Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

on illiberalism from the left

December 8, 2016

Will Donald Trump’s presidency bring about the end of liberty and freedom in the United States? I doubt it, but that seems to be a fear of some in light of their understanding of his campaign. Is this a new and unique concern? David French suggests that in fact it brings to light the fear of some in light of their understanding of the last decade or so of federal government actions.

The tragedy of Trump is that his voters ultimately chose to fight illiberalism with their own strongman. I wish they’d chosen to fight illiberalism with constitutionalism, but a constitutional restoration will have to wait until another day (if ever). In the meantime, however, we can’t pretend that Trump’s supporters weren’t reacting to illiberalism that was very real,  very serious, and profoundly affected many American lives.

David French

on leftwing hatred

December 4, 2016

It was observed frequently during the campaign that the progressive strategy of dismissing every dissent from its ideology, even mild representations like the Tea Party and Mitt Romney, as virulently evil racists had made it inevitable that the next iteration of dissent would be something rather less genteel. Thus Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States.

This is a long piece, perhaps longer than it needs to be, but it covers a significant issue quite well, that being the role of hard-line social justice ideology in the election of Donald Trump. It could provide a Quote of the Day for at least a week. Here’s a sample:

The monster of Trumpism is in large measure a monster created by the social justice ideology and identity politics of the progressive left. The more that a demonizing and merciless ideological narrative is used as a weapon against particular demographics, the more that they will resist it. The social justice narrative calls for white people, and men in particular, to assume a crippling guilt, to be the scapegoats for America. Trump’s movement is exactly the sort of resistance that such a narrative will provoke.

White people and men refused the narrative. For all of the progressive left’s insistence upon the evilness of America on account of straight white Christian men, Trump’s movement is founded in large measure upon the counter-claim that, for all of its undeniable faults, the nation of America was once great, and it was predominantly white Christian men who made it great.

Trump is a shameless and guilt-free candidate. This is exactly the sort of candidate who will thrive in the current context. As Michael Story has observed, the progressive left so radically overused the necessary antibiotics of shame and guilt that they produced a shame and guilt resistant candidate and movement. When people appreciate that guilt and shame have been weaponized to force them into cultural dhimmitude, they will start to celebrate shamelessness and guilt-freeness.

on presidential media access

November 30, 2016

The reaction of the press to the campaign and election of Donald Trump is still one of the most culturally prominent issues of the season. The diversification of programming available is one reason for that distinctions among people in the society are becoming more apparent. The polarization between political views in the country may well have been strengthened by the decision of much of the press to take sides with the Progressive policy advocates; in the absence of widely disseminated information that all parties could accept as a starting place for discussion, lack of understanding and distrust deepened.

One important way this has played out is in the reporting on the transition to the Trump administration. Because of social media and the internet, more and more people can quickly and easily compare the way the press reports on Trump with how they reported on Obama, and the contrast is striking, which further weakens their reliability. The reaction to Trump’s YouTube address on his transition and on Thanksgiving is an example, where his use of social media is reported as a problem in contrast to it being strategic when Obama used it.

Between 2007 and 2016, much of the press considered this a story of evolving technology and communication. But what used to be an interesting challenge that had media “scrambling to stay in the game” against an innovative, young president is now a grave threat. Somewhere in between is probably the correct assessment, and swinging between admiration and fear depending on the president doesn’t create better coverage or earn more trust from readers.

Mary Katherine Ham

on the legacy of President Obama

November 26, 2016

The transition to a new administration is currently the most prominent fascination of reporting and commentators, but alongside that there is another prominent topic during this time, the legacy of President Obama. It’s been interesting to observe the very different evaluations of the same facts about the world, whether domestic or foreign, that have been affected to various degrees by President Obama’s policies.

Conrad Black offers his (negative) assessment here. In the column he engages with the positive assessment of David Remnick, which he describes with some very vivid comparisons:

The grief-stricken elegies of Abraham Lincoln, even unto Henry Ward Beecher, the toadying chronicles of the great liberal hallelujah chorus for Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the mawkish potboilers mass-produced by the Kennedy entourage could be ransacked in vain to find a rival to the body of Mr. Remnick’s works of ultra-secular canonization in laudation of Barack Obama.

That’s a marvelous sentence.

Quote of the day

November 22, 2016

And the failure to make the gospel of Hillary into the actual book of America points to the one good thing about Trump’s victory: a willingness among ordinary people to blaspheme against saints, to reject phony saviors, and to sniff at the new secular religion of hollow progressiveness. The liberal political and media establishment offered the little people a supposedly flawless, Francis-like figure of uncommon goodness, and the little people called bullshit on it. That is epic and beautiful, even if nothing else in recent weeks has been.

Brendan O’Neill

Quote of the day

November 21, 2016

Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

Thomas Frank

on smugness and condescension

November 19, 2016

It doesn’t seem to me that there has been a lot of progress among the established news outlet since the 2016 Presidential campaign ended. The basic tenor still seems to be that if they continue to preach their point of view that everyone will rally around.

Will Rahn of CBS addressed this in a commentary right after the election, “The unbearable smugness of the press.” It reads like an honest assessment and plea for a change. I don’t see many signs of it happening yet.

I don’t see any sense of a change among ordinary progressives, either. Empathy and communication don’t seem to be on the rise yet. I wonder if it will make a difference in the next few years.

on Trump and racism

November 18, 2016

It’s taken as a given on the political left that Trump is a racist, that his campaign was premised on appealing to white supremacy, and thus anyone voting for him, supporting him, or not opposing him vociferously enough is racist. His victory in the 2016 Presidential election has led to an outpouring of vitriol along this line, along with histrionic claims of emotional suffering inflicted upon students, children, etc., by the realization that half of the nation is blatantly racist.

Scott Alexander, who describes himself as working in the area of mental health, has written a devastating essay dismantling this narrative. Mr. Alexander is not a supporter of Mr. Trump by any stretch of the imagination, yet because of his understanding of this particular aspect of human behavior he’s quite adamant about setting the record straight on the issue.

It does matter to people’s well-being what they are constantly told about themselves and others and their relationship to the world. That the political left is willing to accept causing harm to people by repeating falsehoods because they want political power should worry anyone, especially political liberals of good will.

when Chris Christie was rising

June 23, 2016

I kind of miss the Chris Christie of the early part of this decade.

when history is practiced

June 18, 2016

By “history” here I’m referring to the engagement of research and investigation first hand and personally with the subject to be analyzed and evaluated. Walt Harrington seems to practice history pretty well, based on this essay about President George W. Bush, written a couple of years after the end of his presidency. He personally has engaged with the subject and so writes with real knowledge and understanding. It’s remarkably refreshing in contrast with so much that gets posted these days.