Jeffrey A. Tucker gives us a perspective on the frenzy known as “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” I think this is really accurate: lefties have made big government their idol. Trump is toppling their idols. No one lets their idols go without a fight. Trump demonstrates that the emperor has no clothes.
For the center-left crowd, all their hopes and dreams are bound up with particular political processes, outcomes, and institutions. The state is their favorite tool for all the good they aspire to do in this world. It must be protected, guarded, defended, and celebrated. The illusion that the government is not a taker but a giver and the source of all good things must be maintained. The gloss of the democratic process must be constantly refurbished so that the essential sanctity of the public sector can be constantly cited as the highest calling.
The center-left has at least one hundred years of work and resources invested in the state’s health, well-being, reputation, and exalted moral status. Nothing must be allowed to threaten it or take it down a peg or two. Any failures must be deemed as temporary setbacks. The slightest sign of some success must be trumpeted constantly. The population must be subjected to unrelenting homilies on the essential holiness of the public sector.
They believe so strongly that they can make the world a better place through the managerial state that it has become their religion. It’s their very core! The president is supposed to at least pretend to be the high priest of the statist religion. That’s his job, according to this outlook.
Everything seemed to being going so well under the Obama administration, which was so earnest, so decorous, so civil. He was funny, smart, respectful of process, and sincere in his pronouncements. He ran on hope and change but governed as the person who kept hope for a new freedom and any radical change at bay.
Trump has profoundly disturbed the balance. He overthrew the respective establishments of two parties, tore right into the legitimacy of the national press, humiliated every expert who predicted his demise, and is now stumbling around Washington like a bum in a jewelry store. He is not actually cutting back on the size of the state; he is doing something even more terrifying from the center-left point of view: he is ruining the mystery of the state, and thereby discrediting their holy institutions.
Trump is not a liberator in any sense. His temperament suggests the opposite. It was he who famously said in the campaign: “The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.” Moreover, and in many ways, the deep state has regrouped and bitten back to avoid losing power and influence in Washington.
Even so, he is everything that the center-left fears most, a person who works, despite himself, to discredit the thing they love the most. He has demoralized them beyond consoling. Now we are seeing talk of impeachment. This seems to be some people’s last hope for saving the old faith.
But the truth is that, with or without Trump’s reign of chaos, the 20th-century project of enlightened and comprehensive statism is not sustainable for the long run. The welfare programs are drying up and their plans have constantly proven unviable and unworkable. We live in a world in which the miracles of the private commercial sector are all around us, while the failures of statism are everywhere present as well.
The old world of command and control just can’t last, not for the long run. Perhaps this is the role that Trump is inadvertently playing in this great drama of history. And this is precisely why his existence is driving the partisans of old-fashioned government planning to psychotropic drugs to control their anger and panic.