This morning David Brooks, in a paroxysm of "election-related anxiety," warns us about the perils of election-related anxiety, which, he says, "is coursing through American society." Woe to the anguished who believe "the destructive character" of our national anxiety stems from only one side. No, our deep disquiet is "led by two candidates who arouse gargantuan anxieties, fear and hatred in their opponents." This — conservative intellectualism's both-sides-are-to-blame narrative — Brooks gets out of the way early, so that he can hie to convulsions of hand-wringing angst, which, tellingly enough, have to do in the rest of his column with Trump only.
Brooks is a very sad man, whose superior sensitivity to political degradations puts me to shame. I must be in large part a wretchedly indifferent bastard, for I see Trumpism as but the age-old surrealism of the far right. I worry more about the left's recent unpleasantness — its susceptibility to crackpot demagogic appeals. If both sides become enmeshed in ideological platitudes of the wholly unachievable, we really will have problems.
That said, having spiraled into election-related anxiety, Brooks seems to catch himself at the end of his column. "This campaign will soon be over," he writes, "and governing, thank God, will soon return," he fantasizes. Nonetheless, it's what comes betwixt Brooks' open and close that intrigues, such as this: "David French wrote a shocking essay for National Review describing the appalling online abuse he suffered because of his anti-Trump stance. His anonymous assailants Photoshopped pictures of his daughter’s face in a gas chamber and left GIFs of grisly executions on his wife’s blog."
That of course transcends the far right's surrealism; it exposes, instead, its diseased underbelly. To the best of my recollection, we here at PMC's Commentary have never been haunted by the violently Trumpist. But you should take a look sometime at my Facebook page, which I myself do only when duty calls, as it did this morning. The right-wing pathology expressed therein — most often in CAPS and multiple exclamation points!!!! — is both unsettling and comforting. What follows (in reaction to my post yesterday on Hillary Clinton's presidential legitimacy) courses not "through American society." It courses only through the devoted Trumpian mind, which dwells in a decided minority:
*We won't last anytime with hillarys open boarders how many Muslim refugees are you going to pay for. [I love it: I assume those Muslim refugees will be the "boarders"?]
*Half the country has already deemed a Clinton presidency illegitimate. We the People will never allow ourselves to be governed by a criminal felon. This woman is unqualified, because of her obvious crimes, to be our president and we intend to ensure, if elected, she is reminded daily of that fact!
*VOTER suppression WILL NOT WORK THIS TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!AMERICA FIRST !!!! VOTE TRUMP EARLY MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE GETS HEARD , CAST AND COUNTED !!!! EARLY VOTING HAS BEGUN TELL A FRIEND NO LINES . ONLY PATRIOTS CAN MAKE AMERICA GREAT again !!! VOTE TRUMP NOW [this commenter appears to be a trifle confused as to what "voter suppression means]
*Thank God Trump is ahead with 63% of the vote so far. America could never survive 4 more years of this crap…. Hillary is a Nazi socialist that has already started several wars, has assassinated world leaders, and has almost every country in the world opposing her and supporting Trump. Have you missed WikiLeaks? The entire world is saying America is 1930s Germany with Obama and Hillary sharing the role of Hitler. Wake up!!! America is finished if Hillary wins.
And anyone who disagrees, says another commenter, "is another typical uninformed liberal lunatic!!"
Just what, I ask, is unique about these comments? That is, what about them is peculiar to 2016, and to the forewarned, impending calamity of Clinton's Nazi socialism? Nothing, nothing at all is the answer. The adventurous are free to revisit identical remarks left in countless online comment sections and in fringe newspapers of 2012, 2008, 2004, and on back to 1936 — when FDR was deep into destroying capitalist America by saving it. Today's Trumpeteering comments reflect only the unhinged convictions of a chronically unhinged minority. Though I grant that they are appalling, in their actual numbers they're also comforting.
I'm toying with the idea of ignoring these hoary buffoons post-election, for they are, as President Eisenhower observed in a private 1954 letter, a "negligible" and "stupid" lot. But I fear my numbers might suffer. For though deserving of neglect they are, they can be awfully entertaining. Indeed, I really should visit my own FB page more often, where I can learn, comfortingly, that left-wing VOTER suppression WILL NOT WORK THIS TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!