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When American Liberals Lose The Faith

Doesn’t this testimonial from a disaffected California liberal really speak volumes about just how far the American Left is going to lose friends and alienate people?

Rod Dreher shares an email from a reader:

So I was raised a secular liberal. My college professors were secular liberals. During my journalism phase, my newspaper colleagues were secular liberals. My law school professors and peers were – in the vast majority – secular liberals. Almost everyone at my corporate law firm was a secular liberal. My California neighbors and friends are secular liberals, as are my colleagues. My mother, siblings, and their spouses are all secular liberals.

By all rights, I should be a member in good standing of their tribe, “liking” their Facebook posts and joining their candlelight vigils against the evil Trump Administration. But November 8 and its aftermath revealed to me that I am just so tired of these people. I can’t be like them, and I don’t want my kids turning into them.

I am tired of their undisguised contempt for tens of millions of Americans, with no effort to temper their response to the election with humility or empathy.

I am tired of their unexamined snobbery and condescension.

I am tired of their name-calling and virtue-signaling as signs of supposedly high intelligence.

I am tired of their trendiness, jumping on every left-liberal bandwagon that comes along (transgender activism, anyone?) and then acting like anyone not on board is an idiot/hater.

I am tired of their shallowness. It’s hard to have a deep conversation with people who are obsessed with moving their kids’ pawns across the board (grades, sports, college, grad school, career) and, in their spare time, entertaining themselves and taking great vacations.

I am tired of their acceptance of vulgarity and sarcastic irreverence as the cultural ocean in which their kids swim. I like pop culture as much as the next person, but people who would never raise their kids on junk food seem to think nothing of letting then wallow in cultural junk, exposed to nothing ennobling, aspirational, or even earnest.

I am tired of watching them raise clueless kids (see above) who go off to college and within months are convinced they live in a rapey, racist patriarchy; “Make America Great Again” is hate speech; and Black Lives Matter agitators are their brothers-in-arms against White Privilege. If my kids are like that at nineteen, I’ll feel I’ve seriously failed them as a parent. Yet the general sentiment seems to be these are good, liberal kids who may have gotten a bit carried away.

I am tired of their lack of interest in any form of serious morality or self-betterment. These are decent, responsible people, many compassionate by temperament. Yet they seem two-dimensional, as if they believe that being a nice, well-socialized person who holds the correct political views is all there is, and there is nothing else to talk about. Isn’t there, though?

I am tired of being bored and exasperated by everybody. I feel like I have read this book a thousand times, and there are no surprises in it. Down with Trump! Trans Lives Matter! Climate deniers are destroying the planet! No cake, we’re gluten-free!

These are good people in a lot of ways. But there has got to be a better tribe.

It must be disturbing to “wake up” like this and realise that you are no longer fully in communion with your tribe, so kudos to Rod Dreher’s reader for putting into words something that cannot be easy to admit. With the wounds of the 2016 presidential election still raw, many on the American Left have little time for doubters, and admitting a heresy such as this would likely be met not with understanding (let alone introspection) but rather with intolerance and fury.

The scene that comes to my mind is from the film American History X, where protagonist Derek Vinyard, serving a jail sentence for the racist-motivated murder of a black car thief, realises the flaws of his white supremacist worldview while in prison and is then utterly unable to engage with that community – his only source of friendship and support – after his release. Eventually, Vinyard confronts the group’s leader and explicitly rejects their racist ideology, at which point they chase him out of their camp.

Increasingly, one has to either buy the whole regressive leftist agenda or none of it at all. Because it is couched in such explicitly moral terms, with any departure from orthodoxy seen as a moral failure, to question just one aspect of the worldview – the identity politics, the environmentalism, the statist paternalism – is to make oneself persona non grata within that community. Imagine the pain of realising that you no longer believe every article in the leftist gospel, and then being faced either with the prospect of admitting your heresy and being actively shunned by family, friends and colleagues, or else keeping your opposition quiet and living a lie.

The American Left has, with too few exceptions, given up on trying to win by persuasion, seeking instead to achieve victory by shaming and bullying dissenters into a sullen, resentful silence. That approach is no longer working and delivering benefits, to the extent that it ever did. When people like Rod Dreher’s reader are leaving the tribe in disgust at the sanctimonious echo chamber of questionable values then clearly something has gone wrong.

