seem incapable of conceiving of a simple question: Even if there is a better solution than the equilibrium achieved by the free market—by free people freely making their own decisions—why should we have confidence that government can find it? Still less do they seem capable of answering it. I am not saying that thinkers on the left do not propose solutions—of course they do—but that they do not even try to establish the optimality of their preferred policies.
On the other hand, that's standard Failure of Wise Experts stuff. Do your own research.

It's the Empire Striking Back stuff that interests me today.  Start with Reason's Nick Gillespie. All This Impeachment Talk Is Pure Trump Derangement Syndrome.
The best thing you can say about [fired FBI director James] Comey is that he's no Louis Freeh or J. Edgar Hoover, which is the textbook case of damning with faint approbation.

Needless to say, none of this absolves Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. But impeachment talk this soon and this thick is coming not from a place of seriousness but pure partisanship and ideology masquerading as disinterested belief in the public good. When the Republicans moved to impeach Bill Clinton back in the 1990s, it was the same thing and it didn't exactly work out that well for many of the main conspirators, or for the country at large. Among other things, the impeachment push indirectly led to the ouster of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, which eventuated in an actual child molester being way high up in the presidential line of succession.

The impeachment of Bill Clinton was one of the major mileposts in the long, ongoing shift of America from a high-trust to a low-trust country, one in which faith, trust, and confidence in most of our major public, private, and civic institutions have taken a massive beating for decades now. Maybe it was the Warren Commission Report that got the ball rolling, or Lyndon Johnson's infamous "credibility gap." All the secret wars in Cambodia and Watergate sure didn't help and the mind-boggling revelations of the Church Commission might have the final nail in the coffin of trust. The Pinto disaster sure didn't help, nor did other revelations of private-sector fakery. You throw in freakazoid oddness such as the People's Temple, United Way scandals, and rampant Catholic Church buggery, and, well, what do you expect? Across the board, fewer and fewer of us trust the government, the media, labor, corporations, etc. to do the right thing given the option of doing the wrong thing.

And get this: However unpopular Donald Trump is, Congress is even less trustworthy. Libertarians especially ignore this slide in trust and the rush to partisan-driven calls to undermine elected officials absent actual evidence at our peril. Low-trust countries don't actually shrink the size, scope, and spending of government.
That child molester? My Congressman, who wrote a lot of earmarks for Northern Illinois University into the 2005 porkulus transportation bill, a manifestation of overweening government that might have inspired the Tea Party.

(You know where I stand, dear reader, on the consequences of treating "wrong" as a construction.)

The Trump base, though?  Screwed over by the establishments of both major parties.
The Republican Party and conservative movement had created a hierarchy that mirror-imaged its liberal antithesis, and suggested to middle class voters between the coasts that the commonalities in income, professional trajectories, and cultural values of elites trumped their own political differences. How a billionaire real estate developer appeared, saw that paradox, and became more empathetic to the plight of middle-class Americans than the array of Republican political pundits is one of the most alarming stories of our age.

Trump was not so much a reflection of red-state Americans’ political ignorance, as their weariness with those of both parties who ridicule, ignore, or patronize them—and now seek to overturn the verdict of the election.
And make no mistake, Mr Trump's base sees the Washington process as an effort to overturn the election.  Scott "Dilbert" Adams refers to the drama of special investigators and the rest as a "slow motion assassination."
I also think we are seeing with the recent leaks the first phase of Mutually Assured Destruction of our government. The leaks will destroy Trump if they continue. But if that happens, no Democrat and no anti-Trump Republican will ever be able to govern in the future. Payback is guaranteed. The next President to sit in the White House will be leaked to the point of ineffectiveness. And that’s how the Republic dies.

That isn’t necessarily bad news. The Republic form of government doesn’t make sense in the modern world anyway. We already evolved into a form of direct democracy via social media and polling. Our politicians can’t risk going against a big majority – even for noble reasons – because social media will organize to drive that person out of office over the issue. In effect, we are already a direct democracy. The Republic is already history, except in a technical sense.

