Trump and Kavanaugh, Conservatives and Tribal Politics

It’s not so much about fundamental disagreements between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, (let alone the simplistic take about good vs. evil), as about social reaction to change… the changing demographic of the United States, and the inevitable expansion of the US into global society and politics. You can fight it, but it won’t stop happening. And the ones who most resent this kind of change are, by definition, conservatives.

There’s speculation about how this could happen, how those who view Trump as despicable on so many counts need to ‘understand’ those who support him. That’s not going to happen.

Paul Krugman in Tuesday’s NYT: The Angry White Male Caucus, subtitle “Trumpism is all about the fear of losing traditional privilege.”

When Matt Damon did his Brett Kavanaugh imitation on “Saturday Night Live,” you could tell that he nailed it before he said a word. It was all about the face — that sneering, rage-filled scowl. Kavanaugh didn’t sound like a judge at his Senate hearing last week, let alone a potential Supreme Court justice; he didn’t even manage to look like one.

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A brilliant post by Adam-Troy Castro, on Facebook:

Another anguished post from a Trump supporter: “Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?”

The serious answer.

Very long post, ending with:

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise.

What you don’t get, Trump supporters in 2018, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also…hear me…charitable.

Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are *less* flattering.

And here’s Thomas L. Friedman in Wednesday’s NYT: The American Civil War, Part II: The nation is deeply divided, with each side seeing the other as “the enemy.”

Bottom line:

It would be easy to blame both sides equally for this shift, noted Ornstein, but it is just not true. After the end of the Cold War, he said, “tribal politics were introduced by Newt Gingrich when he came to Congress 40 years ago,” and then perfected by Mitch McConnell during the Barack Obama presidency, when McConnell declared his intention to use his G.O.P. Senate caucus to make Obama fail as a strategy for getting Republicans back in power.

They did this even though that meant scuttling Obama’s health care plan, which was based on Republican ideas, and even though that meant scuttling long-held G.O.P. principles — like fiscal discipline, a strong Atlantic alliance, distrust of Russian intentions and a balanced approach to immigration — to attract Trump’s base.

That was cheating. What McConnell did broke something very big. Now Democrats will surely be tempted to do the same when they get the power to do so, and that is how a great system of government, built on constitutional checks and balances, strong institutions and basic norms of decency, unravels.

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