The Stages of (Liberal) Grief: Denial

By | 2018-11-02T22:13:27+00:00 November 3rd, 2018|
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Having explored the sad history of the Left’s descent into semi-madness following President Trump’s election in 2016, we now proceed to a consideration of how liberals might react if their cherished “blue wave” doesn’t swell as planned.

First, I must admit that the prognostications that follow are necessarily based on anecdotal and subjective evidence, because for the moment we have little else upon which to go. The psychological dysfunctions that liberals now exhibit simply have not been subjected to anything like the kind of scientific analysis necessary to give a definitive account, as far as I am aware. Psychologists, given that they are overwhelmingly liberal themselves, have analyzed President Trump’s supposed neuroses and psychoses at length. They have even engaged in a vigorous debate about whether it is admissible for psychological experts who have never met Donald Trump to pass judgment about his mental health.

Part two of a four-part series.

In addition, several studies have examined the supposed psychology of Trump supporters, with the implicit agenda of uncovering the real truth behind how millions of Americans could be so dangerously wrong in their political convictions. No meaningful work has yet been done, however, to plumb the depths of leftist derangement.

Pollsters have been equally incurious about the precise nature of Trump-hatred, or about the degree to which Trump haters have become detached from reality. We know that a majority of Democrats believe in the laughable conspiracy theory that the Russians hacked voting machines and thus altered the vote in 2016. Otherwise, though, professional pollsters don’t seem to find the extraordinarily toxic nature of Trump-hatred either surprising or worthy of study. We can assume, of course, that more than a few pollsters suffer from TDS themselves.

With these provisos in mind, it seems likely to me that a failure of the “blue wave” would lead, as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would have us believe, firstly to a concomitant wave of Denial among liberals. That is, if the votes on Tuesday do not tally with the Left’s fanciful expectations of total victory, many will be easily persuaded that they were cheated. Reports of “voter suppression,” which up to now have been a minor if persistent theme in the left-leaning press, will become incessant and insistent as never before. If the Democrats win the popular vote for the House, moreover, but fail to take control of the chamber, one can expect that great attention will be drawn to the “undemocratic” and allegedly unfair nature of the process. The Left will say that victory was never possible to begin with, because the deck was stacked.

Liberals will go further than this, however, and many will challenge the legitimacy and accuracy of the vote totals themselves. Claims of foreign, especially Russian, interference will be dusted off and re-purposed. The Democratic Party establishment will eschew these wild conspiracy theories, in the strictest sense, but will happily capitalize on the outrage that they generate. The media will be complicit in spreading these same conspiracy theories, and perfunctory, if not negligent, in debunking them. More comfortable, from their standpoint, will be the usual mental gymnastics by which, if there is even a grain of truth in the idea that any voter was inconvenienced, or that any election-related computer network was hacked, or threatened with hacking, then the overall narrative about a “rigged” election will be judged “credible” by journalists. C’est la guerre.

Left-wing denialism will not stop here, however. Well-informed conservatives will have noticed by now that the most basic American institutions are already becoming shopworn in the eyes of liberals, and more and more of them are calling for a wholesale revolution in our political life. Take, for example, the rejection of the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, especially in the wake of the confirmation of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. More and more liberals are calling for the invalidation of the authority of the current court, and the preferred means of achieving this is by “stacking” the court with numerous new liberal members. Expect interest in radical and desperate schemes like this to increase greatly after November 6, absent a “blue wave.”

The Supreme Court is only one American institution that has attracted the Left’s ire, though. The Senate is another. Given that the Senate has the ability to confirm future cabinet selections by President Trump (including possible replacements for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein), and given that it also confirms new Justices to the Supreme Court and stands in judgment of federal officials, including presidents, who the House of Representatives sees fit to impeach, the Left’s critical interest in the Senate, and its despair at its continued drift to the right (Republicans will probably pick up several seats this year), will be pronounced.

We have already seen a rising chorus of voices on the Left claiming that the Senate—because it gives all states, even small ones, two Senators—is undemocratic, even anti-democratic. Expect, therefore, that many liberals will reject the authority of the Senate more forcefully than in the past and may even call for its abolition. Calls will also be forthcoming for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution, or to write a new one. Such efforts may even get as far as completing the preliminary formal steps to set such projects in motion.

Since there is no clear or realistic path to the achievement of these objectives, however, expect that in the meantime the harassment of individual Republican Senators will reach a crisis. The very lives of key Republican Senators could be placed in jeopardy. Mitch McConnell will likely never dine out again. Something like a siege mentality will develop in the Republican caucus in the Senate. It is possible, in fact, that these unprecedented pressures will cause some Senators to “crack” and seek accommodation with the Left. More likely, though, is that most Republicans will be outraged by their mistreatment, and the alliance between President Trump, Senate Republicans, and conservative and Republican voters will grow stronger and closer, in the midst of great adversity.

The last form of denialism that will flourish post-election, assuming no “blue wave,” is in the media. When all else fails, the media will seek to redirect (or misdirect) the public’s attention, and, since the media will be horribly tarnished by its bogus predictions of a “blue wave,” it may seek to redirect the gaze of the public more speedily than usual.

Expect that as soon as the midterms are in the books the press will refocus on the latest and greatest “Trump scandals,” which they can fabricate and amplify.  What’s more, the lively race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2020 will rapidly develop. Expect, in fact, that the same discredited polling organizations that got 2016 and 2018 so wrong will come out with fresh new polls indicating an uphill battle for President Trump in 2020, and the potential for a landslide win for whichever Democratic candidate emerges from the nominating scrum.

In other words, for a happy few on the Left, it would be as if the midterms never even happened. The “blue wave” narrative will thus dissolve and crisply reformulate itself into a similar narrative about the inevitability of Democratic victory in 2020.

So much for denial. What about anger? That might be even more decisive in this historic realignment of American politics.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

About the Author:

Nicholas L. Waddy
Nicholas L. Waddy, an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred, blogs at www.waddyisright.com.