A Real Threat to Democracy

 

I feel as if I’ve just been kicked in the gut by a good friend. He was, for many years, the epitome of intelligence and reason, with a lively sense of humor. We’ve been estranged for a while, mainly because of his political positions. After hearing one too many of his podcasts a few years ago, I pretty much avoided him. After reading one of his latest pieces on the Bari Weiss blog, I’ve decided we’re done. I’m talking about Jonah Goldberg.

This is not really a post about Jonah Goldberg. It’s about my bewilderment about the defaming of Republicans and Conservatives by using the broad-brush of assuming that we are all Donald Trump fanatics, who continually fawn over him and apologize for him. I think this viewpoint about who we are, who I am, is deeply flawed, and I can’t figure out why it persists.

Goldberg and others seem to refuse to accept that a huge number of those who voted for Trump—not even necessarily people whom I would call “Trump supporters”—were desperate to dislodge the DC Swamp. We didn’t really like Donald Trump, but it was clear that he was fearless and prepared to take on just about anyone. Many of us became convinced, particularly after the attacks on Trump after he was elected, that the Washington establishment was determined to protect every ounce of abusive power that they had. And I don’t think there was another Republican who had the guts to do that. That he was rude and crude and held disdain for proper etiquette was not relevant.

So, what am I so upset about? I feel that most Republicans and Conservatives are not sycophants to the person and platform of Trump. Most of us would never riot at the Capitol. Most of us would not dress like crazy Shamans. Most of also would not have the gumption that Trump displayed. But he was willing to do it on our behalf (and probably for his own motives).

Most of us dreaded the Tweets but liked that Trump got things done. Most of us disliked his personal attacks but liked his pushback on Xi. Most of us were annoyed at his bragging but were amazed that he was able to deal with Covid-19 the way he did.

What especially disturbs me about Jonah and the criticisms of others who hate Trump is that they are defaming most of us in the Republican Party and those who are Conservatives.

How does that help the party? How does that contribute productively to the future of this country? How does that help re-establish conservative values?

If some people are misguided, they aren’t the people who support Trump; they are the people who are determined to keep the edifices from crumbling. The rest of us are tired of the status quo and those who malign our institutions and values.

Jonah and his ilk would be better off exerting their energies against our real enemies.

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  1. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Well duh. But that’s not going to happen. For some reason, Trump bothers NTers more than the left making America poorer, more racially divisive and less safe. I didn’t like Trump’s tweets but those are merely annoying words compared to bad policies which have very negative consequences. Particularly, for poor Americans and Americans of color.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

     

    I am on board with all of this. Over and over we hear this sort of rhetoric. In 2015, I made a post asking both sides to be civil with one another. The Pro-Trump people were OK with that and responded well, the Never Trump crowd did not. The use of the world “cult” and whatnot has persisted on the right against Trump supporters. There is something intellectually and morally wrong with supporting Trump. 

    I have heard people say “I get it” in response to why people support Trump. What seems missing is not “I don’t agree with you” as in an intellectual discussion but more “I get it: You are a stupid hick that does not know any better. You are deranged, and if you could think clearly, you would see just how wrong you are and how right I am”. That is what comes across. Jonah is not even the worst offender. 

    I am tired of being told I never criticize Trump because I support him. I am tired of being told when I refute that “Well, I was not talking about you,” when the person painted with as wide a brush as possible. Of course they were. The dripping contempt from people who are on “our side” is beyond belief. 

    I don’t know if the nation will break up, but the GOP is going too. Never Trump has made it clear that those of us not with them need to leave so they can “Have the party back”. How do you make peace with that?

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I am tired of being told when I refute that “Well, I was not talking about you,” when the person painted with as wide a brush as possible

    That is SO annoying. No, I am not the exception! And I will not apologize for my positions and values. I don’t think the Never Trumpers are going to win out. I think they have very little support. The Left hates them (except for the ammunition they provide for them) and we certainly do not embrace them. I think they will find that their motley crew will be pretty well on their own.

    • #3
  4. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Yes, Susan, Jonah and friends have become the feckless crapweasels he used to denounce.  Let your grief run its course. And then ignore them.  It isn’t like there aren’t enough political pundits around.  Consume the material of the sane ones.

    • #4
  5. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    “No enemies to the left,” as they say.

    Jonah is a lightweight thinker, and probably knows it. He provides neither enlightenment nor insight into the political moment. He offers no solutions or direction. He only provides snark. Snark gets clicks, but it’s like empty calories with no nutritional value. (See also Kevin Williamson.)

    Jonah also knows that if he doesn’t constantly and consistently malign President Trump — and by extention the Republican party rank and file — the cash flow stops. He doesn’t speak for the citizen class. He speaks for the establishment/donor class.

