Definitional constraints

It’s fascinating to see both Left and traditional Right trying, and mostly failing, to understand the rise of the #AltRight:

Why didn’t Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or some other would-be GOP darling, run away with conservative support? Again, backlash. A huge contingent of mainline conservatives don’t just hate liberals, Democrats, social programs, identity politics, and, most of all, the nagging insinuations and oppressions of political correct speech codes. They hate damn near everybody right now, especially politicians. Within that everybody, they also hate the GOP (which they erroneously call “the Establishment”), and for good reasons.

Their own party, the GOP, has slowly disenfranchized mainstream blue-collar conservatives (and middle-class white-collar ones too) politically and economically to the benefit of corporate elites. Their wages have stagnated; their jobs have evaporated; they work longer hours for less pay; their debt has increased; their opportunity has been stolen; and in return for it all, they’ve been given the roughshod heel of a rapidly progressing culture that holds them in contempt. That pinch hurts; and that contempt reciprocates; and these people are rightfully mad as hell.

Blame them for voting themselves into their misfortunes all you want (really, don’t – it just makes it worse), but since the early 1970s, the GOP elites have sung them the same misleading song: sail with us just a little farther to the right, and just a little farther now, and we’ll get to the promised land. Well, they went to the right, little by little, and now they’re lost, adrift on the far-right edge of the world. Worse, they’ve started to realize that there is no promised land over there, and the GOP elites and their big-money industry financiers have made off like bandits with the only lifeboats.

(Wherever the Overton Window currently lies, today’s American Right is pretty far outside the Right of it. The Window has, admittedly, drifted Left, which may reflect actual moral progress in a sober analysis – like one that notes that feudalism, monarchy, and slavery are all somewhere right of the Window’s current locale – but political correctness blocks much of the needed discussion on that point. Unwilling to move back within it and hating where it is now, conservatives see Trump bringing it back toward them and love him for it.)

Because the GOP has been cultivating average conservative votes while working against their interests (all the while carefully fomenting fear of outsiders and hatred of liberals, Democrats, and, to an alarming extent, minorities), Trump-supporting conservatives are stuck with a lot of hate and no good options. The Obama presidency, and the ways in which the GOP officially reacted to it, amplified this hate, and the de facto knowledge running back to at least 2012 (and maybe 2008) that Hillary Clinton would virtually certainly be the next Commander in Chief has only made it worse. They can’t vote for Hillary (#NeverHillary, “Hillary’s Worse”) on sheer principle. (Bernie would have fared as badly against them, frankly, if he ran on the Democratic ticket, especially openly as a “democratic socialist.”) They also couldn’t support the GOP that betrayed them and then, just as Obama’s presidency crept toward its end, presented only more of the same “cuckservative” candidates that lack the bravado to stamp out what they see as excesses ruining our society from the Left.

The political view from the Far Right Sea is a dismal one, then, largely bereft of hope and thoroughly haunted by carefully constructed specters and ghouls about immigrants, refugees, the Democrats, and especially Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (not to mention Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid). Knowing little more in truth about those people except that they are evil, the GOP of the last decade has kept conservatives rowing ever further right without any heed to the consequences. Just a little farther right now. We’ll shut down the government; then Obama will fall. That’s when we’ll see the promised land, you’ll see. What? You can’t see it? It’s not there (now)? Thanks, Obama. The result is that a considerable proportion of American conservatives, acting as a moral tribe, have in common nothing more powerfully than a well-groomed hatred of outsiders, whom they see as likely to destroy the fabric of America, and “liberal Democrats,” whom they rarely can tell apart from “socialist-communist-Marxists” and “tyrants.”

But how on Earth could they conclude that “liberal Democrats” are tyrants? Both words, “liberal” and “Democrat” mean the opposite of tyranny.

And “conservative” means the opposite of “doesn’t conserve anything” too. How on Earth could the Far Right possibly conclude that the behavior of liberal Democrats is not strictly constrained by what they call themselves?

It’s funny, but doesn’t the Left usually claim that the National Socialists were actually right-wing extremists despite calling themselves “socialists”? You’d think they would therefore be able to understand that Democrats are staunchly opposed to permitting the will of the people to interfere with their ideological agenda.

That being said, the author is correct to say that the more Donald Trump is called a racist, sexist, Islamophobic bigot, the more votes he will win.