When President Barack Obama began packing the United States of America’s courts, senior appointments in the armed forces and a host of other positions, it looked to the extreme Left as if their long-cherished dream of seizing power—which would in fact mean controlling the world—was coming true at last.
Donald Trump’s election was shattering for them. Trump Derangement Syndrome persists even though, or rather because, he has had both economic and foreign policy successes, which appear to stand a chance of crippling the Left’s project, and which seem to have given Middle America new confidence and purpose.
The intensity of this derangement is fairly new. Even recently, Americans of both parties respected their presidents once elected, and in general did not doubt their presidents’ patriotism and public-spiritedness. Further, politicians’ families were off-limits for attacks.
This essay appears in September’s Quadrant.
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It was a commonplace amongst journalists that you could not get an ordinary American to criticise his or her country or president when travelling abroad. Election results were respected as an expression of the democratic process. The idea that anyone’s career would have been in danger as a result of voting for the candidate of a mainstream party would have been a scandal. Now, some commentators predict that leftist rhetoric may evolve into a shooting war. In one of his famous paintings celebrating American freedom—in this case free speech—Norman Rockwell depicted a dissenter at a political meeting being heard by the others present with respect and politeness.
It is dismaying for friends of American democracy that the Democrat senators in 2018 were prepared to vote against President Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court no matter who that nominee was, or how qualified and suitable that nominee might be. This showed a willingness to wreck the processes of government without consideration of the national interest—a plain abrogation of the duty attached to the high positions to which they had been elected. Edmund Burke said: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it.” It is a principle of representative democracy so basic that one is taken aback by the need to repeat it. In the twenty-four hours after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Kavanaugh would be “a destructive tool on a generation of progress for workers, women, LGBTQ people, communities of color [and] families” and that he would “radically reverse the course of American justice [and] democracy”.
There is nothing in his previous career to suggest people would die because of Kavanaugh. NBC News journalists spread, as news, a false rumour that Anthony Kennedy had negotiated his retirement contingent on Kavanaugh’s appointment. One report noted:
The Left lost their mind right on cue over the announcement of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
No matter whom the president was going to choose, the Left was going to paint the nominee as an extremist who threatens democracy, basic human rights, and enjoys drowning puppies.
This cheap strategy used to rile-up the Democratic base was glaringly evident in a statement fired-off by the Women’s March: “In response to Donald Trump’s nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Women’s March released the following statement,” started an email from the feminist group.
Clearly, the statement was pre-written, with the name only added in after the nominee was learned by the public, save the one “XX” spot at the beginning. Oops!
Charles Murray, a leading but politically incorrect social scientist, is shouted down by mobs at a university where he had been invited to speak. He has literally to flee for his life, and his host, a professor, is seriously injured trying to protect him. One wonders where, and how, this is going to end.
Some years ago a British comedian, giving a spoof course on American civics, was wont to utter: “Like us, Americans have two main political parties. There is the Republican Party, which is the equivalent of our Conservative Party, and there is the Democrat Party, which is the equivalent of our Conservative Party.” Franklin Roosevelt trusted and respected his former Republican presidential opponent, Wendell Wilkie, enough to send him to London on a vital mission in the Second World War as a special envoy to Churchill.
After the last election I saw on the news something which I had not seen in America before and would certainly not have associated with America: a man was dragged from a car, pushed to the ground and kicked while his attacker screamed, “He voted for Trump!” Passers-by joined in.
When in Australia a man head-butted Tony Abbott, it was still taken, perhaps over-optimistically, as the action of the sort of pathetic loner that can be found in any country. In America, however, such behaviour seems increasingly common, with a sort of imprimatur from leading figures in the Democrat establishment and media—at least their behaviour and rhetoric can be seen as encouraging it.
John Brennan, an alleged former communist whom Obama made head of the CIA, tweeted from somewhere beyond paranoia:
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
He was referring to a conventional and necessary meeting between world leaders which, if Obama had undertaken it, would have been hailed as an act of statesmanship and peace-making, but whose agenda and details he was not in any case privy to.
I thought CIA men were meant to know something about the law. “Treason” is the one crime specifically set out in the US Constitution, and means, very specifically, helping an enemy power in time of war. It cannot by any exercise of imagination apply to Trump’s meeting with President Putin. And further, Trump’s conversation with Putin was not even publicly reported. Brennan went on to suggest that intelligence officers should withhold information from Trump, which, given that Trump is the elected commander-in-chief, sounded “nothing short of treasonous” itself.
