It will be hard for my readers to believe, but for more than half my life, I was effectively a liberal. Except on the issue of abortion, I more than leaned to the left. I once seriously advocated for confiscation of all guns as well as legislative re-distribution of wealth. I was sympathetic to unions until around 1995, and even walked a picket line in 92. There were a variety of factors that pushed me away from liberalism: the fall out of the strike I just referred to, the Bill Clinton experience, and 9-11. Some others, but you get the picture. Despite this transition, I considered liberalism to be a respectable viewpoint held by otherwise reasonable people who happened to disagree with me.
Watching what happened with George Bush brought this to an end. Although, I should be clear, that when I say ‘what happened with George Bush’ I also mean, ‘what happened to anyone who happened to disagree with liberals.’ Because this idea I had–that you could be a liberal and still be a good person–was emphatically not reciprocated by liberals when it came to dissenters from liberalism.
Shortly after 9-11, I distinctly remember hearing some liberal politico, complaining about the popularity that Bush was enjoying, saying something to the effect of “We have to destroy this man.” (If anyone knows who this person was and the full quote, I would love to hear it. I can’t find it now.) Not long afterwards, Bush Derangement Syndrome set in.
I had and have significant disagreements with the man, but all the information publicly available suggests that he was a decent guy who did his best for the country as he understood it. And yet he was mocked and heaped with derision that was never ending. The media heaped scorn upon him. I’d be sitting there watching the news and some minor thing that Bush had done (and Republicans in general) was a national nightmare. It got worse and worse. It was unrelenting.
And I remember that Bush never fought back. He didn’t defend himself. As his regard among the populous was deliberately degraded, the pile-on continued. It overflowed onto every other Republican, and any other person who disagreed with liberals. We saw it manifest into red hot silliness with McCain and Palin, and then again with Romney and Ryan. And I remember that as all these people were subjected to the politics of personal destruction, they did not fight back.
I believe that Trump remembers this too.
Let’s remember that until he declared his candidacy for president, Trump was generally accepted within the wider culture. As a media figure in his own right, he belonged to the ‘club.’ But as soon as he entered the race as a Republican, and certainly as soon as he strengthened his lead, the contempt amassed, built up a head of steam, and brought us to today, where Bush Derangement Syndrome has been officially replaced with Trump Derangement Syndrome.
I believe that Trump pushes back on EVERYTHING, not because of a personality disorder or ego trip, but as a matter of calculus. He has watched relatively good people be destroyed at the hands of the press, and he is not going to let it go unanswered.
On this view, if you are in the media and you don’t want Trump to continue tweeting, then stop posting malicious and obviously biased smears and slanders and passing it off as ‘news.’
Whether or not carrying out this counter-offensive on Twitter is a good idea, the counter-offensive in principle is almost certainly the smartest thing that Trump can do. I can’t help but notice, too, that Trump, in defending himself, is defending 50 million people who have been subjected to one slander after another for as long as I’ve been paying attention. And I’ve only been paying attention since c. 1996.
I have seen little in this time to suggest that the liberal ideology is interested in co-existing with people who have disagreements. To them, it is open war, and it is utterly justifiable. My strong suspicion is that Trump has come to the same conclusion, and refuses to acquiesce to it.
If only the rest of the GOP would follow suit.
Just as a side note– Trump’s Twitter account is accessible to Twitter–by definition. Twitter, like the other social media networks, is run by liberals. Fighting back using this platform is a recipe for disaster, setting aside the intrinsic problems of communicating in under 300 characters. It is entirely conceivable that someone at Twitter could hijack Trump’s account, potentially causing yuuuge problems (beyond any that Trump himself might cause 🙂 ). I don’t know what else I’d suggest, but if I were Trump’s teams, I would take precautions if they hadn’t already.