Aug 23 • 33M

'Trump Derangement Syndrome' is a Luxury Few Can Afford

An existential crisis hits the ruling class

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The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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“I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.” - Abraham Lincoln

We live in a time where there are more people connected than ever before, and there are more people alive than ever before. Every day, each side of this Cold Civil War broadcasts nonstop agitprop against the other side. It’s Orwell’s two minutes of hate, except it’s 24/7.

The problem is that these are not two equal sides. 65% of Twitter users are Democrats. The platform increased by 21% after Trump was banned. The media listens to Twitter; the Democrats listen to the media. Together, they have built an insular feedback loop that is increasingly out of touch with most Americans outside of it.

Because so many people are connected, we’ve seen a steady stream of uprisings against the government in recent years, not just in the United States but worldwide.

Here in America, it began after the crash of 2008 with Occupy Wall Street. Then came the Tea Party. Then came the Capitol breaches in Wisconsin and Michigan. Then came Black Lives Matter. Then came the Democratic Primary protests against Hillary Clinton. Then came the largest protests in American history against a sitting president. Then came the Summer of 2020. Then came January 6th.

Only one of these uprisings was treated as a dangerous threat against the government. It wouldn’t be the first time an act of protest against a government handed absolute power to that government.

Reichstag fire, burning of the Reichstag (parliament) building in Berlin on the night of February 27, 1933, a key event in the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship and widely believed to have been contrived by the newly formed Nazi government itself to turn public opinion against its opponents and to assume emergency powers.

In the wake of January 6th, our government has gone to war against its own citizens, behaving as though they are the ones waging war. They seem to genuinely believe that the Trump movement is the second Confederacy and that they’re trying to overthrow the government to turn it into a White Nationalist empire that brings back slavery.

Liz Cheney compared this moment to the Civil War. They might want to dust off their history books and look at what happens when an insulated aristocracy fends off uprisings by the peasants. It doesn’t go so well.

They’ve called worried parents “domestic extremists.” They smeared anyone who showed up in DC on that day as “white supremacists.” They built a Green Zone-like fence around the Capitol and kept it there for months as an act of intimidation. Just a decade before, Democratic activists were pounding on the doors of their state Capitol in Wisconsin, shouting, “Whose house? Our house!”

Those who control our government, mainstream media, and the big tech companies see those who would voted for or support Trump as a clear and present danger to their power. They seem to believe they at the very top can go to war with the majority, and it’s somehow going to work out well for them. They seem unwilling to do the one thing they would need to do to stop Trump: offer the working class something better.

It’s odd to be living through something that has happened so many times before. Three little words keep otherwise reasonable people from all political spectrums from accurately reading this moment: Trump Derangement Syndrome.

TDS mainly affects the ruling class. They just can’t believe they swapped a classy, sophisticated Harvard Law graduate like Obama for a guy like Trump who is crass and offensive, has a toilet made out of gold, eats at McDonald’s, and says whatever he wants to say. Trump is the living embodiment of everything the progressive aristocracy hates about America — a rich white man who doesn't follow the rules.

What drives TDS is that Trump is mostly indestructible. He has no shame. After non-stop attacks by the media, two impeachments, the Mueller investigation, the Access Hollywood tape - who but Trump could have gotten COVID in his 70s, survived it without a vaccine, then went on to hold five rallies a day in the run-up to the 2020 election? No wonder they see him as an omnipotent force they have to rally the troops to defeat.

But that indestructibility makes him the hero of the working class our government has all but abandoned. Trump is their battering ram. He’s what Victor Davis Hanson called necessary “chemotherapy.” It gets the dirty job done because his support hasn’t diminished, even after he’s been kicked off Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. If anything, he’s become more popular.

Why? Because the Left has become crazier. Surely this would have dawned on one of them by now, but it hasn’t. Those who write brilliantly here on Substack to mount some kind of offense against the Neo-Marxist takeover of our government almost always stop at the Trump line. They just won’t cross it, like the baseball players in Field of Dreams. They know if they cross that line their careers are over.

They have even written pieces urging desperate Americans not to flee to Trump just because they hate the “woke.” As if the many out there struggling to get through the day are going to find their substacks, read them, and conclude - yeah, you’re right. I guess I’ll just suffer through the rest of my life because Orange Man Bad.

