I find the interaction between some cops and vigilantes in Kenosha deeply, deeply disturbing. Non-college-educated white men make up a lot of the police forces and military in the US — and Trump has big margins of support among them, counts them as his own cops and soldiers, and signals that he will always have their back. As the far left has indiscriminately smeared the police, and promised to abolish or defund them, they have helped Trump co-opt them in a terrifying dynamic. As Trump was eulogizing a murdered policeman, the leftist mob outside was in the midst of a “Fuck The Police” demonstration. If the Dems want to fight an election on that choice — and some do — they’re engaged on a suicide mission.
And let’s be frank about this and call this by its name: this is very Weimar. The center has collapsed. Armed street gangs of far right and far left are at war on the streets. Tribalism is intensifying in every nook and cranny of the culture. The establishment right and mainstream left tolerate their respective extremes because they hate each other so much.
The pattern is textbook, if you learn anything from history: an economic crisis resulting in mass unemployment; the pent-up psychological disorders a long period of lockdown can and will unleash; a failure of nerve on the part of liberals to defend the values and institutions of liberal democracy, and of conservatives to keep their own ranks free of raw demagogues and bigots. But critically: a growing sense of disorder and violence and rioting as simply the background noise; and a sense that authorities do not have the strength or the stomach to restore order. What most people want in that kind of nerve-wracking instability is a figure who will come in and stamp it out. In Trump, we have someone who would happily trample any liberal democratic norm to do it. And the left seems to be all but begging him to do it — if only to prove them right.