There are a few things that need to be understood about Donald Trump’s first days as president. First, it very much appears as if he is enacting authoritarian populist policy, which is mostly about backlash. Second, as offensive as his actions may appear on the left, Barack Obama was—in part due to racism—as offensive to authoritarian populists and other conservatives. The fury now felt on the left matches the fury felt during Obama’s presidency on the right.
Third, you can’t expect authoritarian populists to listen to ‘elite’ or ‘educated’ opinion. They will not be impressed with ‘facts.’ This is partly because authoritarian populists exemplify anti-intellectualism in the U.S. and partly because ‘elites’ and so-called ‘experts’ have dismissed, discounted, and refused to address the pain they have suffered. Some of this pain is economic and is legitimate. Some of it is about intolerance for difference and is not legitimate. But authoritarian populists blame members of other subaltern groups for their economic misery, so the two forms of pain are connected.
Fourth, authoritarian populists have probably been here before the revolution that separated the U.S. from Britain. They very strongly resemble Colin Woodard’s Greater Appalachians, who “came from the war-torn borderlands of northern Britain: lowland Scotland, the adjacent Marches of northern England, and the Scots-Irish-controlled north of Ireland,” “in five increasingly massive waves between 1717 and 1776, each a response to a disaster back in the British Isles,” “seeking sanctuary from a devastated homeland, [as] refugees who generally arrived without the encouragement or direction of officials, and often against their wishes . . . to found a society that was, for a time, literally beyond the reach of the law, and modeled on the anarchical world they had left behind.”
Authoritarian populists aren’t dying off. They aren’t going anywhere. And they aren’t responding to ‘reason’ or in any way getting ‘smarter.’ If you don’t like sharing a country with them, then you need to, one way or another, get yourself another country. In this, secession proposals such as Cascadia or Calexit are likely inadequate because the proposed territories include substantial populations of—guess who?—authoritarian populists. Notably, California has its own bible belt in the Central Valley and Oregon is, from what I’ve read somewhere, at least as polarized as the entire rest of the country.
Josh Rogin, “The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned,” Washington Post, January 26, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/01/26/the-state-departments-entire-senior-management-team-just-resigned/
Stephen Dinan, “Trump eviscerates Obama’s immigration policy in two executive orders,” Washington Times, January 25, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/25/trump-eviscerates-obamas-immigration-policy/
Josh Marshall, “Dems, Make Trump Own His Wall Humiliation,” Talking Points Memo, January 26, 2017, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/dems-make-trump-own-his-wall-humiliation
Ryan McCrimmon, “Search for Billions to Pay for Border Wall Confronts Congress,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, January 26, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/search-billions-pay-border-wall-confronts-congress
Andrew Taylor and Alicia Caldwell, “Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, January 26, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/analysis-trump-s-border-wall-faces-reality-check/411840586/
José de Córdoba and Peter Nicholas, “U.S.-Mexico Rift Deepens Over Trade Threat, Canceled Meeting,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2017, http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-threatens-to-cancel-meeting-with-mexican-president-1485443555
Democrats should have thought of this before they nominated such an awful candidate as Hillary Clinton, who couldn’t even beat Trump, for president. But instead, leftist organizations are using Trump’s presidency to raise funds from their enraged constituents—who probably mostly also backed Clinton. So here it really is: Do you want a neoconservative, neoliberal woman for president or do you want humanity to survive? Democrats apparently didn’t care enough about the latter possibility to dissuade them from the former.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “It is now two and a half minutes to midnight,” January 26, 2017, http://thebulletin.org/press-release/it-now-two-and-half-minutes-midnight10432