Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Bill Maher’s War On Political Correctness Is Vindicated

At a time when many stunned Democrats still seem inclined to respond to Donald Trump’s election victory by doubling down and giving the electorate more of the same (i.e. petulant, finger-wagging lectures), Bill Maher gets it:

The Democratic Party – back me up on this, guys – sort of lost the white working man. That’s what they used to have. And they made the white working man feel like your problems aren’t real. Because you’re mansplaining, and check your privilege. But you know what? If your life sucks, your problems are real. And c’mon, what should I do, cut my dick off and check my privilege?

[..] If there is a silver lining for me personally, it is that the two issues I have been on the case of liberals for – and they’ve been booing me about this for years, and maybe they’ll listen – one is political correctness, I think I did a show about that for nine years, you’re outrageous with your politically correct bullshit and it does drive people away.

This is a little condescending, but not wholly inaccurate. It’s not necessarily a question of Trump voter’s lives “sucking”. Yes, some have been hit hard by the modern globalised economy, or feel their own jobs and industries teetering on the brink of the same insecurity and decline that has befallen manufacturing. But it is not a question of being dirt poor. It is a question of not being listened to, and yes, one of respect.

Bill Maher, of course, has been a strident critic of the American Left’s takeover by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics (well, at least the latter part) for some time. Perhaps his words will now start to carry more weight, as the dust settles.

 

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The Virtue-Signalling Left Find Their Ideal Spokesman: A Five Year Old Girl

This five-year-old girl actually makes a better case for Corbynism than many writers at the Guardian, Left Foot Forward or LabourList. Someone give her a weekly column and a podcast!

A few years ago, US comedian Bill Maher brought to our attention a 14-year-old wannabe conservative talk radio host called Caiden Cowger, who had so thoroughly absorbed Republican talking points and mastered the Rush Limbaugh speaking style that to watch him at work was both hilarious and unnervingly realistic.

At the time, Bill Maher made this rather potent observation:

If a fourteen year old can deliver your message, it’s not because he’s gifted, it’s because intellectually you are a child.

[..] When fourteen year old boys sound exactly like you do, and can produce radio shows and books and speeches that sound exactly like yours, maybe you should rethink the shit that’s coming out of your mouth.

Remember the Republican debates we had this year? They applauded for the idea of letting a sick man without insurance die. Herman Cain got cheers for saying he’d electrify the border fence. They booed a gay man serving his country in the military. No wonder fourteen year old boys can do your act, you act exactly like fourteen year old boys. There’s no ideology here. It’s just about being a dick.

Well, now it is the turn of the British Left to produce a young child capable of ventriloquising their entire political philosophy.

Meet Brooke Blair, a five-year-old girl who has been trained by her (undoubtedly) sanctimonious, Corbynite parents to screech about inequality, use the poor as ideological weapons and advocate for ever-more government spending funded through the munificence of the Magic Money Tree.

It’s worth reproducing Brooke Blair’s diatribe in full:

Look. My name is Brooke Blair and I’m five years old. I’ve got something to say to you Theresa May.

Yesterday night I was out on the streets and I saw hundreds and millions of homeless people. I saw one with floppy ears, I saw loads.

You should be out there, Theresa May. You should be [giving] biscuits, hot chocolate, sandwiches and building houses.

Look. I’m only five years old, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m saving up money, and there’ll never be enough. You’ve got the pot of money – spend some and help people. Yes, that’s what you’ve got to do.

Because we’ve had lots of wars in this country and I do not like that Theresa May. I’m very angry!

So yesterday night a middle class, five year old girl was out on the streets (dodging the bombs and sniper fire from our many ongoing wars), keeping the company of “millions” of homeless people? Righty-ho. And we know that this is a true story because of the rich detail Blair provides, like the fact that one of them had “floppy ears” – are we sure she isn’t confusing the homeless with rabbits?

Naturally, the video has gone viral, borne aloft on a cloud of smug, self-satisfied leftist clicks and shares, all delighting in the fact that this “brave” five-year-old has apparently socked it to our cruel and inhumane prime minister. And what’s not to like, from a leftist standpoint? If you believe that the state should be involved in everything and meddle in all our lives, why shouldn’t the prime minister herself be tasked with roaming the streets at night, handing out cash, biscuits and building materials to homeless people?

