Clearly in empirical terms, nothing that Trump in his first month in office has done seems to have justified calls for violence against his person or his removal from office. What then accounts for the unprecedented venom?
1) As we saw from his recent free-wheeling press conference, Trump’s loud, take-no-prisoners style is certainly anti-Washington, anti-media, anti-elite, and anti-liberal. He often unsettles reporters with bombast and invective, when most are accustomed to dealing with career politicians or fellow liberal officeholders who share their same beliefs. As part of Trump’s art-of-the-deal tactics, he often blusters, rails, and asks for three times what he might eventually settle for, on the expectation that critics of his style will be soon silenced by the undeniable upside of his eventual achievements. This is a long-term strategy that in the short term allows journalists to fault the present means rather than the future ends. Trump’s unconventional bluster, not his record so far, fuels the animosity of elites who seek to delegitimize him and fear that their reputations and careers can be rendered irrelevant by his roughshod populism. He also has reminded the country that some of the mainstream media and Washington–New York elite are often mediocre and boring.
2) The Democratic party has been absorbed by its left wing and is beginning to resemble the impotent British Labour party. Certainly it no longer is a national party. Mostly it’s a local and municipal coastal force, galvanized to promote a race and gender agenda and opposed to conservatism yet without a pragmatic alternative vision. Its dilemma is largely due to the personal success but presidential failure of Barack Obama, who moved the party leftward and yet bequeathed an electoral matrix that will deprive future national candidates of swing-state constituencies without compensating for that downside with massive minority turnouts, which were unique to Obama’s candidacy. The Democratic party bites its tail in endless paroxysms of electoral frustration — given that the medicine of broadening support to win back the white poor and working classes is deemed worse than the disease of losing the state governorships and legislatures, the Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court.
3) Usually conservative pundits and journalists would push back against this extraordinary effort to delegitimize a Republican president. But due to a year of Never Trump politicking and opposition, and Trump’s own in-your-face, unorthodox style and grating temperament, hundreds of Republican intellectuals and journalists, former officeholders and current politicians — who shared a common belief that Trump had no chance of winning and thus could be safely written off — find themselves without influence in either the White House or indeed in their own party, over 90 percent of which voted for Trump. In other words, the Right ruling class is still in a civil war of sorts.