The meaning of Trumpism

The meaning of Trumpism is clear.  It’s a paradigm fight.  (How’s that for an unburied lede?)

Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans have been agog and aghast at the degree of enthusiasm generally displayed for Donald Trump by a huge percentage of Americans, and have been mystified by it.  How, they think, apart from mass psychosis, could it be possible that people they thought they knew could so strongly support someone so repulsive on so many levels?  Poor, rural,  working-class voters hailed as one of their own an arrogant New York multimillionaire and hard-edged businessman, a boss.  Evangelicals showed up en masse to strongly support their Satan.   Horses rode men and grass ate cows and cats were chased into holes by the mouse.

Trump’s unique fractal chaos is their desire.  A brutally honest policy platform of theirs might go something like this: “Nothing else can cut apart the Horsemen of our Apocalypse: the cozy political modus vivendi; the rotten previous political parties; the administrative ossification; the Deep State; the self-dealing by elites; the liberal ratchet and the Left’s gleichschaltung over higher education, the media and Hollywood.”  This description does not imply agreement or disagreement by me.  But into their lives, through the rent that 2016 tore in the American polity, the sweet air of ambition has swept.  It’s not only the ambition to decimate the foregoing supposed catalog of the elite paradigm, but the ambition for ambitions of their own.

If you think about it, that’s something the grassroots Right hasn’t had, hasn’t gotten to have, in a long, long time.  The last real ambition I remember them having is school prayer, which is a hope (of theirs, not mine) which hasn’t existed in a long time.  The Left would respond, “But what about tax cuts, regulation cuts and wars?”  Those are things which aren’t actually that conservative, from a grass-roots point of view.  They’re things favored by the Republican leadership, as influenced by Madison Avenue.  Anger at the Republican leadership for having allowed major donors to suck off most of the political capital is, I think, one of the reasons Trump won the nomination, and it took someone as heedless of political donations as Trump to defeat the influence of those donors over Republican policy.  You could argue abortion– but that’s a rollback of the Left’s achieved ambition, and mainly resurgent in the set of “this might actually happen” as a result of the same wave that shattered the previous Overton Window and brought Trump into the Oval Office.

Will they get their ambitions?  Hard to say.  Despite its power Trumpism is an amorphous cloud of discontent, not a precise policy tool.  (As a paradigm it’s no more coherent than he is.)  Some, probably.  Trumpism does have an effect of reversion to the mean, which means the Left will lose (and has lost) some ground.  Nothing, however, is controlling which issues it’ll lose on, or how much.  Entropy may be the Democrats’ friend, as the energy of Trumpist discontent spins off into the Void.

Union organizing for culture

Writer Daniela Greenberg’s job at Business Insider is the latest casualty of the preposterous circular firing squad that the Left’s supposed victory in the Culture Wars has foisted upon us, for the vicious crime of suggesting that any actor can play any role, and that therefore Scarlet Johansson needn’t step aside from a role playing a transgender person in favor of a transgender actor.

“Only TG people should play TG people!” they squawk.  “Only gay people should write fiction involving gay characters!  Only Chinese people can wear traditional Chinese dresses to their proms!”

In the cultural Left’s world, of course, your group identity is (assuming a lack of membership in their analogue to the Washington Generals, the officially designated Bad Guys) your moneymaker, and anything that might dilute its value must perforce be sheer theft.  What has made them think they get to expand this and apply it to everyone, though?

Part of the answer is that they lost the 2016 election, which not only made them feel angry and as if they had nothing to lose, but disgraced the leadership of both parties.  It was only the Democratic leadership, more practical and transactional than the base, that held them back before this (and at that, only partially).

The underlying impulse, however, due to the fact that large parts of the Left are essentially Calvinist.  They believe in economic and cultural predestination, and that no one gets ahead without the active assistance of others.  Have something?  “You didn’t build that!”  Want to do something or have something?  “Can’t win; don’t try– but we’ll take it using government and hand it to you in exchange for your votes.”  This is nothing new, of course, in economics.  Unions used to guard their territory with incredible jealousy, stifling innovation with rebranded greed, normalized rent-seeking and a zero-sum mentality, that culminated in the snarling bag of cats of labor in 1970s Britain.  Now it has spread to culture, in which ethnic groups are strongly encouraged to be grasping, narrowminded and suspicious of incursions on “their property”, as though Chinese culture were some sort of hydroelectric plant that you can’t permit any scabs or imperialist melting-pot advocates to enjoy or profit from until the Central Committee condescends to permit it.

Everyone is acting as though there’s no way of punishing the social-media shaming addicts.  They will be punished, though, sooner or later, the same way the Brexiteers won Brexit and Trump won the 2016 election– from sheer built-up pressure.  It had better happen soon, though, or the punishments of the Woke will go beyond shame or job loss.  Violence and vigilantism will rear their ugly heads.  None of us wants that, but so far, none of us wants to give up what we’d have to give up to avoid it– the non-Left out of having been pushed as far as we’ll go, and the Left, out of ambition born of righteousness.