Back at the 2015 event at which Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency, his daughter Ivanka introduced her father as, first and foremost, an implacable foe of political correctness. “My father is the opposite of politically correct. He says what he means and he means what he says,” she said, shortly before Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as disease-ridden, drug-smuggling rapists (“Some, I assume, are good people,” he granted). In the first Republican primary debate, held in August of 2015, Trump himself reiterated that being anti-P.C. would be the hallmark of his political life, declaring, “I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness.”
It’s ironic, then, that perhaps Trump’s greatest accomplishment so far as president is to make it OK—or maybe even mandatory—for his followers to engage in the worst excesses of political correctness, especially its attempts to shut down debate and heterodox opinions through bullying, appeals to ad hominem attacks, and unthinking “whataboutism.”
Among the Trump faithful, there are never legitimate grounds upon which to disagree with anything the billionaire says or does. If Barack Obama’s most strident defenders were sometimes quick to claim any criticism of him was racist, thereby delegitimating honest disagreement, Trump’s supporters are equally quick to denounce any dissent as proof positive of secret membership in Antifa, a pro-Hillary voting record, or a desperate attempt to look good among the communists who run the much-discussed-yet-little-seen Washington, D.C. cocktail party circuit.