Lance Morrow: “Donald Trump Is a Burnt-Out Case, an Exhausted Volcano. Let Palm Beach Have Him.”

From a Wall Street Journal column by Lance Morrow headlined “America’s Old Believers Need to Move Past Donald Trump”:

Let us speak of the Old Believers, clingers to their God and guns, to the old pronouns and the heterosexual marriages. Theirs is still, despite all, a Norman Rockwell version of things—manifest, for example, in a primitive confidence in the doctor who, once upon a time, would swat a newborn’s rump and announce, with hieratic certitude, “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl.” The Old Believers did not think that the doctor, on a whim, “assigned” the baby’s “gender.” They held that the decision had been made months earlier, higher up the biological chain of command, and was to be respected as part of the scheme of things….

The mood is darker now. Emerging from the Covid seclusion, I am startled by the shudder of aversion, hatred and even fear with which America’s polite progressive society greet the mere mention of a Republican or a conservative. It’s a reflex, a wince of horror and disapproval. If you pronounce the name Trump, they go into convulsions.

There’s been a subtle rearrangement in the vocabulary of condemnation. Progressive elites are momentarily bored with denouncing all whites except themselves as “white supremacists.” There are trends in these usages. On Facebook now, they favor the word “fascist”—tossing it around especially during discussions of various Republican efforts to reform state voting laws. All conservative initiatives along these lines are fascist. The rhetoric must be unbridled—extreme, savoring almost of the medieval. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s Red Guards went around denouncing “black elements” and “demons and monsters.” All conservatives now are, to the elites, demons and monsters.

Progressives bemoan the dark days in which we live. They predict the imminent death of “our fragile democracy.” In their voices, you hear a throb of opulent hysteria—an ostentatious despair, the boutique self-pity of the privileged. Hating Mr. Trump and his followers dramatizes one’s own virtue. It makes elites feel good about themselves in the way, classically, that poor whites in the South were able to feel better about their own lot by despising and discriminating against black people. Progressives think that hating not only Mr. Trump but all conservatives settles their debts and cleanses them of sin. It gives them a certain moral luster.

Mr. Trump is to blame for much of this. Character is destiny, and Mr. Trump was quite a character. He gave his enemies the gift of Jan. 6. He played peek-a-boo with forbidden thoughts. He tossed cherry bombs at the Constitution to see if he could give it a scare. Whatever else one may say about Jan. 6, it was one of the stupidest afternoons in American history.

Russia’s new orthodoxy eventually burned the archpriest Avvakum at the stake. The 21st-century left would do the same to Mr. Trump if it could. It may not be necessary. He’s a burnt-out case, an exhausted volcano, in Disraeli’s phrase. Let Palm Beach have him.

The Old Believers don’t need Mr. Trump. If they are smart—and lucky—they will find someone who is capable, as Mr. Trump was not, of defending the country’s civic sanity, decency, democracy, and freedom of speech and thought. That hero has yet to emerge.


Speak Your Mind