UPDATE 2: On the other hand, today is the beginning of the period where Covid will be recognized as something that, between natural immunity and vaccines, will burn itself out and cease to be a national health crisis.
Donald Trump inspired clichés by the big-box store-load long before he dipped his toe into politics. Even back when he was a pop-culture hero of sorts among the crowd that worshipped blinged-out idols, even before MC Hammer brought it to the mainstream:
Y’know – back when he was a Democrat.
You don’t need me to list Trump’s faults as a person, politician and President – indeed, we have a multi-billion dollar industry devoted entirely not only to cataloging them, but making up new ones out of thin air.
We’ll come back to them.
The Usual Bla Bla Bla
But along with all of the faults imagined from whole cloth (the “Fine People” slander hops to mind – which, again, we’ll come back to later), and his many offenses against the supposed decorum of the Presidency (real or imagined – and I’ll skip past Bill Clinton’s desporting himself in the Oval Office to jump back to Woodrow Wilson using it as a de facto Ku Klux Klan field office to try to introduce a little context into the notion of decorum), he had some real ones; I can’t help but think if he’d just turned his Twitter feed over to a moderately clever mid-level staffer, he could have kept the “outflank the media” aspects of his social presence without the, let’s be honest, crazy and intemperate and, God help me for saying it, unpresidential parts of hispublic presence. Enough to have won the election? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Of course, to be intellectually honest, you – and by “you”, I mean “the Never Trump clacque” – need to admit he did some things very, very well. For starters, he did the one thing I, a Trump skeptic, had hoped for, and exceeded my hopes by half; he empaneled a genuine originalist majroitiy on the SCOTUS. And in foreign policy terms, he may have been the most successful President we’ve had since George HW Bush, and Reagan’st first term before him.
Never Never Land
The previous paragraph might be read as a swipe at the “Never Trump” crowd – which includes some people I respect very much, and some I never really did, and some for whom I’ve gradually lost regard over time.
“Never Trump” largely, if not completely, devolved into a bunch of scolds of no more political use than the Libertarian Party, chanting “I Told You So” with all the convincing authority of that “Karen” who yaps at you about putting your groceries on the conveyor before the cashier has sanitized it.
I say this as someone who has been an active Trump skeptic since 1986 – back when most Democrats and Never-Trumpers were making Trump a TV star through most of the 2000s, as I’m fond of pointing out – and who was actively interested in “Never Trump” activities up to and including reviving the Federalist party around this time five years ago.
The Real Deplorable Thing
But the biggest problem with Trump isn’t Trump. The media and pop culture would have said many of the same things about Mitt Romney or John McCain or Marco Rubio, or most likely Martin Luther King if he were alive today and voting Republican.
Trump won in the first place because he saw the left’s strategy – harness the populist power of identity politics – and, for five years, did it better than the Progressives. He turned blue collar whites, and people in Red state in general, into an identity group and fairly coherent voting bloc – finally ending the 100 year old notion that Democrats were “the party of the working man” once and for all.
So populism was the car that drove him to the White House. Where he governed in some ways as a conservative (in foreign policy terms, on the SCOTUS, in slashing regulation), and in some ways as the most profligate “progressive” in history (he spent like the Democrat he used to be).
But there was something worse.
Remember Ron Paul? In 2008 and 2012, a lot of Republicans, especially younger ones, staged and insurgency in the GOP behind the Texas Libertarian-Republican. Much as I supported much of what Paul stood for (domestically, at least – his foreign and defense policies were just as historically ignorant as the Libertarian Party’s), looking at his mobs of idealistic acolytes, I asked more than once “You do realize that even if he’s elected, he’ll be able to do nothing he promises, since there’s not a majority of Paulite House and Senate candidates running to help push the agenda, right? And that the only way to enact that idealistic vision of government would be for Paul to stage a libertarian coup, and impose an absolute Libertarian dictatorship, and force Liberty on the people against their will.
There was no telling that to the Paul Kids – not back then, anyway. Such is the allure of the personality cult, among those who haven’t really paid attention to how much drag and lag and need for consensus is (as of 2020) built into the system.
And Trump certainly developed his own personality cult in the GOP.