     

    • #5
  6. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Yes, Susan, Jonah and friends have become the feckless crapweasels he used to denounce. Let your grief run its course. And then ignore them. It isn’t like there aren’t enough political pundits around. Consume the material of the sane ones.

    A rare breed. I have said before (and continue to say) that 95% of all political pundits could disappear tomorrow, and the country would be better off. I’d even go for 99.99999%.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Yes, Susan, Jonah and friends have become the feckless crapweasels he used to denounce. Let your grief run its course. And then ignore them. It isn’t like there aren’t enough political pundits around. Consume the material of the sane ones.

    Yes. Mollie Hemingway, Ben Domenich, Gabe Kaminsky at the Federalist; Kimberley Strassel, Bill McGurn, and Holman Jenkins at the WSJ; and Byron York. All in my group of faves.

    • #7
  8. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):
    Jonah also knows that if he doesn’t constantly and consistently malign President Trump — and by extention the Republican party rank and file — the cash flow stops. He doesn’t speak for the citizen class. He speaks for the establishment/donor class.

    This. 

    • #8
  9. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):
    Jonah is a lightweight thinker, and probably knows it. He provides neither enlightenment nor insight into the political moment. He offers no solutions or direction. He only provides snark. Snark gets clicks, but it’s like empty calories with no nutritional value. (See also Kevin Williamson.)

    To be fair, Drew, Jonah did some really good work, IMO, with Liberal Fascism. Of course, one can’t make a living writing books like that. 

    Where I’m not totally sure is if his beliefs have changed to where he appears to be, or if he’s just spouting nonsense for the money. Neither one is good. But I’m leaning more and more to he’s really changed his beliefs.

    • #9
  10. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):
    Where I’m not totally sure is if his beliefs have changed to where he appears to be, or if he’s just spouting nonsense for the money. Neither one is good. But I’m leaning more and more to he’s really changed his beliefs.

    I rather think he changed his feelings.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    To be fair, Drew, Jonah did some really good work, IMO, with Liberal Fascism. Of course, one can’t make a living writing books like that. 

    Where I’m not totally sure is if his beliefs have changed to where he appears to be, or if he’s just spouting nonsense for the money. Neither one is good. But I’m leaning more and more to he’s really changed his beliefs.

    Very much agree!

    • #11
  12. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    I think part of what’s going on is the Bush-Republicans using Trump’s support of policies that they never really supported – border security, hardball on trade with China, rebuking the media — to give themselves a rationale for not having to pretend to support those policies any more. 

    Bush-Republicans want an unlimited supply of cheap labor from an open border. They want to sell out American working class prosperity to China so they and their Wall Street buddies (who were classmates at Harvard and Yale) can get rich. They want Big Government and the spending that goes with it. And they want to be invited to those swell cocktail parties the media elites throw. They know that people who vote Republican want to exact opposite of this. They see attaching MAGA policies to Trump is a way they can repudiate them and stop pretending. 

    Also, I’m not sure why people get so fussy about the term “Bush-Republicans.” No one had a problem with “Rockefeller Republicans.” And they are basically the same. 

    • #12
  13. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):
    Jonah is a lightweight thinker, and probably knows it. He provides neither enlightenment nor insight into the political moment. He offers no solutions or direction. He only provides snark. Snark gets clicks, but it’s like empty calories with no nutritional value. (See also Kevin Williamson.)

    To be fair, Drew, Jonah did some really good work, IMO, with Liberal Fascism. Of course, one can’t make a living writing books like that.

    Where I’m not totally sure is if his beliefs have changed to where he appears to be, or if he’s just spouting nonsense for the money. Neither one is good. But I’m leaning more and more to he’s really changed his beliefs.

    I’ve never read that book. I assumed it was like all other books by right-wing pundits: preaching to the choir, saying what itching ears want to hear, and hoping to make a buck off it. I have avoided all such books.

    • #13
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I started scanning the comments to Jonah’s piece at Bari Weiss’s substack and . . . well, let’s just say it looks like he’s getting soundly roasted.

    Good.

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    If Jonah lives in the DC area I would imagine the social pressure to conform is pretty high. From cocktail parties to Sunday morning political television shows DC is a vast wasteland, isolated from reality, and insulated from the middle class. Eventually everyone has to clamor for attention to stand 0ut from the crowd.

    There is a virus that runs wild in DC called SPITR (Smartest Person In The Room), there is no vaccine for this virus. The good news is that your chance of infection diminishes as your distance from DC increases. 

    • #15
  16. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Does Trump really have less ‘proper etiquette’ than does, say, Joseph Biden?…a man who threatens to beat people up, makes assertions about people having lower IQs than himself, has consistently lied and plagiarized?

