First there was the woman at Hillary Clinton’s election night “victory party” who curled up in the fetal position and began crying after learning there was to be no victory. But that’s just one person, I thought.
Then, on the eve of his inauguration, New York Times columnist Charles Blow not only declared Donald Trump’s presidency illegitimate, he addressed the president elect in this way: “You will wear that scarlet “I” on your tan chest for as long as you sit in the White House.” Hmm, I guess that’s just like Hester Prynne’s scarlet “A”. Okay, I thought, that’s just one hyperbolic columnist and in one increasingly partisan newspaper – even if it is supposed to be “the paper of record.”
But then there was a full-page advertisement in the Times (imagine how much that must have cost), in which activists, celebrities and intellectuals, including Bill Ayers, Deborah Messing, Alice Walker, Cornell West and “thousands more” signed on to this message: NO! IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT A FACIST AMERICA! The ad blared these words in 36-point type. It followed with: STOP THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME BEFORE IT STARTS.
Normally, as you go through the stages of grief, you are supposed to “get over it.” But in this case grief seems to be feeding on grief, and it’s spiraling out of hand. At last count, one-third of the Democrats in the House of Representatives boycotted President Trump’s inauguration. Paul Krugman, writing in the Times, called the boycott “an act of patriotism.”
The anti-Trump mentality has been showing up in the strangest places. The names of First Family members have long been a staple of crossword puzzles. The New York Times puzzles, for example, have routinely used clues for which Obama, Sasha and Malia were the answers. (Constructors love answers with lots of vowels.) But the other day, crossword blogger Rex Parker railed at length over the Times use of Trump children’s names in this manner. The practice “normalizes” the new president, he wrote.
So, what’s going on? Is some sort of malady infecting the mental faculties of famous people and the media elite? Or, is the disease more widespread?
The latter it turns out. Facebook reports that liberals are 6 or 7 times more likely to “de-friend” conservatives than the other way around. A doctor writing at Slate says that he and some of his colleagues are seeing quite a few cases of “Trump anxiety,” including patients with suicidal thoughts. Now if you are in the country illegally, I could understand some increased anxiety. But the affected patients included gays, blacks, Jews, women and others who are full-fledged citizens.
Now for the record, throughout his presidential campaign Donald Trump made not one statement that could be construed as anti-black, anti-gay or anti-Semitic. How do I know that? Because if he did, the statements would have appeared on the front page of the New York Times and in just about every other newspaper in the country. Not only did he not display any of those prejudices, his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach opened to everybody -- in the first major challenge to what has probably been the most discriminatory resort city in the whole country.
He did make out-of-bounds statements about women and may have engaged in behavior that was caddish, even brutish, in the past. But remember who he was running against. According to the late Christopher Hitchens (whose honesty no one questioned), there are a number of women who have made credible claims (only one that is public) that Bill Clinton raped them. There is nothing Donald Trump is accused of doing or saying that even begins to match that. Nor in my opinion, does Trump’s behavior even begin to match Hillary Clinton’s role as supervisor of “bimbo control.”
So how can we explain a women’s march to protest the Trump inauguration? Or blacks who tell other blacks they are a “disgrace to their race” if they participate in the inauguration?
One thing seems likely. It has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Dartmouth professor Sean Westwood and Stanford University professor Shanto Iyengar have been researching these issues and they have concluded that in the modern world, political is personal. Peoples identities are connected to their political affiliations. Writing in the New York Times, Amanda Taub explains: “Today, political parties are no longer just the people who are supposed to govern the way you want. They are a team to support, and a tribe to feel a part of. And the public’s view of politics is becoming more and more zero-sum: It’s about helping their team win, and making sure the other team loses.”
If you think about the recent election, only one candidate ran on issues. And you probably won’t have to think very hard to remember what some of Trump’s issues were: trade, taxes, immigration, the way we treat veterans.
Can you say with any certainty what Hillary Clinton’s position is on international trade? How about what she would do with the corporate income tax? How would she reform immigration policy? What would she do differently with the VA?
I bet you don’t know. And even if you think you know, I bet that almost no one else you know knows – not even your spouse.
There is a reason for that. Hillary Clinton in particular and the Democratic party in general did not run in this last election on issues. They ran on identity politics. And when they lost, people who bought into their message felt their identity threatened.
More about this in a future editorial.