I am not always able to peruse the comments here, but a couple of responses to my post yesterday caught my eye.
I was reflecting on what I think is likely to happen in a little less than 24 hours, when Donald Trump takes office. One correspondent was exercised that, though I now support Trump, I did not mention that I was once very critical of him. I have explained that in many posts (here for example, or here or here). Perhaps I should conclude every post with a codicil in small type explaining that past performance is no guarantee of future returns, that you may lose principle, and that I am liable to alter my views to take account of alterations in the world outside. Or perhaps not.
The other comment was more interesting: this correspondent took issue, not without some regret, with my suggestion that, after an access of wailing and gnashing of teeth, the hysterical Left would “subside into pathetic irrelevance.”
I did say it was an “open question” whether this would happen, but went on to argue that I thought the more histrionic examples of protest would fade away if Trump got the team he wanted and moved quickly and decisively to enact his agenda.
But my correspondent is wise to sound an admonitory tocsin.
It’s not just that the country is divided as it hasn’t been since, oh, 1860, but also that the Left, for a whole host of reasons, is weaponized in a way it hasn’t been since … well, I was going to say since the late 1960s. But the truth is that Trump is facing is a union of Left-wing animus and bureaucratized establishment spinelessness and accommodation that is probably unique.
“The Left,” writes my correspondent, “is not going to ‘subside into pathetic irrelevance’”:
They are growing even stronger and the right does not even resist, much less fight back. I think Kimball is right to say Trump fights back, but we as conservatives certainly don’t. We are a meek, submissive, cowardly group of citizens, easily intimidated, even bullied. I wish the election of Trump was a signal that we have stood up, but it is not.
There is, alas, a lot to this. “Heck,” continues this fellow:
… look what’s happening already. Republicans have the House, the Senate and now the executive branch — and they have spent most of their time so far in office setting up committees and hearings to hang themselves over how the Russians stole the elections from the Democrats.
Er, yes. That’s correct.
Trump has not spent one day in office and he has been largely delegitimized by the Left. He and the Republicans in Congress have been hemmed in and hogtied before the new Republican President has even sat down in the Oval Office. The inauguration is certainly going to be disrupted — and the Left has successfully bullied many from participating in the event.
Kimball sees the Left subsiding into irrelevance, I see the Left as a wave rising and rising, not even nearing its crest yet — but when it does, they will swamp us all. Which is what bothers me so much about the right. There is no urgency. They think it’s the ’80s, just meandering along without a care or wildly overconfident about their future. They have no war footing to be on.
Conservatives need to start organizing, and they need to start taking direct action.
He goes on to mention Project Veritas, James O’Keefe’s great undercover video project, as a model, or at least a “start” in this desideratum. Let me say in passing that I am a great admirer of O’Keefe, and I think his work exposing the hypocrisy and criminality of such leftish institutions as ACORN has been invaluable.
These observations are all on point. But I wonder if my correspondent isn’t a bit too pessimistic. We’ll know quite soon, but it’s my sense that a lot of people on Team Trump understand the point of this story, reprised today by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:
There’s an old joke about a boy who complains to his mother that his little sister keeps pulling his hair.
“Oh,” responds the mother, “she doesn’t know that it hurts.”
A few minutes later, the mother hears the girl scream and runs into the other room. “She knows now,” the boy explains.
There’s a lesson for Republicans in that old joke, if they’re smart enough to absorb it.
I frankly have my doubts about “Republicans” as a whole. But about the Trumpians, I am more sanguine.
Donald Trump may invite Al Gore to Trump Tower for a chat. But he then nominates Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. (I loved the headline Pravda — er, the New York Times ran: “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.” “Denialist,” eh?)
Trump makes peace with Mitt Romney. But he then nominates Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State.
CNN salivates over a wholly unsubstantiated, paid-for “dossier” against Trump. Guess what? Trump, brutally, calls out the network. And on and on.
Item: just yesterday, Trump proposed cutting the federal workforce by 20% and the federal budget by 10%. Good ideas!
I think there will be a lot of hysterical sideshows as the shock of Trump takes hold. It will doubtless be, as the cartoonist and blogger Scott Adams put, a “lesson in Cognitive Dissonance”:
As Trump continues to demonstrate that he was never the incompetent monster his critics believed him to be, the critics will face an identity crisis.
They either have to accept that they understand almost nothing about how the world works — because they got everything wrong about Trump — or they need to double-down on their current hallucination. Most of his critics will double-down.
And that brings us to our current situation. As Trump continues to defy all predictions from his critics, the critics need to maintain their self-images as the smart ones who saw this new Hitler coming. And that means you will see hallucinations like you have never seen. It will be epic.
Things could go south. Trump might do some stupid things. He might be unlucky with the economy or with the mess that Obama has left him on the international scene.
Clearly, the media is looking high and low for something, anything, to pin on him. And the Left might be even more insane and suicidal than I think it is.
But as I said yesterday, I suspect that, notwithstanding a lot of silly grandstanding, the leftover Left and the legacy media that supports it are going to be inhabiting an existential, if not a literal, menagerie. They will more and more be regarded as what they in fact are: toxic curiosities, pathetic, inadvertently funny at times, but mostly irrelevant and, because irrelevant, unheeded.