There are those who are angry at how Donald Trump is being treated. “They aren’t coming after me,” he told a crowd some time ago, “they’re coming after you.” Many Americans believe this is true and they will stand by a anyone who will stand by them.
The problem for the right is that the experts have betrayed those who look up to them time and time and time again. This erodes confidence in their expertise and makes people think their expertise has dwindled to one thing: expertise in manipulation.
The thing about manipulation is, it doesn’t work when those who are being manipulated catch on. There are those on the right ready to offer Trump up as a whole burnt offering to placate the outraged decencies of this decent country. And yet, he has been more manipulated than manipulating in the eyes of many, and this is for him political capital. The clumsy scheming for which he lives rent-free in the minds of many is what he most brings out in anybody who opposes him. Beware of opposing him!
The notion that Trump is too toxic is for those who are unwilling to represent what they’d like to think of as the fringe but is in fact a large part of the USA. The problem with taking the moral high ground is that it is hard from that limited territory to find sufficient common ground.
There are those who think they oppose him out of courage and not from lack of prudence. What does it say about their fine principles, however, when because they are so scrupulous about their bedfellows that they find themselves in bed with the left’s outrage machine?
President Trump is earning still more capital, and I predict he will proceed entrepreneurially with it. Those who are disgusted with their fellow-citizens for following him are in full cry again. They want principles of leadership, integrity, decency! Why, after all, would anybody choose to be born in this country if it were not, after due consideration, solely on its merits as a land of decency? Donald Trump is more in touch with all the varieties of what America actually is. And his knowledge of their circumstances is for him political capital. He can be sidelined to the role of kingmaker, but only if there is someone who has the strength to stand up and take the abuse like he does. Are there conservatives who can when so many are ready to dish it out instead?
In politics there is of course a lot of manipulation. With the internet, we can even pick whose manipulation we prefer by tuning out all the rest. But to assume that the divide is between those who manipulate and those who do the manipulating seems to be a fundamental miscalculation. It is a miscalculation that those merely signaling about the moral high ground are doomed to repeat.
There are people who clean the floors, who hand coffee and breakfast sandwiches through windows, who dig up the streets, who still smoke in bars, who install solar panels, whose career is in call centers or in what is starting to look like another dead end: driving vehicles. Many of them are decent in many ways, but many of them fall below the high-minded ideal of American decency. Who, after all, lives an ideal? There are people who have only learned by trial and error how to spend and save money, who live in a chaos or borderline chaos of disrupted families and situations in which a pretense of decency eludes them, who talk about their first bankruptcy and can’t keep their closest relatives straight because there all too many factors going into the calculation. Even John Podhoretz acknowledges, Trump says to Hillary Clinton’s deplorables: I like you, I like you, I like you. People should learn from Hillary Clinton how little political capital there is in activating reflexes of disgust and fears of contamination.
Now there is another unscrupulous attempt to peel decent people away from Trump. The problem is that if it is not decently done, it is going to backfire.
The shifting of the spectrum is interesting. Robert George has been watching Tulsi Gabbard and predicts she will switch parties and run next time. She’s getting poised to do so. She’s the only appealing candidate the left had to offer last time, and she did not appeal that much to the left. It may be that this intellectual dark web political coalition might pull enough together to launch an alternative, and perhaps she’s the figurehead at the prow of their accelerating ship. Perhaps there will be a new political party that is more representative.