News & Politics

Do Conservatives Really Think Leftists Are 'Subhuman Scum'?

Sept. 17, 2011 (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The Left’s rage at the results of the election continues apace, and who better to articulate it than Amanda Marcotte in the virtual pages of Salon?

The horror show that was the 2016 election will be examined and reexamined for years, and depending on how bad things get, quite likely decades to come. There were, of course, a lot of factors: Cultural change, economic change, racism, liberal complacency after Barack Obama, the FBI manipulating the election, the Russian government manipulating the election, hatred of feminism and so on.

But it’s also important to notice that Donald Trump’s election is the culmination of decades of right-wing media teaching its audience that liberals are subhuman scum, and that hating liberals — whatever their stereotype of a “liberal” looks like — is far more important that minor concerns like preventing war or economic destruction.

Friday morning, the phrase “preparing for Trump” started trending on Twitter. It appears to have started with liberals tweeting out an article by Peter Dreier laying out a 10-step process to resist Trump’s attempts to turn our government into a kleptocracy at best, and a fascist state at worst. But of course the meme was soon taken over by right-wingers eager to exclaim how excited they were about the Trump presidency.

But what’s fascinating is how few of them, had anything positive to say about Trump and his coming presidency, despite their apparent love of the Great Orange Grimace. On the contrary, the contributions of Trump supporters on the thread were almost exclusively negative: They are gleefully certain that he will rain destruction on the heads of the hated liberals.

Well, there’s some truth in this. I suspect that a good number of Trump voters were actually voting against Hillary Clinton and the eight dolorous years of Barack Obama and the Democrats, rather than for The Donald. And, frankly, I know a grand total of exactly zero Republicans or conservatives who consider Trump a sacral figure: “Cheeto Jesus,” in one popular formulation. Trump’s approval ratings have improved noticeably since his election, as Americans are already witnessing the difference between  a strong horse and a weak horse.

Now there really is some excitement about the forthcoming presidency, in part based on his largely excellent cabinet choices, rather than a hunkered-down prayer for deliverance from the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua and her legions of flying monkeys.

While liberals certainly say nasty things about conservatives, the level of dehumanization that goes the other way simply isn’t there. After Obama was elected in 2008, liberals didn’t spend all their time on social media gushing about the pain he was likely to inflict on conservatives. Liberals don’t paint conservatives as a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings, or suggest that we literally eliminate them from society. They’re far more likely to share articles about how to make nice over Christmas dinner — a duty that appears to fall solely on the shoulders of left-leaning family members — than they are to dismiss half the country as subhuman monsters.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Trump’s election is that we’re surprised at all. Conservatism has, over the decades, curdled into an ideology of hatefulness and destruction, with no real interest in building up much beyond the bank accounts of the already wealthy. One can read a billion think-pieces about Trump’s divergence from traditional conservatism, but the reality is that “traditional” conservatism doesn’t exist anymore, outside a few enclaves of (ha ha) coastal elites. Conservatism as practiced by most Republicans is an ideology built on one single principle: Pissing off the liberals. And no one excels at that more than Donald Trump.

The thought hasn’t occurred to Marcotte that this is what happens when you call half the population “deplorable” and “irredeemable,” as Mrs. Clinton fatally did. When you lecture them constantly from the bully pulpit of the White House about their shortcomings. When you mock them for their lack of a college education. When you trash their cities, as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter have. When you strip them of their dignity, boast about putting their industries out of business, and taunt them with “changing demographics” of a nation they — as an economic class, not a race — largely built.

Nothing good can come of this, as the Left is about to learn — the hard way, of course.