Where did they come from, where will they go? I’m talking about the Brothers Krassenstein, the duo that sets Resistance hearts aglow.
Here’s the quick rundown: Ed and Brian Krassenstein are twin brother political activists who post second-by-second cringe-tastic takes about their righteous opposition to President Donald Trump and their love of mainstream Democratic politicians and policy. The pair are ever on a quixotic holy crusade against the two-headed hydra of Trump-Putin and are singularly focused on the apparently ever-impending impeachment of the president. The Krassensteins form a core for Resistance Twitter, a zone of maudlin anti-Trump takes and simmering rage-a-holic dumpster fires not wholly dissimilar in tone and intelligence to the outrage-a-day factory on the MAGA Right. They’re a pitch perfect representation of the political age the West is currently experiencing—a manic episode that no medication appears able to treat.
If the Krassensteins didn’t exist, MAGA Twitter would have to invent them: a pair of comically buff brothers who stand in as kind of wannabe superheroes for the Resistance. They’re the perfect blend of self-righteous indignation and near-subterranean-level stupid blended with tired partisan posturing that has proven so ineffective at opposing Trump and his administration. How many of their combined 1.5 million followers are bots we’ll never know, but their history of alleged rampant corruption and vast Ponzi schemes only makes the picture more complete. The brothers’ home was raided in September 2016 and prosecutors allege they engaged in fraudulent online activity, bilking people with gold scams and other classic hijinks (though admittedly they’ve never been arrested or charged with a crime). A civil asset forfeiture was also filed against the Krassensteins in the summer of 2017.
It only makes sense that two Florida golf shirt-wearing gold-scam bros would be icons of opposition to a president who is himself a semi-Floridian cliché slouching at his Mar-A-Lago Winter White House.
Anti-Trump figures like the Krassensteins, and their counterparts on the pro-Trump side like Diamond and Silk (Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson), remind us of a kinder, gentler, and faker time when people still had the luxury of pretending to believe (or actually believing?) that real life was like a Batman comic book with good guys and bad guys fighting each other in a cosmic drama. Diamond and Silk are two black woman video bloggers who rose to fame during the last election thanks to their strong and sassy support of Trump. Swayed by his announcement (“It was on and poppin’”) they went on to open rallies for Trump and appear frequently on right-wing cable news. They and the Krassensteins of the world are tap-dancing tag teams of tortuous Philistinism, just about the last thing today’s politics needs. They are funny, sure, but also quite sad. There’s a lot of talk about the Middle Ages being the “Dark Ages,” but one has to wonder what a Medieval monk might think scrolling through the social media feeds of modern American partisans.
Congressman Steve King, Republican of Iowa, brought Diamond along to the recent State of the Union Address, surely to troll accusations that he’s a white nationalist and racist—a par-for-the-course, cringeworthy move typical of establishment politicians. Liberals, meanwhile, can always retweet a Krassenstein zinger expressing outrage over Trump’s authoritarianism—without having to actually do anything else. The Krassensteins are the “I have black friends” of the Left in terms of pseudo-political action. I retweeted five “Krassenslams” a day on Twitter, said the unemployed grocery clerk in a post-Trump presidency after the dollar collapses. I did my part! Don’t look at me!
For the Brothers Krassenstein, Trump is both the blundering fool and the sinister mastermind of every given moment. The two are just the kind of sheltered individuals who think “much of the hate” in America today is because of Trump, a singularly ignorant and privileged viewpoint considering the amount of racism and inequality that prevailed prior to Trump.
As Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote about the far more interesting The Brothers Karamazov: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
The problem with partisanship is that it presents false paradigms, package deals, and reductionist choices that detach us from the truly vital questions of daily conduct, community, meta-politics, meaning, and transcendence. Entertainment politics of the kind peddled by Diamond and Silk and the Krassensteins dumb us down to sloganeering mobs. (Beto O’Rourke “talks about tearing down walls yet he lives in a house supported by walls,” explained Diamond, that modern-day Plato, on Fox and Friends). Such an out-of-touch mindset permeates our media culture, where all clicks are worth the same amount of advertising cents and cable news blares “he said she said” garbage unworthy of Pravda.
We’d all like to believe we’re basically the good guys and life is a giant football game. The problem is that eventually some of us grow up. And given the record low ratings for Congress, the burgeoning ranks of independent voters, and the low levels of trust in national news media, that some has become quite a large number. Not everyone—very few, in fact—fit into a category that celebrates celebrities who wear USSR jerseys with “TRUMP” on the back. Many still have an inner sense of cringe and just can’t stomach all this. They are—maybe, just maybe—concerned over the real problems with Trump’s presidency and the world, not elaborately concocted conspiracy theories and feel-good Hollywood boosterism.
Perhaps the Krassensteins’ duet of “Come Back Barack” will invoke the return of President Barack Obama and his benign army of loving rainbow drones. Why not? After all, we are living in very silly—and very serious—times.
Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to The Week, The Federalist, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com.