“It’s Just Incredible What Some People Can Believe”

Nathan Robinson:

There are so many bad opinions crammed into this single Wall Street Journal op-ed by Yale professor David Gelertner that I cannot hope to address them within the finite period of a human lifespan. Primarily, Gelertner argues that hatred of Donald Trump is hatred of America. Here is a large chunk of the op-ed for you to read and enjoy with me:

Every big U.S. election is interesting, but the coming midterms are fascinating for a reason most commentators forget to mention: The Democrats have no issues. The economy is booming and America’s international position is strong. In foreign affairs, the U.S. has remembered in the nick of time what Machiavelli advised princes five centuries ago: Don’t seek to be loved, seek to be feared. The contrast with the Obama years must be painful for any honest leftist. For future generations, the Kavanaugh fight will stand as a marker of the Democratic Party’s intellectual bankruptcy, the flashing red light on the dashboard that says “Empty.” The left is beaten. For now, though, the left’s only issue is “We hate Trump.” This is an instructive hatred, because what the left hates about Donald Trump is precisely what it hates about America. The implications are important, and painful. Not that every leftist hates America. But the leftists I know do hate Mr. Trump’s vulgarity, his unwillingness to walk away from a fight, his bluntness, his certainty that America is exceptional, his mistrust of intellectuals, his love of simple ideas that work, and his refusal to believe that men and women are interchangeable. Worst of all, he has no ideology except getting the job done. The difference between citizens who hate Mr. Trump and those who can live with him—whether they love or merely tolerate him—comes down to their views of the typical American: the farmer, factory hand, auto mechanic, machinist, teamster, shop owner, clerk, software engineer, infantryman, truck driver, housewife. The leftist intellectuals I know say they dislike such people insofar as they tend to be conservative Republicans. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama know their real sins. They know how appalling such people are, with their stupid guns and loathsome churches. They have no money or permanent grievances to make them interesting and no Twitter followers to speak of… In truth they are dumb as sheep. Mr. Trump reminds us who the average American really is… He might be realigning the political map: plain average Americans of every type vs. fancy ones. [T]he Trump-hater truly does hate the average American—male or female, black or white. Often he hates America, too.

My God! Where does one start? I suppose it’s futile to insist that despite writing a book on what a loathsome person Donald Trump is, I do not, in fact, hate America. Or to point out that there are many people who dislike Trump and go to church. Or to show that there’s no such thing as having your “only ideology” be “getting the job done,” because everything depends on which job you choose to do. Or to note that there are many extremely valid reasons to be horrified by Trump, like his intentionally malicious immigration policies and his deadly and irresponsible rejection of climate science. Or to deconstruct this idea of the “average American,” who always seems to be a goddamn farmer. (Besides, there are countless farmers, machinists, and factory hands who also think the president is a cruel and stupid man.) Perhaps I might note that I like vulgarity and bluntness, mistrust intellectuals, and enjoy Simple Ideas That Work. (Though I do find “American Exceptionalism” to be a downright silly notion. The only respect in which America is exceptional is that it is exceptionally convinced of its own exceptionalism.)