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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 23-01-2021 09:50

Life without Trump will not be easy

Trump was elected because he understood that many millions of North Americans were being left to rot by the credentialed technocratic “elites” who openly despise anyone who disagrees with them. These “deplorables” are not about to go away.

Joe Biden evidently believes in tough love. To get the healing process he thinks his country so desperately needs off to a good start, he spent his first hours in office ostentatiously dismantling the legacy left by that appalling white supremacist and enemy of democracy Donald Trump, an individual some senior Democrats say has much in common with the late Osama bin Laden because, like him, he “radicalsed” his base, those wretched “deplorables” whom, the increasingly influential congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insists, the new administration should set about “deprogramming.”  

Does that mean they should all be sent to re-education camps similar to those in Xinjiang, where the Chinese regime is relentlessly “deprogramming” hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims to cure them of their un-Chinese beliefs? Perhaps not, but even talking about brainwashing people and demanding that lawmakers “rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” has alarmed many who, while they thoroughly disapproved of Trump’s boorish behaviour and welcomed his departure, are aghast at the notion that the US government should wage an all-out ideological war against the millions who cling to what progressives think are outmoded opinions.  

Biden beat Trump in November largely because many people assumed he was an old-style moderate who could be relied on to prevent the “woke” wing of the Democrat movement from ramming through, on a national scale, a cultural revolution comparable to the highly successful one it has spearheaded in elite universities, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and much of the media establishment, with dissidents getting “cancelled” and, unless they are too rich to care about such things, thereby deprived of their ability to earn a living.

No doubt the Biden of several years ago would have gone his own way without paying much attention to the more enthusiastic preachers of the new “woke” gospel in which identity politics, “critical race theory” with those of mainly European extraction who refuse to repent cast as eternal villains, and gender fluidity play a major part, but that Biden is no longer with us.

While campaigning from his basement in Delaware, the man who would soon become the president of the world’s most powerful country did a good job in shrugging off worries about his age, his health and his apparently waning “cognitive ability.” He was helped by much of the media which showed no interest in matters liable to discredit him such as his creepy habit of smelling women’s hair, his penchant for making outlandish statements, as when he called a young lady who asked a question about his performance in the Iowa caucus “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” or the business dealings in China and the Ukraine of his son, Hunter Biden, but now that he is safely in office and Trump in self-imposed exile down in Florida, questions few wanted to ask could be about to receive an answer.

Of course, Biden could surprise sceptics by showing the world he is fully capable of overcoming the many challenges he will have to face, but to judge from his initial appointments he is far more interested in ethnic and sexual diversity than in old-fashioned priorities such as efficiency, presumably because he wants to get on as well as possible with the individuals who now surround him.

Like Alberto Fernández, who owed his electoral victory to the belief that he would be able to keep the Kirchnerite ultras at bay and run a centrist government, Biden won the Democrat nomination and then the presidency because it was assumed he was a sensible, middle-of-the road fellow and as such far less dangerous than the self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders and his many youthful admirers. It did not take long for it to become clear that Alberto would be unable to stand up to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. If the first hours of Biden’s presidency are anything to go by, he has already made the outlook of the US equivalent of La Cámpora his own.

For over four years, Trump has dominated US politics. Hardly a day has gone by without him saying or doing something his critics, and on occasion even his fans, find utterly outrageous. Though what became known as the “Trump derangement syndrome” is still with us and Democrats will do their best to prolong its life, sooner or later going on and on about the brash real-estate dealer and reality show star’s sheer horribleness will lose its appeal. That could be a big problem not only for The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, whose business models are based on giving readers and viewers yet more reasons to despise Trump and see him as Vladimir Putin’s stooge, but also for the Democratic Party and therefore Biden’s government. With the help of the Covid pandemic, being against Trump and all his nefarious works brought them to where they are, but in the years ahead they will need rather more than an easily identifiable common enemy they can devote themselves to berating.

The temptation to create one by attributing the rise, and continued popularity in wide circles, of Trump to the supposedly ingrained racial prejudice of the majority of whites they say have not been properly educated, is certainly strong, but it is not very realistic. Most of Trump’s supporters – who include many blacks and “Hispanics” – were drawn to him by his willingness to confront head-on the often wealthy purveyors of progressive pieties who made no attempt to hide the contempt they feel for their less well-off compatriots. These are unlikely to take kindly to any attempt to make them feel ashamed of their country’s allegedly disgraceful past and beg forgiveness for their own contribution to its unhappy present.  

The mob that broke into the Capitol Building a couple of weeks ago provided the Democrats with an opportunity to treat not just the perpetrators but most other backers of Trump as “fascists” determined to turn the United States into a version of Hitler’s Third Reich. Some have even said as much. If they continue to take their own statements literally and try to clamp down hard on those who oppose them, they could well set off a genuine rebellion.

Trump was elected in 2017 because he understood that many millions of North Americans were being left to rot by the credentialed technocratic “elites” who openly despise anyone who disagrees with them. These “deplorables” are not about to go away. If the Democrat militants who are currently on a roll insist on needling them, some at least will take their cue from the rioters who, a few months ago, burnt down public buildings, ransacked shops and caused the death of many people, without members of what would soon be the party in power saying anything to discourage them.

 

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James Neilson

James Neilson

Former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald (1979-1986).

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