Three weeks after losing sleep to tatichardia and denial, I’m no closer to accepting what the pundit class regards as a normal election cycle. My instinct is to reject allusions to Weimar Germany as canned and lacking in imagination, like all hyperbole. Remembering the degeneracy of the Bill Clinton opposition and the way in which it fed the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City, Rick Perlstein wonders if it the so-called opposition party is up to the task of, well, opposing. The first step is recognizing the existential nature of the problem, and, according to Perlstein, the Democrats have already failed. Perlstein remembers the growing threat of violence in 1993 and 1994 precipitating the bombing:
I saw the word “terrorism” only once, in a self-congratulatory text about how initial suspicions of “Muslim terrorists” were overcome, fair-minded Americans turning their rage on a corn-fed American boy instead: another blessing, this opportunity to prove that America was not racist. There was no mention of right-wing talk-radio host G. Gordon Liddy advising his listeners the previous year to confront agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireams: “Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.” Or Newt Gingrich’s Republican revolutionaries taking over Congress via rhetoric depicting the federal government as an alien occupying army. Or Jesse Helms informing President Bill Clinton that if he visited North Carolina, he should bring bodyguards.
Or Bob Dole declaring on the floor of the Senate that he had to represent the 57 percent of the population that didn’t vote for Clinton; he made it clear that William Jefferson Clinton may have been president but not his president. Bill Clinton the GOP remembers now as a gentlemanly moderate oasis.
Meanwhile Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Education, whose brother is Blackwater founder Eric Prince, once said in public that changing school systems is a battle as fierce as the Israelites fighting the Philistines:
The Devos family has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes — including donating hundreds of thousands to “Focus on the Family”, a conservative Christian organization that supports so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation.
During the DeVos interview, the couple talks about a trip to Israel where they learned about a geographical region, called the Shephelah, where battles were fought between the Israelites and Philistines. Betsy DeVos then links this topic to education.
“It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture — to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things — in this case, the system of education in the country,” she says.
Only in the last week has a sewer like National Review awakened to the realization that it’s going to get eighty percent of what it wants from a Trump presidency; its writers put influence over policy during the election season, and not for the first time.
On November 6, I looked forward to retiring the Donald Trump hashtag.