Posted by Curt on 1 November, 2020 at 7:26 pm. 6 comments already!


By Inez Feltscher Stepman

The journey of a convert.

In 2016, I voted for the deceased William F. Buckley, Jr. for president, on the assumption that if he won, he would demand a recount.

Even more than my disgust at his vulgarities about opponents and praise for authoritarian heads of state, I worried Donald Trump would govern as a New York liberal; a Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger type, if you will, whose only accomplishment would be to force the GOP to go along with left-wing policy.

On that score, and I suspect largely thanks to the hysterical and hateful response to his election from the left, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Other former NeverTrumpers have also seen the light, and now publicly pronounce his successful conservative record, from his nominees for the federal bench and war against critical race theory to his shift to a Jacksonian foreign policy, and even that Paul Ryan-est of victories, a tax cut.

Best of all, Trump stood athwart the left and shouted, with typical Queens flair, stop. And he did so, truth be told, more successfully than the sentiment’s original author and my 2016 presidential candidate.

Still, many who see the rising danger from the left remain dubious about the Orange Man. The most convenient argument they advance is that the excesses of the left are somehow Trump’s fault. For instance, the Harper’s free speech letter decried the increasingly totalitarian strategies of the elite wokes, but was careful, of course, to condemn Trump as the “real threat to democracy” and urged the left not to become more like the enemy in opposing him. Over at The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum imagines that without Trump in office, Biden can restore centrist liberalism as the driving force in the Democratic Party. Yasha Mounk, in the same outlet, writes that Donald Trump is the “best candidate for the illiberal left” and fantasizes about the wokes fading away as a part of the abruptly-ended Trump era. Andrew Sullivan and Sam Harris make the same argument in their pre-election podcast.

The single biggest intellectual error among those in the liberal left and NeverTrump right is that they continue to see Trump as the driving force behind the rising illiberalism. The reality is that Trump never would have been, or would need to be, elected if conservatives were not under attack from every major culture-shaping institution. From the public school and university systems, to Hollywood and the media, to Silicon Valley and Wall Street, each of these institutions has been captured by the hard left. This dominance ensures that the woke movement will only grow in power, adding newly-graduated revolutionaries, rank after rank, to the nation’s newsrooms, boardrooms, and academy.

Would the captains of the Fortune 500 have refused to pump Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility if a “normal Republican” were in office? Would Jack Dorsey have found another recipient for his $10 million than the overtly tyrannical Ibram X. Kendi, who argues that America needs an unelected board of hard-left academics to oversee every single law passed in the country, if Trump weren’t in office? Kendi’s magnum opus condemning the American system, Stamped from the Beginning, was published in early 2016 and much of it was likely written before Trump was even a candidate.

The authoritarian, speech-chilling, and overtly anti-American direction of the left has been decades in the making. As always with the culture wars, the left and the media (but I repeat myself) try to turn the Right into the aggressor, when in fact Trump represents the first time in the post-Cold War era that Republicans actually pushed back against the relentless cultural onslaught.

But let me speak to those who are still on the fence, offering the opposite advice of the Applebaums of the world. Let’s assume Donald Trump actually harbors dictatorial ambitions. Let’s assume that everything Applebaum and Mounk wrote about him is true. Still, he would represent the lesser of two evils, because every single institution in American life stands not just as a bulwark, but in direct opposition to Donald Trump. If his inner dictator shows itself, it’ll be ineffectual without any institutional support from other parts of American society.

The media is fanatically opposed to Trump to the extent that they refuse, almost universally, to cover a juicy Biden corruption story that in any other era would be headline news for months.

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