The favorite pastime of our oligarchy is to harp on endlessly about the supposed faults of the people who elected Donald Trump president. According to the anointed, the American people—in their untutored stupidity—chose a strong man who is shredding the Constitution, along with every last vestige of character and decency.
NeverTrumper Matt K. Lewis summed up the attitude in a recent Daily Beast column, subtly headlined, “Dear Trump Voters: You’re A Bunch of Idiots.” “The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses,” he wrote.
The ongoing effort to peddle this narrative is why the term “populism” remains prominent in our current political moment. Discussions of populism between members of our establishmentarian class are not about honestly assessing the rise of Trump or of any kind of world-wide movement away from the overreach of globalism.
Instead, it’s the fancy people’s way to insult you with a word, the nasty implications of which only the select are supposed to understand. As Roger Kimball correctly notes in his new edited volume, Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, populism has become “a handy negative epithet, a weapon” which “means little more than ‘I don’t like this person or this policy.’”
The same goes for “demagogue” and “vulgar”—words shorn of their original meaning and weaponized on behalf of the elites’ struggle to maintain their hold on the seats of power. These and other nebulous phrases are used as terms of derision to attack the people and undermine their authority. These words are soubriquets meant to shame those who dare to disagree with the establishment consensus and suggest that there is something backward and deficient in their thinking. The idea is to treat the nonconformists as lepers unfit for civilized society.
The successes of Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the primaries—and also in the general election in Trump’s case—attest to the people’s sensible conclusion that the D.C. establishment doesn’t give a damn about securing their interests. However unsophisticated the ruling class thinks the people are, they were smart enough to figure that out and powerful enough to act on it. You’d think the time had come for the smart guys to start asking different questions and search for different answers to reflecting the old ones. But that hasn’t happened.
The inability of elections to change the fundamental character of government the past few decades—the “normality” Trump is attempting to overturn—was a clear signal to the people that a radical change was necessary to have any hope of reclaiming control over a government that was founded on the basis of their sovereign consent and created to secure their safety and happiness. It turns out that the people still believe that they are the best judges about who and what will secure those things it is their right to seek.
Contrary to what you may hear in the editorial meetings at the New York Times or in the halls of the American Enterprise Institute, our current political danger is not due to the people elevating tin pot dictators in fits of pure passion.
Rather, the real problem lies with those who flatter the elites and keep the ruling class oligarchy in power. The term for this phenomenon, coined recently by Michael Anton, is “oligoguery.”
Literally translated, “oligoguery” means “a group of people flattering the elites propping up the current oligarchy.” Our modern-day oligogues protect the interests of our ruling class oligarchs by constantly running interference for them. On the Right and Left, they work nonstop to keep to the status quo intact.
Though our oligogues may have occasional differences of emphasis (mainly, which branch of the oligarchy to whom their loyalty is owed) there is little real political difference between them. They serve the interests of a global elite. Those people, we must come to understand, are better than us and ought to be our real sovereigns. When we differ with them, they insist, we don’t just disagree or wish to serve different (and perfectly legitimate) interests. We are “incorrect.”
When Americans question our policy of virtually open borders, our oligogues talk instead about deporting Americans from the working class they deem insufficiently obedient to the doctrine of propositional nationhood.
When the working class dares to wonder whether trade deals that rival the size and scope of Obamacare have been beneficial to our country, they are told to pack up the U-Haul and move because their current communities “deserve to die.”
And when we have the nerve to question the recent track record of a political movement founded to beat back the administrative state and liberalism more broadly, we are derided as “vulgarians” and “scowling primitives whose irritable gestures lack mental ingredients.”
Though the people are the true aim of the oligogues’ endless barrage, Trump takes the most direct hits because he is on the front lines of the people’s counter attack.
Take the recent ad hominem attacks by the serial fabulist Michael Wolff in his new book. Wolff claims Trump is a barely literate fool who is either crazy or in the early stages of dementia. The president’s physician says otherwise. This type of character assassination against those who are a threat to the ruling oligarchy is nothing new.
As Daniel McCarthy has pointed out recently, anti-establishment Republicans from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan are cast invariably as extreme, crazy, reckless, untrustworthy, trigger-happy, and simply unfit for the office of the presidency.
Our oligogues, unsurprisingly, have made the same critiques of Trump.
Oligogue-Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) this week took to the floor of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body and compared the president of the United States to Joseph Stalin. Flake denies doing so, but he surely did compare Donald Trump to one of history’s worst monsters, a tyrant who orchestrated the mass murder of millions of his countrymen through forced famines and a vast archipelago of gulags.
In case you were wondering, the inability to make serious political or moral distinctions is a key trait of our oligogue class.
Ever since Trump’s victory, our oligogues have been spinning fever dreams about how to remove the president from office.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, for example, wrote a piece early last year in which he advocated Congress invoke the 25th Amendment to force Trump out. (Douthat appeared to walk back this option in a recent op-ed, but a close read indicates it’s only a change in tactics and not a renunciation of the principle.)
Douthat is so captured by the oligogue mindset that he would risk vindicating the people’s suspicions that their government really is in the hands of an elite who care nothing for them or their interests. Only for an oligogue is fomenting a coup against the regime preferable to abiding by the lawful exercise of the people’s power to choose their president.
Another clear example of our oligogues in action is the outrage generated by the president’s alleged comments that Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed countries in Africa are “shitholes.”
Liberal oligogues such as the dreadful hack Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN, and CNN host Don Lemon predictably called Trump a racist for pointing out that third-world countries exist. “Comedian” Stephen Colbert argued by implication that the U.S. is actually a shithole country since Trump is our president. What a patriot!
On the ostensible Right, the reactions mirrored the Left so closely in tone and content, you wouldn’t be remiss if you thought they came from the ultra-liberal website ThinkProgress. Noah Rothman of Commentary Magazine contended that Trump’s comments were “naked racial agitation.” The oligogue Erick Erickson said that Trump’s “remarks come from bigotry against the poor and not bigotry based on race,” though he helpfully added that those who “cheer on the President’s remarks view his statement as about race.”
There are too many examples like this to include them all in one article. But this exercise shows that our habitual thinking about American politics in terms of a Left/Right spectrum needs to be cast aside.
The prevalence of oligogues in American politics demonstrates that the true and meaningful distinction today is between those who side with the people and those who side with the amorphous ruling class/uniparty/establishment blob.
In his “A Time for Choosing” speech, Ronald Reagan laid out the stakes quite vividly:
You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down — up to a man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
Oligoguery, just as demagoguery, lies on the road to totalitarianism.
It is high time that the danger of oligoguery is exposed and our oligogues are treated with the scorn and contempt they deserve.