Links and Comments: Trump; Democrats v Republicans; American exceptionalism; government regulations

As Donald Trump seems to be on the path to claiming the Republican nomination for president, Republicans who are appalled by him are increasingly expressing misgivings. Salon has this fascinating article about how some Republican pundits admit that the crude characterizations by Democrats of Republicans — “courting racists, placating religious lunatics, and using the culture wars as a political wedge” — turn about to be pretty accurate, based on the support for Trump.

Salon: The right’s shocking admission: Stunned by Trump’s dominance, some GOP pundits concede that Dems have been right about Republicans all along

The article quotes Bret Stephens, a “conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal”:

Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious. Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism… It would be terrible to think that the left was right about the right all these years.

And Max Boot:

I’m a lifelong Republican but Trump surge proves that every bad Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.


This is, I’m thinking, rather analogous to protestations by theologians to attacks against religion, by Coyne, Carroll, et al, who accuse those writers of not being acquainted with sophisticated theology. Coyne et al respond with allusions to the Emperor’s New Clothes, and also to point out that, sophisticated theologians aside, the vast majority of believers do in fact accept basic fundamental myths, the 6-day creation, Noah’s ark, and so on, all the things the ‘sophisticated theologians’ (Coyne’s phrase) try to downplay as myths or legends.

And, it seems, a sizeable majority of Republicans are in fact racist, misogynist, hyper-religious, and anti-science.

This is not to say all Republicans are. But to understand that those people who are racist, misogynist, hyper-religious, and anti-science, are virtually all Republicans.


Earlier– the Marco Rubio complaint that Obama has been trying to change America, as if that is a bad thing. It’s not; in fact, America is behind much of the rest of the world on many counts. Why do conservatives relish that? American exceptionalism?

From January, Salon: We’re No. 16! Why Donald Trump’s boorish American exceptionalism is so wrong

Just the latest example of much evidence about this. Americans like to think of themselves as exceptional — but so do citizens of other countries around the world. It’s human nature. When Obama pointed this out some time ago, he was accused of being anti-American.


Finally, here is an essay by Nicholas Kristof that addresses the complaints by conservatives that America is over-regulated by big government.

New York Times: ‘Big Government’ Looks Great When There Is None.

Americans take for granted the benefits of ‘big government’, without realizing the alternative. Kristof travels to South Sudan:

In a country where to belong to the wrong tribe can be lethal, South Sudanese watch American aid workers arrive — a mixed salad of blacks and whites, Asian-Americans and Latinos, men and women — with some astonishment. These Americans come in all flavors of faith: Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists and more. And while they may snap at one another, they don’t behead one another.


One lesson of South Sudan is that government and regulations are like oxygen: You don’t appreciate them until they’re not there.

Two political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, argue that America’s achievements rest on a foundation of government services but that we Americans suffer from “American Amnesia” (that’s also the title of their book coming out this month) and don’t appreciate this.

“We are told that the United States got rich in spite of government, when the truth is closer to the opposite,” they write. Every country that journeyed from mass illiteracy and poverty to modernity and wealth did so, they note, because of government instruments that are now often scorned.

I think there’s a general principle here, which is my own idea and not something Kristof implied: that any society, no matter how advanced, will find things to argue about; the relative conservatives will complain about *something*, to appeal to tradition and to be wary of anything that would challenge the status quo, while the relative liberals will keep trying to expand options, push the boundaries, improve conditions. Human social evolution will always be two steps forward, one step back. But over the long run, liberals win; else we’d all still be living in caves.

This entry was posted in Conservative Resistance, Culture, Politics, Religion, Social Progress. Bookmark the permalink.