The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, June 26, 2017


It's not difficult to understand Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Many progressives along with a significant number of elite Democrats and Republicans view themselves as cultured, civil, well-spoken, understanding, and otherwise, not crass. Donald Trump can be the opposite of all of those things, so ... TDS.

Roger Simon discusses TDS and refers to it as a "plague" that has infected four constituencies within our country and around the world. He believes, as I do, that TDS has more to do with Trump's crass style, his imprecise language, his counter-punching capabilities via Twitter and elsewhere than it does with his actions. But then again, most anti-Trumpers, including #Resistance et al, seem to care far more about words than they do actions. If that weren't the case—if actions really did matter—the members of the four constituencies would have been far more critical of the preceding administration.

Simon argues that Trump's actions are actually quite middle-of-the road:
All this is occurring although Trump, since taking office, has been, in his actions, a basically middle-of-the-road president, rather like, of all people, Bill Clinton after he made his accommodation with Gingrich. Of course, unlike Billy boy, he hasn't misbehaved, to my knowledge, in the Oval Office. More precisely, Trump governs slightly from the right as Clinton governed slightly from the left. The differences are not greater than we have seen many times before.
All of that is true, but it's Simon's take on the underlying reasons for TDS that are worth considering:
May I suggest that what we are witnessing in our culture (and outwardly across the globe, because willy-nilly the U.S. is still the leading factor) is a form of mass hysterical conformism. I emphasize the conformism because by nature most human beings are conformists — we want to get along.

My generation — I regret to say since I was part of this — was nurtured in a kind of counter-cultural conformity, everyone in tie-dye and smoking joints, thinking the same inchoate ideas. Peace and Love. Hey, hey, LBJ... You're part of the solution or you're part of the problem.... Power to the People. Right on! Tune in, turn on, drop out!

As we grew up — taking over media, entertainment, and the schools — we formed a new cohort that was as truly conformist (probably more) as the generations before us. That New Conformism (actually pretty old at this point) generated this New Plague — how could it not, even though Donald was (technically) one of them — with everyone against Trump no matter what, pass it on. Otherwise, you will be read out of the new version of the hipster Volvo-becoming-Tesla country club. Trump was too Rat Pack for us (too like our parents or what our parents thought was cool). We wanted a smooth, black dude or, failing that, a righteous Latina, whatever that was. These days not even the Dalai Lama is acceptable.

It was all image. Almost none of it was substance, although we wanted to pretend it was ...

Younger generations, of course, get this. They hear it in the schools and they watch it on television and it's shoveled at them on BuzzFeed and the like. They are given little chance to think for themselves. And if they do, they know the risks.

Meanwhile, the Plague keeps spreading. In the 1330s the "Black Death" took about a third of Europe. It's unlikely things would get that bad in this country on a personal level, but our democracy is already being littered with symbolic corpses, logical thought among the earliest and most consistent of victims.
As we watch otherwise well-educated and civil people try to defend the suggestion that Trump colluded with the Russians or somehow obstructed justice in an investigation of a non-crime with no damning evidence, perpetrated for partisan advantage by politicians (i.e., hypocrits) who were crushed in an election they were assured they would win, it does seem reasonable to conclude that "logical thought [is] among the earliest and most consistent of victims" of TDS.


In a brutally frank discussion of the progressives' "Reeeee" brigade—a group that practices TDS with the most enthusiasm—Sarah Hoyt writes:
... we get journalists corrupting their craft and honor to be part of secret lists that choose which news to cover and which to ignore. We get functionaries trying to subvert legal, fair elections. And we have the Reeeee brigade leading us through a slow motion Cultural Revolution.

I don’t know who coined “Reeeee” for the sound progressives make when in the middle of a scream fest about some – mostly imaginary and unintended – offense. I know that for several months now all my friends use it, usually when just having dealt with some idiot who keeps yammering on about moon ferrets (or patriarchy. Or white supremacy. All of which have the exact same degree of existence in modern America.)

... Their behavior is so insane, their on-command ability to jump on anyone or anything who deviates from the now-current party line so absolute, their arguments so ridiculous, it took me a while to realize what they’re doing is the equivalent of Mao’s brigades of aggressive young people fanning out to rural areas to teach the peasants how to think and what to do.
But its more than crazy behavior, it also this (again from Hoyt):
The problem with the latest trend of these feral children, their minds filled with academic lies, screaming about “racist, sexist, homophobes” and holding the past up to the standards of their present is not just that it’s annoying ...

No, the problem is that it makes many people afraid of opening books, of reading our past.

Western civilization is not – of course, being human – perfect. It has had its share of monsters and madmen. We were, after all, responsible for Marx, whose ideas have been a worse scourge in Africa than all the supposed greedy colonialists.

We are, however, simply put, the most successful human civilization ever. That is, if you judge success in terms of “fed the most people” and “lifted most of the world above the demands of immediate need”, to be able to create and think as never before. Other things we’ve done go a long way to eliminate the quotidian misery of disease and push back aging by decades.
It is fun to imagine the Reeeee brigade speaking "truth to power" in places like Venezuela or Cuba. Would they honestly prefer to live in those paragons of socialist achievement or in more brutal Islamic countries where hatred of everything Western is the currency of preference? And if the United States is soooo "racist, sexist, homophobic, partriarchal, Islamophobic, xenophobic, culturally appropriative, economically oppressive or rigged...," why is it that millions upon millions of the world's people want to immigrate here? Why is it that so few who do live here actually leave? The Reeeee brigade would prefer not to consider the answers to those questions.