Home / General / Special WAPO section: What did the aspiring autocrat who did his best to destroy liberal democracy in America get right?

Special WAPO section: What did the aspiring autocrat who did his best to destroy liberal democracy in America get right?

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Not the Onion:

Yes, elite media coddling of conservatives is certainly part of what’s going on here, but other big factors include genuine longing by that same media for the ratings bonanza that Trump represented, and, most critically in my view, a really profound level of denial regarding who Trump is and what he represents that apparently remains almost literally indestructible in the face of any and all evidence.

LGM commenter Chris put this well yesterday:

When the incumbent executive doesn’t acknowledge the outcome of an election, that’s basically itself a coup attempt. It was obvious the whole time Trump was flailing about to find people to back his attempt to hold on to power—that is, obvious for anyone not intoxicated with the opiates of American exceptionalism and politics-as-entertainment. Oh, that Trump, you know how he’s always spouting off! The only things that stopped him from a more organized effort backed by the power of the state were him being a confrontation-adverse bully, and people in top positions not being willing to go along, which is why he had to fall back on the last resort of whipping up a mob to attack Congress. If everyone involved isn’t punished severely, the blueprint is there for whatever Republican comes next.

Also, as this shows, it’s worth reflecting on how the Internet has been a major accelerant in the radicalization of the Republican Party. Bush, Reagan, Nixon couldn’t receive the in-depth, unfiltered views of voters. They got information from official sources, establishment media, and fellow party elites, and elite opinion was something the elites collaboratively fashioned. But now anyone who wants to can short-circuit that and expose themselves to whatever insanity they want, and can spread it to others and communicate back to the party base; it becomes (as others have mentioned) a feedback loop of radicalization.

Donald Trump tried to overthrow the government of the United States, and failed because he’s stupid, lazy, and cowardly, but also because enough elite Republican actors at the state and to a lesser extent federal level weren’t willing to go along. Now, seven months later, all dissenters have been purged from the Party, and there’s absolutely no doubt that next time — and there will be a next time, probably three and half years from now — the same sort of attempt will be backed by the full power of the Republican establishment and its countless media toadies.

Meanwhile, the Washingto Post, which has been one of the best if not the best elite media institutions during the Trump crisis, is still publishing Weimar Republic-level stuff like this.

As the poet once put it:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs

Maybe you don’t quite understand the nature of the situation.

This is all part of an ongoing failure to grasp that Trump and Trumpism represent a qualitative shift in American politics, and in the nature of the Republican party. Yes it’s true that the GOP had been trending toward something like what it has now become for a very long time, and that in many ways Trumpism was more a fulfillment than a revolution. But trending toward becoming an autocratic ethno-nationalist party is actually a quite different thing from being an autocratic ethno-nationalist party.

There’s something happening here, and what it is is completely clear — except to our elites, who remain insulated enough from it all, at least for the moment, to remain sealed within their bubbles of complacent denial.

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