The liberal contention, pretty much since Rush Limbaugh first made the scene, has been that conservatives are a bunch of angry, thoughtless, neanderthal reactionaries. Sometimes we act that way – it is natural. The libs say and do things that are so unattached from reality that our incredulity causes us to raise our voice in astonishment. And then they act on such things and we express ourselves in angry sounding tones more out of frustration than actual anger. And thus they bait us into supporting their argument. It requires an enormous amount of discipline to overcome this cycle for the more outrageous they become the more tempting it is to respond with incredulity and frustration.
And yet never has the time been better for us to exercise that discipline. Hillary Clinton is in complete meltdown. The WSJ went after her tooth and toenail this morning, and a State Department IT staffer is hiding behind the Fifth Amendment. It is utterly outrageous that she remains viable as she is as a candidate. The sheer audacity of her soldiering on under this sort of stuff, when any person of anything other than out-of-control ego would withdraw in shame, is almost beyond comprehension. One wants to walk up to her and ask “What the he%% are you thinking?”
David Benkof at the Daily Beast does a marvelous job of pointing out how a County Clerk in Kentucky is subject to massive public ridicule for “failing to uphold the law,” while government officials of far more import on the other side of the issue were praised to the highest when they were civilly disobedient. The double standard cannot help but create a desire to at a minimum punch a hole in the wall.
But control ourselves we must. Patience is the key. These things are ultimately self-defeating, yet if we respond in the incredulity and frustration we naturally feel we at a minimum delay that self-defeat and at worst create and an opportunity for it to be avoided.
Which brings me to the candidacy of Donald Trump. Consider what Bret Stephens said Monday about what the the Trump phenomena says:
And so forth and so on—a parade of semi-sophisticated theories that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy. Mr. Trump is a loudmouth vulgarian appealing to quieter vulgarians. These vulgarians comprise a significant percentage of the GOP base. The leader isn’t the problem. The people are. It takes the demos to make the demagogue.
In other words Trump makes us appear precisely as angry, thoughtless and reactionary as the libs like to paint us. Over at The Atlantic, Jonathon Merritt seems to think our anger is clouding our judgement when it comes to Trump.
Stephens ultimately concludes that the GOP is not quite as out of its mind as the current flirtation with Trump would indicate. I agree, but the problem is Trump right now is precisely the diversion Hillary needs to get through the very dangerous territory in which she travels. The problem is that whoever the GOP nominee ends up being they will be painted by the media with the “Trump brush” long after Trump has returned to reality TV.
Larry Sabato thinks that what people are really looking for is less programmed candidates. He has a point, but it is the point of view of someone who, like this blogs audience, pays attention to everything. You can only tell the candidates are programmed if you hear every interview and therefore hear the programming over and over and over again. That is not the average voter.
What we need is a candidate that can express our incredulity and frustration in calm and civil tones, and act on it forthrightly and deliberately. There are many possibilities in the field that can do that, if we will but concern ourselves more with content than tone.