Way back in 2016, in a telephone conversation with my twentysomething niece, she said to me: “You’re not actually going to vote for Donald Trump, are you?”
She was reminding me of a cultural taboo. There was playground consensus against Trump’s election among the smart and thoughtful. In sociological parlance, this is called “mobbing.” It governs much political decision-making in America today.
Technology—movies, television, the internet—has created an aggressive conformity. It is as if those dystopian 1950s B-horror movies have come to pass. An alien force has stolen individuality and has herded humanity into a mumbling mass.
Fake news feeds the mob. It need only cast a sympathetic victim: a child, a woman, an immigrant. Or a matinee villain: Trump, Vladimir Putin, prep school boys from 1982. These alone stoke the fires of resistance and make enactment of policy by the majority nearly impossible.
Under mob rule, a superior claim of victimhood overrules the Constitution. Once cast as racist, or misogynistic, or homophobic—or if Putin can be placed anywhere near it—an ordinary democratic process becomes illegitimate.
A few months ago it was “children in cages,” a phony claim that halted enforcement of duly enacted immigration laws at the border.
This time it was recently remembered claims of high school hijinks that changed “advice and consent” into “get a tissue and let’s talk.”
President Trump appointed an originalist judge to replace the wishy-washy Justice Kennedy who recently retired from the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh was on a beeline toward confirmation.
Then it was leaked that Christine Blasey Ford suddenly remembered that 36 years ago, Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed during a high-school party without her consent.
Her story changed in what few details she could recall depending on when she told it. The facts she could not recall were crushingly impeachable. There was obvious political motivation, if not by her then certainly by her lawyers acting on her behalf.
She would not have done well on cross-examination.
Nevertheless, Ford agreed to testify under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, knowing that the rules of engagement favored her.
Bowing to the mob’s new definition of fairness that says Senators cannot ask difficult questions of someone accusing a conservative judge, Republicans waived their right to cross-examine the accuser.
They instead dispatched a sex crimes expert to conduct a polite public interview. All that was missing was an anatomically correct Brett Kavanaugh doll.
The soft approach lent credibility to what otherwise looked like a political hit job.
When the accuser is a member of the #TheResistance who scrubbed her social media while beaching with a former FBI official with strong anti-Trump ties, there are reasons to be skeptical.
The Constitution accommodates accusation by recognizing a right to confront the accuser. It is the right that Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) vindicated in his expert questioning of Anita Hill a quarter-century ago.
The senators, this time, declined to exercise the right for political reasons. They left Kavanaugh to tearfully defend himself.
Kavanaugh, in the end, had to climb into the reality show Washington created and cast himself as a victim. Our newest Supreme Court justice began his term quarrying for sympathy on television.
He owes his confirmation to that performance. And, also, to President Trump, who was alone among Republican leaders to point out the gaps and inconsistencies in the accuser’s story.
Trump knows something the Republican Party has not yet figured out: Democrats can be beaten if you do not concede to them out of the gate the right to regulate your behavior. He was sent to Washington to say I’ll do what I damn well please, thank you.
The mob’s reaction to Trump has been to say that you may win the presidency, but don’t you dare assert the privileges and prerogatives of power. Trump has ignored them, for the most part. He has been poorly served, though, by Republicans who have abdicated power upon shallow provocations (e.g., Attorney General Jeff Sessions).
The last few weeks, with all the ugliness, proves that the institutions of the republic held against the mob’s attack.
The Senate, albeit with excessive angst, confirmed the president’s Supreme Court nominee. Normally mild-mannered Republicans pulled a “Coward of the County”: “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”
Yes, that includes you, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.
What senators lacked in the will to confront was made up for, somewhat, by strong, organic, grass roots that are growing under the president.
The online Trump-sphere is superior to any Soros-funded-celebro-pack because . . . well, if you’re reading American Greatness, you already have some sense why.
Finally, elections are a place where this kind of stupidity is ultimately resolved.
Trump’s silent majority that works every day and does not have time to goad senators in elevators appreciates the progress that has been made against the screeching Left.
They will be energized in the next election because the assault upon the fabric of civilization was so aggressive in this confirmation process that they fear for their children.
Trumpists should beware of the sudden arrival of the NeverTrump cavalry. They are not permitted to call themselves deplorable if they still write things like “Mr. Trump’s excesses and falsehoods”—as the Wall Street Journal did the other day.
We’re not here because of your beard tugging, Journal editors. President Trump is the one who finally delivered a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court. He alone defies the mob.
Photo Credit: Mark Makela/Getty Images