While it may have significant popular support, much of the anti-Trump “Resistance” suffers from a severe weakness of message. Part of the problem is with who the Resistance’s leading messengers are: discredited neoconservative poltroons like former president George W. Bush, unwatchable alleged celebrities like Chelsea Handler, and establishment Republicans who routinely slash and burn the middle class like Senator Jeff Flake. Furthermore, what exactly is the Resistance’s overriding message? Invariably their sermonizing revolves around vague bromides about “tolerance,” diversity, unrestricted free trade, and multilateralism. They routinely push a supposed former status quo that was in fact anything but a status quo. The leaders of the Resistance have in their arsenal nothing but buzzwords and a desire to feel self-satisfied and turn back to imagined pre-Trump normality. A president like Donald Trump is only possible in a country with opposition voices of such subterranean caliber.
Remember when Trump steamrolled a crowded field of Republicans in one of the greatest electoral upsets in American history? Surely many of us also recall the troupes of smug celebrities and Bushes and Obamas who lined up to take potshots at Trump over his unacceptably cruel utterances that upset their noble moral sensibilities? How did that work out for them? They lost. The more that opposition to Trump in office takes the same form as opposition to him on the campaign trail, the more hypocritical and counterproductive it becomes. Further, the resistance to Trump’s policies is coming just at the moment when principled opposition most needs to up its game and help turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock. It’s social conservatives who are also opposed to war and exploitation of the working class who have the best moral bona fides to effectively oppose Trump, which is why morally phrased attacks on Trump from the corporate and socially liberal wings of the left, as well as the free market and interventionist conservative establishment, have failed and will continue to fail. Any real alternative is going to have to come from regular folks with hearts and morals who aren’t stained by decades of failure and hypocrisy.
A majority of Democrats now have favorable views of George W. Bush, and that’s no coincidence. Like the supposedly reasonable anti-Trump voices on their side, Bush pops up like a dutiful marionette to condemn white supremacy and “nativism,” and to reminisce about the good old days when he was in charge. Bush also lectures about how Russia is ruining everything by meddling in elections and destabilizing the world. But how convincing is it really to hear about multilateralism and respect for human rights from Bush, who launched an unnecessary war on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left thousands of American servicemen and women dead and wounded? How convincing is it when former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who famously remarked that an estimated half a million Iraqis dead from our 1990s sanctions was “worth it,” haughtily claims that she’s “offended” by Trump’s travel ban? “Offended”—is that so, Madame Secretary? I have a feeling millions of Muslims in the Middle East may have also been “offended” when people like you helped inflame their region and turned it into an endless back-and-forth firestorm of conflict between U.S.-backed dictators and brutal jihadists, with everyone else caught in between.
Maybe instead of being offended that not everyone can come to America, people like Albright, Kerry, and Bush shouldn’t have contributed to the conditions that wrecked those people’s homes in the first place? Maybe the U.S. government should think more closely about providing military aid to 73 percent of the world’s dictatorships? Sorry, do excuse the crazy talk. Clearly all the ruthless maneuvering by the U.S. and NATO is just being done out of a selfless desire to spread democratic values by raining down LGBT-friendly munitions on beleaguered populations worldwide. Another congressman just gave a speech about brave democratic principles so we can all relax.
Generally, U.S. leaders like to team up with dictators before turning on them when they become inconvenient or start to upset full-spectrum dominance. Nobody have should been surprised to see John Kerry fraternizing in a friendly manner with Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad and then moralistically threatening him with war several years later, or Donald Rumsfeld grinning with Saddam Hussein as they cooperated militarily before Rumsfeld did an about-face on the naïve dictator based on false premises after 9/11. Here’s former president Barack Obama shaking Moammar Gaddafi’s hand in 2009. I wonder what became of Mr. Gaddafi?