On the one hand – the Never Trumpers remind us – Trumpism is not conservatism. And they’re right. It’s populism, and populism, giving people what they want now, is only rhetorically distinguishable between the Left and the Right. “Trumpism” tramples the principles of conservatism behind which the GOP…
…I was going to say “behind which the GOP stands”. Of course, the GOP, at least in DC, hasn’t for a long time.
We’ll come back to that.
Anyway – “Trumpism” turned, at least at the point of the retail-political sphere, into a personality cult, no less impervious to logic than the Hillary or Obama cults, no less focused on the person rather than the policy than the Ron Paul fan club.
To far too many Trump supporters in all of our social circles, policy wasn’t the goal; Trump was.
And given the GOP’s behavior over the past decade, why wouldn’t someone who didn’t care about how the political sausage was made, but how awful it tasted, see it any differently?
We’ll come back to that two episodes down the road.
It’d be easy, and facile, but no more than a little inaccurate, to say last week’s riot at the Capitol was about keeping the person in office (assuming you discount the notion that “Anti”-Fa provocateurs did the job – and for purposes of this argument, I do), rather than the policies and the repudiation of the oppression of Big Left. To way too many people, Trump doesn’t lead the effort against the toxic, narcissistic marginalization that Democrats relentless focus on identity politics brings; he is that effort.
It’s a toxic perception – indeed, a toxic reality. Democracy dies in cultism.
My old friend and radio colleague Ed Morrisey is one of more than a few Republicans who, disgusted by (obviously) the riots, but moreso by the usurpation of the state control of elections and Electors that happened in Congress last week (the real “coup attempt”, and one of the most self-destructive power grabs in my memory), is leaving the GOP.
The caveat of “I don’t support violence in any way” is meaningless — a dodge around the betrayal of the principles on which this party stood at one time. This is nothing more than an endorsement of brute-force majoritarianism at best, and at worst an explicit endorsement of mob rule. In fact, it seems like a celebration of mob rule, one cheered on by Donald Trump’s closest formal adviser in the White House.
Before this, questions had already arisen as to how republicanism could coexist with populism. This goes waaay beyond that question. The disgrace in Congress, even apart from the mobs, severed the connection between Republicans and republicanism in any meaningful American sense. They aren’t republicans now, but instead a radical form of small-D democrats whose only aim is gin up outrage in sufficient quantities to “own the libs.” That’s not just on Donald Trump; it’s now on the entire party and its leadership.
That’s their choice; my choice is very clear. I don’t choose to participate in such a nihilistic political party. I’ll stand on my own as an independent, ready to vote for responsible conservatives but under no obligation to vote for or support anyone else. Until the GOP comes to its senses and returns to true republican and federal principles, I will not be back.
Speaking for myself? I’m not going to pretend that my party affiliation matters for much of anything to anyone. I stopped donating money to non-conservative candidates years ago, after the party’s establishment slandered the Tea Party away from its place at the table. I stopped being an activist two years ago – not “over Trump” per se (again, I’m not of the opinion that my choices of affiliations, or activism, matter in the great scheme of things all that much).
For what it’s worth? I intend to fight to re-save the soul of the GOP. There is a legacy worth saving, and passing on to people who haven’t seen much evidence of it in the past decade.
Ashli Babbit was shot and killed in the United States Capitol during a demonstration to protest the election. Early reports indicate Ashli was married and a veteran,she was unarmed, and she was shot by a police officer.
Other early reports and photos suggest Antifa infiltrators caused the major damage to provoke a backlash against President Trump supporters and that the violence was successful in convincing Senators to lay aside concerns about the stolen election in order to rush through certification of Joe Biden as President.
Early reports are always confused; I urge application of Berg’s Eighteenth Law of Media Latency.
And remember that even if a few dozen agitators spoiled the party, hundreds of thousands showed up to engage in lawful political protest and millions more wish they could have. Congress, RINOs, the media and the Deep State can huff and puff about decorum and attempt to shame us with double standards but in the end, it boils down to Never-Trumpers sneering, “Let them eat cake.”
We’ll remember that.
