Anyone with a Facebook account already knows that many of our liberal friends are convinced that Trump is, at best, setting the U.S. up for a rerun of the last days of Weimar Germany. At worst, they see him as not merely a billionaire with a thin skin but as the mastermind of a scheme aimed at replacing democracy with a dictatorship that will repress women and minorities.
When “liked,” shared, and echoed in comments on social media, that sort of thinking is a form of mass group therapy for those who still can’t believe Trump won the election. But it’s also what helped to motivate the counter-inaugural marches and the rest of the reaction to the new administration that increasingly calls itself a “resistance” rather than mere political opposition.
That there is no more “proof” of a coming Trump coup than there was for past derangement-syndrome theories is immaterial. What matters is that growing numbers of liberals are operating under the assumption that Trump isn’t merely an inappropriate figure or wrong on the issues; they think he is really plotting to destroy democracy.
One would hope that mainstream, liberal publications would, as serious conservative journalists did during the Obama presidency, act as a check on this sort of foolishness. But the fever pitch of angst about every one of Trump’s appointees and the over-the-top denunciations of his immigration orders in mainstream publications like the New York Times and on cable-news networks have only served to reinforce the tendency to view the debate through a conspiratorial mindset.