Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The two big stories these days are the COVID-19 outbreak and the Democrat presidential primaries. The former is filled with the media’s apocalyptic hysteria about a disease that for now is less deadly than the yearly flu. The latter’s drama comes from the DNC’s and Democrat big donors’ success in neutralizing Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and all but ensuring that an addled mediocrity ends up being the Dems’ presidential candidate in November.
The Democrat primaries, however, are in large part a manifestation of the political virus that has infected the body politic for over three years, and that in the long run is more dangerous than the coronavirus: COVEFE-16, popularly known as Trump Derangement Syndrome. The coronavirus will eventually be contained, as previous viral outbreaks have been over the last few decades. TDS, on the other hand, may pave the way for the Dems’ control of the government come November. Such an outcome will mark a quantitative leap in the century-long dismantling of the Constitutional order that defends our political freedom.
The two diseases have converged in the NeverTrumpers’ attempts to blame the coronavirus on President Trump. A Politico headline sums it up: “Trump’s Mismanagement Helped Fuel Coronavirus Crisis.” A common sense response like barring travelers from China, ground zero of the outbreak, is called “xenophobia” and “racism.” Delays in getting test-kits available are laid at Trump’s feet, as though he directly manages their manufacture and distribution. Trump’s efforts to tamp down the panic are called callous indifference, though we all know if he’d been more urgent about the dangers, the media would have faulted him for stoking a panic.
As usual, all these criticisms never address the important caveat: Compared to what?
How about considering Barack Obama’s response to the 2009 swine flu outbreak? Journalist James Lileks has done so on his blog The Bleat. Obama declared the outbreak a national emergency only after four months, when the toll in the U.S. had reached 1000 dead (as of this writing, 32 have died in the U.S. of the coronavirus, the vast majority over 70 years old). More importantly, the media coverage of the swine flu––even though it was more deadly and half its victims, unlike the coronavirus, were healthy and young––was nowhere near the breathless hysteria or extent of the coverage today.
We know the explanation for the disparity. Barack Obama enjoyed eight years of the media’s “slobbering love affair,” as Bernie Goldberg called it, filled with uncritical, laudatory, and selective coverage from the mainstream media, whereas Trump has been incessantly attacked with slanted or outright mendacious stories based on tendentious analysis and anonymous leaks. Examples abound. Barack Obama is caught on a hot mic promising Putin’s flunkey “flexibility” on missile-defense after his reelection, and the media yawn. Trump urges the president of Ukraine to investigate his country’s meddling in the 2016 election and, its notorious corruption that involves a U.S. Vice President’s son, and he’s impeached on the made-up charge of “abusing his authority.” This is just one example from a lengthy catalogue of journalistic morale idiocy and professional malfeasance.
The cause, of course, is TDS. The bipartisan technocratic, globalist elite, a product of progressivism’s success in undermining the Constitution, has been infuriated by Trump’s penchant for breaking every rule of the techno-political guild. Their gatekeeping and paradigm-protecting notions of “decorum” and “democratic norms” were shattered, their serial failures both at home and abroad exposed, and their illiberal, politically correct manners mocked and ridiculed. But worse than those offenses was Trump’s success in unleashing the economy from Obama’s shackles, and taking the kick-me sign our foreign-policy mavens had hung on America’s back for decades. Particularly galling to them was Trump’s abandonment of the appeasing and dangerous Iran nuclear deal, and the economically suicidal and useless Paris Climate Accords. These two moves starkly exposed the folly of the “rules-based international order” that the globalist elites used to camouflage and justify their failures.
So no surprise that the progressives and their Republican NeverTrump collaborators have been seeking to undermine and terminate Trump’s presidency from its beginning. With supreme hypocrisy the Dems, who pioneered the “politics of personal destruction” starting with Nixon’s presidency, whine about his vulgar and insulting tweets. And NeverTrump Republicans go along, invoking lofty standards of “decorum” that they serially violate with their obsession over Trump’s blunt personality and lack of verbal sophistication and “nuance,” more often than not a device for disguising a failure of conviction and nerve.
Finally, the TDS virus if unchecked in November will further the destruction of the Constitutional order. The Founders created a limited central government whose primary aims were the protection of political freedom and the diversity of America’s peoples and states against the excess of majority or minority rule. The progressives’ vision is quite different: the concentration and expansion of federal power through government agencies and bureaus staffed with “experts” beyond accountability to the people. They sought to redefine the American peoples and their regional and cultural diversity into an abstract, homogeneous mass with uniform interests better served by a powerful central government.
For over a century we have been transforming into just that intrusive and redistributionist federal Leviathan, one nourished by politicians from both parties. Donald Trump, though he has been loath to attack the mechanism of redistribution through wealth transfers, has dismantled some of its infrastructure, most importantly the overweening, bloated federal agencies and their myriad regulations that erode the autonomy and freedom of individuals, civil society, and the states. He has discredited and humiliated the political correctness that the “managerial elite,” as James Burnham called it, has relied on to demonize and censor dissent, restoring the diversity of opinion and thought upon which our political freedom relies. His outsider status and blunt manner, shared with millions of Americans who do not live in the Acela Corridor and bicoastal technocratic cocoons, has discredited the elites’ pretension to superiority if only by inciting their hysterical, mendacious, and excessive attacks on him.
So no wonder the bipartisan NeverTrumpers are desperate, so much so that they have embraced socialist policies that are destructive to the public fisc and personal freedom, and have settled on two candidates that perhaps are the worst presidential aspirants at least since World War II. One is a cranky village explainer whose ignorance and rationalization of simple math and socialism’s blood-stained record are literally sophomoric; the other a corrupt career pol of limited achievement and intelligence now obviously worsened by cognitive dysfunctions.
By any sane calculation, neither of these incompetent buffoons should become president. But we don’t live in sane times. Our country’s major institutions in media, education, politics, and popular culture are dominated by bad ideas and utopian policies an illiterate peasant in 1800 would know are dangerous fantasies. Unforeseen events like the coronavirus, or an extended economic downturn could cause disruptions that make such bad ideas attractive come November.
The coronavirus should peak by May, and the news-cycle will turn to the next shiny object. But the NeverTrump virus is a political bubonic plague that if unchecked will bring a halt to the last four years of resistance against the technocratic “soft” tyranny. That virus is the one that should concern us, for it is vastly more dangerous and lethal.
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