A great column by Glenn Reynolds in USA Today:
Enter Donald Trump. People who are unhappy with the things Trump is saying need to understand that he’s only getting so much traction because he’s filling a void. If the responsible people would talk about these issues, and take action, Trump wouldn’t take up so much space.Glenn is making two very important points here.
And there’s a lesson for our ruling class there: Calling Trump a fascist is a bit much (fascism, as Tom Wolfe once reported, is forever descending upon the United States, but somehow it always lands on Europe), but movements like fascism and communism get their start because the mechanisms of liberal democracy seem weak and ineffectual and dishonest. If you don’t want Trump — or, perhaps, some post-Trump figure who really is a fascist — to dominate things, you need to stop being weak and ineffectual and dishonest.
Right now, after years of Obama hope-and-change, a majority of Americans (56%) think Islam is incompatible with American values. That’s true even for 43% of Democrats.
In that sort of environment, where people feel unsafe and where the powers-that-be seem to be, well, weak and ineffectual and dishonest, the appeal of someone who doesn’t seem weak and ineffectual grows stronger.
You can see this in France, where the long-marginalized “far right” National Front is now winning elections all over. It’s doing so well because the French people, after not one but two Islamist mass shootings in Paris, feel that their government is not serious about protecting them, and their way of life, from their enemies.
Likewise, it’s a bit hard to take people seriously about Trump’s threat to civil liberties when President Obama was just endorsing an unconstitutional gun ban, when his attorney general was threatening to prosecute people for anti-Muslim speech (a threat later walked back, thankfully) and when universities and political leaders around the country are making clear their belief that free speech is obsolete.
- If the ruling parties break the laws and manipulate the democratic rules to keep out the law-abiding, democratic nationalists, they will soon find themselves facing the the lawless, anti-democratic, and violent ultranationalists. They are methodically cutting down the very trees of respect and authority that protect them from the people.
- The ruling Left has made it clear that they have zero respect for our free speech or our unalienable rights. That means we need not respect theirs.