Trump and His Antagonists

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Republicans who have experienced Citizen Kane may remember the scene in which candidate Kane gives his big pre-election speech. It’s all about how much he hates the opposition political boss, Jim W. Gettys:

Here's one promise I'll make and Boss Jim Gettys knows I'll keep it. My first official act as Governor of this state will be to appoint a special District Attorney to arrange for the indictment, prosecution and conviction of Boss Jim W. Gettys!

Kane’s wife and small son are watching from the balcony. The son asks, “Mother, is Pop governor yet?” “Not yet, Junior,” she replies. And that very night, she destroys Kane’s political career. You can take Kane’s promise as tragic overreach or comic overreach, but it’s overreach of some kind, and it earns the ordinary reward of overreach, which is failure.

Trump is open to severe criticism in many respects, but the “evidence” that launched this investigation was always laughable.

That is what occurred with the attempt to indict, prosecute, and convict Boss Donald J. Trump, and Republicans (at least those of the non-RINO type) have every reason to celebrate. But this isn’t just a story about a Republican president who is now better “positioned” for the next election. It’s a story about the power of the modern liberal state.

Obama-era officials of the FBI and the Justice Department joined with RINOs such as John McCain and with employees of the Hillary Clinton campaign to accuse Trump of subverting the American electoral process. With remarkably few exceptions, Democratic lawmakers, journalists, and academics expressed a fanatical belief in Trump’s guilt. An investigation was demanded, with the obvious purpose of having Trump thrown out of office and, if possible, sent to jail. The investigation was undertaken, and staffed with Democrats and “pit bulls.” During it, people who were alleged to have committed crimes unrelated to the investigators’ charge were apprehended with police state tactics and prosecuted in an inquisitorial fashion. For almost two years, Trump’s dealings were zealously explored, with the apparent goal of discovering something, anything, on which a charge could be based. Nothing was found.

This outcome should not be surprising to reasonable people of any party. Trump is open to severe criticism in many respects, but the “evidence” that launched the investigation was always laughable. The accusations in the Salem witch trials were a good deal more persuasive. Yet for two years, respected lawyers and journalists, leading members of “the intelligence community,” and the most powerful officials of the Democratic Party insisted that Trump was certainly and obviously guilty. When the investigation turned up nothing, most of them immediately began inventing new ways of investigating and convicting him, making no secret of their intention to get something on him.

Gettys’ riposte to Kane summarizes the affair to date: “You’re makin’ a bigger fool of yourself than I thought you would. . . . Anybody else, I'd say what's gonna happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you're gonna need more than one lesson. And you're gonna get more than one lesson.” The presence of opponents who keep making fools of themselves should gladden the Republicans’ hearts, and it does. The problem is . . . well, I’ll speak for myself. I don’t want to live in an America in which even the president can be subjected to relentless judicial and legislative persecution, replete with accusations of “treason,” a charge that carries the death penalty. I take this personally. I don’t want it to happen to me. It makes me sick to see that it’s not just about Trump; it’s part of a deadly pattern.

With remarkably few exceptions, Democratic lawmakers, journalists, and academics expressed a fanatical belief in Trump’s guilt.

During the McCarthy era, people were harried for being “un-American.” Then there was something of a national repentance over insubstantial but fanatical accusations. A few years ago, it all started again, only worse. The “liberals” revived the term and have used it constantly ever since. Of course it is used of Trump. But it is also used of people who are, frankly, just like you and me.

