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The Dualism of Donald Trump
Jigs Gardner is an associate editor of The St. Croix Review.
Much has been said or written about Donald Trump, but he is not yet fully understood, as you can tell by the fact that people are still trying to reform him. So Republicans representing conventional wisdom (think of the editorial page of the Wall St. Journal as an example) are very anxious for him to be “presidential,” to stop tweeting at the drop of a provocation, to stop making “outrageous” statements, to be a serious “policy” man. The campaign is over, let’s get down to governing. While this view is astute and appealing, it misses a significant part of Donald Trump. Although he was certainly elected to pursue good policies, he was also elected to ridicule and condemn and outrage the ruling elite, the anointed, and that’s what his crudities do. Political Correctness (here PC) is the shield of the anointed. Nothing that disturbs or casts the smallest doubt on the vision of the anointed can be tolerated, and PC enforces that taboo.
I do not think the full significance of PC is understood. We recognize that it acts outward to suppress dissent and disagreement. So when the president of a woman’s college said “All lives matter” she was overwhelmed by denunciations until she retracted the statement. When North Carolina passed a law requiring people to use bathrooms in accord with their sex at birth, corporate sports bodies withdrew their patronage. We see and understand such outward pressure. What is not generally recognized is that it works inward, too, by denying knowledge of other viewpoints to the anointed, reinforcing their ideas and prejudices. This may not seem important, especially if we think of progressives exclusively as a class of rigid doctrinaires. Of course the anointed, because of their elitist conceit, are especially rigid in their beliefs, but remember: even the German General Staff in World War II had its dissenters, its wobbling believers.
PC is a blight — a pernicious reflex that stifles, distorts, and prevents serious discourse. Although it is used to protect the ideology of the anointed, it does them a disservice by increasing its ignorance. Remember the course of the American Communist Party in the 1920s and ’30s as it consistently misread the American (and world) situation because of the rigid dictates of its ideology.
Donald Trump’s “outrageous” behavior is, by its very crudity, a devastating attack on PC. All the polite intellectual critiques of PC over the years (and I have read plenty) have had no effect, but Trump’s assaults, by their tone of contempt and complete lack of politeness have made it an issue and have given great pleasure to millions of Americans, among whom I count myself. Trump upsets the applecart, and so he should. May he continue to generate both outrage and good policies. *