None of this is to say that American conservatism is in fine fettle – clearly not, as this blog has repeatedly warned. The fact that Republicans have closed ranks behind a profoundly authoritarian and un-conservative President-elect Donald Trump is evidence of the challenge faced by small-C conservatives in trying to maintain their influence and steer the Trump presidency away from endless pitfalls.

But it is the slow-burning revolution on the Left (particularly the growing elitism and the lethal embrace of identity politics) which fed the populist Right to the extent that Donald Trump won the White House. And until the American Left learns to moderate its many excesses and accept ideological diversity together with all the other kinds of diversity they champion, they will continue to alienate crucial allies and accelerate their march into irrelevance.

 

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Triggered By Trump, Celebrity SJWs Go Deeper Into The Bubble

Besides my weekly newsletter from hilarious SJW site Everyday Feminism, the thing which brings me most pleasure in American political life at the moment is reading twice-weekly dispatch from Lenny, Lena Dunham’s online collaboration with Jenni Konner which can best be described as “social justice for the 0.1 percent”.

Here you can find an surefire antidote to whatever scraps of self-awareness and contrition may be emerging from other, more humble parts of the American Left. Here, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were beyond reproach at all times, and it was America (specifically those ignorant, self-hating white, working class women who had the temerity to vote for Donald Trump) who let Hillary down, not vice versa.

The first thing you need to understand: commanded by their cult of identity politics, they were really deeply invested in Hillary Clinton as a person. As Lenny contributor Virginia Heffernan put it:

When people told me they hated Hillary Clinton or (far worse) that they were “not fans,” I wish I had said in no uncertain terms: “I love Hillary Clinton. I am in awe of her. I am set free by her. She will be the finest world leader our galaxy has ever seen.”

I want to reverse the usual schedule of things, then. We don’t have to wait until she dies to act. Hillary Clinton’s name belongs on ships, and airports, and tattoos. She deserves straight-up hagiographies and a sold-out Broadway show called RODHAM. Yes, this cultural canonization is going to come after the chronic, constant, nonstop “On the other hand” sexist hedging around her legacy. But such is the courage of Hillary Clinton and her supporters; we reverse patriarchal orders. Maybe she is more than a president. Maybe she is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself. The presidency is too small for her. She belongs to a much more elite class of Americans, the more-than-presidents. Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King Jr., Alexander Fucking Hamilton.

Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House.

Yes, maybe Hillary Clinton is light itself. Anyway, you get the idea.

Strangely, nearly to the last person, each writers seems to have been personally committed not to the Democratic Party or left-wing ideals, but to Hillary Clinton herself, as Meena Harris admits:

I joined the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group early on, when its simple but brilliant purpose was to get as many women as possible to wear a pantsuit on Election Day in support of Hillary Clinton. In the weeks preceding the election, Pantsuit Nation became more than a modest call for a show of solidarity on a single day — it became a vibrant and uplifting community of millions of women and allies demonstrating their commitment to Hillary. It truly was a “safe space,” something that seems increasingly rare on the Internet. It affirmed the hope, love, kindness, and support we all are capable of when we come together to fight for something we believe in. It elevated the values embodied in Hillary’s campaign and proved that, indeed, we are stronger together.

My emphasis in bold.

Perhaps this is why it is so hard for the Lennyists to come to terms with Donald Trump’s victory. The rest of America, not inducted into the Clinton personality cult, didn’t realise that they were supposed to base their vote on the blinkered hero-worship of a flawed candidate.

And so while some on the American Left are busy working their way through the five stages of grief and trying to accept that openly despising half the country is not a good route to electoral success, the people at Lenny are doing the opposite – surrounding themselves with likeminded people (even more than usual, if that were possible) and actively seeking out situations and social settings which in no way challenge their existing assumptions and beliefs.

As editor-in-chief Jessica Grose confesses:

It’s been two weeks now. I am falling asleep decently well, but I wake up around three each morning with a start, as if the specter of Trump is chasing me in my subconscious. Then I have trouble falling back asleep after I remember that yes, he really is our president-elect. While we must continue to stay on guard, to stay active, to stay angry, I wanted to write about the times I have felt peace: when I have been in the company of raucous women.

One was a meeting of fellow moms from my daughter’s preschool. We met to discuss a book at a bar, but we ended up talking about our dashed presidential dreams, how to teach our sons and daughters about consent, and who had done (or would do) ayahuasca (answer: would never; am not interested in hallucinating while having explosive diarrhea).

