Instead, serious public discussion, which is the heart of the representative element of representative republicanism, has been hijacked by idol-worshippers for whom there is nothing Trump could do or say that would cause them one second of self-doubt. Trump himself highlighted this when he declared that he wouldn't lose any supporters if he shot someone on 5th Avenue. Bizarrely, that may be the best synopsis of the situation. Trump's followers have transcended rational discourse altogether, and are prepared to defend anything, attack anyone, contradict their own principles with regularity, rather than address the arguments of sincere critics. In short, like true believers of any stripe, they seem to approach all questions about their hero with pure, unmitigated anger, which is the enemy of sober judgment.
[. . .]
How many marriages and friendships have been ruptured by indignant responses to sincere constructive criticism?
Unbridled anger in politics threatens both those succumbing to it and those victimized by it. Specifically, it subdues reason by paralyzing the power of judgment and intimidating dissenting voices. Indignation in defense of an unreasoned belief is a mechanism of fanaticism. It characterizes the psyche of people willing to cut off the heads of those who disagree with their creed, to issue fatwas against people who draw pictures of religious idols.
But direct violence is only its most obvious manifestation. The indignation of fanaticism also explains the willingness of Germans to believe that the Jews were the cause of Germany's economic troubles, or of Democrats to believe that anyone who disapproves of Barack Obama's presidency is racist.
We are seeing this form of fanaticism -- untamed anger in defense of idol worship -- among Trump's supporters,
[. . .]
Trump's followers say the progressive threat is too critical to waste time quibbling about conservative "purity." But what epitomizes that progressive threat better than the drive for universal government-funded healthcare, an institution that socializes the economy and the popular mind more thoroughly and effectively than almost any other Marxist plank? [. . .] One wonders whether these angry Trump supporters remember why they were so angry in the first place.
[. . .]
Shouldn't conscientious voters be leery of a sixty-nine year old man who supported leftist causes and leaders well into his sixties? Don't we normally assume that a man's political character and basic beliefs should be well established by that age? Why trust a candidate with such a dubious recent history?
"But Reagan was a Democrat," Trump's fans object. Reagan began supporting Republican presidents and speaking on behalf of conservative causes while in his early forties, and did so consistently for more than a decade before becoming a Republican governor at fifty-six. When he was elected President at Trump's age, sixty-nine, he had already been a leading conservative voice for a quarter century. Trump donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel five years ago, [. . .]
Given the unapologetic cynicism with which Trump explains his contributions as an unscrupulous business strategy, shouldn't his followers be just a tad concerned that this is his modus operandi, and that with all his recent tough talk on immigration (contradicting his own statements of three years ago) he may be playing a similar game with them, saying what he needs to say to get the GOP nomination, only to abandon them when working on an audience with different priorities? (See here, for example.)
To the criticism that he has a history of playing footsie with the Washington establishment, [. . .] those fans contend that "Donald can't be bought." Can't he? He describes himself as the kind of businessman who sells his name and reputation -- not to mention his country -- to leftist thugs for the sake of a little friendly consideration in his real estate deals (e.g., Chicago, 2002-2010: $7000 to Rod Blagojevich, $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel, $12,500 to the Cook County Democratic Party), and his followers say he can't be bought?
[. . .]
GOP insiders always undermine principled candidates with the argument that only a nominee from the pragmatic "center" who is prepared to "deal" with the progressives can win in the general election. For decades, conservatives have rejected this argument because it requires abandoning freedom on the false premise that in a progressive era, only a candidate who looks like a compromiser can succeed. Trump fans have now effectively reduced themselves to this milquetoast argument.
Doubling down on this weak position, they say, "This year stopping Hillary is the defining goal." Does anyone recall the last presidential candidate who stopped Hillary? If defeating Hillary (who, according to Trump in 2008, "would make a great president") becomes the defining goal, failure is almost assured, as the GOP typically fails when campaigning on a negative, unprincipled platform.
[. . .]
For years, constitutionalists have dreaded the prospect of being forced to vote for Republicans who play the big government game of cronyism and mutual back-scratching. Trump epitomizes that game, has long been a participant in its protocols,
[. . .]
Can America afford another four to eight years of rule by cynical bullies, unprincipled power-players manipulating an angry mob, [. . .]? Haven't seven years of such tyrannical tirades and rule by personal intimidation been enough?
[. . .]
In other words, if you don't support Donald Trump, "Everybody hates you! You're nasty, ugly, and pathological!"
[. . .]
But if Trump and his cultists continue to paralyze rational political discourse with mob tactics and ad hominem vitriol, a republic founded on principles of reason and moderation may finally burn itself to the ground in a fit of fanatical anger. Could the progressive radicals have planned this any better?
When Anger Trumps All
By Daren Jonescu