What happens when you push a group of people so far for so long?
What happens when you mock and marginalize their values for decades?
What happens when you threaten their livelihoods and the success of their families?
What happens when their voices go unheard, unacknowledged and unwanted?
For decades now, the racially-motivated, culturally intolerant, religiously bigoted, economically destructive Left has increasingly divided Americans, exacerbating ruptures, exposing fault lines on every issue of significance, down to the foundations of the Republic, in a never-ending quest to redefine society, fundamentally transform American identity, and attain and hold power over every individual.
Compounding things, a tin-eared, myopic Republican party which has for decades campaigned for free market policies and adherence to the Constitution, failed to see that while the nation benefited as a whole from such principles, the plight of the less fortunate – especially those minorities and poor whites trapped in the gulags created by the Left deep in urban centers – was by and large worsening.
These political and cultural blind-spots, which often manifested as ignorance and oftentimes dismissiveness of the deteriorating conditions of those in the lower middle class and near the poverty line served not only to distance the GOP from these groups, but pushed them closer to the Democrats, who made use of them as props and puppets.
Further still, the growing chasm separating the Washington elites from both the grassroots and their constituencies yawned even wider, exacerbating corruption within the parties, leading to a deteriorating legitimacy among the growing classes of the disenfranchised and ignored.
Into this chaos emerges Donald J. Trump, longtime liberal Democrat, longtime Democrat donor, longtime holder of Democrat policy positions and perspectives:
Republican pundits, establishment candidates and campaign operatives seem to be either utterly clueless or appallingly disinterested as to his appeal, and how he has been able to reach out to a seemingly growing number of voters and supporters.
But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: a political cult arising to embrace a powerful demagogue fueled not by ideas that advance a governing agenda or policies for making the circumstances of most Americans better, but by sheer force of personality, appeal to divisive energies, and policy proposals that set people against one another.
Conservatives have been warning for decades about government restraining and suffocating liberty. But Alexis de Tocqueville, the founders and ancient philosophers warned about another threat to liberty: that the people, ostensibly in a representative democracy, infuriated and uninhibited, and filled with fevered passion, blindly destroy the very structures and institutions created to preserve their freedoms, leading (as Alexander Hamilton feared) to the arrival of a tyrant, striding to power, borne aloft on the shoulders of “the people” as their champion.
Barack Obama is one glaring example of this very danger made real. As a completely unqualified junior politician buoyed by corrupt elements within Chicago politics and the Democrat party at large, he achieved the White House largely on the basis of Republican failures to address economic collapse in late 2007, and failing to correct the course in Iraq soon enough. Insulated by the uniqueness of his racial identity, he was able to deflect and distort his way to the Oval Office.
Trump is the same kind of figure, missing some of the finer points of Obama’s remarkable background, but cut largely from the same cloth – a self-admiring, self-aggrandizing, narcissistic figure, motivated by personal power and prestige, and calculatingly blind to the long-term costs of what they propose. Rather than being men of the Party, they are a Party of Man, inspiring huge, unruly cult-like followers whose grasp of reality is both tenuous and self-assured. Trump deploys the “mobocracy” in his own way.
This is the challenge we now confront. A weakened, reflexive body politic, absence of widely shared values and principles, loss of trust and confidence of the voters – all made toxic by exacerbation of long-standing grievances, manufactured rage and divisive rhetoric and tactics designed to antagonize and inflame.
It is what the Left created and what the Right failed to oppose. We’ve only ourselves to blame.