The order of the day seems to be a reflection on times gone past, as we bend our shoulders and hunch toward a new year, fraught by visions of what 2016 might bring upon our already frightful politics.
Fear is in every bottle, so grab a tumbler, pull up a stool and drink it down. The first glass burns, but after the ice begins to melt in the second, the harsh frontier whiskey gives way to its floral undertones and, at long last, sweet corn mash relief, if only for a bit.
“I’ve had my fill of fucking intellectuals.”
That, brothers and sisters, is the rebel yell of the Trump Supporter, a unique addition to the menagerie of 21st Century political animal.
The Trump Supporter is at its most fitful making appearances in the comments section of news articles posted to The Facebook, especially, for whatever reason, The Hill. The Trump Supporter is impulsive, contentious, garrulous and altogether certain that anything that contradicts The Man Trump is conspiracy to suppress his Greatness.
The Man Trump paid some online retail outfit or another for my email and home address, bless them, so I’ve been on the receiving end of season’s greetings from The Man Trump as of late. He sent me a card to wish me a Merry Christmas as well as a Happy Holidays, and promised that I, D.C. DeWitt, and he, The Man Trump, will together Make America Great Again. I’m all atwitter.
Over at the New York Post, Rich Lowry, the editor heir of Wm. F. Buckley’s journal of racist privilege known as the National Review, dubbed 2015 the year of hysteria and proceeded to demonstrate his point by falling into wild hysterics himself. The only outrage acceptable to Rich Lowry, you see, is his own.
He composed himself enough to write the following, serenely unaware of how well it applies to his fellow Grand Old Party regulars.
It’s always difficult to motivate people around careful reasoning about a problem, or to win a detached argument on the merits. It’s much easier to create hate figures to attack, to demand immediate action as a sign of moral purity, and to short-circuit cost-benefit analysis with apocalyptic warnings.
With the news cycle faster than ever, and social media a constant accelerant, stopping to think, or to gather all the facts, or to consider possible downsides, feels more intolerable than ever.
If you didn’t know he was talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, you might think he was describing the entire Republican Presidential Primary thus far. As it is though, he is talking about the “inflamed left” and BLM, thus carrying the colors of Buckley’s racist and privileged tradition into 2016 and beyond.
Let’s take a look at those paragons of calm, thoughtful good sense that people like Lowry think a good fit for “leader of the free world,” as it was once put. It seems clear to me now that the Republican primary will end up a three-way battle between The Man Trump, Texas Ted Cruz and Rockin’ Marco Rubio.
Grinnel College Professor Dan Sinykin attended a rally by each candidate, which he wrote up for Salon and contained the charming quote against intellectualism mentioned earlier.
It also contains this line: “If Cruz exudes zealotry, Rubio’s campaign sells pragmatism.”
While the idea of working with Trump is anathema to The Party, Cruz and Rubio leave options akin to choosing between salmonella and dysentery. Whichever spoiled meat they swallow, the Republican intestinal tract is going through hell.
Bloody ground round Republicans bought pragmatism from The Party grudgingly in 2008 and 2012. But their surly mood is too far gone for that in 2016. They are too addicted to being the pissed-off opposition, too addled by the type of hysteria that so chagrins Rich Lowry to make a move anything less than impulsive.
The tantrum has screeched up into the heavens, and is now careening wildly to and fro, dropping payloads of hateful ignorance across middle America. The Truth is whatever their fevered imaginations can boil up, and anyone who won’t drink the brine is part of the Plot Against Them. Neuroticism has become a lifeblood.
Columnist Eugene Robinson has picked up on this as well.
“History will remember 2015 as the year when The Republican Party As We Knew It was destroyed by Donald Trump. An entity called the GOP will survive — but can never be the same…
Trump has given voice to the ugliness and anger that the party spent years encouraging and exploiting. He let the cat out of the bag, and it’s hungry.
The party might nominate Trump, in which case the establishment will have lost all control. Or party leaders might somehow find a way to defeat him, in which case they will have lost the allegiance of much of the base. In either event, the GOP we once knew is irredeemably a thing of the past.”
This might sound to the Progressive ear like a gift for the New Year, but remember that while the forms change, the pattern stays the same. This constituency is not going away, and it will only get uglier. And meanwhile, there’s still the adult work to be done, which Chris Hedges notes portentously, is becoming too tall an order to fill.
No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are “free” only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera of freedom will vanish. The iron fist of the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history will assert itself with a terrifying fury.
As a High-Minded Journalist, I despair over this type of brutal assessment, because I know it cuts close to the bone. Fear of losing The Republic for good is very real for me, and while I know I can’t stop it, I can document it, as best I can. The clutch of oligarchy boasts a powerful grip. Students of history know how shoddy the foundations of Great Civilization can be.
Election years fill me with hope and dread in equal volume. I intend to hit the Campaign Trail across our Great River State as often as possible. I want to dig into the hearts of my fellow Ohioans and slop around in their hopes and dreams, deepest fears and most bitter resentments. There may be some surprises.
You can read all about it right here in the digitized pages of the Good Ship Plunderbund, my dearies. We’ll frolic and play and have some laughs along the way, and when it’s business, business it will be.
We’ll hunt the White Whale called Truth together, and whether we harpoon the beast or are capsized and swallowed whole, we’ll know we executed our mission—if nothing else—with Honor, and that’s something to which I can drink. To Truth and Honor in 2016: Sláinte!
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.