In his book The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton offers that: “At the heart of every frustration lies a basic structure: the collisions of a wish with an unyielding reality.” He goes on to observe: “Our greatest furies spring from events which violate our sense of the ground of our existence.” So much has been written and discussed lately re: the frustrations of the diminishing white middle class male…and this archetype has been used to explain the Trump ascendancy. Yet the truly frustrated political/demographic class today are left-wing Democrats who hijacked what was once the party of the working man and flew it into the cliff of identity politics and tribalism…and have reaped the results in lost election after election since 2008.
The Left, so sure of their moral high ground, yet so bewildered at their marginalization, have found no validation at the ballot box. So they have grown ever more agitated, like someone locked in a steam room now pounding on the door and flailing around as the temperature (in this case the rise of Republican political power not just in Washington but across the state capitals) builds. Eventually, as the reality of their own powerlessness sinks in, a lashing out in more unconventional, even violent ways will result. The grisliest expression of this psychology was realized in the form of gunshots last Wednesday.
The hatred witnessed on June 14 was forged not just in the fires of the 2016 campaign but indeed through the steady erosion of real leftist power since its apogee in the 2008 election. The morning after Donald Trump’s seismic victory, Game Change co-author John Heilemann predicted: “Democrats are going to spend a lot of time thinking about how we could have lost to this guy. And how bad your candidate had to be to lose to Donald Trump.” But that is not the course they chose. Instead of a much-needed Stuart Smalley mirror-gazing moment of collective reflection, Democratic leadership, taking their cues from an apoplectic far-left coastal/municipal constituency, opted to not just be the opposition party. Rather, they embarked on a campaign whose ultimate end is nothing short of reversing the general election.
It is an elitist response. To bestow legitimacy upon a Trump presidency would be to admit their beliefs are out of step with the people they feel are their credentialed right to rule. This cannot be. The only reasonable explanation, then, is that the rubes between the western slopes of the Appalachians and the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas must be deranged, duped, ignorant, or suffer from a cornucopia of “isms.” There is no space in this cloistered mindset for self-analysis, let alone self-critique. Nor is there any need as they see it. Merely #resist. It is no coincidence that Democrats are three times as likely as Republicans to block someone on social media if they have different politics. There is no need for them to hear opposing views any more than an astronaut need engage a Flat Earther. The virtue of Leftism is settled political science. This makes it all more disconcerting for them when reality crashes through the bubble. And, as per de Botton, there is a direct path from frustration to fury. We are seeing it now.
What is happening within broader Democratic circles, and the organized protests in particular — be they of the bright-eyed knitted vulva cap design or the darkly violent anarchy of Antifa — is the equivalent to a mass temper tantrum. It must be enraging to know you are in the right, and the other side (whomever they are, but usually beginning with the Tron of the white, heterosexual American male) are buffoons, and yet be forced to watch as election after election shows your real political power slipping away in the form of lost state legislatures, lost governorships, a lost House, a lost Senate, and now, the final turn of the screw, a lost White House and with it the Supreme Court. This cannot be happening. Clearly there is something else besides losing in the arena of ideas at play here. Something sinister. So they latch onto the Russia-hacked-the-election mantra and, despite mounting evidence (or lack thereof) that President Trump was not directly involved in any collusion, continue to press on. An investigation is needed, they say, to show that an investigation is not needed.
But there is no genuine desire on the part of Democrats to get at the bottom of the Russian connection — after all, their own candidate was openly engaged in advancing Russian interests in the form of uranium deals while her husband raked in $500,000 speaking fees in Moscow. Rather, they know that special counsels have a way of unearthing skeletons buried in the basement, even if originally tasked with rummaging through the attic…as Bill Clinton discovered when an ostensible probe into Whitewater turned into Monica-gate and paralyzed his administration. That is the intention here. As self-examination is not an option for the righteous, destroying the vile enemy by any means necessary when thwarted at the voting booth is the only recourse. Thus, there will always be another investigation after another which they hope will cumulatively isolate and bleed this administration’s credibility and approval ratings by a thousand cuts just in time for 2020.
In a way, what we have seen on the Left is a curious phenomenon that afflicted by-passed Japanese garrisons in World War 2 when denied their Gotterdammerungs and instead were cut-off and left to wither and die miserably on the vine. The garrisons, observed William Manchester, experienced a “psychological hernia” and felt themselves the victims of a monstrous injustice. Irrational, violent, even suicidal behavior followed. The more extremist elements of the once populist working man’s Democratic Party are behaving the same way now. They seem unable to come to grips with a monstrous injustice that has befallen them. As such, the heated rhetoric intensifies as the frustration builds. Being powerless in politics is nitroglycerin to the soul of the pious. It is only a matter of time before someone, unable to cope with a reality that defies their expectations, snaps and lashes out in a heinous fashion.
It was a noble effort this past week to cloak the GOP-targeted shooting in bipartisanship, with the pleas to dial back the hate “on both sides.” But this sentiment will be short-lived as it, too, belies liberal reality. There is not an equal distribution of political violence today. The assaults, the rioting, the looting, the shooting of police, the physical intimidation, the shouting down and even shutting down of free speech across college campuses, the barricading, the racial re-segregation and threats to even liberal professors who find this unacceptable, and now the targeting of innocents solely for their political affiliations, are disproportionately a manifestation of the mobilized Left. It is a reflexive phenomenon of those who know that, for all their righteous indignation and intellect, they are losing the battle of ideas — certainly in elections — and with it the power to see their own vision of the country implemented. Soon even their last recourse, the courts, may be taken from them. It is just too much for some to bear.
As it turns out, Obama’s strategy of polarizing and carving up identities to cobble together a 51% voting block of the aggrieved only worked for one unique candidate. It was not transferable to a 69-year-old, shrill, white grandmother tainted with corruption and with no clear vision for the future beyond seeing herself ensconced in the Oval Office. The tribalism model has been, so far at least, rejected on all levels of government by swaths of an American electorate who still view themselves as just that: Americans. The setbacks have not stopped the leftist tantrum however. When it comes to the Democratic Party, there is no room for soul-searching. There is only the strategy of digging in deeper behind their moral ramparts and waging guerrilla war through endless investigations, hearings, and protest in an attempt to thwart the will of the people as expressed in the electoral process. Unless Donald Trump burns himself on a pyre of his own tweets and arrogant recklessness, a very likely possibility, the Left’s now-toxic, even dangerous level of frustration will continue to percolate in a way their opponents, too adroit at winning elections over the past eight years to pay them much mind, cannot fathom. This would not be good for the country, no matter which side of the aisle one finds him or herself on when the bullets of frustration fly.