     

     

    • #16
  17. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Susan Quinn:

    Jonah and his ilk would be better off exerting their energies against our real enemies.

     

    I don’t really like the title of this post but I endorse this last sentence because those enemies are right now in control of our government and they want to turn it into ‘their democracy’, never to be returned to the people.

    Every public official in America has sworn an oath to defend our Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Yet, it’s long been taboo even to acknowledge that we may have domestic enemies. Today, such willful blindness is not only untenable. It can be fatal.

    That part in quotes needs to be addressed because it is there for a reason and we are facing it today. This really is the message delivered by President Donald Trump. We need just one election, 2022,  with integrity to get us back on the Constitutional path. Once that is done we really need to delve into this issue of “how” do we expose and take action against domestic enemies. I don’t see that we have the mechanisms for that. When I was young we had quite a few weapons that were in place to identify and take action against domestic communist enemies but that has all been set aside. How do we handle domestic enemies like the socialists in our government today?

    • #17
  18. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):
    Jonah is a lightweight thinker, and probably knows it. He provides neither enlightenment nor insight into the political moment. He offers no solutions or direction. He only provides snark. Snark gets clicks, but it’s like empty calories with no nutritional value. (See also Kevin Williamson.)

    To be fair, Drew, Jonah did some really good work, IMO, with Liberal Fascism. Of course, one can’t make a living writing books like that.

    Where I’m not totally sure is if his beliefs have changed to where he appears to be, or if he’s just spouting nonsense for the money. Neither one is good. But I’m leaning more and more to he’s really changed his beliefs.

    I’ve never read that book. I assumed it was like all other books by right-wing pundits: preaching to the choir, saying what itching ears want to hear, and hoping to make a buck off it. I have avoided all such books.

    Nah, it was a well-researched piece of historical-political analysis that (at least for me) definitively tied fascism to the political left. He also related it to some of the political theory/movements on the American left. So not really like a Sean Hannity book.

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    Nah, it was a well-researched piece of historical-political analysis that (at least for me) definitively tied fascism to the political left. He also related it to some of the political theory/movements on the American left. So not really like a Sean Hannity book.

    I wonder who ghost-wrote it? ; )

     

    • #19
  20. LibertyDefender Member
    LibertyDefender
    @LibertyDefender

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I am tired of being told when I refute that [I never criticize Trump because I support him] “Well, I was not talking about you,” when the person painted with as wide a brush as possible

    That is SO annoying. No, I am not the exception! 

    No, you are NOT the exception.  We are legion.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I don’t think the Never Trumpers are going to win out. I think they have very little support. The Left hates them (except for the ammunition they provide for them) and we certainly do not embrace them. I think they will find that their motley crew will be pretty well on their own.

    The Left indeed hates them.  The Left hates everyone and everything, when you get down to it – their victim-first hierarchy has reached its logical conclusion: in striving for victimhood, everyone is an oppressor, and oppressors are hated.  Why they continue to service the Left’s aims is a mystery to me.  I never pegged Jonah Goldberg or George Will as self-flagellators.  Although I suppose one can tolerate considerable self-flagellation when it’s being financed handsomely by the likes of Jeff Bezos and left-wing mega-donor Pierre Omidyar.

    To bend the “we are legion” metaphor, I pray that their NeverTrump demons will be driven from them, and enter a herd of pigs that will run down a steep embankment into the slaughterhouse, so that a sudden surplus will result in reduced prices for bacon, that will be the first victory in our ultimately successful war on inflation.  Sorry to those of you who keep kosher, but this is just the first of many battles.  We love you and wish for you to share in the resurrection of the economy as full-fledged members of the community.

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Goldberg did have some useful insights, some years ago, though perhaps they weren’t original to him.  The ideas in Liberal Fascism and The Tyranny of Cliches and The Suicide of the West were useful, in my view, though I don’t think that they were original.  He was good at propounding such ideas.

    He now seems to be propounding ideas that are not so good.  This is sad.  Susan, I share your feeling, though I reached this point with respect to Goldberg about 2-3 years ago.

    I appreciate the link to the article.  Trying to analyze it neutrally, it seems to exhibit a remarkable lack of self-awareness.  Goldberg’s fundamental argument is that “narrative” or “storytelling” has taken over American politics, and he contrasts this with his personal conservative heroes — he mentions Buckley, Hayek, and Sowell, among others.  But those guys were all about storytelling, too.  So were Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln.

    Goldberg does cite a particular article from American Greatness, which apparently argued that as long as the Left presented Jan. 6 as the “burning of the Reichstag,” the Right should present it as the “storming of the Bastille.”  This seems to be a “turnabout is fair play” argument, which is actually a legitimate tactic, in my view.  The alternative, to me, looks like unilateral disarmament.  But Goldberg apparently can’t abide the use of this sort of rhetoric.

