By Charlie Johnston
Dennis Prager observed a few years back that leftists destroy everything they touch, adding that they are not liberals; they are totalitarians. After destroying their target, they offer nothing to replace the function it had.
The fiasco with the Iowa caucuses is yet more evidence of that observation. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz noted that Democrats are the party of government, determined to tell you how to run everything in your life, yet can’t count who stands under which sign in a gymnasium. Just before the caucuses began, Iowa Dems were bragging that they had worked three years to put together this brilliant system. It rivals the Obamacare website in its disastrous rollout. When Democrats say, “We have a plan for that,” we should be terrified.
Not all major cities run by Democrats are hellholes – but all cities that are disintegrating hellholes have been run by Democrats for several decades or more.
The left is inordinately proud of considering themselves the smartest folks in the land – to the point of routinely mocking the “rubes” who are conservative. It’s a peculiar vanity, given that objective tests generally show that conservatives are smarter and better informed than liberals. While the previous link limits itself to vocabulary and linguistic facility, I have seen the same data for economics, history, knowledge of current events and foreign affairs. When it comes to generosity and overall happiness, conservatives have it in abundance, liberals barely at all. Odd, when the left prides itself on being the “compassionate” ideology. Claiming these characteristics seem much more important to the left than to the right. For the left, smarts are vital to their identity, their self-image, while the right tends to regard smarts as a tool by which to accomplish and produce good and useful things. The left insists on being judged by its good intentions, while the right demands actual good results. In the end, the left’s self-image is based on the same foundation of the mean girls’ clique in high school: the mean girls are the coolest in the school because they say they are, evidence and reality be damned. The left is the smartest and the strongest and the noblest because they say they are. I guess it is a survival strategy: when disaster follows in the wake of everything you attempt, you have to have something to assure you that you are not as bad as the consistent results would indicate. This trait would not be so irritating if the left would just confine its pratfalls to their own lives, but they insist that because they are the smartest and noblest and most generous that they should be able to autocratically ruin everyone else’s lives, too. I know misery loves company, but they have enough company already.
Even so, some on the left are very intelligent. The problem is that intelligence, like physical strength, is merely a tool which can be used well or badly. A very strong man might use that strength to help his fellows – or to bully them. Same thing with an intelligent man, but intelligence brings with it a greater danger. Combined with hubris, intelligence can cause a man to badly delude himself. A man can use intelligence to assess what a situation is, in itself, and then prudently considering human nature, craft means to practically alleviate various problems and ills. This is wisdom; to assess a situation accurately, apply means of action that account for human nature, respect individual autonomy and produce actual good results. It requires real humility combined with self-confidence – a willingness to act, along with the resolve to correct course when, inevitably, some approaches simply don’t work. It requires acknowledgement from the start that no one can know everything – and that producing good fruit that will last is what counts, not showing off an imagined superiority.
I think the truth is that it is unchecked vanity that destroys everything it touches. Because it is so fragile, it cannot acknowledge failure or error because that would strike at its very identity. Thus, it is always doomed to ultimate failure, lurching from disaster to disaster like Mr. Magoo -and incapable of the candid self-reflection that would allow it to correct course. Leftism is not so much an ideology as it is a vanity project. Their limited knowledge and unlimited presumption make them like Dostoevsky’s Russian schoolboy – the sort of people who, given a map of the stars, which they had previously never heard of, would return the next day filled with corrections. And now, as a ruling class that has been completely infected with vanity and is crumbling, the left is reduced to smugly insulting the intelligence of those who actually accomplish things for the betterment of all.
It has been a very rough week for the crumbling vanity project that is the American elite. We are seeing the beginning of the end of days for that cohort. They won’t go gently into the night, but average Americans have become “woke” to the danger of indulging elitist fantasies.
One of the most common tropes of leftists against Christians is to demand how we can support a man like Donald Trump.
Up until the late summer of 2016, I was a borderline Never Trumper. He had spent his life as a billionaire playboy of great appetite and a powerful will, which he used to feed those appetites. Beyond that, he had migrated repeatedly and seamlessly between the parties, so I honestly was not sure whether he was a nascent conservative or a lefty in sheep’s clothing. Even so, I knew I would vote against Hillary Clinton even if I could not quite enthusiastically vote for Trump.
The way I and many other Christians saw it was that we had two absolute reprobates as our choice. Clinton promised to persecute us and destroy religious freedom in order to force us all into her brave new world. Trump was not one of us, but he spoke respectfully to us and promised to protect our right to practice our faith. My religious faith has never obliged me to vote for someone who promises to destroy me and people like me – as a vote for Clinton would have been. That, alone, was more than enough to justify Christians’ support of Trump. But in the late summer, I started picking up on something else that might be going on. I started to suspect Trump might be going through a genuinely transformative conversion experience.
