Since the 2016 election, conservative commentators have described the behavior of the left in terms of a mental breakdown or psychological disorder. “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is a commonly used phrase, implying that otherwise-reasonable people have been driven to madness by Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.
It’s easy to see how one might come to that conclusion. The uncontrollable sobbing, the tantrums, the violent outbursts all scream (and scream, and scream) for some kind of psychiatric diagnosis.
THE DEMOCRATIC MOB
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“Derangement” doesn’t quite capture the left’s state of mind in all this, though. Their behavior doesn’t really line up with the symptoms of a true psychotic break with reality. Lots of people angrily protest Trump, but not because they think he’s an invading lizard emperor from Venus. Lots of people are peddling dubious stories about the administration, but none of them are the true confessions of the Oval Office desk lamp. Lots of people are screaming in the faces of elected Republicans, but they’re not saying, “Why don’t you pass legislation to get these spiders off me?”
In other words, leftists’ behavior isn’t purely insane, it’s insane with a purpose. It’s the behavior of someone who has a clear goal but has dropped any pretense of respectability or logical consistency in trying to achieve it. Even as it gets crazier, it seems less like the behavior of someone who’s been driven mad and more like the behavior of an addict—someone who is mad with his craving for a fix.
The left doesn’t just want to win like any other political faction does; they’re addicted to government and the power that goes along with it. Understanding this will make it a little less surprising when they do the (insane) things they do, and help to clarify what has to be done to stop it.
Before the Barack Obama years, Democrats were more casual, social users of government, with an occasional tendency to binge. (“Hey, LBJ, don’t you think you’ve had enough Great Society?” “I’ll TELL you when I’ve had enough!”)
But then they went on an eight-year bender of fundamentally transforming the country. Obviously it was a heady time, turning health insurance from a minor headache into an annual soul-crushing Sophie’s Choice of terrible coverage options; transforming police officers from friendly neighborhood peacekeepers into a racist murder horde; changing the “gender” checkbox into an essay question, and so on.
They reached out and found that there was hardly an aspect of life that they couldn’t mold to their will. After all those intoxicating successes, they were hooked. But that wasn’t a problem for them, because there was no reason to think that it wouldn’t go on forever.
Then Trump won the 2016 election, and they suddenly faced the prospect of losing their source. So they responded like a junkie would: not by calmly and rationally accepting the situation and adjusting their habits accordingly, but by ripping out all the copper wiring and setting the house on fire.
For the addict, there’s no long-term, no use for reason or consistency or building coalitions. There’s only whatever might work today to get him the chance for another taste. If today’s plan doesn’t work, then the obvious solution is to get more devious or ruthless or violent tomorrow.
That’s exactly what we’re seeing from the left. Any distraction, any lie, any weapon at hand, without regard to consequences to their side or the other side or society in general.
Viewed in this light, the actions of the left since 2016 generally, and during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in particular, make sense in a bizarro kind of way. When the only thing that matters is the object of the addiction, then truth and comity take a back seat, and every failure is just a reason to ramp up the intensity.
It may start with something halfway reasonable-sounding, like, “I need to borrow some money for a bus ticket,” or “Kavanaugh jumped on a girl at a high school party.” But before you know it, they’re telling you that a 15-year-old is a rape gang mastermind, chasing senators into elevators, or clawing at your face so they can pawn your contact lenses.
You don’t have to be a political strategy expert to see that this behavior is hurting Democrats at least as much as it’s helping them. The doxing, the death threats, the attempts to undermine the normal workings of government—these may seem like great ideas to the true believers, but to anyone who doesn’t already subscribe to Riot Organizers Quarterly they just seem like great reasons never to give Democrats the power to do anything more than stand in the street and wave pieces of cardboard with swear words printed on them.
Clearly, it is time for a national intervention. Sen. Lindsey Graham had a sense of this when he delivered his tirade in the style of the grumpy uncle who can’t abide polite fictions anymore, so he flips over the mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table and says out loud what everybody knows is true.
The country needs two viable political parties that are focused on maintaining our constitutional system as their highest aim, higher even than winning. But to refocus them on that aim, at least for the time being, the Democrats must lose, repeatedly and badly. They must experience a cold-turkey separation from power until they can be trusted with the car keys again.
If they’re able to continue the way they’re going with even a modicum of success, then they’ll always think they’re just one more distraction, one more scandal, one more riot away from a really big score. When that fails, the solution will always be to push harder next time. As long as they’re allowed to stay in the same room as the liquor cabinet, they’ll never think about anything but how to smash the lock.