Let’s get down to definitions … perhaps a bit late after yesterday’s inaugural violence, when the self-styled “Resistance” showed up in Washington DC, and several other cities. Capitol police had to arrest over 200 people yesterday who turned to violence in the name of “resisting” Donald Trump, who had yet to conduct one official act when the violence began. Rioting caused damage to entire city blocks starting the previous night and lasting into the evening.
Those weren’t protests — those were attempted revolutionary acts, which fits right into the hyperbolic and irresponsible language adopted by the very same people who lectured us on accepting the results of elections just three months earlier. As I write in a special column today for the New York Post, language matters — and in this case, it’s also very revealing:
That, however, was not what we saw on Inauguration Day. It didn’t start on Inauguration Day, either, or even on Inauguration Eve. This started immediately after the election, when those on the losing side of the election began dubbing themselves “The Resistance.”
This grandiose and pretentious appellation insults those who actually have to live under authoritarian regimes, including Cuba, whose oppressed no longer have the promise of expedited asylum if they manage to reach the United States, thanks to the outgoing president’s actions in the final hours of his term.
Those who lose elections in free countries are the opposition, and can fix that by winning the next election. Instead of asking why they lost, the “resistance” decided to pretend the loss of an election amounts to oppression and have adopted the language of revolution to rally themselves.
That incendiary language didn’t just get adopted by a few on the fringe, but by many on the left, including some in the news and entertainment media.
In a self-governing republic with established democratic processes, there is no honorable role for “resistance.” What are they “resisting,” especially before the new administration even takes office? Free and fair elections — the kind that this particular group hadn’t lost in twelve years. They only believe in elections when it gives them access to power.
Rather than take on the honorable and difficult task of the opposition party and rebuild themselves for future success, some on the Left have decided that they’re victims of oppression. To excuse that and their actions that have followed, they now wrap themselves in the mantle of the free French in World War II, or perhaps more relevantly, those few and brave dissidents in actual dictatorial regimes like Cuba. That’s not only ridiculous, it’s an insult to those who have had to fight true oppression and who had self-governance stripped from their hands, to the extent they had it at all.
Mickey Kaus calls this 1934ism, and marvels at the hysteria of it all:
Yet those who adhere to this unnamed tendency — let’s call it ’34ism, unless you can come up with a better name *** –allow the power of their terrifying dream to overwhelm sober consideration of everything Trump does or intends to do, good or bad (on trade, taxes, regulations, immigration, etc). We’re supposed to draw up sides — condemning (and ostracizing) those who are “complicit” in Trump’s administration and welcoming those who “stand on the right side of history” — even before we know whether the authoritarian seed will grow or wither, disregarding all the other positively auspicious seeds (reform of trade, control of borders, fewer foreign miliary adventures, ending the Republican threat to Social Security and Medicare, etc.) that might flourish instead. In Slate 34ist Yascha Mounk’s head it’s practically Life During Wartime already, with brave Trump critics fired from their jobs, sleeping on the couches of their secret colleagues in the Resistance. Keep the car running.
Suggested alternative: See what happens first! Don’t let the reaction to Trump be dominated by one extremely unlikely bad possibility, at the expense of nurturing the far-more-likely good possibilities.
But Glenn Reynolds gets to the heart of the narcissism of the “resistance,” if I may quote fully:
Well, it’s not so much that they think Trump is a Nazi, as that they want to think of themselves as the bold resistance. The absence of actual brownshirts — well, except for the ones from the Left who were smashing windows, and Trump supporters, in DC last night — only makes it easier and more appealing to strike that pose.
The “resistance” styles itself as anti-fascist, but they are the fascists. They don’t like the outcome of the election, and now they want to seize power by force and intimidation. And everyone who contributes to this hysteria and uses the hyperbolic language of revolution is adding to the environment in which these groups take action.
The American people spoke in this election, not just in the presidential race but at every level of governance, and they rejected Democrats and the Left. It happens; Republicans had the same experience in 2006 and 2008, and spent their time fitfully repositioning themselves to appeal to voters, at least in relation to Democrats. You’re not a “resistance,” you’re an opposition, and your arrogance and self-regard are at least part of the reason your side lost in November. Grow up, get real, and perhaps rethink the decisions to cling to the calcified leadership that led you into your political dead end.