Conservatism reaches a dead end

After the attempted coup, the mood in the pro-Trump world became one of profoundest self-pity. The president’s supporters compare themselves to victims of Stalin’s purges, to the unpersons of George Orwell’s 1984. They watch their Twitter followers disappear as the company closes QAnon accounts, and they feel persecuted. They invoke Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about Nazi Germany: First they came for those who plotted the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and I said nothing.

Again and again since Election Night 2020, Republicans have urged sympathy and accommodation for those who refused to accept the election outcome. Give them space for their feelings. What harm will it do to humor them a little longer?

Over the past half decade, we have turned much of the country’s mindscape into a group-therapy session for Trump believers. Reporters play the part of the therapist, reassuring the analyzed of a safe space for their grievances and complaints. The pro-Trump world has accepted the invitation. Even as Trump commits one constitutional, legal, and ethical after another, his followers depict themselves as somehow the people truly suffering unfairness. Trump was a perpetrator who thought himself a victim, and American society has indulged that same illusion among Trump supporters.