I was privy to some details of a private episode that both surprised and heartened me. Then, in the third debate, Trump said that Roe v Wade ought to be overturned, period. No hedging, no nuance, just a confident assertion of his belief. That is stronger than any Republican has spoken on the issue since the very beginning of the abortion on demand era. His statements on almost all issues were not ambiguous, but straightforward and direct. On the most controversial issues, they were the same – with a little bit of a defiant jaw jut when pronouncing them. I really did not expect him to deliver on his promises. His history was to make bold statements and then negotiate down to get a deal. But I did think, “Holy cow. If this guy really works at what he claims to believe, he could end up being spectacular.”
To paraphrase Joe Biden, well son of a gun, Trump has worked as hard as any president in my lifetime to keep his promises. I still suspect that had Democrats not gone off into their insane “resist everything Trump does,” even if it was previously one of their own priorities, the president would have governed as a centrist, focused on getting bipartisan consensus to address major issues. The ‘rule or ruin’ mentality of the left firmly locked Trump into a neo-conservative position – that also rejected failed orthodoxies on the right.
For all of Trump’s trash-talking opponents when the battle is on, his history showed him to be a surprisingly magnanimous man once victory was attained. I frankly feared that, after the Russia Hoax and Mueller assault collapsed, he was going to reach out to the left and let bygones be bygones. (I firmly believe the left’s criminal assaults on the body politic under the guise of politics can only be stopped by heavy prosecution and jail time for coup conspiracy plotters). The impeachment gambit ended that.
When you clear the smoke of Democrat demagoguery, the fact is that Trump was impeached for daring to call for an investigation of Democratic corruption. The shock of this case is that anyone took it seriously in the first place and that it got as far as it did. Any honorable, rational person would have shut it down before it began, if not out of respect for Trump, then in defense of their own credibility. Yet we have pretended for the last three years that making garbage up about Republicans – while treating as an existential offense even mentioning leftist corruption for which there is abundant and compelling evidence – as the new normal. The new normal has failed. What it has accomplished is to convince both Trump and a lot of formerly timid Republicans (who were always suing for peace after being sucker-punched by the left) that modern Democrats cannot be reasoned with or treated as negotiating partners: they are consumed by the ‘rule or ruin’ mentality and the only way they can safely be dealt with is by being completely defeated and routed. That is the Republican mindset today. Whether it can hold is another story. The GOP has a profound instinct to lick the hand of those that beat and abuse it.
Republican criticism of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were grounded in what they had been before taking office AND what they remained after taking office. Legitimate criticism of Trump almost all stems from what he was before taking office. Yes, he certainly has a penchant for trash-talking opponents combatively (which may be a left-handed virtue in these times). Hey, even in a conversion, you don’t fully shed the reflexive personality traits of 70 years. On substance, though, Trump has been downright squeaky clean. There are no current bimbo eruptions as there were during the Clinton years; he does not routinely defy court orders as Obama did, however much he fights them; and he does not corruptly set the machinery of government against either his major enemies or ordinary people whose only offense is to disagree with or oppose him.
I think sometime over the summer of 2016, Trump came to see that he could do something truly noble with his life far beyond indulging his prodigious appetites. One of Trump’s subtle strengths even in the bad, old days was that he was secure enough that he was not intimidated or slowed by what people thought of him. His will was undeterred by condemnation. Now his appetite is whole-heartedly for American greatness and his will is to lift up all Americans and open the floodgates of opportunity for them.
I don’t regret being a skeptic of Trump before his election for the same reason I don’t blame early Christians for their skepticism over the conversion of St. Paul after he had spent so long persecuting them. But if someone wants to know how this Christian justifies his support of Donald Trump, it is because I think that with all his virtues and his flaws, he has become at this late stage in his life, a man after God’s own heart, completely devoted to America, her people, and the transformative power of the Christian faith.
Last week, Mark Mallett published a marvelous piece, “This Is Not a Test,” in which he focused on a fundamental disorder of our times: that despite all the growing chaos and disorder, we seem incapable of reading the signs of the times.
It is something that has baffled me. God is, in essence, pointing to our disorder with flashing neon signs, and few are paying attention. Certainly, the culture at large, while busily patting itself on the back over how sophisticated and enlightened it is, is utterly clueless.
The article is a truly great read.
I hope that all here will join in prayers for the great Rush Limbaugh. There is no one like him. He is a fearless advocate for his principals, a gifted political and cultural analyst, AND an amazing entertainer. He speaks boldly without apology or malice. He’s just an amazing man.
In the 80’s, as popular music stations migrated from the AM band to the FM, AM radio was in danger of becoming the junk drawer of broadcast media. It was useful for broadcasting sports events and swap shops – but that did not make for enough programming to keep it anything but a useful afterthought. It was the arrival of Rush Limbaugh on the scene that completely rejuvenated AM radio and made it a viable, broadcasting powerhouse again.
In his early days, as leftists screamed that he was a bombastic racist and such, I am embarrassed to say I accepted their claim. But then someone challenged me to listen to him – and then agree with the conventional wisdom on him. I did, and was astonished to hear this very funny, large-spirited man who was entertaining AND incisive with not a trace of the ugliness that his critics mindlessly accused him of.
God bless Rush. May he live long and prosper – and may this trial just serve to show him in what deep affection ordinary Americans hold him.