First things first – as a practical suggestion, Republican / conservative / Trump groups need to make a point of having saturation level surveillance of their events, especially demonstrations. This is something we learned during the Tea Party – when someone shows up in a racist T-shirt, it’s good to be able to crowd-source them and prove that they were actually a Democrat operative (which happened during the Tea Party A lot).
More on this, likely, tomorrow on the show and next week in the blog.
As clubby, self-referential and solipsistic as the modern “elite” (and even not-so-elite) media is, I should have probably predicted we’d see scenes like this whenever Trump was on the brink of leaving office.
Never mind that “the Lightworker” Obama was did a whole lot more actual oppressing of “journos” than Trump.
Do you know the one thing I always hated about Joe Soucheray’s Garage Logic?
For a show that constantly railed on about the need for individual responsibility, he rattled on an awful lot about “the mystery” and its attendant “mysterians”.
It struck me as a little incongruous – demanding responsibility from everyone else, but blaming the things that vexed “logicians” on some, well, mysterious force above and beyond anyone’s control.
It’s an oddly “progressive” trait – ascribing fault to systems and groups rather than individuals. And not in a good way.
The urge to roll things up in to all-encompassing narratives, and to try to “solve” them with all-encompassing proposals – “The New Deal”, Obamacare, The Great Society, and on and on – has been part of “progressivism”‘s DNA since there was a word for it (other than “Leninism”).
And while I give Trump the credit he’s due, he’s brought out a trait among way too many Republicans to do exactly the same.
Make no mistake – our election system has problems, problems big enough to warrant bringing in the Department of Justice under consent decrees no less drastic than those that governed southern elections after the Civil Rights Act was passed.
And state laws that make corruption almost impossible to identify, much less charge and prosecute, must become an electoral scarlet letter among those who care about the American Experiment.
But let’s stop all this jabbering about “Krakens”. Put up or shut up.
Because the real problem isn’t even hiding. It’s in plain sight, and it’s largely legal.
What happened in 2020 is something more fundamental and profound. What happened in 2020 is cultural and systemic, and sadly, generally legal. Until Republicans, and more importantly Trump supporters, understand what happened to them this year, it will happen again.
Two things happened in 2020. First, COVID led to a dismantling of state election integrity laws by everyone except the one body with the constitutional prerogative to change the rules of electing the president – the state legislatures.
Second, the Center for Technology and Civic Life happened.
If you are focused on goblins in the voting machines but don’t know anything about the CTCL and what they did to defeat Donald Trump, it’s time to up your game.
Minnesota legislature passes bill to help victims of state government, unless someone else does.
That’s not how they worded it, of course. The state legislature adopted a bill to give aid to small businesses closed by Governor Walz and to extend unemployment benefits for workers laid off by Governor Walz, but the aid is conditional. If the federal government adopts an aid package, then we use the federal money and the state does nothing. So it’s conditional virtue signaling, based on gaslighting the public that the Covid pandemic is a force of nature, not a product of arbitrary and destructive rule-by-executive-order.
I award Republicans one point for at least voicing the objection that Walz is the problem, not Covid. But I penalize them 10 points for going along with business as usual. Acquiescence is approval. Let the Democrats try to pass laws without a single Republican vote, until Walz relinquishes power to the Legislature, where it belongs. Otherwise, what do we need Republicans for? Just let Walz run everything forever and save the per diems.
In a state as Great-Sorted as Minnesota is, voters who are swingable are going to need a reason to choose GOP in 2022.
The Senate GOP has given them some little reasons. They need big ones. Stat.
The coming weeks may see the reemergence in backrooms and boardrooms of the tensions that loomed over the 2020 Democratic primaries. Let us review the three power centers in the party as they existed then:
The new economy. Two titans of the finance world (Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer) sought to win the Democratic nomination by funding their own and various down-ballot candidacies. (Both would eventually back Biden.) There was also one impecunious primary candidate who had some original ideas about the tech world: Andrew Yang. The new economy provides wealth for so few people that it can never command the party’s rank and file. But it exercises a dizzying gravitational pull on its leaders.
