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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Diary Of A Trump Hater–A Fairy Tale

Marfa Poitiers grew up in a normal, serious, politically moderate family.  Her grandparents on her father’s side had been conservative Republicans, but in an era before Barry Goldwater and the naissance of radical conservatism.  They were Eisenhower Republicans who believed simply in the greatness of America – and who could doubt that proposition after victory over Germany in World War II, an America with unshakeable beliefs in God, family, community, and country, and a powerful economic engine which would drive recovery in Europe and power American industrial revival? 

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Her grandparents on her mother’s side were moderate Democrats who believed in the New Deal and government instrumentalism.  They had loved Roosevelt, voted for Stevenson, ‘the little man’, small business, labor unions, and the welfare state; and looked to European social democracies as the way forward. 

Both sets of grandparents hardened their positions as they aged into their eighties and nineties.  By the time Marfa was a young adult, her grandparents had slid off moderate political rails and shunted themselves onto more extreme sidetracks, but were still within walking distance of church, community, flag, and country.

Her parents had both begun their political lives as 60s quasi-radicals; but bred well-enough within an upper middle class ethos of moderation within a patriotic framework and educated within patrician rationalism and social probity to stay within bounds.  They sympathized with the Far Left but intellectually not actually.  They never rode the Freedom Ride buses, crossed the Pettis Bridge in Selma, or demonstrated with Martin Luther King on the Washington Mall.  They were serious enough in their political convictions, but never throttled up, joined, or insisted.

Image result for images sixties radical demonstrations

Perhaps because of her parents’ political diffidence – only the fainthearted and weak-willed cheered on the sidelines while blood was spilt in the cause of freedom, civil rights, and moral rectitude – she felt obliged to take a more principled and active stand.  Looking more to her grandparents – both outspoken in their political opinions and in a day before street protests, as loud and unintimidated as any – she made a choice.  Liberal progressivism with a storied intellectual political history from Karl Marx, Samuel Gompers, Saul Alinsky; and a radical revolutionary history from the Black Panthers, Mark Rudd, and the Weathermen, had more staying power.  It had moral authority, religious sanction, and social relevance.  Conservatism, while originally based on Enlightenment individualism and Scottish free market enterprise, had become deformed into a chaise longue patriotism, Sinclair Lewis small business boosterism, and Biblical sanctimony.

Marfa not only veered Left, she careened off any intellectual, rational, moderate rails and ended up in the radical fringe.  Unfortunately she came of age in the Donald Trump era, and whatever reasonability she might have had; whatever innate patriotic moderation she might have inherited from her grandparents; and whatever intellectual diffidence she might have adopted from her parents, were set aside, ignored, or jettisoned.

She became a Trump Hater, a woman of absolutely confirmed righteousness and moral outrage.  She hated Trump for his misogyny, his racism, his crass materialism, and his absurd, bourgeois, uncultured, ridiculous persona.  She hated Trump before he ever signed a bill, an executive order, or political directive.  She made up her mind during the 2016 campaign, convinced herself that the man was a boneheaded, macho, self-centered ignoramus.  His one-liners and ad hominem tweets were examples of his simplemindedness – a man incapable of considered political thought, enlightened social judgement, and anything but capitalist greed incarnate.  He hated women, gays, blacks, and Native Americans.  His vision of cultural homogeneity, Christian hegemony, and economic elitism were not just wrong, but hateful.

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Her hatred was so deep, pernicious, and corrosive, that she lost any sense of balance.  Anyone who considered even or a moment the ideas behind the hyperbole, the motives behind the grand guignol or the purpose behind the vaudeville was a traitor.  There was only one way forward – the complete, total, destruction of an American Hitler.

Marfa was not alone of course, and she found a sense of belonging, community, and family in the progressive movement.  Here there were brothers and sisters who shared the same hatred, who all despised the villainy and retrograde ignorance of the President and his sycophants.  They were a team out to win, a progressive avant-garde, a phalanx of the righteous.  It felt good at night after the hoopla, the banners and signs, the tear gas and dogs, the courage of African Americans and the transgendered, and the great emotional sweep of generational good.

Hatred became a positive good.  The Movement to remove and destroy Donald Trump had nothing to do with Christian tolerance or Buddhist acceptance.  Jesus and the Tao were irrelevant, too soft, generous, or philosophically wobbly in the face of such malevolence.  Trump was no less than a Hitler, a Stalin, and a Pol Pot – a vicious, amoral, dangerous, and destructive force.

Of course from a more rational, objective perspective Marfa was disillusioned – an impressionable young woman who had paid too much attention to her parents and grandparents, too little to Adam Smith, John Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, and far too much to Cuban apologists, unreconstructed Marxists, and European Social Democrats,  It would be too much to say that she was lost, a victim of idealism and a deformed reading of history.  She was far more intelligent than the MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, opportunists whose one claim to fame was their manipulation of the gullibility and idealism of their supporters.  She was a micro part of macro-history.  She was part of a local zeitgeist which meant nothing when considered within a larger historical context but which was characteristic of the times.  In effect, she was an unsuspecting, willing pawn in a hysterical political moment.

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Perhaps for the first time in recent American history has there been such vitriol, profound hatred, and hysterical frenzy over a president.  A dispassionate observer would quickly conclude that the violent opposition to Donald Trump has little to do with the man, his policies, or his governance than progressive idealism.  Such a man and such a populist, conservative movement was not supposed to interrupt the progressive movement towards a better world.   Progressive, it was thought, was part of the end of history, a final movement of social justice which would resolve international conflict, configure a multi-cultural, tolerant, and inclusive American society, even out capitalist excesses and inequalities, and balance faith and secularism.  How could such an intrusion into a beautiful, purposeful, ideal vision ever happen?

Hatred was the only responsible response to such a man and his deformed vision.  There could be no such thing as a loyal opposition, no reasonable, moderate, and temperate response to perfidy and evil.

Marfa, like most of her progressive colleagues, either wore out, had babies, or gave up.  The conservative, populist juggernaut of the early 21st century, extending throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas simply had too much inertia.  It was and never would be a question of right or wrong – history has no favorites – just staying power, desire, will, and numbers.  Radical conservatism will not last and liberal social democracies will return but not for a while.  Anyone old enough to have lived through one or two iterations of both pays no attention to Donald Trump or his progressive haters.  Time will not tell, but will only illuminate the endless cycle of pros and cons. 

There will always be Marfas.  Idealism dies hard.  Not only do few people believe the lessons of history, but many insist on defying it – to their peril.

Donald Trump is no better or worse than any American President.  He is simply one of a kind, and no one seems to know what to do with his bourgeois, Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York mean streets, glitz, will, and showmanship.  He is not acting ‘presidential’. Yet he is President, so whatever he does is, ipso facto, presidential.  Time for Marfa Poitiers to relax.

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