Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders

We’re early in the formation of a grand coalition in opposition to Trump, but however long the task, that effort should focus on the top: Trump, his inner circle, principal surrogates, and media defenders. All in all, that’s a small group on which one may concentrate.

There will be endless tactical debates about how to reach this voter or that one, to shrink Trump’s room to maneuver here or there. These discussions will be well-meaning (as they’ll be directed at Trump’s political ruin), but they shouldn’t be our principal focus.

A focus on Trump, key aides, and those who defend him in the media will accomplish three things: (1) assign responsibility where it is most deserved, (2) allow concentration of resources, and (3) speed a separation of Trump from ordinary people who are mere marks in his long confidence game.

Blaming those he’s conned is a sideshow. (There’s a necessary exception for the very few who are of the alt-right; they deserve, in-and-of-themselves, obloquy whenever one has the time.)

If Trump breaks politically, it will come from the case against him, and his present supporters will by turns break away (or in any event will have nothing left to support). In this way, his remaining supporters won’t be able to support him adequately in the end. He’ll stand or stumble despite them.

If Trump should meet his ruin (and he will), it will come from a relentless case against his mediocrity, lies, bigotry, character disorders, and authoritarianism. One needn’t ask why people support him now; it’s enough to show him again and again as unworthy of support.

Now, there are alliances to build, and a case to make, against Trump and those in his circle.

Distillation for a Resistance (First Edition)

We’re early in this new political era, with a long time ahead of us, and there’s a need to get a sense of one’s bearings. (The sound way to approach the new politics that has overcome America through the three-thousand-year traditional of liberty to be found in many places, the Online Library of Liberty being only one. But that’s the reading and study of a lifetime; there are essays contemporary to us that are both useful and readily distilled.)

These recent essays and posts consider, or a useful to understand, the incipient authoritarianism of America’s next administration. They are a good basis for a beginning, for a distillation of one’s thinking.

Some recent essays for consideration:

The Work of the Next Several Years 

Charles Blow writes of the work ahead for those many citizens who now find themselves compelled to defend their rights:

I fully understand that elevated outrage is hard to maintain. It’s exhausting.

But the alternative is surrender to national nihilism and the welcoming of woe.

The next four years could be epochal years in the history of this country. They could test the limits of presidential power and the public’s passivity.

I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!

Via Donald Trump, This Is Not Normal! – The New York Times.

One cannot say that this will be the work only of the next few years, knowing that often a few years stretch into several. There will be some moments of weariness; they will prove nothing as against the vigor that comes from being in the right.

Libertarianism is Enough: Goodbye to the LP

There’s a saying that some libertarians are born and others are made (as a result, tragically, of experiencing misconduct at the hands of the state). Libertarianism of both origins, especially those of us from movement (old) libertarian families, has been around long before the Libertarian Party – the LP – was formed in late 1971. Needless to say, there have been liberty-centric political views long before the term libertarian became popular.

Some of us have been both libertarians and members of the LP.  Now, however, after a contentious major-party election in which the LP did poorly, and more significantly after which libertarians now face an incoming administration that promises to increase vastly state intrusion into all parts of civil society, one may soundly contend that the Libertarian Party is of no use to libertarians.

I cannot imagine joining one of the two major parties, now or ever.  Still, there are votes to be cast, and we will have to choose from among the principal choices before us.  Those of us with views far older than the LP need no party membership to make our way in this country, or in traveling anywhere else in the world.

The recent obsessive pride with how long some people have been on this continent – so common among the radical populist right – is both wrong and futile: it’s wrong because the past confers not entitlement but obligation, and futile because most of this ilk are themselves relative newcomers by the measure of settlement on these shores.  They are fanatical, destructive, and obdurate.

When one recalls one’s past, it is in reply to those few nativists who believe that the past means only what they believe it means.   They are wrong, of course, but it is just as important to remember that they are not to be underestimated: they show delight and pleasure in the wrong.

Imagine, then, after an election in which the LP did poorly, and in which libertarians now face a long struggle against radical populist advocates of state power, the surprise in reading an invitation from Wes Benedict, executive director of the national LP, that

It is time to party…

You are invited to an end of the year

CELEBRATION!

2016 has been a record-breaking year for the Libertarian Party!

Wes Benedict may go to hell, and celebrate there in the outer darkness for so long as he wishes.

Others of us, libertarians by birth or circumstance, inheritors of the freedom philosophy, have work to do: an authoritarianism has ruined one great political party, crippled another, and seeks to direct the lives of hundreds of millions across a continent.  Some of our fellow citizens will yield from ignorance, others from misplaced hope, and a few from selfish opportunity.

We’ve work, not celebration, ahead.  Our views, and not a party that so carelessly and indolently represents them, is all we need.

Trump’s Surrogates Know Exactly What the Alt-Right Is

A few days ago, during a panel discussion, New York Times columnist Charles Blow and Trump surrogate former Congressman Jack Kingston clashed over the racism of Trump’s alt-right supporters.  Kingston claimed not to know what the term alt-right meant, and Blow scolded Kingston for Kingston’s professed ignorance.  (Their exchange begins after 6:30 on the video.)

As a rhetorical matter, Blow’s response (‘your deficiencies of understanding are not my problem’) works well; but one should be plain that Kingston, a longtime politician with close ties to the Trump team, surely knows what alt-right means.

Kingston’s either a liar or an ignoramus to profess ignorance of the alt-right.  Breitbart Media, of which incoming Trump strategist Steve Bannon is CEO, published a guide to the alt-right in March (see, An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right).

The so-called guide begins as an exoneration of the alt-right from charges of racism, but quickly elides into praise for white nationalists, racial supremacists, and their publications.   The whole purpose of the guide is to acquaint traditional Americans with an ideological future under the alt-right: “[a] specter is haunting the dinner parties, fundraisers and think-tanks of the Establishment: the specter of the “alternative right.” Young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies, they have become public enemy number one to beltway conservatives — more hated, even, than Democrats or loopy progressives.”

The authors (Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulis) aim to shock conventional sensibilities; they aim to awe a traditional audience.

One will excuse me if, upon considering all this, I don’t find myself shocked or awed, let alone haunted: the last century was filled with false theories of racial supremacy, and this new clique pulls from those ideas, while pulling any number of obscure theorists to power.  (In any event, the play on Marx’s famous lines from the Communist Manifesto doesn’t shock, either: a theorist whose entire work went to the dustbin presents no insurmountable threat.)

This is how Trump surrogates will begin: denying connections while simultaneously appointing a few alt-rightists (like Bannon) to high posts. In six months there’ll be no denying – there’ll be celebrating by the same ilk while they simultaneously welcome more into the government.