Most people, in all times and places, are clever and intelligent. It’s simply false to contend that only a few people are sharp; society does – and only can – function through the capable participation of many.
At times in our own history, however, large numbers of our people have slipped into malevolence, in opposition to the better principles of our own culture. We’ve faced (and thankfully overcome) Tories, Know Nothings, Confederates, Copperheads, Klan, and Bund. The members of these dark movements were not of lesser intelligence than others; they were of lesser character. They were just as human, but less humane.
Now there is before us another threat. They are many, although they are not, and never will be, a national majority. (They see no rebuke in this, as they seek a herrenvolk, a sham democracy supporting only their own demographic ilk.)
Adam Serwer describes well the dark motivation of this movement, concluding that, for them, The Cruelty Is the Point (“President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear”):
The Trump era is such a whirlwind of cruelty that it can be hard to keep track. This week alone, the news broke that the Trump administration was seeking to ethnically cleanse more than 193,000 American children of immigrants whose temporary protected status had been revoked by the administration, that the Department of Homeland Security had lied about creating a database of children that would make it possible to unite them with the families the Trump administration had arbitrarily destroyed, that the White House was considering a blanket ban on visas for Chinese students, and that it would deny visas to the same-sex partners of foreign officials. At a rally in Mississippi, a crowd of Trump supporters cheered as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted.
The laughter undergirds the daily spectacle of insincerity, as the president and his aides pledge fealty to bedrock democratic principles they have no intention of respecting. The president who demanded the execution of five black and Latino teenagers for a crime they didn’t commit decrying “false accusations,” when his Supreme Court nominee stands accused; his supporters who fancy themselves champions of free speech meet references to Hillary Clinton or a woman whose only crime was coming forward to offer her own story of abuse with screams of “Lock her up!” The political movement that elected a president who wanted to ban immigration by adherents of an entire religion, who encourages police to brutalize suspects, and who has destroyed thousands of immigrant families for violations of the law less serious than those of which he and his coterie stand accused, now laments the state of due process.
This isn’t incoherent. It reflects a clear principle: Only the president and his allies, his supporters, and their anointed are entitled to the rights and protections of the law, and if necessary, immunity from it.
The millions in opposition and resistance, including those of us who are Never Trump, can expect a long and difficult struggle against this horde.
Of those of us from Never Trump, a group chiefly comprised from among true conservatives or libertarians, there is a particular fortitude against the mob, the mass, the horde: we have spent our lives contending for individual rights against majoritarian tyranny. We are grateful for all the talented many, of other ideologies, who form the largest part of resistance, but by education and disposition we who are truly libertarian are well-suited to standing against a horde. (Whatever deficiencies we may have, at least this we do well.)
In what we lawfully say, in what we lawfully do, in how we describe ourselves, and in the exercise of that opposition by time, place, and manner, we will go on (with our many friends) as a matter of necessity.