    I’ll admit that I’m not fond of it either, but unlike fellows like Goldberg or David French, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to police the purity of folks who are on my side.  Particularly when they’re simply using the same tactic that the political opposition uses so effectively.  

    Goldberg’s fundamental argument, in fact, seems to boil down to a cliche, which is ironic in light of his prior book.  He doesn’t use this phrase, but his underlying argument seems something like Gandhi’s quote about “an eye for an eye only making the whole world blind.”  Which is wrong, actually, as it ignores the obvious effect of deterrence.  A credible threat to gouge out the other guy’s eye, if he gouges out yours, is one of the most effective ways to preserve your vision in a lost and fallen world like this.

    • #21
  22. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Goldberg did have some useful insights, some years ago, though perhaps they weren’t original to him. The ideas in Liberal Fascism and The Tyranny of Cliches and The Suicide of the West were useful, in my view, though I don’t think that they were original. He was good at propounding such ideas.

    He now seems to be propounding ideas that are not so good. This is sad. Susan, I share your feeling, though I reached this point with respect to Goldberg about 2-3 years ago.

    I appreciate the link to the article. Trying to analyze it neutrally, it seems to exhibit a remarkable lack of self-awareness. Goldberg’s fundamental argument is that “narrative” or “storytelling” has taken over American politics, and he contrasts this with his personal conservative heroes — he mentions Buckley, Hayek, and Sowell, among others. But those guys were all about storytelling, too. So were Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln.

    Goldberg does cite a particular article from American Greatness, which apparently argued that as long as the Left presented Jan. 6 as the “burning of the Reichstag,” the Right should present it as the “storming of the Bastille.” This seems to be a “turnabout is fair play” argument, which is actually a legitimate tactic, in my view. The alternative, to me, looks like unilateral disarmament. But Goldberg apparently can’t abide the use of this sort of rhetoric.

    I’ll admit that I’m not fond of it either, but unlike fellows like Goldberg or David French, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to police the purity of folks who are on my side. Particularly when they’re simply using the same tactic that the political opposition uses so effectively.

    Goldberg’s fundamental argument, in fact, seems to boil down to a cliche, which is ironic in light of his prior book. He doesn’t use this phrase, but his underlying argument seems something like Gandhi’s quote about “an eye for an eye only making the whole world blind.” Which is wrong, actually, as it ignores the obvious effect of deterrence. A credible threat to gouge out the other guy’s eye, if he gouges out yours, is one of the most effective ways to preserve your vision in a lost and fallen world like this.

    Remember the Chicago way. 

    • #22
  23. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):
    I pray that their NeverTrump demons will be driven from them, and enter a herd of pigs that will run down a steep embankment into the slaughterhouse, so that a sudden surplus will result in reduced prices for bacon, that will be the first victory in our ultimately successful war on inflation.

    I love it! . . .

    • #23
  24. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    If you had asked me before I retired what I did for a living, I’d have answered that I was an engineer of sorts, doing what would be called “mission analysis” in my last four years. If you asked Goldberg what he does for a living, would he answer “write”?

    I think Hemmingway said that writers write. They wrote yesterday; they write today and they will write tomorrow. Unless a writer has a trust fund, that is how he puts food on the table and money in the bank. They write even when they have nothing to say. To me, that explains Goldberg. 

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Does Trump really have less ‘proper etiquette’ than does, say, Joseph Biden?…a man who threatens to beat people up, makes assertions about people having lower IQs than himself, has consistently lied and plagiarized?

    Well, part of the problem is that the media jumped on every comment. But I also think Trump did it quite a bit more. But maybe the media has convinced me.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I don’t really like the title of this post but I endorse this last sentence because those enemies are right now in control of our government and they want to turn it into ‘their democracy’, never to be returned to the people.

    Bob, you did see that I called them Real Threat, not The Real Threat. Do you believe the positions that Jonah is taking are not also a threat to us?

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):
    Nah, it was a well-researched piece of historical-political analysis that (at least for me) definitively tied fascism to the political left. He also related it to some of the political theory/movements on the American left. So not really like a Sean Hannity book.

    I agree, and its plaudits were well-deserved.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):
    Sorry to those of you who keep kosher, but this is just the first of many battles.  We love you and wish for you to share in the resurrection of the economy as full-fledged members of the community.

    I’m right there with you–bacon excepted!

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    A credible threat to gouge out the other guy’s eye, if he gouges out yours, is one of the most effective ways to preserve your vision in a lost and fallen world like this.

    I like it! I also agree–losing narrative would be a great loss to the country.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    In looking over the “likes” on this post, it seems like we cover the whole spectrum of Republicans/Conservatives (since I know the view of many of you). So there, Jonah!

    • #30