The other was at a shiva for the father of a dear friend. Five women — some of whom had never met before — sat around a living room in Queens, admired foxy photographs of the deceased from his Speedo-wearing youth, revealed our salaries to each other, and argued over whether a sincere belief in chemtrails was a relationship deal-breaker (answer: it depends).

What these meetings had in common was that I felt fully myself and utterly accepted in each grouping. Finding your people, and your solace, in moments of stress and strife is something we’re emphasizing in this week’s issue.

Yes. Reacting to Donald Trump’s election victory by retreating further into the bubble, seeking the company of fellow power moms who sit around discussing the latest fashionable hallucinatory weekend escape and giving their young sons “consent lessons” so that they are no longer tempted to embark on a raping spree across Manhattan, as they would otherwise doubtless be.

These people do not have the slightest interest in learning about the America they actually inhabit, and so when faced with a difficult outcome they simply refuse to accept it, cocooning themselves off with other like-minded people. As private citizens, that might be okay (if still an immature and fragility-creating way for adults to behave). But as supposed writers and journalists, it is an unforgivable dereliction of duty.

Into the bubble. Deeper and deeper…

Meanwhile back in the real world, president-elect Trump continues to wage war on the media and pick his cabinet.

 

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After Hillary Clinton’s Defeat, The Battle For The Democratic Party’s Soul Begins

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Wealthy Liberal donors to the Democratic Party are debating whether to double down on their identity politics and victimhood culture-based strategy or to attempt meaningful outreach to the white working classes whom they so conspicuously cut adrift in 2016

And so the post-election autopsy begins, as analysts slice open the carcass of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign and methodically pick through the vital organs to determine what possible failure allowed a well-funded presidential campaign that has effectively been running for over a decade to go down in flaming defeat at the hands of Donald Trump.

Politico reports that the hilariously named Democracy Alliance (a group of mega-rich Democratic Party donors using their wealth to tilt the scales of genuine democracy every bit as much as the “evil” Koch brothers) is holding an emergency meeting at the Washington DC Mandarin Oriental hotel to thrash out the issues:

George Soros and other rich liberals who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton are gathering in Washington for a three-day, closed door meeting to retool the big-money left to fight back against Donald Trump.

The conference, which kicked off Sunday night at Washington’s pricey Mandarin Oriental hotel, is sponsored by the influential Democracy Alliance donor club, and will include appearances by leaders of most leading unions and liberal groups, as well as darlings of the left such as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Keith Ellison, according to an agenda and other documents obtained by POLITICO.

The meeting is the first major gathering of the institutional left since Trump’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in last week’s presidential election, and, if the agenda is any indication, liberals plan full-on trench warfare against Trump from Day One. Some sessions deal with gearing up for 2017 and 2018 elections, while others focus on thwarting President-elect Trump’s 100-day plan, which the agenda calls “a terrifying assault on President Obama’s achievements — and our progressive vision for an equitable and just nation.”

However, there are now murmurings of discontent among some of the Democrats present, who claim that persisting with the same tired, clapped out old ideas and electoral strategies will not reverse their sliding fortunes:

Yet the meeting also comes as many liberals are reassessing their approach to politics — and the role of the Democracy Alliance, or DA, as the club is known in Democratic finance circles. The DA, its donors and beneficiary groups over the last decade have had a major hand in shaping the institutions of the left, including by orienting some of its key organizations around Clinton, and by basing their strategy around the idea that minorities and women constituted a so-called “rising American electorate” that could tip elections to Democrats.

That didn’t happen in the presidential election, where Trump won largely on the strength of his support from working-class whites. Additionally, exit polls suggested that issues like fighting climate change and the role of money in politics — which the DA’s beneficiary groups have used to try to turn out voters — didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory.

“The DA itself should be called into question,” said one Democratic strategist who has been active in the group and is attending the meeting. “You can make a very good case it’s nothing more than a social club for a handful wealthy white donors and labor union officials to drink wine and read memos, as the Democratic Party burns down around them.”

This blog (and many others) have already written extensively that the cynical decision by the Democrats and the American Left in general to wage a relentless identity politics war against the Right is not only misguided, but actively polarising the country, as continued efforts to label working class white people as privileged “oppressors” will only further encourage them to form into a cohesive identity group of their own – the very one which elected Donald Trump as the next president.

