I am a man obsessed, and wouldn’t be if I didn’t have something to blame in myself — a phenomenon of the human psyche which helps explain why so many women in the pro-life movement once had abortions. It becomes the King Charles’s Head of all their opposition to the manners and mores of the age; not always to the advantage of the movement. But nothing can be bigger as they look around. In my case, the current obsession is instead about Donald Trump; who afflicts my imagination as a Trump Tower, installed at the edge of my mediaeval village. I was a craven Pragmatist once, and look at what it got me.
Read this (here), and you probably need not read my Idlepost today. It was ping’d to me by Kouba the Czech, another old reader of the National Review. The author says that, as a “social conservative” who found himself working in the Tea Party movement, he has finally and definitively gagged. The piece is about the concept of “allies.”
Those who have indulged in politics — and I gag easily so haven’t indulged much — will know about this concept. You put up with behaviour in your allies that you would condemn in anyone else. “For the good of the cause,” you try to make excuses. Or else you become so hardened, that you do not bother to excuse.
Most people fear ostracism — I rather like it myself, but then I am weird. They cannot bear to be “called out” for breaking ranks. So they don’t, no matter the provocation. Wait until you have lost the election to turn on your leaders with that reptile lash. Meanwhile, fair or foul to get them elected.
But this is on the personal level; on the political, the genuine reactionaries of the Right — the so-called “social conservatives” — have for half a century agreed to make common cause with both the economic libertines, and with the sleazier sort who borrow their rhetoric until the primaries are over.
Against sleaze, there is no remedy but Dettol. Against the “fiscal conservatives but social liberals” there is nothing but the memory that an ally is not a friend. He will drop you the moment he no longer needs you; but if you are wise you will drop him first.
“We” — I refer to the kind of people who read Idleposts and things — should have known better. Which is to say, I should have known better myself, whenever in past years I silently agreed to bite my tongue, for the sake of some party cause.
For as Blake said, in an aphorism I have seized for my motto collection: “Always be willing to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.”
Trump (did I mention him already?) is now the uncontested party standard-bearer in the USA — that “proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control,” as Ross Douthat describes him. But let me tell you what I think.
There is no point in discussing his policies or his promises, for those “evolve” quickly. (Populism has never been constrained by principles.) Even the capitalist types will find he is an invoice. I look at a man of dramatic vulgarity, whose life has been invested in “triumphs of the will” — in crass enterprises on which he puts his own face by way of branding. A man who makes megalos look modest. He brings out the worst in his supporters, as I have been reading in email: a brownshirt nastiness towards any dissenter. Were I some Republican in the polity to the south, I would sit on my hands through the next election.
Or perhaps I would be inspired, as a fool, to help in the creation of some Third Party, with the word “Christian” somewhere in its name, and no prospect better than electing a few congressmen from the backwoods here and there — who might mouth off against most government legislation, and toss spanners into all the political machines, while getting themselves thoroughly hated — not only in DC town. It would be the party of “pox on both your houses.” For “let us be clear,” as Obama Soebarkah (who is clear about nothing) likes to say. An unChristian America is not an America worth preserving; it has nothing left but geography.
They tried that in Europe, after the last World War: all those “Christian Democrats,” resolved to restore the old Europe, and decency in public life, who still survive in name only. Power turned them all into “professional politicians.”