Trump’s election has revealed the extent to which leftist poison has penetrated the Washington—indeed the whole Western—political class, and the urgency for him to lance the abscess while there are some healthy parts remaining. The Left’s frenzied efforts to revive the Cold War, after spending half a century denouncing it, has a comic as well as a tragic aspect. It would seem as if they would prefer war with Russia to Trump being proved right.
Trump supporter Judge Jeanine Pirro said Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg spat on her when they appeared together on television. Our own Robert Manne states charmingly:
arguably [Trump] has the foulest attitudes or the vilest character of any president in US history. If his presidency will eventually come to be regarded as illegitimate it will be because sufficient American people are convinced that he won his office in part because of his unlawful collusion with a hostile foreign power.
There is already overwhelming evidence that the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin was involved first in a complex plan to damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and later as well to assist the candidacy of Donald Trump.
This does not quite say Trump himself is guilty of collusion with Russia, but the implication is clear.
And does anyone remember Bill Clinton getting an intern young enough to be his daughter to perform fellatio on him and then publicly lying about it? This matter, unlike things Trump has been accused of, is one of admitted proof rather than rumour and assertion.
In fact, well over a year of frenzied investigation and rhetoric by almost the whole of the US academic-mainstream media axis has failed to produce any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia or to unearth a possible motive for such collusion. The whole thing seems like a grotesque parody of McCarthyism, except that Joseph McCarthy’s allegations had real substance behind them.
Trump’s foreign policy and his policies of strengthening the US defence and space effort, and its East European and Baltic allies, as well as pressing NATO to greatly increase defence spending, are much less comfortable for Russian ambitions than were his Democrat predecessor’s policies of weakness, retreat, appeasement and unilateral disarmament.
Trump is pressuring the NATO countries to bring their defence spending up to the agreed minimum of 2 per cent of GDP, or even 4 per cent. He is working to break Germany away from its energy dependence on Russia, and to revive the US steel, coal and computer-chip industries, all of which have defence implications. In the Middle East he is unequivocally pro-Israel, has relocated the US embassy to Jerusalem, and has increased defence aid to Israel. Israel is also the ultimate opponent of Russia’s Middle East catspaws, Syria and Iran. Trump looks to undo Obama’s craven, one-sided agreement with the Iran regime.
Trump has given the clearest and most consistent possible notice that his overarching goal is restoring America’s strength, both at home and abroad. He may even have succeeded in implanting a little testosterone into Mesdames May and Merkel and their dithering, spineless cabinets. Why should Putin’s Russia, if it is intent on recreating Soviet power—and when Putin considers the fall of the Soviet empire a disaster—have possibly wanted that?
There does seem a strong possibility, perhaps even a likelihood, that some Russians tried to stir up as much division and bad feeling in the election as possible, in which case the anti-Trump media and political class who are now carrying on that agenda are in fact the ones acting as Russian catspaws.
If any Russian agent did work for Trump’s election, I imagine he has since found a new career, carving chessmen in the Gulag. In any case, there is nothing new here. The Soviet Union was always interfering in Western politics. The so-called “World Peace Council” was nothing but a Soviet front, and the Soviet Union was able to control much of the World Council of Churches. The anti-Vietnam demonstrators were doing Moscow’s bidding.
For those with eyes to see, there has been growing violence and viciousness from the US Left for some time, such as the attempted political lynching of Justice Clarence Thomas as a conservative judicial appointment. Psychiatrists queued to pronounce conservatives Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan insane, though they had never seen or examined them (when Reagan proved the most successful US president, bloodlessly ending the Cold War and ushering in two decades of economic boom, it only increased their irrational fury).
The major previous example of the Left’s betrayal of the US was, of course, the hounding of Richard Nixon for a minor, and certainly not exceptional, sin. The Left demonstrated then that it was prepared to paralyse US foreign policy and have it lose a major war, if only Nixon could be brought down.
But the Left’s frenzied hatred for Trump eclipses everything that went before. It will doubtless increase rather than diminish if he continues to be successful. With a few exceptions, such as Fox News, media commentators were clearly disappointed that the talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had not ended in obvious failure. Shortly before, they had been attacking Trump for warmongering and brinkmanship against Kim.
Obscene attacks on Trump’s family by various “celebrities” are unprintable here. Anything remotely comparable about the family of any previous president would have been unthinkable and would have certainly have abruptly ended the career of anyone responsible.