Throughout the one-minute video you can just hear the pinch-faced, hectoring, virtue signalling, metro-left parents articulating their own political views through their daughter. Perhaps the only honest part is when Brooke Blair declares “and I do not like Theresa May!” That much I believe. And why would she? This girl is clearly being raised by her parents to blindly and unthinkingly hate the Evil Tor-ees and look to government as the answer to every single problem, rather than one day judging for herself which political philosophy best addresses the opportunities and challenges faced by society.

Of course, Brooke Blair’s parents are free to raise her however they want. And if they want to produce a little Owen Jones Mark II then that is entirely their business. But I would be careful, if I were them. Children have a tendency to rebel against the dogmas and beliefs imposed on them at a young age, so in a decade’s time we could quite possibly be welcoming Brooke Blair into the conservative movement, where there will always be a “safe space” for people who have renounced their former socialist ways.

But for now, the British Left should rejoice. The Labour Party may be imploding, its MPs more interested in stabbing their leader in the back than actually opposing a government which is becoming pretty left-wing anyway, but at least there are five-year olds on YouTube and seven-year-olds with handmade signs who are making the case for socialism every bit as eloquently as the adults ever could.

Jeremy Corbyn can sit out the next few rounds and complete the ongoing shadow cabinet reshuffle at his leisure. Brooke Blair will take it from here.

 

Postscript: Those actually interested in alleviating the problem of homelessness rather than simply broadcasting their trendy lefty compassion credentials to the world may consider donating to Shelter or the excellent Big Issue Foundation.

 

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Shameless Conservatives Try To Blame The Rise Of Donald Trump On Barack Obama And The Democrats

Anti-Trump conservatives need to stop trying to blame Democrats for the rise of Donald Trump, and take a good look in the mirror instead

While it is admirable that many prominent American conservatives are refusing on principle to support Donald Trump, far fewer seem introspective or self-critical enough to consider their own role in fuelling the mania which brought a reality TV star to the cusp of the presidency.

Latest to hop aboard the “look what the Democrats made us do” bandwagon is a writer I like and respect very much, the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. There is much to admire in Goldberg’s continued and principled criticism of Donald Trump, but he goes too far when he tries to shift blame for the rise of Trump away from where it belongs – the hysterical and alarmist nature of Republican opposition to President Obama – and create an alternative universe where the dastardly Obama “trolled” the helpless GOP and effectively forced the Republican base to become frothing-at-the-mouth crazy people uniquely receptive to Trump’s message.

Goldberg writes:

Consider President Obama. One of the central insights of both the Obama campaign and administration (the difference is subtle but real) is that Obama benefits when his critics overreact. In 2008, then-political adviser David Axelrod coined the phrase “no drama Obama” to describe not only his client’s personality but his messaging. By seeming unflappable in the face of criticism, Obama comes across as presidential. The more heated the criticism, the more presidential he seems.

The thing is, Obama often intentionally provokes the conservative base. As the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman put it in January 2015, Obama “seems to come up with a new idea every couple of weeks to drive [the GOP] up a wall.” That makes him a master at trolling.

[..] Obama played a similar game with his birth certificate and the whole birther craze. He could have released his birth certificate as early as 2008, when the Mephistophelean Clinton henchman Sid Blumenthal was whispering in reporters’ ears. But Obama didn’t for years — in part because he knew the conspiracy theory would galvanize his base. It not only confirmed everything liberals wanted to hear about the Right, it also provided Obama with an endless supply of one-liners. And for a long time that worked well for Obama; he got to mock birthers and play the dignified victim.

You can probably already see the problem. When you throw out so many buckets of chum, you have no idea what kinds of creatures you’ll attract.

Obama chummed the waters for so long, he pulled in a great white shark. A man often in error but never in doubt, with a thumbless grasp of facts and a total willingness to repeat conspiracy theories, rumors, and innuendo as the truth, Trump was almost the personification of the collective id of the angrier strata of the Republican base.

