The problems with anti-Trumpism are concisely delineated . . . .in the New York Times. By David Brooks. Look! The sun has been blotted out! Pigs, aflight! Millions of them!
. . . the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.
I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.
He’s right, I think — with careful attention to the word “more.” Some Trump skeptics — and hello, you handsome lad in the mirror — have always been concerned about his lack of knowledge combined with his disinclination to learn, his word-salad replies to questions, and his instinctive demeaning of anyone who challenges his mastery of the issues. This is different than thinking he’s a pouty toddler with the IQ of a bucket of soup.
A lot of Trump supporters conflate the “Dumb crazy baby” anti-Trumpers with the skeptics, just as anti-Trump types conflate the Trump defenders with the airhorn MAGA supporters. I hate that. Which brings us to the next point:
The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him.
Well, I think it’s fair to say that most anti-Trump types don’t know anyone who works with him. I don’t know about the second point, since I don’t know who knows who, but I can think of a few anti-Trump pundit types who wouldn’t change their opinion of Trump no matter how many supporters they knew. Their opinions have to do with — well, Trump. Their opinions about the man won’t change because the man won’t change.
But this is a distinct issue from being anti-Trump administration, and this seems to be the sticking point I do not understand. If the end result of the administration’s policies is the advancement of conservative policies, then you have to balance that against the negative influence of the Trump Personality on politics — something that seems to me to be modern culture turned up to 11 with the Loudness button enabled — and consider whether the specific, quantifiable gains exceed the cost of having Trump as the means by which they were achieved. If the answer is no, then it’s possible your objections result from your inability to throttle your lack of respect for the man, and this colors your view of the larger scene.
And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.
Oh, I have conversations with Trump-supporting friends all the time; it’s fun. Most of my info about Trumpism comes from the President’s Twitter feed.
In every war, nations come to resemble their enemies, so I suppose it’s normal that the anti-Trump movement would come to resemble the pro-Trump movement. But it’s not good. I’ve noticed a lot of young people look at the monotonous daily hysteria of we anti-Trumpers and they find it silly.
Hmm. I don’t recall the Allies building gas chambers for the Axis troops, or Afghan UN troops cultivating poppy fields and forbidding the instruction of girls, but nevermind. I am also unsure how many young people Frum has interrogated about the monotonous daily hysteria. (“Young people,” especially worried woke 7-year-olds, are the cab drivers of modern political commentary.) But I find the daily hysteria silly, and I think Donald Trump’s public performances are generally ridiculous.
This isn’t just a struggle over a president. It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going to play by after Trump. Are we all going to descend permanently into the Trump standard of acceptable behavior?
I don’t think so. I think he’s a one-off.
Or, are we going to restore the distinction between excellence and mediocrity, truth and a lie?
Oh, those distinctions are just suddenly apparent now? You could find a lot of people who regarded the previous presidents as excellent mediocrities and mediocre excellences.
Are we going to insist on the difference between a genuine expert and an ill-informed blow hard?
I suspect not, because many of the former have been corrupted by agendas to the point where they don’t realize how they sound like the latter.
There’s a hierarchy of excellence in every sphere. There’s a huge difference between William F. Buckley and Sean Hannity, between the reporters at this newspaper and a rumor-spreader. Part of this struggle is to maintain those distinctions, not to contribute to their evisceration.
Note how he twinned reporters with Buckley. Okay: Buckley had a coherent, detailed political philosophy he advanced through his platform; is he saying NYT reporters are doing the same?