Obsessing endlessly about the politics of race, gender and sexuality at a time when many Americans are either suffering economically or teetering on the brink of real economic insecurity is a privilege only available to the type of people who meet at the Mandarin Oriental to naively ask one another how anybody could possibly not have wanted Hillary Clinton to be the next president. To anybody else, the narrow interests and shrill, hectoring tone of the Democratic Party are an irrelevance at best and a source of supreme annoyance and alienation at worst.

People living in towns decimated by the loss of skilled manufacturing don’t want to be told that it is actually a good thing that their air pollution-causing factory closed down and took their job with it, or that they are borderline racists and bigots for not immediately adopting the latest social justice buzzwords spewing out of the university system. Yet the Democrats had little of value to say to the white working classes, the candidate herself clearly much more at home among the Wall Street and progressive celebrity class, spending the night before the election partying with the likes of Beyoncé rather than showing any empathy for struggling voters in the so-called rust belt.

Unfortunately, other delegates seem so wedded to the present profile of the Democratic Party that they believe that change is neither necessary nor desirable.

The Politico report continues:

“We should not learn the wrong lesson from this election,” said the operative, pointing out that Clinton is on track to win the popular vote and that Trump got fewer votes than the last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. “We need our people to vote in greater numbers. For that to happen, we need candidates who inspire them to go to the polls on Election Day.”

In other words – keep pursuing the SJW vote, even though many of these people have proven that the limit of their political activism is sharing a smug little meme on social media rather than taking the trouble to actually walk to their local polling place and participate in democracy.

This is abysmal advice, not only because it places the future hopes of the Democrats on the shoulders of people who have never once come through for the party, while many of those young people who were politically engaged are probably still smarting from the party’s frantic efforts to thwart Bernie Sanders and allow the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the eventual presidential candidate. That’s one very valid reason, but the other reason is that no party should actively seek to write off the votes of such a large constituency as the white working class. Even if the Democrats could win without the core of America, what does it say about the party that they don’t even bother with meaningful outreach?

Of course, one could level exactly the same criticism at the Republican Party, who for too long have been more than happy to cede the black and growing Hispanic vote largely to the Democrats rather than highlighting the many ways that conservative policy actually often meshes far more closely with some of their concerns (e.g. the Hispanic focus on the family). Indeed, the 2012 Growth & Opportunity Project report outlined a path toward better engagement with these communities and might have started to pay dividends in 2016 had the party not decided to tear it up and focus on complete obstructionism toward Barack Obama instead.

But while it is undeniable that the Republican Party has serious issues of its own – not only relating to minority outreach, but also a more fundamental question of how much to accommodate or push back against president-elect Trump’s authoritarian, big government instincts – it is the Democrats who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and who twice in two decades managed to lose a presidential election despite winning the national popular vote. The onus is on the Democrats first and foremost to work out what they stand for in 2016.

More encouraging than the billionaire talking shop underway at the Mandarin Oriental – a sign of just how disconnected the modern Democratic Party has become from its former roots – is defeated primary candidate Bernie Sanders’ efforts to wrest control of the party away from the dull, visionless centrists who have nothing to offer once you strip away the thin veneer of jealous identity politics.

In another Politico piece entitled “Bernie’s Empire Strikes Back“, we learn:

Supporters of Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential bid are seizing on Democratic disarray at the national level to launch a wave of challenges to Democratic Party leaders in the states.

The goal is to replace party officials in states where Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton during the acrimonious Democratic primary with more progressive leadership. But the challenges also represent a reckoning for state party leaders who, in many cases, tacitly supported Clinton’s bid.

“I think the Bernie people feel very strongly that they were abused, somehow neglected during the primary process and the conventions,” said Severin Beliveau, a former Maine Democratic Party chairman who supported Sanders in the primary. “In Maine, for instance, where Bernie got 70 percent of the caucus vote, they are emboldened and in effect want to try to replace [Maine Democratic Party chairman] Phil Bartlett, who supported Clinton.”

[..] The movement outside Washington to install new leadership — especially new leaders whose progressive credentials include support for Sanders’ presidential bid — mirrors the battle in the nation’s capital for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship in the wake of the devastating Clinton defeat and congressional elections where Democrats failed to win back either the House or the Senate. Sanders has endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison, leading House progressive and a prominent backer of his presidential campaign, to be the next permanent DNC chairman.