It takes quite some gall to accuse Barack Obama (of all people) of fuelling the birther movement, while keeping a straight face. No other presidents in history have been forced by relentless fringe political pressure to release their birth certificate in order to prove eligibility for office, and to suggest that Obama’s understandable reluctance to rise to the conspiracy theorist bait was motivated primarily by a desire to smear the Republican Party is like blaming a homeowner you just burgled for not warning you in advance that burglary is illegal and will get you in trouble with the law.

Is Barack Obama now responsible for the welfare and fortunes of the Republican Party? Does he have some hitherto-unknown obligation to save his political foes from their own worst excesses? The idea is laughable. Republicans loved having fringe birthers on their side when it helped them storm to victory in the 2010 midterm elections – it is disingenuous in the extreme for American conservatives to pretend that birtherism was something foisted upon them by Obama himself now that it has finally become a liability.

Besides, the real roots of Donald Trump’s rise – besides the pervasive weariness with political elites in general, a phenomenon witnessed on both sides of the Atlantic – lie in the behaviour of leading conservative politicians and media personalities, and the way in which they chose to portray Obama’s centre-leftism as a unique and unprecedented socialist assault on America.

As this blog recently noted:

It was the tri-cornered hat brigade whose admirable devotion to fiscal responsibility only materialised once Barack Obama took office, and then failed to force any meaningful change in Washington despite many of their number being elected to Congress in the 2010 midterms which, who have a case to answer. They were the Great White Hope whose inevitable failure formed the third strike against the political class.

It was not the Democratic Party which fanned the flames of birtherism (and then considered a nominee for president who was born in Canada) and refused to stand up to angry constituents demanding to see a birth certificate. That was all on the Republicans. Donald Trump led that effort, and nearly the entire GOP sat back with a tub of popcorn, thinking that the circus would benefit them politically. And so it did, until their attack dog finally broke the leash and turned on its handlers.

Has Barack Obama been a decidedly left-wing and in some (though by no means all) ways unimpressive president? Yes, he has. But is he a closet Communist, a secret Muslim planning to enforce hardline Islamism on America or a hopelessly incompetent buffoon? Absolutely not. He is a centre-left politician with undeniable skills, twice elected on a centre-left platform and governing according to a centre-left approach. But in their greed to quickly win back power without doing the hard work of making their own pitch to the voters more appealing, too many Republicans were willing to tolerate and sometimes actively participate in the anti-Obama hysteria for short term political gain.

[..] Yes, the Democrats peddle in identity politics and often come down on the wrong side when it comes to favouring political correctness over freedom of speech, religion and behaviour. But it was the Republicans who opted to whip up (and profit from) blind fury about the state of the country instead of articulating a serious, coherent alternative. And in the end they were beaten at their own game. Why vote for the politician who smirks or winks when someone else is making ignorant, bigoted remarks when now you can vote for the real deal?

And again, even earlier, here:

As Barack Obama’s second term reaches its end, the size and scope of the federal government is still stubbornly large, but America has by no means transitioned into a Soviet-style planned economy. Even the hated (in right-wing circles) ObamaCare has only tinkered around the margins, funnelling a few million uninsured into some form of health coverage, inconveniently disrupting the existing coverage of a number of other people but otherwise doing nothing to change the private insurance, private provision model of American healthcare. The Second Amendment has not been substantially undermined, let alone repealed. Defence spending may be misaligned but still eclipses the rest of the world, and the US military has not been decimated. In terms of domestic policy, in other words, the world has not ended.

Has America become a libertarian paradise under President Obama? Of course not. But that’s because a Democrat won the White House and focused (as much as he could, given a spineless Democratic congressional caucus and entrenched Republican opposition) on the kind of centre-left priorities you would expect from a Democrat. And crucially, neither has America become a socialist dystopia in that time.

That’s not to say that the Republicans did not often have a point, or that they were perpetually in the wrong – in many cases, their opposition to Obama’s agenda was justified. But at all times this opposition was carried out in a shrill, alarmist and hyperbolic manner – much as British left-wingers are currently mirroring the American Tea Party with their “pass the smelling salts” horror at the thoroughly unexciting, centrist government of David Cameron.

