"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, November 2, 2020

Political Righteousness, And The Satisfaction Of Being Among The Chosen

A video of Biden supporters circulating on social media showed them waving signs and placards at a convoy of Trumpists.  One woman looked at the woman next to her and smirked, “Idiots” and something about pedophile Republicans and the rapist in the White House.  It was a congenial group, a happy one, certain that their man would win the coming election and that four years of sexual predation, homophobia, sexism, and bourgeois culture would come to an end.  The nation would soon return to rectitude, sincerity, compassion, and community.  It felt good to stand on the street corner of Broad and Weaver in the satisfying knowledge that they had fought the good fight, supported goodness and right behavior, and served democracy.

Image result for images hysterical biden supporters

Of course the campaign to remove Donald Trump from office was as much of a mudslinging, slime ball, gutter affair as any in American politics.  Given the assumption that Trump was nothing more than a disgusting, toupeed  fat scumbag, then no respect for either him or the Presidency was required.  The very fact that he was an old, rich, white man; well-fed, privileged, and gluttonous in his desire for power and glory;  the very embodiment of the rot at the center of American society made him fair game. Because he was not a protected species – not a woman, not a person of color, not a member of an ethnic minority, and as retrogradely heterosexual as they come – no ad hominem attack was too low.

The people on the street corner were not political – they were figures of meme and caricature.  Their hostility to Trump has never been based on disagreement or opposition to his ideas  After all, debate continues on abortion, immigration, gender fluidity, tax reform, affirmative action, the role of the military, and a hundred other social, economic, and geopolitical issues that have underlain every political campaign since 1776.  Their opposition was based on none of these essential, democratic issues but on pure animus, on a tautology.  Trump’s depravity is so self-evident that it does not have to be parsed, proven, or explained.

Image result for Images campaigning Donald Trump

If these street corner Biden supporters had come to their partisan convictions via the usual route – analysis, reflection, consideration, reference, and history – they would not be feeling so elegiac, so absolutely happy, so wonderfully engaged with their fellow-supporters.  Winning the election would be a cause for congratulation, not celebration.  The electoral removal of a President who had lost the backing of a majority of voters would be but the first step of governmental reorganization, hiring, and publication.  Not so with Donald Trump – his removal will be Biblical, a righteous Day of Judgement, a damnation to eternal fire, and a welcome of the faithful to a new Garden of Eden.  The Rapture!

Image result for images four horsemen apocalypse

It is no wonder that Biden supporters, so convinced of their righteousness and so apocalyptic in their vision, would be this happy just a few days before election,

Looked at from a more circumspect, temperate perspective, this almost hysterical belief in political Armageddon and the coming of the Messiah, seems ridiculous.  Trump for all the calumny, vitriol, and spiteful attacks on him, is simply a president, more memorable than Garfield, Buchanan, Van Buren, Polk, Harrison, or Hayes, but no more corrupt, venal, or self-serving than Harding and Grant; no more damaging to the body politic than Nixon; no more warmongering and geopolitically myopic than Lyndon Johnson, no more of an adventurist than George W. Bush.  To quote a line from the movie, Whistle Down the Wind, “He ain’t Jesus.  He’s just a fella”.

Image result for Images Warren Harding

There’s something else going on the country, a self-importance and righteous conviction that comes partly out of American ‘exceptionalism’, part from the fragmentation and depersonalization of American society, part from the loss of religion as an important institutional force in a radically-changing cultural environment.  It isn’t so much Donald Trump that progressives hate, but the idea of his reactionary, retrograde being is delaying if not obviating Utopia.  The hatred of Trump has less to do with him as a man, a president, and a politician than the emergence of neo-Utopianism – a fervent, deeply-held, emotional conviction that a New World awaits.

The early years of the 21st century are much like those of a hundred years ago when mysticism and transcendentalism emerged. Then, however, these idealistic sentiments were expressed simply and peacefully – retreats in Nature, Walden Pond, and the Oneida  Colony.  Now progressivism has turned angry and violent.  It is not enough to reform one’s won life, but everyone’s. Worst of all, progressives have incorporated the most aggressive elements of  religious fundamentalism.

So it is no wonder that the political campaign is nasty and hysterical.  You would be too if you thought the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were thundering down from Heaven,

To be fair, a lot of the political fol-de-rol is because of COVID and the sheer, unmitigated boredom of being quarantined, shut in, and locked down.  While standing on the corner of Broad and Weaver without a mask, yelling at passers-by would ordinarily be unconscionable, it is sanctioned, OK, called for, and worth the risk to others.  We are all in this together, the Biden supporters shout, meaning the toppling of the President and surviving Corona.  It is a good feeling after all.

So, we shall see what November 3rd brings, and whether the pre-election jubilation was justified.  God alone knows what will become of the progressive Left if Trump wins.  Their wounds, scars, and bruises; their whimpering, and horrific cries after Hillary Clinton’s defeat will be day care singalongs compared to this time around.  The only consolation for those of us on the sidelines is to watch the show.

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