Sunday, February 3, 2019

Demagoguery and Everyman Outsiders

This entire administration could be seen as a sober, realistic sequel to “Mr. Smith goes to Washington“...if the character were elected president rather than senator(I drew this comparison a couple years ago from a slightly different perspective).

Americans have, for a very long time, been infatuated with the notion of the everyman outsider cowboying in to power and loosening things up and injecting some good strong common sense, even if the resident fuddyfuds despise him for it. This explains Trump’s puzzlingly enduring approval from conservatives who’ve marinated in Fox News for years; with all the anger and fear. This feels - to them and to us! - like just one of those guys…who this time miraculously got in.

Be aware that a solid chunk of the Left is similarly attracted to populist demagoguery, and would enjoy seeing someone “fresh” - who echoes the angry shit they and their friends say - go in there and tear apart all the decrepit stodginess and make the outer veneer of the office align better with the insides of their heads.

I keep hearing people on the left endlessly saying “this is not normal“. But nothing about this administration is intended to be normal. He certainly didn’t run on “normality”. And I wonder how much some of these people would value “normality” if a shameless firebrand of their own tribe ever got in.

I think there are a lot of people who, like me, favor structure, institutionalism, and normality regardless of which side has the upper hand. I hope we can maintain our equilibrium amid the careening waves of reciprocal extremism we’re about to experience, and reserve our contempt for extremism, period, rather than any particular shading of it.

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