(Note: When I say “right” I mean the people who actually run the Republican Party. I mean this guy. I mean these guys. I don’t mean the American Solidarity Party, or Wendell Berry, or most of Catholic Dad Twitter, or my mom, or probably your mom.)
These are massive generalizations. Qualify to taste.
Liberals believe in complex, fiddly, technocratic, incrementalist solutions. The right believes in big visions. Mean visions that will deal death and destruction to more than half the country they claim to “love”: but visions nonetheless. The right won.
Liberals think politics is the art of the possible. The right knows that politics is the art of the impossible. The right won.
Liberals think history is progressing somewhere. The right thinks history is up for grabs. The right won.
Liberals believe in compromise, “horse trading,” procedures, Hamilton. The right believes in resistance, refusal, massive obstruction, Red Dawn. The right won.
The right think they’ve accomplished something when they talk someone they hate into joining their side. Trump’s Vice President wants to zap gay peoples’ brains and thinks Planned Parenthood is an organ bazaar; and yet, one of Trump’s biggest funders, and possible Cabinet picks, is a gay man who wants to buy your blood. Contradictions? They laugh at contradictions. Liberals claim to believe in complexity, but in practice they’re often purists. Liberals think they’ve accomplished something when they tell you “If you believe X, Y, and Z propositions, please unfriend me now! Ugh!” (This is a valid self-care strategy for people in danger, but if you’re a white straight man, you should probably not be doing it.) Anyway, the right won on that too.
I’m not saying “let’s be like them.” And I’m certainly not saying “let’s crush them as they wish to crush us.” (I love too many people on the other side.) I’m saying let’s start fighting for a future that is so good and generous that we’re afraid to even let ourselves think about it. I’m saying let’s imagine convincing people who seem unconvinceable. (This is not everybody’s work to the same degree: Black people, I’m not asking you to empathize with racism, unless you feel called to do so.) And I’m saying let’s stop elevating procedure over policy. Procedures are as good as the good they accomplish.
Donald Trump began his journey toward the presidency by disrespecting the office and disregarding the outcome of the 2012 election. Now that he’s there, he’s bitching like a sleepy six-year-old that others do the same to him. His incapacity for irony is the marvel of the age. But I’m hearing echoes of the same critique, that it’s “too early,” that we must “give him a chance,” from his supporters, who know exactly what they’re doing, and from liberals, who still think they live on an episode of The West Wing. Don’t listen to either. The right has won and they desperately hope nobody notices how.