If you can sit passively while watching the Opposition Media turn “hope” into “asked Comey to end the investigation,” you are part of the slow assassination of President Trump. And you are also part of the slow assassination of the next president, and the next. If Trump goes down from leaks, Mutually Assured Destruction kicks in automatically.
That might be excessive, or perhaps direct response by informed (or motivated) voters on social media might induce Washington types to be, oh, less intrusive and more receptive to local responses to local issues.  But the assassination, or perhaps "coup" imagery does not go away.
Normal people just shake their heads and wonder why Washington is so consumed with political nonsense instead of solving problems. But then, Washington does not produce solutions. It produces only political nonsense.

This is a concentrated, coordinated effort by elite insiders to take down not this president – Trump’s not the point here – but to take down us, the normal American they seek to rule. Someone came to Washington who wasn’t part of the club, and that’s intolerable. So they are desperate to expel him, and by extension, us.
That's Kurt Schlichter, and pitchforks, torches, and baiting moonbats are part of his makeup.  But he's not the angriest insurrectionist on Town Hall this day.  That's Laura Hollis.
Progressives have been playing a reckless and dangerous game, undermining the very traditions and institutions they depend upon for their freedom. Few are asking, "What happens if our political opponents decide to behave as we do?"

They'd better. Their coordinated campaign to destroy Donald Trump may be successful -- and Trump may be handing them much of their ammunition. But it's clear that America's cultural and societal underpinnings can only be undermined so long by the elite before the hoi polloi will decide that they, too, have more to gain and nothing to lose by abandoning them.

When that happens, God help us.
The militias await.

But the self-styled progressives don't have anything new to tempt the voters they failed to inspire, in the presidential election or away from the ghettoes of the coastal states.
Some of the leftward march seems to be motivated by the sense that Hillary Clinton’s tepid center-leftism was a dud and the conviction that Bernie Sanders or someone like him might have had a better shot against Trump.  This analysis may or may not be correct, but it is too one-dimensional. In fact, Bernie Sanders was to Clinton’s right on many cultural issues, including gun control, feminism, immigration, and identity politics.  If you want to drive a Berniebro crazy, you could even argue that Sanders is the reason Clinton lost—that she couldn’t compete with his left-wing economic populism, so she moved even deeper into boutique academic/PC liberal territory to compensate, and that this was ultimately what did her in. And yet, the new generation of Democrats seems to be retreating to hard-line liberal positions in all areas, economic and social alike.

If Trump’s approval rating remains stuck in the low 40s—and especially if it ticks downward even further, as seems increasingly plausible—the Democrats are well-positioned for a major comeback in Congress and the statehouses in 2020. But they could easily blow this opportunity, just as they blew the last one, by learning the wrong lessons from the Age of Trump. Of course, the real loser here is not one party or the other, but the country at large, which seems to be locked into a self-reinforcing cycle of minority-party radicalization under presidents of both parties that is annihilating the vital center.
That's The American Interest's Jason Willick. Perhaps he's accurate, or perhaps there no longer is a vital center. Or, perhaps, to repeat, it is time for Washington types to give up on attempting to do too much.

Heck, Common Dreams regular Robert Borosage is discouraged.  "Bold, new ideas were scarce, but there was a vigorous competition on who had the best Trump putdown." Even the peroration, from New Jersey senator Corey Booker, didn't inspire.
Booker closed the conference with a passionate address, invoking the progressive movements that have transformed America, concluding that Democrats can’t merely be the “party of resistance,” but must “reaffirm” America’s “impossible dream.” Fittingly, it was a speech brutal on Trump, replete with good values, sound goals and uplifting oratory, and utterly devoid of ideas.
We've seen through tax and tax, spend and spend, pander and pander, and Team Left can't count on elect and elect any more.  Neither can they get on the other side of the cold civil war right now.

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