The Trump fantasy

Matthew Continetti:
“Sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a five year old,” Anderson Cooper told Donald Trump the other day. That’s an insult to kindergarteners. The tykes in Mrs. Cummings’ morning class have more self-discipline than the Republican frontrunner. Not to mention better manners.

Cooper prefaced his jibe with a show of deference that Trump did not deserve. It’s called reciprocity: If you want someone to call you sir, to show you respect, then do the same. Trump never has. He demeans women on the basis of their appearance, he mocks the disabled, he lies with unsettling ease, he flips the bird at mores and traditions and institutions, he has become the paladin of misogynists and bigots and everyone looking to blame scapegoats for whatever confusion and unhappiness and resentment is in their lives.

No longer is Donald Trump a trifle, a fillip, an entertainment, the personification of the liberal caricature of Republicans, easy to mock, easier to dismiss, a phenomenon at which to awe, an avenger of the people who has the right enemies. He’s a threat to American democracy. And he must be stopped.

I don’t say this lightly. I’m as critical of our elites as the next talk radio host. Their uncritical attitude toward globalization would embarrass Dr. Pangloss. Immigration, trade, and internationalism have costs. But these costs must be weighed against the benefits, and then ameliorated prudently, gradually, and steadfastly. Trump would have us believe our troubles will vanish as soon as we build his wall, raise tariffs, and exit NATO. It’s a fantasy.

And it is precisely this embrace of wishful thinking that makes him so dangerous. Politicians lie. But there is a difference between the lying common in democracies—a Clinton family specialty—and the construction of alternate realities more common to autocratic regimes. Trump, his rallies, and his Twitter mobs fall under the second category. Trump is expert at asking, “Who are you going to believe: Me or your lying eyes?” He not only gets marks to fall for the con. He convinces them to embellish and to extend it, to harass skeptics and critics, to spew bile and hatred. He’s convinced a large swath of Republican voters to see vulgarity as strength, braggadocio as character, brashness as capability. He inverts standards of judgment and of truth, and if he is allowed to reshape the GOP in his image there is no telling where he’d turn next.
There is much more.

I spent a good bit of my early years as a lawyer prosecuting fraud cases.  It was always interesting how bitterly many of the victims clung to the illusory promises of the con even after they had lost their entire investment.  You could tell them they were investing in a Ponzi scheme and they would turn around and reinvest their "earnings" in the same scam.  That comes from the desperation of wanting to believe something that is not so.

That is how I see the Trump voters these days, and Continetti is dead on with his description of the Trump supporters on Twitter.  They tend to act like psychopaths when discussing any opposition to their guy.


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