And when you go trawling for low information votes by feeding on prejudice and stoking up concerns about the personal motivations, the loyalty and even the American-ness of the president in a childishly obstructionist scorched earth strategy, you can’t really feign surprise when the sentiments you unleash give rise to a populist demagogue like Donald Trump.

Remember, this is a political party which urged Americans in all seriousness to vote for Sarah Palin as vice president back in 2008. Sarah Palin. The Republicans have been dabbling in crazy and courting the proudly ignorant vote for decades. Donald Trump is nothing but the GOP’s longstanding approach taken to its logical extreme.

And if decent conservatives want to ensure that they never again find themselves in a position of seeing their movement taken over by an ignorant, populist demagogue then they might want to stop blaming Democrats for their own self-inflicted misfortune and instead re-examine their behaviour both in government and opposition.

Was it wise, for example, to pretend to be super tough on immigration, yet ultimately do nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants or otherwise reform the system, simply because Republican donors had no interest in changing the status quo, with its plentiful cheap labour for corporations and affordable illegal domestic service for households?

Was it wise to continually shriek not just that Democrats wanted to impose stricter gun control but that they were actively seeking to abolish the Second Amendment? (The big push to completely outlaw guns trumpeted in GOP propaganda has been just weeks away for the past eight years now – is Obama waiting until his very last day in office to take America’s guns?)

Was it smart to prance around as the party of national security while consistently involving America in foreign conflagrations which increased anti-American sentiment, or to pose as the party of civil liberties while loudly cheerleading for the surveillance state?

Was it really such a genius move to talk endlessly about the benefits of tax cuts for ordinary Americans while focusing them overwhelmingly on the wealthy, or to cynically pretend that America’s lost manufacturing jobs could be easily brought back home in the age of globalisation and international supply chains?

At nearly every election going back to the Bill Clinton administration and probably earlier, the Republican Party has been writing rhetorical cheques that its politicians cannot or will not cash when they are either in office or a position of influential opposition, at a national or statewide level.

They promised to be on the side of ordinary wage and salary earners, yet together with the Democrats they did nothing to address the economic stagnation of the middle class.

They ran around screaming that ObamaCare (originally a conservative think tank idea, in large part) was socialism incarnate, an evil government takeover of healthcare rather than merely a messy and flawed patch to America’s abysmal healthcare system.

They took tons of cash in campaign contributions and small donations in order to fight the Culture Wars, enriching many pundits and activists in the process, and then rode to glorious defeat on nearly all fronts.

In other words, the Republican Party was acutely vulnerable to a Trumpian takeover because they have consistently been a party of failure. They sucked at doing the things they promised their base that they would do, and they did a whole load of other things in office or opposition which their base never wanted. And still they coasted by for years, knowing that they were their supporters’ least-worst option, until a brash new arrival appeared on the scene, a stranger to Washington politics, who promised – however glibly – that instead of mere talk he would deliver decisive action.

I think this is one of those times when I see things a little more clearly and with better perspective than American conservatives like Jonah Goldberg who have been in the trenches, fighting Barack Obama from Day 1 of his presidency. Aside from eighteen instructive months in Chicago, I spent the past eight years living in Britain, where the legacy and tradition of socialism is much stronger and more pervasive than it is in the United States.

In Britain we make the NHS, our nationalised healthcare system, into a ghastly national religion and worship it from dawn to dusk even as it kills people. We accept a much bigger welfare state than Americans would tolerate. Many of us actively demand a large, activist state to protect us from the consequences of our own decisions. Even our nominally conservative party supports many of these things.

And while I may not have the painful first-hand experience of socialism as someone from, say, Venezuela, I am surrounded by enough monuments to it for Republican wailings that Evil ObamaCare is going to destroy the “greatest healthcare system on the face of the earth” and institute socialist “death panels” to dispatch infirm Americans as the opportunistic, partisan rabble-rousing that it is. Those conservatives screeching about Obama’s plot to force “socialism” on America need to take a vacation in Venezuela, and then come back and moderate their language.

