Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What the Right Gets About Trump That the Left Still Doesn't

Over the last few days there have been a number of anti-Trump op-ed pieces that have appeared that aren't just critical of the presumptive Republican nominee; they're downright ugly. The prevailing theme of all of them? Trump is simply unqualified to be commander in chief. Given the partisan nature of this presidential campaign, you'd expect these pieces would be written by liberal writers. You'd expect that, but you'd be wrong. All of them were penned by conservative writers for conservative publications.

From David Ross Myers of Fox News:
Mr. Trump proclaims that he's going to make America great again, but can't provide any realistic plans for doing so; instead, he frequently resorts to scapegoating outsiders, foreigners, and minorities. The few policies that Trump has articulated would make America less safe, trample upon our most fundamental rights, and appeal to the basest instincts of the American people.
From David French of National Review:
On trade, Clinton will almost certainly be superior to Trump. Trump pledges to "win" through punitive tariffs that would increase the price of consumer goods and trigger trade wars, but he gives little indication that he understands the economics of trade, the reality of the American economy, or even the truth about American manufacturing. (It is not, in fact, disappearing.) Clinton, by contrast, would probably maintain the trade-policy status quo, and while that status quo creates winners and losers - as any status quo would - free trade has long been an overall positive for American families.
From Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal:
Trumpism isn't just a triumph of marketing or the excrescence of a personality cult. It is a regression to the conservatism of blood and soil, of ethnic polarization and bullying nationalism.
From Ross Douthat of the New York Times:
But above all it is Trump's authoritarianism that makes him unfit for the presidency - his stated admiration for Putin and the Chinese Politburo, his promise to use the power of the presidency against private enterprises, the casual threats he and his surrogates toss off against party donors, military officers, the press, the Speaker of the House, and more.
And from John McCormick of the Weekly Standard:
Perhaps Trump will prove over the next 6 months that the last 10 months of kookiness has all been shtick, a big act put on to win the nomination. Maybe he'll publicly recant his conspiracy theories. Maybe he'll demonstrate that he would be serious and sober enough to serve as commander in chief. Maybe pigs will fly.
Now it should be pointed out that these "brave" souls, and perhaps a few more - David Brooks called this a Joe McCarthy moment - are the exceptions to the rule. Despite earlier protestations, most of the GOP appears to be lining up behind Trump. So it's encouraging that, even against some very strong headwinds, each of these writers has managed to accurately peg the presumptive nominee. Which begs the question: if so many conservatives seem to get Trump, why can't many progressives?

Don't get me wrong: a majority of Democrats are repelled at the notion of Donald Trump being in the White House next year. But I'm not talking about them. Most of them - some 60 percent - are voting for Hillary Clinton in the primaries and virtually all of them will do so in the general. You know who I'm talking about. Yes, the Bernie Bots, or as I now refer to them, the new Left.

These are the people who look at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, shrug their shoulders and say "What's the difference, who cares?" What is it that they don't see that their counterparts on the Right see all too well?

For starters, I think it comes down to this utopian worldview that many progressives subscribe to. There has always been a certain faction within the Democratic Party that believes that if they can't get a perfect, just, egalitarian society, then the best thing for the country would be to go through a dark age as it were. I saw the Susan Sarandon interview with Chris Hayes. She was quite clear. "Things will really explode" if Trump gets elected. Sadly, she's no outlier. An astonishing number of progressives agree with her. Only out of the ashes of destruction can humanity's true destiny be realized.

Don't laugh. I grew up watching Star Trek. This was precisely the worldview Gene Roddenberry held; so much so that he predicted a third world war between the great nations, out of which a new world order, free from strife and want, would emerge. Of course, Gene had to keep pushing back the date that this war was supposed to take place. First it was supposed to happen in the '90s; then it got pushed back to the second decade of the 21st century; finally it's now suppose to happen in the middle of this century. No doubt sometime around the year 2049 it'll occur to the person holding the franchise rights that a new rewrite is in order. 22nd century anybody? The good thing about science fiction is that you can always take an erasure to it and start over.

But in politics - or as I prefer to call it, the real world - do overs almost never happen and the kind of world that people like Roddenberry envisioned is a dangerous thing to contemplate, much less attempt to bring about. Dangerous because there is absolutely no way that a Star Trek world, much less a universe, could ever happen; not in our lifetime, nor in our grandchildren's. In all the millennia that have taken place on this planet, about the only advancements humanity has brought about were technological in nature. We are, ostensibly, the same beings we were during the days of the Egyptian and the Roman Empires, right down to the corruption and avarice. There is no empirical evidence anywhere which could lead a sober person to believe that we are due for a super leap forward on the evolutionary chain. In fact, given our basic nature, it's a fucking miracle we're not extinct.

Pundits have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why Bernie Sanders is so popular with young people. I know exactly why he is. I was once in my 20s and I thought much like they do now. The system was rigged, the two-party system was a joke; a charade for the power structure to manipulate us. The Ds and the Rs were all the same, so what was the point in voting? The progressive playbook hasn't changed much in 30 years, or even 50. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if that proved to be the determining factor that accounted for Walter Mondale getting mauled so badly in '84. It's still hard to believe he lost 49 states. I don't have the stats to back it up, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts a lot of young people stayed home that election day.

Funny, I actually am a progressive, albeit a pragmatic one. And if I had to choose between a liberal or a conservative country, I'd choose the liberal one in a heartbeat. The kind of society most conservatives would create makes my skin crawl. But lately, I've found myself reading a lot of conservative writers like David Frum and David Brooks. While I disagree with many of their assessments and conclusions, I find them thought provoking and intellectually stimulating. And I also give them a lot of credit for not only knowing that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country, but for having the guts to say that the Democrat in this race is better qualified to be president.

Somehow, if the shoe were on the other foot, I doubt that my side of the aisle would be so forthright.

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