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

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Without Trump To Hate, What Will The Haters Do With Themselves?

Danny Billups had been on the frontline of the Hate Trump vendetta for the four years since the President’s election.  Although he had a job – a quite respectable one in progressive circles, and one far removed from any taint of opportunism, unearned wealth, or possible exploitation of others – he spent most of his time at the barricades, online, at the podium, lectern, and pulpit.  He was a deacon at the most important and influential Presbyterian church in Washington, one which prided itself on social engagement and activism, and every other Sunday at the church’s second service, congregants could hear his thundering condemnation of the President, his greed, misogyny, homophobia, and racism.  

Of course Danny had to be somewhat careful to couch his calumny in Christian terms  Although the congregation was as progressive as any in the Capital and boasted privately of its liberal solidarity, it was a place of worship after all, and as hateful as the President was, the injunction of Christ’s teachings about loving thy neighbor could not be overlooked.

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Danny’s posts on social media, his op-ed pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times, and his participation in televised roundtables were legion and renowned.  He was a progressive’s progressive, never without a harsh word for Trump and his dwarfish coterie, never a screed unpublished about the President’s abuse of women, gays, and minorities or his xenophobic, fascist positions against the international poor, and his regressive ideas about the importance of religion in society.  

Like most of his colleagues, he was not only unremitting in his personal crusade to dun Trump out of office and to discredit the entire conservative establishment, but he was passionate about it.  Trump indeed represented the forces of Evil and electing him for a second term would surely usher in the darkest years before the Second Coming.

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So when the Old Man was defeated by Joe Biden, Danny Billups was at sixes and sevens.  His side had won, and now what?  During the past four years he had not formulated any alternate policies on foreign affairs, energy, social welfare, equity, distribution of wealth, and affirmative action.  He had only spewed animus and bilious hatred.  Neither he nor any one of his colleagues really cared about policy.  

His campaign would be a religious one – the casting out of the Devil and the exorcism of the evil of capitalist conservatism.  No details, no position papers, no data, no historical references.  Nothing in fact except for venom, bile, hellfire, and brimstone.  It worked – the progressive faithful were as single-minded and fundamentalist as he was and voted Trump out of office not because of his policies or his attitude, but because he was a bad person, a blighted one, and a profoundly sinful one.

So Danny and his fellow members of his Washington liberal cabal sat around the table in mid-November after the final votes were counted and lawsuits dismissed and Biden was all but declared President-Elect, and looked blankly at each other.  Now what?

Of course most of them before Donald Trump had been engaged in a variety of social causes – civil rights, Global Warming, affirmative action,  the gender spectrum, and immigration – and could always go back to them; but after the halcyon hate years, engagement seemed rather tepid.  Trump not only stood for dismissal of environmental issues, rejection of please for black justice, indifference to gay rights and sexual agenda, he ridiculed those who promoted them.  

Progressives were namby-pamby wusses.  They were hopelessly idealistic, childish, given to tantrums, offended without provocation, thin-skinned retro-bigots.  Now this was a man progressives could hate, a man who embodied the virulent ignorance of the conservative electorate.  

Without Trump to hate there would be no one else - no one single embodiment of evil, just fragmented ills.  No allegation of police brutality, racial discrimination, subverted gay rights, or private sector exploitation of workers will ever get the same defamatory press as when Trump was in office.  He was the one behind all of America’s ills and cared nothing about him.  He was the sinkhole of all conservative evil, the huckster for it, the facilitator of it, and its eternal defender.  

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So the blank looks were not surprising.  Without someone to hate, their job would be dull,, boring, and unfulfilling.  These progressives lived for their hatred of Donald Trump.  It animated them, energized them, and defined them.  Now they were little more than ciphers – like their man, Biden, if they were to speak honestly.

A few months after the 2020 election a COVID vaccine became universally available, and in person events were permitted.  Special consideration was given by the Biden Administration to those organizing groups which had supported him and had been instrumental in defeating Donald Trump and Danny was able to attend the National Women’s Alliance annual meeting in Washington.  

It was a tepid affair.  The jubilation over Biden’s victory had passed, and the hatred for Donald Trump was mitigated by time and the need to focus on the future, and the air was out of the balloon.  Speaker after speaker spoke about transgender discrimination, the still unbreakable glass ceiling, the sexual abuse on college campuses, and the shameful resurgence of girly-girl-ism but to muted applause.  More women were checking their phones than paying attention,  The fun of hatred had irretrievably gone.  There was no misogynist like Donald Trump and there never could be.  Picking on little guys was no fight.  Without the main event, the whole idea seemed a bit frivolous.

Environmental groups shut down and locked down by COVID once again emerged, and their own shills again began to peddle their wares; but without The Great Denier, the man for whom climate change was a liberal fiction, for whom a few higher tides meant nothing more than fishing closer to shore, and whose blind trust investments in Canadian golf courses were already paying off, the spirit was gone.  Without Trump to hate, climate change just didn’t seem all that important. The wind was out of their sails as well. 

Worst of all without Trump to hate, the solidarity of the progressive movement began to weaken.  Each activist stuck with his own .  When Trump was around to hate, they all – environmentalists, civil rights activists, socialists, sexual revolutionaries – partied in one big tent.  Now they were in their own little pup tents.

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They scanned the horizon for Trump successors but found none.  There was a handful of right-wing politicians from the Far West who had made some noise in their own states but who had stumbled on the national stage.  A few televangelist bigots who attracted large crowds and donations but who were known by relatively few.  It was a desert out there.

In any case Danny, near the end of his career, found it easy to hang up his spurs and retire to Florida.  He could do so knowing he had won the gunfight, had always been on the side of the right and righteous, and was recognized for it.  He felt sorry for the young radicals of his party’s Left wing.  They would miss the hand-to-hand combat, the absolute exhilaration of political hatred, and the ecstatic moment of victory.  Where would they go?  What would they do?  Become conservative as they got older as most liberals do? Or live in secure enclaves like New York’s Upper West Side where old Jewish liberals still remember Samuel Gompers, revere Noam Chomsky, and rant and rave about Marx, Lenin, and Engels whose genius was distorted and ruined by the Soviet Union.

Danny spent the rest of his life fishing for bonito, playing golf, lying on the beach, and enjoying sundowners with his friends on the balcony of his condominium. There is a time and a place for everything, he said, time to hold it and time to fold it.

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