Socialism. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were its candidates, the former in a doctrinal way (unions, benefits, income redistribution), the latter in a way adapted to strike more precisely at modern power relations (financial regulation, economic rights), which she denied was any form of socialism at all. Each was a more dire threat to the interests of people like Bloomberg and Steyer than anything the tax-cutting, deregulatory Republicans might produce. This is the great drama of the Democratic Party: They are the party of the 1 percent. They are also the party of expropriating the 1 percent.This is the great drama of the Democratic Party: They are the party of the 1 percent. They are also the party of expropriating the 1 percent.
Civil rights. The party’s glue is civil rights, broadly understood. Civil rights long meant looking out for the practical and principled interests of Black people—naturally a commitment on which cooperation with socialists is possible. But over the decades, civil rights has also become a regulatory and judicial system for advancing the interests of other groups, including immigrants (elite and mass), women executives, two-income gay couples, and lawyers—commitments more consistent with those of the Democrats’ plutocratic wing. The role of civil rights as reconciler-of-contradictions can be compared to that of anti-Communism in the tripartite Reagan coalition of the 1980s, which appealed in one way to Christians who thought the country ought to be more fraternal and in another to businessmen who thought it ought to be more rapacious.
Without a boogieman, can they boogie?
That’s the good news.
Now, the bad news: without Trump, the Republicans are going to have to find someone to unify around. It that ain’t gonna be easy.
The Trump “movement” is a lot like Ron Paul’s crowd, eight and 12 years ago – they pretty much came for a single personality, in whom a bunch of hot button issues coalesced; immigration, economic decay, identity politics. Like the Ron Paul crowd, they could easily disappear from the GOP for another generation.
Then there’s the remaining Tea Party, Reagan and even Chamber of Commerce Republicans – none of whom are big enough to put someone in the White House, all of whom are big enough to deny a nomination or scupper an election if they stay home.
The GOP needs a New Gingrich to articulate a vision that brings that throng together in time for midterms, when the reaction to the inevitable “progressive” overreach peaks.
After a session of being neutered and stripped of their leadership positions by the increasingly metro-dominated DFL, there’ve been rumors bouncing around CD8 circles that Senators Bakk and Tomassoni were going to bolt the DFL.
And according to Tom Hauser, that may be in the near offing…:
…although not quite to the point of joining the GOP.
Rumors are bouncing about as to which party the “Independent Caucus” will work most closely with – but either way, Bakk and Tomassoni are going to be the most popular guys on Capitol Hill when the session starts.
It doesn’t seem a stretch that on issues of mining and gun rights – and, likely, a few more – the Senate has gone from 34-33 GOP to 34-31-2, and the DFL agenda just got even farther out of reach.
What’ll it mean for Governor Klink’s emergency powers?
My guess – and it’s only a guess – is that the House DFL will dig in harder and get more extreme.
So now we’re told that we all have to rush to Georgia for two months to focus on the run-off election because those two GOP Senate candidates are the only things that stand in the way of Biden-Harris ramming the Green New Deal down your gullet, and giving statehood to DC and Puerto Rico, thus greatly diminishing Susan Collins’ importance in Senate arithmetic now and forever.
Maybe. But it really would be nice if these guys would make an argument for something once in a while, instead of just saying we’re the fellows to block the other fellows. I mean, we’ve been here before even within the shriveled perspective of political memory: A decade ago we were told we had to back Republicans because they’re opposed to Obamacare. They raised a zillion dollars, saved their seats, won total control in 2016 …and had no plan.
It’s not enough. Last time round, the only guy making real arguments was Trump: Build the wall, renegotiate Nafta, get tough with China… So he won the argument, and then he won the election.
If they succeed in taking him out, we’re left with Republicans who have no argument other than process: Vote for me, so we’ll save the Senate. If we save the Senate, we can block Biden’s judges. So we’ll save the courts, so they can keep ruling that, er, Obamacare’s unconstitutional and that Pennsylvania shouldn’t be monkeying with election rules this close to the big day.
…it occurred to me – our biggest problem today is that so much of our “democracy” has become like the Blue state economy. It’s not about tangible things – in the case of politics, actual arguments and choices and ideas, the political equivalent of hopper cars full of wheat, trains hauling oil, cars rolling off the assembly line.
As Steyn noted, Trump made an argument. So did Reagan. So did Kennedy, and Carter for that matter.