While this blog disagrees with Bernie Sanders on nearly everything, Hillary Clinton’s defeated primary opponent does at least correctly identify many of modern America’s ailments and propose more authentically (if flawed) left-wing solutions to them. And one can plausibly argue that Sanders has a greater ability to reach out to unionised or working class America than Clinton displayed (though one can only wistfully imagine how much better Joe Biden would have been in this role).

Better still, Bernie Sanders seemed to have comparatively little time for peddling in divisive identity politics. Rather than seeking to fracture America into a thousand competing victimhood groups, each one jealously guarding its own unique set of grievances against the common oppressor, Sanders has consistently more interested in the wealth divisions in society. And while playing rich and poor off against one another in quite such an overt way as the openly socialist Sanders comes with its own set of problems, on balance it is probably much less harmful to the fabric of America than seeking to divide and stoke up fear based on race, gender or sexuality.

Indeed, the fact that Bernie Sanders frequently found himself on the wrong side of Black Lives Matter and the gun control lobby only proves his resonance with the great core of working class America rather than the ultra-progressives. If only Sanders didn’t hug the S-word (socialism) quite so tightly in a country where people are (rightly, in this blog’s view) raised to be automatically suspicious of it, he might have prevailed over Clinton in the primary and taken the fight to Donald Trump on a number of very different fronts.

In short, as during the primary season, none of the options facing the Democratic Party are greatly appealing. Having taken conspicuously little interest in white working class concerns throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, any efforts to restart outreach will be met with scepticism at first, and take time to pay dividends.

But for their own sake, the Democrats must persist. The alternative – doubling down on their toxic identity politics strategy and continuing to carve America up into competing victim groups and seeking to make them all fear the Evil Republicans – will only inspire an equal and opposite reaction among America’s largest minority group, the white working class.

In 2016, this strategy brought us president-elect Donald Trump. Do the Democrats really want to roll the dice and bet that the same inputs will deliver a better outcome in 2020?

 

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Top Image: Wikimedia Commons

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The Democrats Rub Illegal Immigration In The Faces Of Struggling Americans – No Wonder Many Support Donald Trump

The American Left’s determined intransigence and dishonesty on the issue of immigration pushes decent people into the arms of Donald Trump

Imagine that for some crazy reason, you just happen to believe in the strict upholding of law and order.

Suppose that this belief extends to the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and zero tolerance on those who seek to bypass, subvert or ignore the legal avenues for attaining permanent residency and citizenship of the United States.

Suppose that you’re a hard working, ordinary decent person who perhaps doesn’t have the time or inclination to ruminate on the ways in which a conspiracy of the two political parties has effectively encouraged plentiful illegal immigration for so long that the US economy is now dependent on the millions of illegal immigrants living in America.

Suppose that you occupy a relatively unskilled and low-paid position in the labour market, and have not seen your disposable income or living standards increase for years, or in some cases even decades.

Suppose that whenever you watch or read the news, both politicians and the media refuse to call the people who overstayed their visas or snuck into the country by their proper descriptor, “illegal immigrants”, preferring to term them “undocumented immigrants” as though they were regular Americans whose birth certificates, passports and other papers proving their right to residency and simply vanished in an unfortunate puff of smoke.

Suppose that every time you turn on the television you see a deliberate effort to change the language to speak of “undocumented” rather than “illegal” immigrants, while the media consistently portray people like you, those with legitimate personal and civic concerns, as being inherently “racist”.

Suppose you then see the Democratic Party not only consistently celebrate “undocumented” immigrants at their quadrennial national convention but actually invite many of them onto the stage to give speeches, and reward those speeches with thunderous standing ovations – while the Democratic presidential nominee described people like you as belonging to a “basket of deplorables”.

Suppose that while you and your family are held to account and in some cases persecuted by the criminal justice system for the smallest infraction, the hearts of politicians and the media seem brimming over with sympathy not for you but for those whose very presence on American soil violates US immigration law.

Suppose that you are a relatively low-information voter, but someone who is very aware of the persistent air of scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton and who sees in the media’s incredulity at Donald Trump something of the same hostility that you face every day simply for daring to believe that immigration should be legal and controlled.

Now: if you were this person – and there are millions of them, in every state of the Union – why the hell would you NOT vote for Donald Trump this November?

And wouldn’t all of those people in the political and media class clutching their pearls in horror at the thought of a Donald Trump presidency bear a significant share of the responsibility for pushing you toward that decision?

 

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How Should A Patriot Act In The Age Of Donald Trump?

