Most people, it seems, whether they defend Trump or denounce him, are parsing this entire subject the wrong way, and are thereby arriving at wacky hypotheses which, for truth’s sake, ought to be purged from the intellectual ecosystem.
It is not true that Trump has “betrayed us,” as if he ever sincerely held the same principles we do; neither is it true that Trump is a willing agent of some sort of Zionist conspiracy to control America. It is not true that Trump was given “the Talk” or “shown the real Zapruder film” in order to get him to fall in line (I’ve heard that idiotic trope going around for years); and neither is it true—which is a more Republican-friendly version of the same basic argument—that Trump had a “come to Jesus” moment when he “got that first intelligence briefing.” It is not true that Trump is still doing what he can to fight the Deep State while being hindered at every turn by a recalcitrant establishment; and it is definitely not true that Trump’s surrendering of every campaign issue can be explained by him playing “4D chess.” This is a pretty complete summation of the phase-space of proffered responses to Trump’s paradoxical behavior thus far, and absolutely none of these responses comes anywhere close to the truth.
This is precisely the phase-space that emerges whenever a legitimate hope is vested in some person or some outcome which then signally fails to live up to expectations. All these proffered explanations thrive on the disparity between expectations and reality—a disparity they are called forth to resolve. Some degree of denial, rationalization, hallucination, or straw-grasping is present in each of them. And given that the resolution process is difficult and uncertain, it is not surprising that there are some who recommend the degenerate solution, i.e. “You never should have expected so much in the first place.” But this will not do, for a valid expectation cannot yield no matter how many times it is disappointed. That would lead only to despair and despair is not a solution. So we are impelled into the phase-space by psychological necessity, and find there some Lorenz attractor to hover around in order to make the cognitive dissonance abate. But none of these explanations are true; they are, in fact, all demonstrably untrue if one cares to dig into the matter. What then is true, and how do we find the answer to the Trumpian paradox?
The fact of the matter is that Trump’s marriage of convenience with the Dissident Right was somewhat shaky to begin with, but it wasn’t a completely unwarranted gamble either. Although it was clear from the beginning that Trump was a shallow and narcissistic showman who had probably never entertained deep and sincere nationalistic sentiments, he understood enough about nationalism to perceive that it was the message that a majority of Americans wanted to hear. At that point it was incumbent upon him to investigate the subject further if he truly wanted to be the leader of these people. This he apparently did not do. He instead decided to take the lazy way out and endlessly regurgitate his flimsily contrived MAGA message, which was nothing but a pitiful and distorted reflection of the highly developed ideas of the far right. Still, there was just enough verisimilitude in MAGA to justify the hope that the “grace of office” would eventually pull Trump around to a better view.
But there was also an undercurrent of jingoism and globalism in MAGA which never should have sat well with a true nationalist, and didn’t with me. Trump did not so much wish to pull America out of foreign trade agreements and military commitments as to “renegotiate” them, and we should recall that Trump himself was rather reluctant to use the phrase “drain the swamp.” It is probable that Trump never remotely saw himself as we would like to have seen him; and to mount the mildest possible defense of the man, it may very well be the case that he still believes he is doing exactly what we elected him to do. The clear pattern of behavior that emerges from the Trump presidency is that he really just wants to do the same things his predecessors did, only “better than.” He wants to do DACA better than Obama and Congress; he wants to do the Middle East better than Obama and Bush. It never seems to have occurred to him that we actually wanted and expected a complete reversal of these policies. This is why he can hire a man like Bolton—to us, the greatest of possible betrayals—and not feel like he is doing anything wrong. “Why shouldn’t I use Bolton,” Trump thinks. “I can use him better than Bush did.”
The Dissident Right now has a choice before it to demonstrate whether we really believe in our principles or not. Since Trump’s opportunistic narcissism is never going to change, since Trump will never be able to do anything more than play “negotiation games” with the vital characteristics of the nation that we hold dear, it is obvious what the correct choice is: It is both a moral obligation and a political necessity that we cease our support for Donald Trump.
I do not advocate that we disengage from the political process altogether. I do not advocate that we abstain from voting, even if we can only vote for “the lesser of two evils,” which will probably be Donald Trump again in 2020. I am saying that we must release the idea that Trump represents who we are. We must not attempt to justify, explain, or defend his actions; neither do we need to postulate the existence of shadowy and fantastical forces of darkness that corrupted him. We simply must be done with him, and in so doing come to a better strength and understanding within ourselves.
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