As proclaimed conservatives, the Republicans are supposedly the party of personal responsibility. Well, Donald Trump is 100% the responsibility of conservative politicians and pundits, and their scorched earth approach to opposing President Obama’s agenda. It was never the job of Barack Obama to protect the Republicans from their own worst excesses, though the GOP has done a remarkable job of “socialising” the consequences and spreading the cost of their greed and idiocy across the entire country in the risk of a potential Trump presidency.

Jonah Goldberg and other conservative thinkers peddling the “look what the Democrats made us do” defence are better than this. Donald Trump is the product of decades of establishment and conservative failure to address the needs, concerns and aspirations of millions of traditional Republican voters. And rather than blaming a Democratic president for failing to keep their own supporters in check, influential conservatives should hold themselves accountable for their part in this failure.

Hopefully the price of their failure will not be a Donald Trump presidency. But if Hillary Clinton does prevail in November, Republicans should be aware that opposing her in the same shrill and apocalyptic manner as they opposed Obama may see the donations come rolling in to conservative candidates and Super PACs, but it will leave them acutely vulnerable to takeover by someone far worse than even Donald Trump in 2020.

In other words, this would be a very good time for American conservatives to learn the right lessons from their own recent history.

 

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Who Is To Blame For Donald Trump?

A problem of American conservatism’s own making

In a recent show, Bill Maher took American conservatives to task for daring to suggest that responsibility for the rise Donald Trump rests with liberals.

Money quote:

Is political correctness out of control? Of course it is. I think I might have done some sort of show about that once [Maher was host of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher”]. I’ve been telling liberals when they had spinach on their teeth since 1993. I’ve ridiculed them for everything from offensive Halloween costumes to Islamophobia, from the self esteem movement to college campuses forgetting what free speech is. But none of that justifies embracing a dangerous buffoon, simply because his lack of political correctness is cathartic.

Trump is your problem. But somehow the party of personal responsibility doesn’t want to take responsibility for this one. Somewhere along the way, the slogan went from “Make America great again!” to “Look what you made me do!”

Amen to all of this. American leftists do indeed have much to answer for, but the rise of Donald Trump is not a problem primarily of their making.

It was the tri-cornered hat brigade whose admirable devotion to fiscal responsibility only materialised once Barack Obama took office, and then failed to force any meaningful change in Washington despite many of their number being elected to Congress in the 2010 midterms which, who have a case to answer. They were the Great White Hope whose inevitable failure formed the third strike against the political class.

It was not the Democratic Party which fanned the flames of birtherism (and then considered a nominee for president who was born in Canada) and refused to stand up to angry constituents demanding to see a birth certificate. That was all on the Republicans. Donald Trump led that effort, and nearly the entire GOP sat back with a tub of popcorn, thinking that the circus would benefit them politically. And so it did, until their attack dog finally broke the leash and turned on its handlers.

Has Barack Obama been a decidedly left-wing and in some (though by no means all) ways unimpressive president? Yes, he has. But is he a closet Communist, a secret Muslim planning to enforce hardline Islamism on America or a hopelessly incompetent buffoon? Absolutely not. He is a centre-left politician with undeniable skills, twice elected on a centre-left platform and governing according to a centre-left approach. But in their greed to quickly win back power without doing the hard work of making their own pitch to the voters more appealing, too many Republicans were willing to tolerate and sometimes actively participate in the anti-Obama hysteria for short term political gain.

If Democrats shoulder any responsibility for the danger that Donald Trump could soon be elected US president, it is only because they are now on the verge of nominating Hillary Clinton as their favoured successor – again, a highly competent technocrat and somebody with undeniable experience of executive power at the highest levels, but also somebody with no discernible core beliefs or values beyond the “bridges, not walls” buzzwords du jour.

Clinton’s political judgement has at times been…questionable. And she is dogged by a legitimate and troubling email scandal that cannot be dismissed as a mere partisan attack – to the extent that she is currently under investigation by the FBI. And that is to say nothing of the fact that the American political party supposedly the most committed to equal opportunity and social mobility is complicit in making the presidency a family affair. But none of this is remotely comparable to the danger which the Republican Party has unleashed on the country.