For many Americans, Trump is their last best hope to fight for the fundamental principles of this country: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to mention the basics - law and order, freedom of speech, and love of country. These Americans can’t afford Trump Derangement Syndrome. That is why Liz Cheney lost by 30 points in Wyoming.

Any politician who takes on the Left will do very well with the American public. The problem is, most won’t, not Liz Cheney or any of the Never Trump Republicans. And certainly, no Democrat.

Instead, to defeat Trump, they have become a kind of Doomsday Cult. Every single day it’s the end of the world. At least on Twitter, which fills up the mainstream media’s gas tank for an all-day joyride of apocalyptic fear porn.

No person with TDS can be trusted to truly assess the moment we’re living through. Unless they take the broad view, their essays about this moment will fall short. TDS creates a blind spot for journalists, comedians, filmmakers, and everyone else.

Says Barton Swaim writing in the Wall Street Journal:

On the subject of Donald Trump, we each lament the inability of some otherwise serious people, on the left and the right, to talk about the 45th president in anything but the language of civilizational catastrophe. Why is Mr. Hankins, the author of a 700-page book on virtuous political leadership, not similarly undone by Mr. Trump? Because his profession has prepared him to take the long view.

“I think of it as an historian,” he says. “Many people don’t think deeply about what it would be like to live in a different time. They have no sense of comparison. Thinking long about history, you get a much broader view of human life. History is a road to sanity.”

It’s not good enough for Bill Maher to broadcast his hysteria over Trump while also criticizing what has become of the Left. He offers no solution, just leaves powerless Americans twisting in the wind.

Sam Harris’ recent appearance on Triggernomitry is an example of someone whose hysteria around Trump proves that there was nothing they would not do to keep Trump out of power. For all of their talk about Democracy Itself, they seem perfectly willing to subvert it where Trump is concerned.

Ben Shapiro was quick to point out how Harris is the smoking gun that proves that our government, our media, and our DOJ will blur the ethical lines of a supposedly blind justice system, a supposedly objective media, and a supposedly democratic country.

Harris attempted to explain himself but he only dug himself in deeper. That’s because if you have TDS, it is impossible to escape the affliction unless you do the one thing required to end the madness: humanize Trump.

It seemed funny at first, but with Trump polling so high and directly influencing so many wins in primaries, not to mention the unequivocal beat-down of Liz Cheney, they’re getting ready for war. Against their own citizens.

Who knew even the former director of the CIA was this fragile? Perhaps he ought to stop watching so much MSNBC and CNN until such time as he can get a grip on reality, not to mention what other countries must think of an administration that afraid of its own citizens.

Rick Wilson and James Carville are supposed to be sharp political strategists, yet they continue to insist all Trump supporters are stupid or racist.

From a political standpoint, that’s just pure lunacy. They might be able to convince Zoomers and wealthy white women who spend too much time on social media that this is the biggest problem facing Americans, but the reality is that Americans have practical problems that must be addressed and not many people willing address them.

Hysteria by Any Other Name

Can those afflicted with TDS not see that most Americans have more pressing matters on their mind than existential angst? And not all those who vote for Trump do so because they have no other option now?

Imagine, for instance, you are a young white male graduating high school in Ohio or Colorado. What kind of future will the Democrats offer you? Is there even a place for you in the Left’s America? You’ve been told you are an oppressor and that you must not even try to succeed because that means you benefit from white supremacy. How does an 18-year-old process that?

Conversely, if you are a young Black student graduating in Portland, Oregon, you’ll be told your skin color oppresses you from birth. The only success you’ll ever achieve is at the hands of programs designed around equity. You’ll never get there on merit. The system is stacked against you.

Imagine Coleman Hughes, one of the smartest thinkers out there, now being judged solely by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character. What do you imagine that does to his soul? He can wrestle with it, to contemplate why this happening and not allow it to impact him, but what about those who can’t? What is the long game here anyway? To re-introduce oppression to keep the traditional hierarchies intact?

