Trump and the Essence of the Conservative Counter-Revolution

The Left has made a crucial mistake by seeing Trump as an aberration when he really represents the heart of the contemporary conservative movement. Instead of personalizing our view of Trump, we should see that his attacks on the media and his lack of understanding of government and democracy reveal the heart of the Republican Party. For forty years, the Right has positioned itself as the victim of liberal media and culture, and this victim identity serves to justify its aggression. Since the victim is always innocent and right, and you cannot criticize the victim, claiming victim status can be a powerful political force.

Trump’s constant obsession with political correctness and media victimization are not the result of his particular personality, but the identity between a historical political movement and a specific form of psychopathology. Unfortunately, when Hillary Clinton campaigned against him, she focused on Trump as an individual and not as the logical result of the conservative backlash movement. Democrats are now making the same mistake by not representing Trump as the embodiment of the Right.

When Paul Ryan excuses Trump’s actions as being the result of his inexperience in government, we should examine how the Republican Party has cultivated the cult of the outsider as a way of undermining what they see as the Liberal elite. Moreover, Trump’s attacks on climate science and other fact-based discourses are derived from the long history of Conservatives seeking to challenge Liberal education and culture. Likewise, the obsession with repealing Obamacare is directly connected to the attempt to delegitimize the first African-American president at any cost. Of course, Trump made his entry into national politics by claiming that Obama may not have been born in America, and this effort can be seen as part of the desire of the Right to exclude minorities from American culture and society.

In other words, virtually everything Trump is saying and doing has a long history in the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and it is unclear if Trump even believes in or cares about any of this. What Trump cares about is power and media recognition in order to build his brand, and his use of conservative rhetoric is just an advertising campaign for his self-promotion.

The possibly positive effect of Trump’s use of new Right rhetoric is that it may undermine the conservative coalition by exposing the underlying meanness and irrationality of a group that has been able to unite Christian Fundamentalists, Free Market Libertarians, racist nationalists, and the super-wealthy. On one level, what has held this contradictory coalition together is a shared hatred for everything that is deemed to be Liberal; however hatred of a common enemy can only take a group so far. At the center of the American Right has always been a desire for the ruling class to expand its influence and make as much money as possible. Nationalism, Christian Fundamentalism, racism, and the hatred of Liberalism are the main discourses that the wealthy use to organize support for their self-enhancing takeover of the government. Conservatives only want to reduce the government so that they do not have to pay taxes or have their businesses regulated; they really do not care about religion or the constitution: their only god is money and power.

Trump, then, reveals the hidden underside of the Republican Party: he is a global capitalist who appeals to nationalist sentiments because he knows that the “stupid” voters like to blame others for their problems. As a man who is used to getting what he wants, he has no tolerance for the structures of American government, and this makes him appear to support the conservative forty-year war on government. Therefore, when people critique Trump, they should always make sure they tie their criticism to the Republican Party; he is not an outsider – he is the logical result of the conservative counter-revolution

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