The warning signs were all there four years ago – a GOP primary debate stage filled with candidates like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, and whose few quasi intellectuals (like Newt Gingrich) were burdened with so much personal baggage that they were non-starters. Mitt Romney was the GOP’s best bet, but as their chosen candidate he was prone to gaffes and clangers (like the 47% remark) which helped ensure he would never reach the Oval Office. But did this generate any serious introspection as the GOP picked through the wreckage of the 2012 presidential election? No.

2015/16 saw a new slate of Republican candidates ranging from the well-meaning but vaguely ridiculous (Ben Carson) to the gormlessly patrician (Jeb Bush) to the empathy-devoid social conservative (Ted Cruz) to the not-quite-ready (Marco Rubio). No Paul Ryan. No promising new blood. The only candidate who fit the typical mould of a viable centre-right Republican candidate (John Kasich) never stood a chance, because he stubbornly refused to deal out sufficient quantities of crazy every time he opened his mouth.

Yes, the Democrats peddle in identity politics and often come down on the wrong side when it comes to favouring political correctness over freedom of speech, religion and behaviour. But it was the Republicans who opted to whip up (and profit from) blind fury about the state of the country instead of articulating a serious, coherent alternative. And in the end they were beaten at their own game. Why vote for the politician who smirks or winks when someone else is making ignorant, bigoted remarks when now you can vote for the real deal?

None of this means that the Democrats are not firmly capable of pushing Trump over the finishing line in November – as this blog has made clear. If their flawed presidential nominee doesn’t self-destruct on the launch pad before election day, the Left’s unbearable condescension toward those who disagree with them (you’ll see it earlier in the Bill Maher video, where he gloats about being the sole custodian of facts and truth) could well do the job.

But the Democrats and other American liberals did not cause this mess. Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president because there is a gaping void where serious, credible conservative policies which speak to Americans from every social strata (and which do not reek so strongly of elitist self interest) should be.

Or as Bill Maher puts it:

The Tea Party is named after a tax revolt. And TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. And yet two years after Obama lowered taxes on 95 percent of Americans, 90 percent of tea people believed he’d raised them.

So if you don’t know the first thing about the thing you claim is the most important thing to you, are you bright? And is it my fault for pointing out “No”?

And through that gaping void of ignorance rode the host of The Apprentice, a man with no ideology, no policies and no impulse control, a man who gets into Twitter feuds with D-list celebrities and believes that the globalisation of trade can be reduced to a zero-sum game in which America always “wins”.

Oh, there is lots of blame to be appointed for how we arrived in this position. But as Bill Maher says, the party of personal responsibility should stop behaving like a petulant child – an innocent victim on whom Donald Trump was arbitrarily and unfairly inflicted – and take the lion’s share of responsibility themselves.

 

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Stop Worshipping ‘Centrist’ Voters – They Are Responsible For Britain’s Woes

Swing Voters - Couch Potato - 2

First published at the Conservatives for Liberty blog

What exactly constitutes the political centre, anyway? Is it even a real thing? And why are we so in thrall to something so vague and ill-defined?

The political centre ground: people talk about it all the time. It is meant to represent the silent majority, that great conclave of wise and sage-like citizens who – unlike us hotheated partisan folk with our strong beliefs and awkward ideals – remain serenely above the political fray, calmly and methodically weighing competing policies against each another before arriving at their pragmatic, irreproachable voting decision on polling day.

Every British political party leader since Thatcher left office has been in hot pursuit of the political centre ground, happily throwing established party orthodoxy and revolutionary thinking alike out the window, preferring to court the good opinion of people who took a good look at Labour’s managed decline of the 1970s and the Tory individualism of the 1980s, and, Goldilocks-like, decided that they prefer something half way between the two, thank you very much.

But who are these political centrists? Do they actually exist, or are they an artificially created demographic, an amorphous and shifting blob of people whom the pollsters have not yet found a better way to categorise?

It’s a relevant question, because you can be assured that British politics for the next five years – or at least, the narrative around politics constructed by the media – will be all about the political centre, and which party is doing the better job of wooing it approaching the 2020 general election.

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