Tracking Progressivism's Progress
If the expression déjà vu had any competitors, likely they would be found in 2017’s proliferation of diatribes exploding from the lips of Donald Trump’s opponents. In fact, “opponents” barely touches the stridency of the president’s antagonists; enemies and death-wishers more fully embrace descriptions of journalists, academics, and Hollywood types — America’s true one-percenters — whose words often color the air bluer than the industries that employ them and the states they call home. Although the country has witnessed name-calling since George Washington was at the helm, one needs only to sample political invective from the past century to understand how far progressives have, well, progressed.
Consider, for instance, Woodrow Wilson’s offerings to enrich the dictionary definition of “scathing.” His opponents were:
imbeciles, pinheads, dolts: Of all the blind and little provincial people, they are the littlest and most contemptible… They have not even got good working imitations of minds. They remind me of a man with a head that is not a head but is just a knot providentially put there to keep him from raveling out. But why the Lord should not have been willing to let them ravel out, I do not know, because they are of no use… They are going to have the most conspicuously contemptible names in history. The gibbets that they are going to be erected on by future historians will scrape the heavens, they will be so high… If I did not despise them, I would feel sorry for them.
Pretty strong stuff, and in 1919 one might surmise it hardly seemed logical that denunciations could get any worse. Except logic was another thing Wilson said he didn’t give a d—n about, and things did get worse as the progressive ethos permeated every institution in American society.
Which brings us up to now, 2017, a good time to take stock of progressivism’s progress, which the Media Research Center has recently catalogued. Joe Scarborough insists that insiders believe Trump is mentally unfit and suffering from early stage dementia. MSNBC acolytes label him as a madman, unhinged, not fully rational, and dangerously out of control. So far, largely Wilsonian, but it gets worse. Thus, CNN characterized Trump as a sociopath, malignant narcissist (how did it miss that with Obama?) who was vomited up by the electoral college system, constitutes a stain on our country and a danger to the world. Trump has done more damage than Osama bin Laden and ISIS combined; he is the Charles Manson of American politics, and by the way, only a white nationalist like Trump would condemn communism (nice to know where media sentiments lie, thank you). Naturally, these samplings do not include Keith Olbermann-types trying to obliterate Trump with F-bombs.
Nothing new here by today’s standards, but the important question is what to make of it. Several explanations come to mind. First, much foaming-at-the-mouth rage against Trump reflects infantilism of many commentators who never outgrew the “I’ll double dog dare you, stinkpot!” stage of intellectual development, especially among those in positions to avoid a contrary thought; their word toys changed, that’s all. Second, Freud’s concept of projection-transference, which has been part of public discourse for the past century, helps us better understand the fascist Left’s obsession with assigning characteristics to their opponents that define themselves. Calling Trump and Republicans fascist would be amusing if the politics and psychology behind the charge were not so serious, especially given progressivism’s totalitarian yearnings to control every aspect of American life — the very definition of fascism.
Now, President Trump utters many foolish things, but that isn’t the point; if it were, critics would have relished the inanities of Mr. Corpse-Man-in-Chief himself, Barack Obama, a glib mediocrity propelled by narcissism and media sycophancy into the presidency. But Obama was untouchable because he is “one of us,” so progressive media launched a “slobbering love affair” instead.
Third, this point suggests that facts don’t matter, which Roger L. Simon explained in I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. Moral narcissism embraces “ideas and attitudes, a narcissism of ‘I know best,’ of ‘I believe therefore I am.’” Simon states further, “It doesn’t matter that [your ideas] misfire completely, cause terror attacks, illness, death, riots in the inner city, or national bankruptcy. You will be applauded and approved of.”
Trump fits into this scheme in that narcissistic elites believed, to thundering self-applause, that in 2016 America’s rubes got it colossally wrong; how dare they elect someone who like Woodrow Wilson doesn’t give a d—n about what they think! Thus, narcissists conjured Russian collusion and threw that into the mix as well; never mind that Hillary Clinton’s self-serving tenure as secretary of state produced one tragedy and embarrassment after another, including a real Russian debacle with national security implications. No matter, remember this impenitent shrew is still “one of us.”
Unfortunately, a deeper tragedy awaits America when progressive narcissists resume power, which inevitably will occur. Joachim Fest, whose research into the Third Reich’s leadership leaves readers easily imagining him shaking his head in puzzlement, confessed that “The chronicler of this epoch stands almost helpless before the task of relating so much incapacity, so much mediocrity and insignificance of character, intelligibly to their extraordinary results.”
So far, “extraordinary results” in America have included progressives’ efforts to end free speech, supersede the Constitution, and micromanage the economy — this is the short list. More extreme measures to expunge the Trump interregnum likely will follow, because if there’s one lesson progressives have taught us, it is this: Hell hath no fury like an elite scorned by its inferiors.