Louisiana Flooding - Baton Rouge

Make politics petty and unpleasant enough, and soon all that will be left are the pettiest and most unpleasant of people

Rod Dreher offers this meditation on patriotism, viewed through the dual lens of the US presidential election and the catastrophic flooding currently affecting his home state of Louisiana:

Checking just now, I see that Trump has put out seven tweets in a row this morning, whining about how mean the news media is to him. Not a single word about Katrina.2 here in Louisiana. To be fair, Hillary Clinton hasn’t said anything about it either, but her Twitter feed is managed by campaign drones. Trump does his twitter feed himself. I kid you not, as I sat at the stop light at the corner of Airline and Old Hammond Highway, waiting to turn, I looked over at the spot where those three law enforcement officers where shot dead last month, and I thought about all the poor, desperate people I had just seen at the shelter, and all the good men and women of Louisiana spending their Sunday morning doing whatever they can to help their neighbor, and I thought Donald Trump can go to hell.

Honestly, with so much suffering in this country now — acutely here, right now, in Louisiana, but people are hurting all over (seen the news from Milwaukee today?) — all that fathead can do is gripe about how mean the news media are to him. It’s disgusting. I have not been a #NeverTrump conservative, and don’t really care to be part of that crowd now, even though I cannot imagine voting for Hillary Clinton either. I believe Trump has brought up some important issues that the GOP didn’t care to address. But as of today, I wouldn’t vote for Trump if you put a gun to my head. The vanity and the pettiness of that jackass beggars belief. If he had any sense, he would be on a plane down here trying to help, or at least showing real concern, instead of sitting there with his smartphone, bleating like a baby.

You don’t need to know what I think of Hillary. If you are a conservative, it’s exactly what you think too. But it makes me really angry that this is what the conservative party has to offer America in the fall of 2016: this ridiculous clown. And we have him in part because none of the GOP regulars could make the sale to primary voters.

Till now, I’ve been laughing sardonically at the two repulsive figures American voters have to choose from this November, wondering how it ever could have come to this. This morning, I’m mad about it and disgusted beyond belief.

It’s true. Donald Trump has indeed devoted a number of tweets today to moaning about supposedly biased press coverage of his campaign (while utterly ignoring the fact that he would still be making reality TV were it not for the American news media’s fawning coverage of his every move).

Here he is, moaning about how “unfair” the media are being to him, now that they are actually taking time to fact-check his statements and examine his voluminous past public statements and business dealings:

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As Dreher acknowledges, Hillary Clinton has not taken the time to comment on the flooding on her Twitter feed either. One thinks back to Hurricane Sandy, falling in the middle of the 2012 presidential election, and marvels at the contrast – though of course we all know that events matter more when they happen to the coasts. But even from an entirely cynical and tactical political perspective, a half competent Republican Party presidential candidate would have taken care to show the people of the affected state (and the nation) that he sees their suffering, and cares about it.

But then the Republican Party does not have a half competent presidential candidate – they have Donald Trump, a man vastly more interested in nursing his petty grievances and rivalries on Twitter than “appearing presidential”, let alone actually being presidential and caring a damn about the suffering of his compatriots.

Dreher is correct too that the GOP is in this ludicrous position “in part because none of the GOP regulars could make the sale to primary voters”. But it is more than that. There is a reason why none of the mainstream Republican candidates were able to find any traction with primary voters – namely the disconnect between their stale old dogmas (ranting about lower taxes, ObamaCare and calling President Obama an un-American threat to national security) and the very real economic pain and political alienation felt by many of their core voters.

Barack Obama may occupy the White House, but Republicans have controlled Congress entirely since 2014. This is a Tea Party Congress, yet Republicans have pointedly failed to deliver the libertarian paradise they promised, mostly because they are every bit as addicted to Big Government as the Democrats. And when you make yourself indistinguishable from the opposition in terms of political outcomes while stoking public hysteria about a Kenyan socialist terrorist trying to destroy America from within, it is little wonder that people scorned the continuity of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio in favour of Donald Trump’s alternative Republican offering.

Dreher is right too to acknowledge that “Trump has brought up some important issues that the GOP didn’t care to address”. The obvious example is immigration. The duplicity of the Democrats and the American Left in general is staggering: deliberately re-engineering the language to draw no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, referring to illegal immigrants as being merely “undocumented” – anything the Left can do to excuse and even ennoble lawbreaking is being done.