But our elections today aren’t so much about selling the American people on an argument as they are about moving numbers in the right direction – by fair means or (as we see in Blue cities) means most foul.
Florida governor DeSantis proposes broadening Florida’s self-defense laws to make shooting in defense of property against looters more legally tenable.
The media is howling that it would enable roaming packs of vigilantes to slaughter people on the streets. Like most media reports on expanding self-defense rights, it’s a lot more nuanced than that:
The law would expand the state’s self-defense law, which currently forbids “the use of force in defense of property,” by increasing what constitutes a “forcible felony,” according to the Miami Herald. DeSantis seeks to make looting or “interruption or impairment” of a business such a felony, thereby justifying deadly force to prevent it…The Republican’s bill would also make it a third-degree felony to obstruct traffic, and would allow drivers to have legal immunity if they unintentionally kill or maim anyone engaging in blocking a roadway during a demonstration, according to the Herald. The law, which is only a draft at the time of publishing, is also set to grant state authorities the ability to withhold funds from localities that choose to reduce their police budgets
Expect much pants-wetting from the class that still thinks looters are “mostly peaceful”.
But they’re missing the point. The target of this bill isn’t looters.
It’s Kamala Harris.
DeSantis is setting himself up as the “Law and Order and Competence” candidate for the presidency in 2024.
And after this past year, I gotta say he’s on my short list.
The problem isnt that Trump hasn’t condemned racism and “white supremacy”.
In fact, here we see him do it 38 times:
The problem is that it isn’t literally the first and last thing out of his mouth whenever he speaks, which Democrat messaging seems to assume puts it outside the attention span of the typical Democrat voter.
I’d like a list of the 25 former GOP members who crossed the aisle to keep Governor Walz’ one-man-regime in power, in exchange for endorsements from trade unions who will benefit from the spending bill.
Please include home addresses, so I can send fruit baskets to thank them for selling out the people of Minnesota.
Not gonna lie – and if you are a MNGOP staffer, by all means feel free to pass this on to Jennifer Carnahan, Paul Gazelka and Kurt Daudt – but the whole “acting like DFLers” thing wasn’t amusing even before the state got swallowed up in a DFL coup.
It’s not been an easy few weeks to be a Minnesota Repubican.
But if you don’t, I consider it my mission to make sure that date lives on – dare I say, in infamy.
It was the date that reps from the New York Times and Washington Post newsrooms went on the air and told the nation…
…well, the tiny, self-selecting part of the nation that listens to NPR on the weekend – that it was time for the news media to stop playing by the rules that they always told the nation they played by, the whole “telling people the facts and let them draw their own concusions” thing, and started using their power to “de-normalize” President Trump.
And almost four years later, here we are:
Not Martin Van Buren, the most genuinely corrupt president in history.
Not James Buchanan, the inept buffoon who all but sent out engraved invitations to the Civil War.
Not Woodrow Wilson, the Princeton dean who lied about keeping the nation out of war, did more than any other single person to federalize and weaponize Jim Crow and empower the Klan, and launch the bureaucratic state that’s eating the nation alive today.
No. Trump. A coarse populist buffoon who has, nonetheless, pretty much done what he said he’d do (start bringing troops home, revive the economy after the slowest recovery since the Depression, nominate conservative SCOTUS justices), a few nobody expected (roll the ball farther toward peace in the middle east than any president, defeated ISIS), and brought the extreme delusional madness of the left fully out in the open, where (if America is wise) it can be stomped on hard, God willing…
The flotsam and jetsam of the left’s social media legion of the invincibly depraved has legs so tingly this morning at the news the POTUS and FLOTUS have Covid, they had to drag themselves hand over hand to the kitchen to make their avocado toast.
Of course, they were in Duluth before the news broke, so the Twin Cities media has jumped into high gear to investigate, not ballot harvesting (oh, good heavens, no) but just how close Minnesota’s GOP congresspeople and candidates actually were to the President.
Strib columnist Jennifer Brooks:
Don’t worry, Jen. John Thompson is on it.
If the FCOTUS recover without complications – fingers crossed, prayers being prayed – I’m almost tempted to send all these “journalists” sympathy cards.