If you are a libertarian, you spend a lot of your time entertaining or even pushing ideas that are un-American according to “liberal” or “progressive” activists and their endorsers in political office — ideas about guns, ideas about freedom of speech, ideas about equal treatment of races and genders, ideas about historical objectivity, ideas about welfare and social security, ideas even about the climate. If you reveal these views, you are unlikely to get a job as a teacher, or to be able to speak on a college campus without disruption or violence. Should you somehow become influential, you have a good chance of being harassed by mobs or boycotts. Whether you are influential or not, you have a good chance of being banned from social media. If you are a student in most parts of the country, you will have next to no chance of learning the views in question, except as they are scorned and ridiculed by teachers or professors. If you are merely an American citizen wearing a red hat, you face the significant possibility of violence if you enter a “liberal” neighborhood. If you are a person trying to run a business, or just trying to get to work in a neighborhood targeted by environmentalists, you find your life increasingly restricted — though not as restricted as the life of an inner-city mother trying to raise her kids under the increasingly heavy weight of the “progressive” state, killing jobs, killing her children’s education, killing her ability to defend her children and herself from the institutionalized violence of the War on Drugs.

Some Republicans are too preoccupied with worship of cops and soldiers, or with their own opportunities to engage in crony capitalism, to care about any of this. Others are coming to accept it as a fact of life. But it is not a fact of life, and it is no minor development. It is an attempt to change America into a place where the “progressive” state has a monopoly of wealth, power, and influence. Trump is not the issue. This is the issue.




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Comments

Technomad

What a lot of people forget and forget about McCarthy was that at the time he was active, the "Red Decade" was just barely in the past. From about 1930 to 1945, the Communist Party USA had made huge inroads into the entertainment industry and had placed a lot of its activists in the government, many of them in sensitive positions. Given that our greatest opponent abroad at that time was the USSR, getting the Reds out of the government strikes me as an excellent idea.

Fred Mora

Stephen,

I know it's hard to escape references to McCarthy in today's predominantly liberal culture. However, the most intrusive political busybody was the House Un-American Activities Committee, who relentlessly hunted "suspect" personalities for possible Communist involvement.

But somehow, the media have pushed the HUAC down into the memory hole. Why is that? A look at the committee member list (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_House_Un-American_Activities_Committee) will show that among its 10 or so members, the Democrats were always a majority. So of course, our enlightened, progressive media abstain from criticizing them. "No enemy on the Left", said Hillary.

Additionally, the HUAC was remarkably inefficient. It was founded in 1938, at a time when Stalin had already placed several agents of influence straight inside the White House, among other places. Soviet espionage and manipulations were omnipresent during WWII and until the fall of the USSR. Read about the Venona project for a small sample. The bumbling HUAC was very useful in that it gave House Democrats a varnish of patriotism, while never truly interfering with Soviet operations.

So now we can understand why the mainstream media carefully avoid any negative reference to the HUAC. A bunch of useful idiots deluding the country into thinking Congress was acting on Soviet influence should be enshrined, not vilified. Besides, it would cast an unfavorable light on today's liberals, who, contrary to the Democrats of old, swoon at Bolshevik mass murderers and their accomplices.

Stephen Cox

Thanks, Fred! It's always good to read what you write.

On this subject, my opinion is somewhat different from yours. I think that McCarthy and HUAC are bundled together in the popular and liberal imagination, under the general term "McCarthy," despite the fact that they were quite different. The House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HUAC) was founded, as I believe, mainly to combat fascist influence in America, of which there happened to be little, especially compared with that of the communists. The committee later became almost exclusively anti-communist. THEN Senator McCarthy came along, with his own brand of silliness.

I'm not saying that communist influence wasn't significant in America. Oh no! I have written about this extensively; see, for example: https://mises.org/library/review-ayn-rand-and-song-russia-communism-and-anti-communism-1940s-hollywood-robert-mayhew. But the term "unamerican" was, and is, regrettable, whether it's used by fascist hunters or communist hunters or MAGA hunters, or people who don't like some religious cult. It evokes, not intellectual or moral criticism, but the spirit of the hive.

I'm wandering! But you gave me the opportunity to say these things — thank you.

As always,

Stephen

S.H. Chambers

Stephen, Great piece. Progressives do not like any strong central government that they do not control. In other words, it isn't authoritarianism they dislike. They just want to hold the whip.

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