Anti-Trump Progressives are suffering from an existential despair that has them believing his presidency means the imminent end of all life on earth.
I was speaking the other day with a very good friend, who is one of the kindest people I know and who is also a fervent anti-Trump Progressive. Her Progressivism comes about because, despite being highly intelligent, she really does lead with her heart. This means that Leftist pleas to emotion are catnip to her. Blinded by Progressive media photos of illegal immigrants being marched away from the families they had even knowing they could get caught, she is blind to the families of those killed by illegal immigrants who shouldn’t have been here to kill in the first place. After all, the photos heart-wrenching photos of the victims of illegal killers do not make the front page of the New York Times and their families never ended up on Oprah.
But as I said, she is a good friend. She’s stood by me through thick and thin, and never allowed the fact that I’m a conservative to sway our friendship — something I cannot say about many Progressives. That’s why I forgave her when, upon hearing that the CIA can program cars to turn into assassination mobiles, her first response was “That can’t be true. If it were true, they would have killed Trump and we wouldn’t have to suffer this way.”
Normally, I’m not one to condone wishing for or celebrating the assassination of a democratically elected leader. I learned that moral lesson back in 1981, when I was a student at Cal and the news came down that Reagan had been shot. Unlike the horror that attended JFK’s assassination in 1963, at Cal in 1981 people were thrilled that Reagan had been shot . . . and then deeply disappointed to learn that he’d survived the attempt.
When I spoke to my parents later that day, and repeated these UC Berkeley sentiments as if they were my own, my parents turned on me. They were absolutely horrified that any moral person could (a) wish for the murder of a democratically elected leader and (b) cheer on anyone’s death.
My parents, who had lived through WWII, knew death. They didn’t like it. And while they had no qualms about killing Germans and Japanese to win the war, they were sufficiently moral to understand that, while a kill-or-be-killed situation makes killing “the other” reasonable, we lower ourselves when we cheer on the death of our own or when we dehumanize people as the Germans and Nazis did . . . or as I and my fellow Cal students did. I never made that mistake again.
Even now, while I can devoutly hope that every single ISIS soldier gets killed (with or without attendant suffering), because these men are unspeakably cruel and brutal, I do not forget that they are human beings who went to the dark side and that, under better circumstances, they could have been decent men. Yes, I can hold both thoughts in my mind. One thought is about my own and my country’s survival and about abstract justice against overarching evil; the other thought is about my own humanity and the fact that the enemy is a complicated mix of men who have given themselves to evil and men who are themselves so trapped by evil that killing them is still a necessity.
But still, when my friend said that awful thing, I kept silent. It wasn’t just that she’s such a fundamentally good person in my life who, as it turned out, was at the tail-end of an awful day at work, that caused me to hold my tongue. It was also because of that tag end to her sentence. Trump should have died, she said, so “we wouldn’t have to suffer this way.”
When I heard that, I thought to myself, “In what way are we suffering?” The economy is rocketing (although I hope there’s substance beneath the flash); European leaders have been having civil engagements with Trump; Asian leaders have been having civil engagements with Trump; and thanks to many of Trump’s political appointments, to his Gorsuch nomination, and to his decision to follow the law as written, rather than to ignore it as Obama did, the all-important Rule of Law is returning to the land.
I have a bit of bee in my bonnet about the Rule of Law. It is what separates a functioning society from a dysfunctional society. People who know the law in advance, and who trust that it will be applied consistently and impartially, can plan for the future. They can invest in businesses, get educated, buy homes, start families, and engage in all sorts of other future-focused activities, confident that, absent black swans and Acts of God, their plans are likely to come to fruition.
Take away the Rule of Law and you end up with anarchy. Society becomes a Darwinian nightmare in which the rich, connected, and violent use their power to turn the instruments of law to their benefit, abusing the rest of society as they go. To those who would say, “But America has laws, so this cannot happen” — I would say that they are making a specious objection and are wrong. Laws that are unequally applied, or laws and regulations that are so voluminous that only the nomenklatura can know how to use them for their advantage create the functional equivalent of lawlessness.
If you lack power, wealth, or connections, you can never know whether you will find yourself in a situation in which a government official, acting for himself or a crony, can use multitude of laws he can use to destroy whomever he has in his cross hairs. You can never know whether the house you bought will be taken from you, whether your business will be destroyed over a single phrase buried in a thousand pages of obscure regulations, or whether the lawful act you did yesterday will be deemed unlawful today, resulting in your arrest tomorrow.
