The Left’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump is in, and it is every bit as histrionic and unhinged as a passing acquaintance with the American Left would lead you to expect. The preposterous contention that 60 million of their fellow citizens voted for a man out of “hate” and “bigotry” is entirely in keeping with their known character.
Yet despite the excesses with which they have articulated their fears, I do share the Left’s apprehension that the vast powers of the presidency are being turned over to a man too reckless, bull-headed, and venial to exercise them responsibly. I can sympathize with their anxiety. What I cannot understand, for the life of me, is their shock and surprise. Consider the following.
1. Deriding Western Civilization
The Left is surprised to find that after decades of teaching Americans to scorn their political heritage—to regard it as the work of slaveholders and other unsavory “dead white men”—the American people are prepared to elect a man who flouts all the norms of that heritage. They are shocked that minds formed in habits of irreverence towards the past do not vote in a spirit of reverence towards their political inheritance.
2. Promoting Vulgarity
The Left is perfectly astonished to discover that a public subject to a relentless torrent of vulgar entertainment has no qualms in voting for an eminently vulgar man. They are stunned to find that the tastes they have debased can actually be expressed in political form.
3. Cultivating Ignorance
The Left is shocked that after having spent generations destroying the foundations of American education, in particular instruction in the humanities, the populace that has passed through their schools does not seem to judge political affairs with the greatest wisdom or perspicacity. They are amazed to find that when you do not cultivate the powers of judgment, they do not grow.
4. Promoting Racism
The Left is amazed to find that after decades of speaking about American politics as though it were an ethnic zero-sum game, large numbers of their fellow citizens have come to think of it exactly that way. They are shocked to learn that when you turn the words “white man” into a pejorative, actual white men will tend to defy your plans for them.
5. Celebrating Law-Breaking
The Left is stunned that after having helped encourage violence against the police with their intemperate rhetoric, millions of voters flocked to the candidate who barked about “law and order.” It has apparently never been heard of on the Left that disorder leads inevitably to authoritarianism.
6. Harassing Religious People
The Left is in disbelief that millions of Christians voted for a man who seemed to offer some protection against the legal program of dispossession the Left was plotting. They are stunned to find that after having spent the last decade vilifying traditional Christian beliefs as “bigotry” and openly celebrating the persecution of those holding such beliefs, these same Christians will view their persecutors as enemies and refuse to vote for them.
7. Constricting Speech
The Left is stunned to learn that after having constricted the boundaries of political discourse to the most absurd extent imaginable, vast numbers of Americans are happy to vote for a man who smashed through those boundaries, without troubling themselves much over the indecorous manner in which he did so. They are shocked that these same voters, after having watched the progressive Left decimate free speech on campus for years, did not regard Trump’s threats against the media as the greatest possible danger to this freedom.
8. Ignoring a Broken Immigration System
The Left cannot believe that the consequence of dismissing eminently legitimate concerns about immigration as “racism” is that millions are content to vote for the single man in their lifetime who does not dismiss them as such. They are perplexed to find that these voters are far more worried about the economic and cultural costs of an unrestrained immigration policy than the admittedly crude manner in which their candidate discussed these costs.
9. Protecting Islamism from Critique
It is a matter of astonishment to the Left that their refusal to acknowledge the unique threats of Islamist ideology has led millions of their fellow citizens to vote for a man who most certainly acknowledges those threats, albeit in the most ham-fisted manner possible. They cannot believe that anyone would choose to vote for a man who speaks so coarsely and meretriciously of a pressing matter on which they refuse to speak at all.
10. Running Up the National Debt
The Left is shocked to find that running up a national debt of staggering proportions, and refusing to countenance any plans to pay it down, has induced considerable anxiety in the electorate, and compelled them to choose the one candidate who even mentioned this issue, however desultorily.
11. Politicizing the Media
The Left cannot believe that after employing the media for decades as a vehicle for the promotion of their own agenda, huge segments of the population voted in a way that demonstrated an open contempt for the opinions of that same media. They are stunned to learn that the rest of the country regarded their advocacy of the liberal candidate to be the tendentious groveling it actually was.
Truly, the capacity of the Left to be surprised is a wondrous thing. We can all bemoan together the perilous state of our country as its leadership passes into the hands of this untrustworthy man. There is indeed much cause for lament and fear—but none for surprise. The rise of Trump is the entirely predictable result of decades of purblind progressive influence on American life.
So, as much as I sympathize with the Left’s anxieties, there is no use in trying to find common ground with them until they prove themselves willing to take a long hard look at themselves and to acknowledge that their dominance of our institutions over the last 50 years has been an utter catastrophe, and has created the conditions in which Trump could arise. That, as they say, will be the day.