Analyzing the Right-Wing Narrative
Published at 07:59 on 18 May 2017
The excerpts below are from this article by the New York Times.
Enemies from within have launched a “deep-state” smear campaign, news organizations are acting with ulterior motives, and the worst attacks are yet to come.
The term “deep state” is not a neologism; it’s been around for a long time and applied to many political situations. And there does appear to be such a thing at work in the USA presently. That’s a good thing, in this context, since it’s acting for the preservation of an Establishment that while deeply flawed, is greatly preferable to the sort of fascist state Trump desires to create.
The worst attacks are indeed probably yet to come, but it must be pointed out that the most effective attack strategy so far has been to simply tell the truth about how awful Trump is. If Trump stopped violating the norms of a free, open society, he’d be brutally effective in disarming his adversaries (who in turn would dwindle in number and diminish in militance as motives to oppose Trump vanished).
The bit about the media I will cover after the following excerpt:
Pushing back against the biggest threat so far to Donald Trump’s young presidency, his most fervent supporters are building alternative narratives to run alongside the “establishment” media account — from relatively benign diversions to more bizarre conspiracies.
Sources such as the New York Times are definitely the Establishment media. There is no inaccuracy on the part of anyone (including the far right) describing them as such. And they are out to get Trump. For good reason; Trump violates numerous basic norms of a free and open society.
With varying degrees of credibility and credulity, conservatives have fed stories that Mr. Trump is the victim of sabotage by an adversarial intelligence community full of Trojan horse holdovers from the Obama administration.
“There is someone burrowed into the intelligence community who wants to hurt Trump,” the conservative author and radio host Laura Ingraham warned.
There are individuals in the Intelligence Community who want to damage Trump. For good reason: Trump violates basic norms. These acts on the part of the Intelligence Community are not a violation of duty. These agencies do serve under the command of the president, but the oath they pledge to upheld is not one of loyalty to president; it is one of loyalty to the US Constitution. Intelligence agents have not merely the right but the duty to disobey orders, regulations, and even laws if doing so is, in their sober judgement, the best practical way to uphold the Constitution they pledged loyalty to.
This goes for more than just the Intelligence Community, by the way. All civil servants (as well as all members of the armed forces) take similar oaths. The wording of the oaths was deliberately chosen long ago, for the express reason of helping to incite precisely the sort of resistance from within which we are now seeing, should an enemy of a democratic republic ever take possession of the White House.
The “deep state” is very real, but far from being an unforeseen aberration on the body politic, it is a deliberately created check against the sort of situation we find ourselves in.
The part about the Obama administration is mostly baseless smoke-blowing. While it is true that there are many in the civil service who were hired during those years, the civil service has long been operated at arm’s length from the presidency. Moreover, the civil service is full of individuals who have been in it for many decades; there’s plenty of civil servants who were hired under Republican administrations.
For many Trump loyalists, the issue is not whether his presidency is messy and chaotic and dysfunctional. Many of them seemed resigned long ago to the fact that it would be. The more relevant question is whether they see anyone else who is equipped to change Washington in the way Mr. Trump promised he would.
None of the above should be construed to deny that many of the motives for voters to choose Trump are in fact valid. The Establishment has ignored the desires of many working-class people, for many decades. This is true for both political parties.
That anger will not vanish when Trump vanishes from the White House. Nor should it. It needs to be given a more fact-based and less hateful outlet by creating a left-wing populist movement. This may prove easier than many assume (witness how the Occupy movement emerged seemingly out of nowhere).
Trump supporters will feel plenty bitter and let down when their führer falls, but the vast majority of people have shockingly short political memories. After the anger dies down, many will become potentially receptive to alternate messages.
Any alliance the Left makes with the Establishment should therefore be a temporary one aimed at addressing the current crises the Trump presidency represents. If not, the anger will remain, searching for an outlet, and there will always be demagogues on the Right willing to exploit it.
Ultimately, the Establishment is untenable and cannot stand in its present state for long. If one desires to preserve basic freedoms, it is going to be necessary to move society leftwards.