Peter Fonda tweeted: “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with paedophiles. And see if mother will stand up against the giant a**hole she is married to. 90 million people in the streets on the same weekend in the country. F**k.” When Roseanne Barr, on the other hand, defended Trump she was attacked by the Guardian for “hooligan offence-giving” and has apparently lost work. Comedian Kathy Griffin held up a fake severed head of Trump streaming with fake blood on television, and, if possible even more disgustingly, publicly snivelled with self-pity when she was criticised for it.
It is tempting to associate this dreck with a general decay of civilised values, not least of these being Christianity. Its portents for the future of the United States—and therefore of the entire world—are ominous.
Star Parker, writing in the conservative Christian Black Community News, has said: “the nation appears to be flirting with this uneasy territory where ‘reasoned discourse’ is breaking down”. She points to the case of the President’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who was asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, where she was having dinner, for no other reason than that she worked for Trump. Restaurant owner Stephanie Wilkerson, apparently confusing herself with Martin Luther or a moral hero like Claus von Stauffenberg, said she asked Sanders to depart because “there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
“But,” Parker asked, “what exactly are the ‘convictions’ that Wilkerson was living in this incident? That you refuse to talk, associate, do business with anyone you disagree with? This is America?” She continued, “A few days before, Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was harassed in a DC restaurant and then at her Northern Virginia home.”
Long-time Congressional Black Caucus member Maxine Waters followed: “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she told a crowd in Los Angeles. This is something close to proto-civil war. It can be seen as not merely incitement to harassment but, for the mentally unstable, to assassination. Coming from the mouth of a legislator, it must be a record in contempt for representative democracy, civic order and ordinary decency.
After Waters’s words a gunman and anti-Republican activist shot at a group of Republican politicians, seriously injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. After the Southern Poverty Law Center declared the Christian-based Family Research Council a hate group intent on harming gay rights, Floyd Lee Corkins walked into the Council’s offices with Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a gun intent on murdering the employees and stuffing their mouths with the sandwiches. (The Chick-fil-A sandwich chain espouses Christian values and does not open on Sundays.) Another fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center and its anti-Christian and anti-Republican rhetoric, James Hodgkinson, took seriously the Democrat and progressive Left rhetoric that Republicans would kill people by repealing the Affordable Care Act. He drove to a baseball field and attempted a mass assassination of Republican members of Congress.
White House adviser Stephen Miller was called a “fascist” while eating in a restaurant in Washington. Florida’s Republican Attorney-General Pam Bondi needed a police escort to protect her from screaming thugs while exiting a movie theatre in Tampa, Florida. A sixteen-year-old in San Antonio, Texas, was assaulted in a restaurant for wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.
A peculiar aspect of Trump Derangement Syndrome, demonstrated in both the US and recently on President Trump’s visit to Britain, is that the anti-Trump protesters, however hysterical, when questioned are completely unable to say what it is they actually have against him, except that he is loud, brash and (for the British) American. It seems to have no more reason behind it than did the chiliastic panics of the Middle Ages.
In Britain he seems to have released a vein of toxic anti-American jealousy. When he was pictured sitting in Winston Churchill’s chair, the Daily Mirror published a screaming front-page headline, “How Dare You!” Actually Churchill, the great architect of the Atlantic Alliance, and tireless worker for the unity of the English-speaking peoples, would probably have been pleased to see Trump in his chair. Further, he shared Trump’s plain speaking and practice of “Action this day!” Like Trump, Churchill and the political class held each other in mutual contempt.
The human jellyfish Theresa May’s statement praising the “fantastic contribution” made by immigrants to modern Britain contrasts with Trump’s forthright warning that Britain is “losing its culture” because of the present influx. Trump seems a better British patriot than most British politicians, but the unanimity of hatred and contempt held for him by the British “quality” press—not just the likes of the Mirror—with hardly a pretence of factual argument behind it, is staggering.
All this has a number of possible causes. I believe the principal one is the madness which has infected our universities. It flows into our arts, media and entertainment. Why it meets so little comparably-organised resistance is a mystery, but suggests that the nihilistic postmodernist-leftist control of these areas is nearly total.
Realising that the success or failure of its project to transform America and the world depends upon the outcome of its campaign, and, most importantly, that Trump, unlike some, understands this and is prepared to do something about it, the Left appear to be staking everything on destroying him and his people, if necessary by physical violence. If it succeeds, it will be lights out all round.
Hal G.P. Colebatch, a prolific poet and author, lives in Perth.