Notes on the U.S. Midterms and Such

The clever fence-sitting, bandwagon-hopping, finger-in-the-wind, trail-sniffing businessmen of the “conservative media” who pretend to be leaders and trend-setters — perhaps best epitomized at the moment by the teenage “debate champion” Ben Shapiro — are quietly urging their Republican-friendly audience to stop making everything about Donald Trump in these months leading up to the midterm elections. Their reason for this urging, quite explicitly stated, is that recent polling suggests that independent voters, who will determine the outcome of the midterms, tend to veer away from the GOP to the extent that Trump becomes the party’s focus and figurehead. In other words, Shapiro, like his fellow pro-Republican profiteers from Fox News to Alex Jones, is saying that Republican voters ought to make winning the election, rather than standing on their principles (however confused these might be), the primary consideration. As usual, the “conservative media” proves itself to be nothing in the final analysis but a bunch of shills for the Republican faction of the Washington-corporate establishment, reducing everything to a cynical mix of electoral results and money grubbing, driven entirely by polls and fear, at the expense of any real convictions or a sincere sense of justice.

Is the Trump-obsessed majority of Republican voters destroying the party’s chances of a major midterm victory? Probably. More importantly, is that majority destroying any hope of reviving the idea of constitutional conservatism in America forever? Undoubtedly. But Trump is what they believe in, and the defense of Trump their only political goal. Telling them to tone it down for the sake of boosting the party’s chances in November is just another reverberation of the party establishment’s favorite mantra in every election year: “Winning trumps belief, so shut up about what really matters to you and vote for what we are offering.”

I might be inclined to see this year’s iteration of the mantra as more rational than usual, or even somewhat noble, if the argument presented were more honest and principled, such as, “Trump is a fraud, a useful idiot of the Washington establishment, he has destroyed our movement, and he must be jettisoned before it is too late for America.” But as long as the fence-sitting, profiteering Shapiros are framing the message, I see only the same old same old: “Election time is not for beliefs, it is for ‘My party, right or wrong.'”

What a predictable and destructively self-serving bore these phonies are.

Meanwhile, over in that portion of the Republican establishment that still finds its advantage in pandering to Trump’s personality cult, Lindsey Graham has jumped into a conversation which did not involve him to observe that if Trump is prosecuted in relation to the documents found during the FBI raid on his private residence, “there’ll be riots in the streets.” If that isn’t an attempt to intimidate law enforcement officials with threats of mass violence, I don’t know what is. Note that Graham does not say, “If Trump is wrongly prosecuted,” or “If Trump is prosecuted on trumped-up charges.” He merely claims that such a prosecution would suggest a “double standard” in handling such matters, in light of the leniency afforded Hillary Clinton. I might simply note, for the short of memory and/or long of Trump worship, that Trump himself directly rejected his supporters’ calls to pursue Clinton after the 2016 election, in spite of having welcomed and exploited their boisterous chants of “Lock her up!” during his presidential campaign. 

In any case, the forecast of mass violence — not protests, to be clear, but riots — smacks of the most cynical form of political opportunism, the use of overtly incendiary language for no legitimate reason whatsoever, in a context when many in the Trump-obsessed mob of millions are already faithfully imbibing violent rhetoric daily from the likes of Steve Bannon, not to mention their own emotional banter on social media, such that a mainstream Republican voice echoing that screaming from the fringe — and implying that his view is shared by many other elected officials — could only serve to entrench the cult (and its leader) even more firmly in its (and his) growing hysteria.

Having said all that, I stand firm on my own prediction, made years ago, that if the Trump manure ever really did hit the fan, little or nothing would happen, because Trump’s cult is comprised mostly of people who love to shout at radios and ruin family dinners, but who would never actually have the gumption to get off their butts and really “rise up” to anything significant. (I use scare quotes because any action they did take would in truth constitute a descent, rather than a rise.) Their great moment of truth and proof was January 6th, 2021, where only a relative handful even made it to the Capitol, a tiny minority of whom dared to breach the doors of the building, and almost all of that minority, once they were inside, could think of nothing more meaningful to do but put their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk like twelve-year-olds mucking around in the principal’s office.

It serves the left well, however, when pandering establishmentarians like Senator Graham foster the myth of Trump’s following as a dangerous and goal-driven monolith. For that is precisely how the left wishes to portray them, namely as people perpetually unhinged and always on the verge of attempting a violent overthrow of the government — and as Republicans and conservatives. This has been the progressive strategy all along: Help Trump to become the clear figurehead of the party; take active steps to identify Trumpism as the true face of what used to call itself “the conservative movement”; and thus conveniently brand American conservatism itself, and the Republican Party as conservatism’s political vehicle, as essentially a violent revolutionary movement aimed at ensconcing a demagogue in the seat of power, against all “democratic values.”

The ratcheting mainstreamization of popular attempts to label Republicans as authoritarian extremists, exemplified by President Biden’s qualified use of the nonsense term “semi-fascists” to describe “MAGA Republicans,” as distinguished from the “conservative Republicans” he claims to respect, is telling. Biden’s statement, taken at face value, is not even incorrect. There is a significant minority of Trump-devoted or “MAGA” Republican voters who do indeed despise constitutional principles and espouse populist demagoguery — “semi-fascism,” if you will. The problem is that getting the doddering Biden to utter such a phrase was clearly an attempt to bring the key notion further into the everyday consciousness, as an unquestioned presumption: The Republican Party (and only that party), whatever else it may once have been, is now the party of fascism. Therefore, anyone who would vote Republican is at least comfortable with fascists on his side, from which it follows that no Republican can be trusted — all are dangerous authoritarian irrationalists in their hearts, whether they are currently engaged in violence themselves or not.

The political marginalization of one of the two major parties as essentially a party of tyranny obviously serves as cover for anything the other major party — the one with the biggest megaphone for labelling its opponents — may do. That this other major party is now fully dedicated to neo-Marxist “social justice” indoctrination and full-on Marxist economic redistribution is optically reduced in significance by the constant drumbeat of “fascists at the gate.” True enough; and communists inside the gate. The rational view here would be to declare, “A pox on both their houses,” with free souls rejecting the tribal manipulation at last and demanding a true political renewal, voting only for alternative candidates or parties, and judging those alternatives entirely on the basis of their relative commitments to individual self-determination, the restoration of private property rights, and the rejection of unconstitutional expansions of presidential power.

The rational view, however easy to state, is utterly impossible to achieve, of course. I put it out there only to emphasize how far the so-called free world has fallen from even a memory of its former, largely unrealized potential.

You may also like...