Or imagine you are an immigrant family that escaped a caste system in India to pursue the American dream with your children that you’ve pushed towards accelerated programs so they can be doctors or rocket scientists and escape the fate of their birth. Now imagine they’re being told that none of that matters anymore. Everyone must arrive at the same place because that is how equity works. So forget all about that “land of opportunity” thing. Now it’s about the “land of equality of outcome,” or Marxism.

Imagine you’re a parent of five kids in a rural state or a big city. Imagine having to keep them home during lockdowns and school all five of them for over a year. Imagine how hard it was for just one of your kids to concentrate and learn, let alone all five. They can’t catch up now. They fell too far behind.

Or you’re a truck driver or a dishwasher or a waitress, and the price of gas is eating a hole in your budget. You’re drowning in credit card debt, with no real prospects to rise in your hometown because manufacturing has vanished. Then the government wants a big pat on the back for passing a bill called the “inflation reduction act” which has no hope of reducing inflation and is really a climate bill in disguise. Tax credits for electric cars? That’s the answer?

Or you’re a white farmer who didn’t see a dime of money from the government during COVID as your family’s business swirled down the drain. The money was promised to Black farmers to make up for past injustices. But now even that money isn’t coming.

What if you’re a family in Chicago, and every weekend, gunfire whizzes past your window, with one murder after another, mere blocks from your home? What if you are too nervous about letting your kids out to play? What if you live in a border town and migrants are flooding in, and you’re worried about your own family’s limited resources?

The high-minded journalists and Twitter users look down their noses at Trump’s America First candidates, but they’re missing the story. They should be asking why Democrats don’t have such a motivated grassroots movement that is attracting voters rather than alienating them.

Most people don’t care if Trump says offensive things or he sends the government into paroxysms of hysteria. They care that he is fighting against the people they fear, and that he is fighting for the America they want.

Four Words on a Red Hat

Any Democrat or establishment Republican will have to find a message better than Make America Great Again.

You won’t find many Americans out there right now who can argue that America has never been greater. We’re missing the fundamentals we need to keep our experiment intact. At the top of that list is American exceptionalism.

Even if it is a grand illusion, it is a necessary one. It might be the invisible thread, fragile though it may be, that ties each of us to the other. This country can’t survive without it. We are the world’s dreamers, an experiment in a people-run government. So why get in the people’s way?

They should be asking why can’t they do what Trump does? Name one person in Washington who can stand there for upwards of two hours talking to Americans? Anyone? The pitch to the American people is going to have to be better than how Trump closes every single one of his speeches:

And it will only get stronger with each passing day. And with the help of all of you here tonight and the millions of Patriots all across our land, we will make America powerful again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.

Please tell me, all of those who are committed to the idea that Trump is the greatest threat to Democracy the world has ever known, how you’re going to top that. What can you offer Americans that can lift them up from their despair, that can promise them a better life, that can give them hope to face a new day?

Because if all you’ve got is “Trump is bad” you’re going to lose. Pushing an apocalyptic doomsday scenario every day will not solve the fundamental problem. The threat level rises daily because those in power are failing. Do they think Americans are too stupid to notice?

As Victor Davis Hansen writes:

The war between blue and red and mass versus elite is really grounded in the reality that those who feel they were the deserved winners of globalization and who are the sole enlightened on matters of social, economic, political, and military policy have no record of recent success, but a long litany of utter failure. 

They have become furious that the rest of the country sees through these naked emperors. Note Merrick Garland’s sanctimonious defense of the supposed professionalism of the Justice Department and FBI hierarchies—while even as he pontificated, they were in the very process of leaking and planting sensational “nuclear secrets” narratives to an obsequious media to justify the indefensible political fishing expedition at a former president’s home and current electoral rival to Merrick Garland’s boss. 

The masses increasingly view the elites’ money, their ZIP codes, their degrees and certificates, and their titles not just with indifference, but with the disdain they now have earned on their own merits. 

And that pushback has made millions of our worst and stupidest quite mad.

Those who have abused their power against the people of this country by becoming authoritarians, waging war against our citizens, or allowing social media oligarchs to police thought and speech might want to remember that America is a country of the people, by the people and for the people.

As Eisenhower once said, “I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

Since we don’t have leaders like Eisenhower, this one will have to be up to us.