During the Obama years, we have seen the executive and judicial branches of government deliberately refuse to enforce manifestly constitutional laws only because their party dislikes those laws. The best example was Obama’s refusal to apply America’s immigration laws. Not only did the executive branch renege on its constitutional responsibilities, the Legislature, by passively accepting this cavalier disregard for its own constitutional prerogatives also abandoned the Constitution. The situation worsened when President Trump used an executive order that explicitly cited to and relied upon long-standing federal law to address border security concerns, only to have the federal judicial branch, without referring to either the statutes or the Constitution, stop him on purely political grounds.
All of this is antithetical to the Rule of Law. Unless our president and our representatives swiftly restore the constitutional balance of power between the three branches and enforce existing laws, we are already halfway into the abyss of anarchy – a fall that always ends with a tyrant finally imposing order.
As you can see, when I say that the Rule of Law is a big deal to me, I’m not kidding. No wonder, then, that I’m pretty darn happy with the Trump presidency, which is operating within legal parameters, something that is a core duty of a small “d” democratic government. And yet my friend is suffering.
Because of my Facebook feed, I have an insight into what’s going through her head. During Obama’s eight years of lawlessness, we conservatives feared the breakdown of the American way, the irrevocable abandonment of our Constitution, an inevitable social and economic retreat from our blessedly high standard of living, our vulnerability to endless Muslim terrorist attacks that would stop short of a caliphate but that would fray what was Left of our civil liberties and freedoms. In short, we feared a downhill slide and a second class world.
My friend’s fears, though, make ours look like chump change. When she hears that Scott Pruitt does not believe that CO2 is the prime driver of catastrophic anthropomorphic climate change, and that he intends to dial back the EPA’s responsibility to its core job of minimizing pollution in the air and water, she envisions imminent immolation. In her world view, the only thing keeping the earth from heating up that extra one degree centigrade that will see the earth simultaneously fall to flood and flame is the EPA. Scott Pruitt will kill us.
And when she hears that the Republicans are determined to repeal Obamacare (well, at least that they’re making weird honking noises about doing so), she can’t wrap her mind around the fact that, at the very worst, we’ll simply return to the status quo ante — the world as it was before 2013, a mere four years ago. She believes the mainstream media’s and Occupy Democrats’ propaganda that has people dropping dead in the streets in an epidemic outbreak of lack of medical care fully equal to Justinian’s plague, the Black Death, and the Spanish Influenza, all rolled into one and happening instantaneously.
And to her, the knowledge that Trump made a crude remark about women (although I swear that he would have added that he learned about the pussy grabbing only because Bill Clinton boasted about his own escapades) is a sure sign that by the end of 2017, women will be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. The fact that Trump’s determination to spare us a huge increase in Muslim immigration is more likely to prevent that outcome than not is meaningless.
As Scott Adams would say, conservatives and Progressives are now and have long been watching two different movies. During the Obama era, Progressives watched a rainbow and unicorns movie in which the earth was still heating but help was on the way, people were getting endless free (and perfect) medical care, fundamentalist Muslims were peaceful bearded hippie types, and women were making strides unimaginable before. The fact that the earth had long-since stopped warming, that Obamacare was in a death spiral, that the economy was as flat as it was in the 1930s, that radical Islam was metastasizing around the world, and that women were doing the same was before didn’t matter. It was a happy movie.
For those of us opposed to Obama . . . well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I felt as if I was watching one of those really depressing French existential movies in which everybody wallows in misery and smokes lots of cigarettes. The world wasn’t ending, but it was so grim, sometimes one wished it would.
There are new movies playing now. I kind of feel as if I’m watching a patriotic action-adventure movie. Thrilling things are happening, but the good guys are in control and I’m confident that the movie will have a happy ending, with a flush economy, racial disharmony washed away by a president who views people as people not racial props, a properly cowed world of Islamic fundamentalism, and all sorts of other good things.
But here’s where my friend isn’t just doing the Progressive version of watching a boring, artsy, depressing, French movie. Instead, she and her fellow Progressives are plunged into a nightmare horror slasher movie. It’s Freddie, and Jason, and Godzilla, and Aliens, and every other death-dealing creature dredged from the deepest, darkest corner of people’s imaginations. And how do you deal with Freddie and Jason and Godzilla and Co? You kill them. And then the suffering ends, flowers bloom, unicorns prance, and little children walk safely in the sunlight.
If my friend had merely been unhappy when she wished for Trump’s assassination, I would have called her on it, although I hope I would have done so kindly. However, because she is plunged in a deep, abiding existential despair, there was nothing I could say that would reach her. I can only hope that, if the world does not end in floods, flame, and instantaneous epidemic disease, her rational mind will reassert itself, and she will back off from the moral sin of wishing death on a properly elected president who has done nothing more to date than abide by the Constitution and the laws of the land.