It’s beyond parody to hear someone like Bush sternly opine that there’s “pretty clear evidence” Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Even if that were deeply significant in the way some argue, Bush should be the last person anyone is hearing from about it. It’s all good, though: remember when Bush laughed about how there hadn’t been weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2004? It’s all just a joke; don’t you get it? (Maybe Saddam Hussein had already used all the chemical weapons the U.S. helped him get during the 1980s on Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, which killed over one million people by the time the coalition of the willing came knocking in 2003). That’s the kind of thing people like Bush like to indirectly joke about in the company of self-satisfied press ghouls at celebratory dinners. However, when the mean man Mr. Trump pals around with Russian baddie Vladimir Putin, mistreats women, or spews out unkind rhetoric about “shitholes,” it’s far from a joke: it’s time to get out your two-eared pink hat and hit the streets chanting in righteous outrage.
To be fair, Trump is worthy of opposition. An ignorant, reactive egotist who needs to have his unfounded suppositions and inaccuracies constantly validated by a sycophantic staff of people who’d be rejected even for a reality show version of the White House, he really is an unstable excuse for a leader and an inveterate misogynist and all the other things. Trump isn’t exactly Bible Belt material despite his stamp of approval from Jerry Falwell Jr. and crew; in fact he hasn’t even succeeded in getting rid of the Johnson Amendment and allowing churches to get more involved in politics, one of his few concrete promises to Christian conservatives. He’s also a big red button of a disaster in almost every other area as commander-in-chief.
Trump’s first military action as president reportedly killed numerous innocent women and children (some unnamed U.S. officials claim some of the women were militants) as well as a Navy SEAL. Helicopter gunships strafed a Yemeni village for over an hour in what Trump called a “highly successful” operation against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A senior military official felt differently, saying that “almost everything went wrong.” The raid even killed eight-year-old American girl Nawar al-Awlaki, daughter of previously killed extremist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, whose other innocent child, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also droned while eating outdoors at a restaurant in 2010 (with several friends and his 17-year-old cousin). The Obama administration dismissed Abdulrahman’s death at the time as no big deal.
The list goes on with the Trump administration, a hollow outfit of Goldman Sachs operatives and detached industry and financier billionaires helping out their hedge fund friends and throwing a small table scrap to the peasants every now and then. As deformed babies are born in Flint, Michigan, Ivanka grandstands about paid parental leave. Meanwhile, Trump and Co. work to expand the war in Afghanistan and Syria. It’s a sad state of affairs.
So who are the right voices to oppose the mango man-child and his cadre of doddering dullards? Not degenerate celebrities, dirty politicians of the past, or special interest groups that try to fit everyone into a narrow electoral box so mainline Democrats can pass their own version of corporate welfare and run wars with more sensitive rhetoric and politically correct messaging. Instead, the effective dissidents of the future will be people of various beliefs, but especially the pro-family and faith-driven, who are just as opposed to what came before Trump as they are to him. The future of a meaningful political alternative to the underlying liberalism, materialism, and me-first individualism on the left and right will revolve around traditionalists and pro-family conservative individuals who define their own destinies instead of letting themselves be engineered into destinies manufactured by multinational corporations and boardroom gremlins with diversity outreach strategies. It’s possible, for example, to be socially conservative, pro-worker, pro-environment, and anti-war. In fact, that is the norm in most countries that exist outside the false political paradigm pushed in America.
If enough suburbanite centrists who take a break from Dancing With The Stars are convinced that Trump is bad because George W. Bush and Madeleine Albright say so, it shows that these people have learned absolutely nothing from Trump or the process that led to him. These kind of resistors are the people nodding their heads emphatically as they read Eliot Cohen talk about why he and his friends can’t stomach the evil stench of Trump or Robert Kagan whine about fascism in The Washington Post. Here’s a warning to good people who may not have been following politics closely prior to Trump: don’t get taken in by these charlatans. Don’t listen to those who burned your town down as they pitch you the contract to rebuild it. You can oppose both the leaders of the “Resistance” and Trump. In fact, it is your moral duty to do so. This is the End of the End of History As We Know It, but there isn’t going to be an REM song or Will Smith punching an alien in the face to help everyone through it.
Here’s a thought for those finding themselves enthusiastic about the Resistance and horrified by Trump: maybe, just maybe, the water was already starting to boil before you cried out in pain and alarm.
Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Week, The Federalist, and others. He covered the fledgling U.S. alt-right at a 2014 conference in Hungary as well as the 2015 New Hampshire primary, and also made a documentary about his time living in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com.