Global Independent Analytics

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

First, Trump disgusted us, then we pitied his supporters and now we are ready to embrace him

Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker discusses how our level of acceptance of Trump increasingly grew and what will the consequences be if an unstable authoritarian nationalist gets to rule the country.

Paraphrasing the poet Alexander Pope, who once told: “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, / we first endure, then pity, then embrace,” Gopnik summarizes: we have also gone through the three-part process from denying Donald Trump to taking him for granted.

First merely tolerated by his own party, he quickly moved to reluctant acceptance. Then a weird kind of pity arose, directed not so much at him (he supplies his own self-pity) as at his supporters, on the premise that their existence somehow makes him a champion for the dispossessed, although the evidence indicates that his followers are mostly stirred by familiar racial and cultural resentments, of which Trump has been a single-minded spokesperson.

Now, people who have not taken him seriously before are one by one getting on board of encompassing; even those who were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar.

We can argue whatever we like whether to call him a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke, but under any label, Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is.

Every Trump’s word and action declare his enmity to America; it is proved by threats he makes daily to destroy his political enemies, made only worse by the frivolity and transience of the tone of those threats. Considering his suggestion that the President holds absolute power, even though constitutionally everyone who arrive in office, discover that their capabilities are rather limited, and his pledges o end opposition—whether by questioning the ownership of newspapers or talking about changing libel laws or threatening to take away F.C.C. licenses, his intentions sound like a threat.

And Trump announces his enmity in the choice of his companions. The Murdoch media conglomerate has been ordered to acquiesce; it’s no surprise that it has. But Trump’s other fellow-travellers include Roger Stone, the Republican political operative and dirty-tricks maven, while his venues have included the broadcasts of Alex Jones, a ranting conspiracy theorist who believes in a Globalist plot wherein “an alien force not of this world is attacking humanity”—not to mention Jones’s marketing of the theory that Michelle Obama is a transvestite who murdered Joan Rivers. These are not harmless oddballs Trump is flirting with. This is not the lunatic fringe. These are the lunatics.

Moreover, his lies. Trump’s lies arrive with such rapidity that before one can be refuted a new one comes to take its place, and the media just keeps moving along, shrugging helplessly. If the lies are bizarre enough and frequent enough, they provoke little more than a nervous giggle and a cry of “Well, guess he’s changed the rules!”

He’s not Hitler, as his wife recently said? Well, of course, he isn’t. But then Hitler wasn’t Hitler—until he was. At each step of the way, the shock was tempered by acceptance.

Instead of defeating racism, discrimination and xenophobia, we seem to be either engaged in parochial feuding or caught by habits of tribal hatred so ingrained that they have become impossible to escape even at moments of maximum danger.

If Trump gets elected, the chances are that the American experiment will be over. Sadly, this is not a hyperbolic or historical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right.

The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

EXPERT OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

The article is extremely week in fact, but strong on labels. Trump is declared “unstable authoritarian nationalist,” his friends and supporters are described as lunatics, his speeches (incoherent and full of all kinds of promises as the speech of any aspiring politician usually is) seen as threats. The author gets so much carried away by his denunciations that he announces: “Every Trump’s word and action declare his enmity to America.” There are so many holes in this assertion that it is wise to leave it to the readers to discover them. Gopnik asserts that Trump multiplies lie with such speed that helpless press fails to catch up. He fails to state, however, that Trump multiplies “truths” as well, challenging and taking to task the untouchables of foreign and internal policy. Why endless wars? What is going on in the Middle East? Why are we poor amidst the embarrassing wealth, why our soldiers treated like pariahs by the hospitals, which are supposed to help them? These are extremely legitimate concerns to which his supporters respond. Some loonies might respond to “racial and cultural resentments” but so did millions of people who voted for Obama. To reduce their concerns just to “racial resentment” would be ridiculous, and would sound like a right wing paranoia. Why is this left wing paranoia is acceptable then is beyond me? And the author should spare his reader's Cassandra-like pontifications on the death of American Experiment or destroyed national psyche. That type of ravings belongs to the Alex Jones apocalyptic broadcasting that Mr. Gopnik so clumsily tries to hang on Trump.

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