Some American cities sanctimoniously call themselves “sanctuary cities” – places where honest American citizens who happen to work for the federal government enforcing immigration law are unwelcome while lawbreakers are welcomed with open arms. And too much of the mainstream media is happy to follow along in this subversion of law and language, particularly in the conflation of legal and illegal immigration.

The Republicans are little better, talking a tough talk while being perfectly content to fight the issue to an acrimonious stalemate preserving the status quo. After all, their paymasters are the last people who want to see an end to plentiful cheap labour. Republicans also shame themselves by pretending to their supporters that the millions of illegal immigrants currently living and working in America can be quickly and easily deported with no adverse impact on the local and national economy.

The right thing to do would be for one party to propose a form of one-time amnesty (perhaps allowing those currently living in America illegally to be granted a pathway to official permanent residency while withholding citizenship in recognition of their lawbreaking) while also pledging to get tough on all future lawbreaking, including enhancements to border security and a “one strike and you’re out” rule on visa overstayers and other violators. This would meld the compassion of the Democrat approach with the commitment to law of the Republicans. It would also force more of America’s immigration back through legal routes, forcing the country to have a political debate about how many legal immigrants they wish to allow in every year, and of what skill type.

But neither party will adopt this position. Both choose to childishly demand everything that they want handed to them on a stick, while the reasonable and pragmatic option sails past unheeded. Meanwhile, both Democrats and Republicans get to strut and preen in front of their respective voter bases, acting as though they are the sole custodians of compassion / defenders of the rule of law while making a complete mockery of American hospitality, compassion and the rule of law.

This is why Donald Trump is now a major party presidential candidate – because on issue after issue (immigration is but one example) both parties have chosen to play to their respective supporters, shoring up the base by playing on their fears, rather than daring to lead, educate and step outside of their comfort zone. The Republicans could have prevented the Trump takeover by being the bigger person and making a bold proposition on immigration or trade or any of the other issues where they have been holed beneath the waterline by Trump. But they didn’t. Like a petulant six year old, they wanted to have their cake and eat it – to go on chanting angry mantras about immigration while doing nothing to fix it, and then winning votes based on public anger. And then Trump came along and offered an alternative (if equally bogus solution), and the mainstream Republicans were left with nothing.

And so the Republicans deserve Donald Trump, just like the Democrats deserve Hillary Clinton. But it does not automatically follow that the American people deserve either of them. They deserve a better choice, as this blog has consistently argued. And I think this is what prompts Rod Dreher’s instinct to withdraw from engagement with America’s toxified national politics:

What is my country? Today, to me, it feels like Louisiana. Washington is very far away. Baton Rouge is right here. Nothing against America, you understand, but this hot, wet, miserable piece of ground is where my heart is. I feel that this morning in a way I never quite have. Maybe if I had been here during [Hurricane] Katrina and seen it with my own eyes, I would have come to this realization earlier. But I didn’t. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did.

The only politics that really matter to me is the politics of this community — that is, the politics of being a good neighbor. Look, I know that politics as statecraft matter. I’m talking about what matters to me. I’d rather be there with the people from the churches and the community, we who are in dry houses today, helping those who have nothing. If that’s the Benedict Option, then I choose it. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have nothing to say to me that I care to hear. For me, this is here and this is now. Hillary, Trump and the rest of them are people from TV Land.

This is an important point: what happens when the Donald Trump freak show finally succeeds in driving the remaining good, temperate people out of politics?

The Washington Post published a long piece this weekend exploring the views of millennial voters toward the presidential election. The short version: naked contempt for both parties and candidates, unlike the strong preference for Barack Obama in 2008/2012. They could soon be a generation lost to political apathy for the next few electoral cycles.

Rod Dreher speaks of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as though they are alien, disconnected people from “TV Land”, with their own feuds and motivations which are utterly alien to the majority of the country. He’s not wrong. And I think the temptation will be strong, as this tawdry election campaign drags on, for normal people with political inclinations to focus their efforts either on single issues or at the local level rather than on national politics, which has rarely been more hyper-partisan and dysfunctional.

Make politics petty and unpleasant enough, and soon all that will be left are the pettiest and most unpleasant of people. If honourable people feel that they cannot make a positive contribution at the national level without getting sucked into the swirling vortex of email scandals, conspiracy theories and vacuous Twitter feuds then America will soon be led by the people who thrive in that atmosphere.

What an utterly depressing, eminently avoidable state of affairs.

 

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Presidential Election 2016

Top Image: The Advocate

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