With all rational and pseudo-rational arguments exhausted and Republican support for President Trump pegged around 90 percent in most polls, the Democrats are left to reduce their opposition to one simple (and simplistic) idea: Donald Trump is despicable because he makes babies cry.
How did we reach this point in our national discourse? It is remarkable, given how fond liberals are of reminding us of their superior intelligence and unfailing devotion to “logic.” Both points are belied by what we have seen in recent weeks.
One could argue, when the great machine of leftism can only continue to function by lubricating itself with children’s tears, this is a sure sign that the movement has become truly desperate. Maybe so. Yet the recent fixation with (misleading and even staged) images of miserable kids at the U.S.-Mexico border is arguably just a further elaboration of a long-dominant theme in leftist politics: the cult of the victim.
Surely, liberals opine, suffering asylum-seekers deserve our sympathy, and maybe even some kind of restitution. (You can see why trial lawyers lean left!) Since, moreover, leftists invariably think in terms of groups, for them the primacy of victimhood means they should have a monopoly on deciding which groups are most deserving of compassion, indulgence, and gratification in the hierarchy of suffering and oppression.
Now, if one buys into this spurious logic, needless to say it becomes extremely important for each group to make its claims to victimhood as loudly and as emotively as possible. And so we find ourselves witnessing, to our universal consternation, a nightly parade of crying babies in our “news” broadcasts. Nothing could make greater sense, from a leftist perspective.
Some Crybabies are Better than Others
But why illegal immigrants? Surely the Left could find a group better suited to victim/hero status than a mass of people united by no common bond except their failure to adhere to U.S. immigration laws.
Illegal immigrants have long appealed to the Left as an aggrieved minority. The fact that they are potential voters doesn’t hurt their cause, of course, but it is their robust victimhood and downtrodden position that really earns the liberal’s respect. Nonetheless, the Left’s current position‚—that no illegal immigrant parent should ever be separated from his or her child, when U.S. servicemen, as well as Americans charged with crimes, are accorded no such accommodation—is an extraordinary logical leap.
But, here again, logic has nothing to do with it. This is an emotional appeal, driven by a drumbeat repetition of images (and even audio clips) with the message that Trump’s policy at the border is different, and obscenely wrong, because it produces the palpable effect of sobbing children. People who choose to make children sad, moreover, are monsters. Thus, Trump is the worst of the worst and the lowest of the low. The evidence of bawling toddlers only confirms what leftists already know to be true.
The natural rejoinder to this strange species of sentimentality is this: lots of things make children cry, and lots of children are crying, both in this country and in others. Why, then, does the suffering only of the children who can credibly be called victims of Trumpism merit our attention and remedial action?
Legitimate Claims to Public Sympathy
As “Angel Moms” demonstrated on June 22 in an event hosted by President Trump, a strong case could be made that illegal immigrants can just as easily be the cause of misery, both for children and adults.
Angel Moms are U.S. mothers who have lost children to illegal alien criminals. Surely they, who have been permanently separated from their kids (at least in this life), have an even greater claim to public sympathy than those temporarily detained at the border, don’t they? No, indeed, as the mainstream media sees it, because crimes committed by illegal immigrants are a non-issue. Why? To mention them makes advocates of “undocumented immigrants” sad and angry, and we can’t have that.
Some tears, it seems, are more worthy than others.
To assert that Trump’s border policies cause more tears than, say, Obama’s, is speculative at best, and unverifiable, since the media never showed the slightest interest in Obama’s enforcement record anyway. The broader implication of the Left’s politics of despair is, however, that conservatism, Republicanism, and nationalism all yield an aggregate quantity of crying children (and adults) far greater than that produced by liberalism, political correctness, and socialism.
In fact, though, there is not a shred of evidence to support this generalization. We have ample reason to think the opposite might be true.
Marxism killed 100 million people in the 20th century. That, presumably, engendered a fair amount of despondency among their loved ones. On a lesser scale, the job losses and economic and social dislocation fostered by the waves of illegal immigration and one-sided trade deals beloved by liberals have also, one assumes, caused more than a few Americans—including children—to bemoan their fates. And yet, for some strange reason, the raw negative emotions produced by left-wing fiascos aren’t newsworthy. C’est la vie.
What About the Cheering Children?
To argue the same point from another perspective: How many Americans, including children, have been cheered by Donald Trump’s election and its innumerable positive ramifications? How many children on the Korean Peninsula, and beyond, may sleep more soundly, may shed fewer tears, because of Trump’s decision to pursue denuclearization and a rapprochement with Kim Jong-un? How many children, adolescents, and young adults have been heartened to see job prospects improve, both for them and for their parents, because of a booming economy?
How many children walk to school or play in neighborhood parks with a greater sense of safety and well-being, because the Trump Administration is vigorously deporting MS-13 thugs, instead of making excuses for them and shielding them from immigration authorities, as liberal “sanctuary” mayors and governors do every day? And how many children may, if Trump gets to appoint even one more Supreme Court justice, experience the joys of life itself, because they were saved from abortion-on-demand?
It is not hard, as we see here, to argue that it is liberals and the Democratic Party who are the true enemies of children, and the more reliable instigators of their tears. In truth, though, these are still the arguments of sentimentalists and hucksters. They carry little weight, rationally speaking, because they are overwhelmingly based on anecdotes and emotional manipulation, not hard evidence and a balanced consideration of positives and negatives. They are, in other words, the arguments of children, and those who think like them, not mature adults.
Which party, then, is the true champion of happiness, and which is the architect of torment and grief? That is a question best left to philosophers and theologians, not pundits and reporters. They may be experts at exploiting human emotions—including grief—but when it comes to identifying the true sources of joy and fulfillment, and of gloom and agony, they are at best only as insightful as all the rest of us mere mortals. Let us hope in the future they will stick to reporting the facts and keep their preaching to themselves.
Photo credit: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images