Something lighthearted on a slow news morning from the Daily Beast that both sides of the right’s Trump divide can enjoy. If you’re a Trump fan who’s tired of hearing pundits warn that he’ll never win over Sanders voters, here’s anecdotal evidence that you’re right and they’re wrong. (And not the only evidence either. A similar piece, entitled “Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary,” recently appeared in Politico.) Most Bernie fans will grudgingly back Clinton but the numbers matter, especially since Trump has already united most of the GOP behind him. If he loses five percent of Republicans and she loses, say, 12 percent of Democrats, that margin may be all he needs to win. There’s every reason right now to think that the anti-Hillary faction on the left will outnumber the anti-Trump faction on the right.
If you’re not a Trump fan, no worries. You can still enjoy this piece because, well, because it sounds like a Joker monologue from “The Dark Knight.”
What’s needed now in American politics is consternation, confusion, dissension, disorder, chaos — and crisis, with possible resolution — and a Trump presidency is the best chance for this true progress. This is a politics of arson. I’d rather see the empire burn to the ground under Trump, opening up at least the possibility of radical change, than cruise on autopilot under Clinton…
I’m not alone here. Travelling across the country, I keep meeting people who voted for Sanders in the primaries but mutter under cover of night and a few drinks that they’ll vote for Trump in November. Friends out in the wildlands of the intermountain West, hard gun-toting anarchist redneck Amy Goodman progressives, say so. Big-city journalists, too. I suspect that the left-contrarian, anti-Hillary, pro-Trump arsonist crowd is larger and wider-spread than the cubicled creatures in the Clinton campaign have accounted for…
It may be that a Trump presidency, as Andrew Sullivan predicts in New York Magazine, will usher in the end of the democracy, the death of the republic, the rise of the hard totalitarian state. Given that we are already living in what Princeton political scientist Sheldon Wolin calls a soft or inverted totalitarian system, an illiberal democracy, the transformation feared by Sullivan will be welcome, clarifying, a fresh breath of honesty, in which the trappings are tossed aside and the ugly reality is revealed. Such a revelation, as the republic degenerates into tyranny, may inspire real resistance.
There are lots of conceivable reasons to vote for Trump — a symbolic vote against political correctness, sincere conviction that protectionism will restore American jobs, a belief that only a strongman can reform government — but this is the first time I’ve heard a sort of Cloward-Piven rationale for backing him, in which you vote for Trump because you think he’ll turn out to be the ogre that #NeverTrumpers are forever fretting about. Call it the “Make America Dead Again” approach. Apparently, to some Berniebros, his potential as a powerful agent of chaos and crisis makes him the ideal man to generate a public backlash that’ll push America towards radical leftism. (Which would inevitably generate a backlash on the right that radicalizes them too, but never mind that.) Come to think of it, that’s not all that different from my own suspicions that the cretins who attacked Trump supporters after his rally in San Jose might not be inclined to stand down even if you could convince them that violence only makes it more likely that he’ll win. Some of them may want him as president on the theory that it’ll be easier to galvanize left-wing radicals against a Republican authoritarian than a Democratic establishment statist like Hillary. This may be the fruit of the Bernie “revolution,” surprising traction for Trump on the left not so much because fringier progressives believe he’ll govern economically like Bernie would but because he’s a juicier target politically for “direct action” as president.
Then again, how many working-class Democrats, even the radicals among them, can afford to vote for a candidate whom they believe will make things worse for them in the short-term even if they’re convinced that the long-term backlash will be to their benefit? More than one Twitter pal noted of the excerpt above that it reeks of privilege: That is, it’s easy to say “bring it on” to Trump if you have less to lose than someone on your side from a lower class who has more skin in the game when it comes to which party controls government. In that sense, maybe the guy who wrote this is the flip side of the #NeverTrump commentariat on the right. Apart from the arson fantasies, of course.