Random Thoughts: The Aftermath
Joe Biden began his presumptive presidency by promising to “unite” and “heal” America — and also to “reverse” Trump’s policies. In other words, he apparently thinks that a good way to begin the healing process for a fractured nation is to tell seventy million of your fellow citizens that you are going to summarily undo everything they voted to uphold.
In four years, Joe Biden will likely no longer be mentally or physically competent to serve as U.S. president, even in the Max Headroom-like digital hologram form he was remastered into for this election season. This means that in four years, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination will be Kamala Harris. The question then becomes, “Will Americans have the guts in this politically correct age to vote against the ‘historic’ first Black woman president?” If you do not know the answer to that one, you have not been paying attention to the movie up to now.
I find myself mulling over a question I was asking in anticipation, both privately and publicly, back in the spring and summer of 2016, when I was still personally associated with the “conservative media”: When the Trump fantasy world disintegrates, as it inevitably must, how will all those dozens of “conservative media” pundits and millions of “Tea Party” voters, who had long identified themselves as principled defenders of the U.S. Constitution and rebels against the Republican Party establishment, before they cast all that to the wind to support Mitch McConnell’s mega-donor, reframe their political identities post-cult? Where can Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Roger Kimball, Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, Mark Steyn, and all the rest of the gang position themselves now, without looking even more like compromised hypocrites than they already do? How can the old Tea Party voters who demanded constitutionalism and liberty from 2008 to 2015, but then suddenly gave that up to chase pop idol power dreams with The Donald, reassemble the principles and traditions they have smashed to smithereens over the past four and a half years?
Over the next year, expect the A-list pseudo-conservative pundits and talk show hosts to be watching each other carefully, stalking each other’s trajectories, and sucking up to one another as climbing careerists will do in order to keep a closer eye on their competition. For they will all be secretly hoping to inherit the terminally ill Rush Limbaugh’s coveted time slot, and everyone knows that the heir to that position will be the man perceived as most willing to play the game the network’s way. Am I being cynical to assume such ghoulish thoughts and motives from the men in question? No, just realistic. They are all human, they all owe their careers, in varying degrees, to Limbaugh’s trailblazing success, and they have all shown themselves in recent years to be utterly without scruples in pursuing their own popular advancement and “obscene profit” (to borrow a Limbaugh locution). They are not political thinkers, political leaders, or even, strictly speaking, political commentators. They are businessmen, pure and simple, and their product is Republican voter pandering, dressed up with a paper-thin hint of anti-establishment iconoclasm.
And that last sentence, by the way, explains exactly why it was so easy for all of them, following Limbaugh’s own lead, to fall in line with the Trump candidacy and presidency, and to convert themselves into panderers to a cult of personality. For Trump himself may be described in identical terms. To understand his appeal, his electoral strategy, and his success within his inherently limited circles, think of him as the first talk radio president.