Donald Trump’s Secret Weapon: Psychology

In the last 50 years of culture wars in America, there has been no stronger weapon than guilt. It is the Left’s great hammer of progress. It figured powerfully in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, women’s liberation, and same-sex marriage. Guilt runs through the teaching of U.S. history from 5th grade through college. It colors controversies over affirmative action, transgender bathrooms, and the glass ceiling. The entire careers of Leftist commentators from the self-righteous Bill Moyers to the self-regarding Ta-Nehisi Coates rest upon it. If we add up the successes guilt has brought to progressive causes and identity politics, we realize just how important guilt is to the Left agenda. Without it, in fact, the Left fails.

[Donald Trump] has no white guilt. He doesn’t feel any male guilt, either, or American guilt or Christian guilt. He talks about the United States with uncritical approval—“America First”—and that’s a thought crime in the eyes of liberals. It ignores slavery, Jim Crow, the Indian wars, Manzanar . . . Donald Trump would never refer to America as beset by the original sin of racism, as Barack Obama did frequently, and that makes him worse than a conservative. President Trump is a bigot.  [Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein]

Exactly right.

According to progressive leftism, bigotry consists of not feeling guilty. If you’re white and living in 2017, and you do not feel personally guilty for what some white persons did to many black persons back in 1935, or 1852, then that makes you a bigot. Refusal to feel this unearned guilt is Donald Trump’s real offense, in leftist eyes. And that’s the single best reason for supporting him, if you’re rational, even if you don’t like all of his positions or tactics.

The question here is not whether slavery or other injustices against black people, in the past, were in fact injustices. Of course they were. The question, psychologically, is whether you consider yourself personally guilty and responsible for those injustices. If you neither advocated nor did any of these things, then you have no basis for feeling guilty. When a progressive says we should impose racial reparations, hiring quotas, higher taxes, more social spending, and so forth, then your guilt is supposed to make you agree. Guilt shall make you submit, and for decades it has. And if you don’t support the policy, tax or mandate the progressive deems proper and fitting, then you’re accused of being something that you’re not—somebody who hates, dislikes or judges someone solely based on their race. Once you’re on the defensive, the debate is over.

For years, conservatives have been told that just by existing, we’re wrong. We’ve been told to “check our privilege,” so we have. We’ve been told that American exceptionalism is rude to other countries, so we’ve tempered it. We’ve been told that everything we’ve been brought up to believe is somehow racist, patriarchal, and bigoted, so we’ve paused and evaluated our beliefs. Then came Donald Trump who absolutely obliterated the way the Left tries to make the Right feel.

I have said all along that Donald Trump’s candidacy, victory and now his presidency were all psychological, not ideological. Don’t get me wrong. I want a good dose of ideology. Ideology is the kind of thing that gets us “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Ideology gave us the First and Second Amendments, a Constitutional expression of the right to sovereignty over your own mind and life. Without ideology there’s no basis for defending (or denouncing) the idea that individual human beings are entitled to be free. Progressives, the modern embodiment of Communism and rule by force, are full of ideas – bad ideas, but ideas nevertheless. The root of modern leftism, like Communism, is that your life does not belong to yourself, but to the community – as embodied by a government run by a bunch of controlling, toxic busybodies.

The only way to fight back against vicious and wrong ideas is with totally contrary, virtuous and correct ideas. Republicans are not there yet—not even close. But at least Donald Trump has one thing that other conservative Republicans have never exhibited, not since Ronald Reagan and not even fully then: A totally unapologetic attitude about not being a leftist progressive.

You take away the weapon of guilt from progressives, and you’ve gone a long way toward disarming them psychologically, politically and morally. Sure, they still have their IRS, their armies, their federalized police forces, their FCC, their DEA, their FDA, their CIA, their NSA, their BATF and all the other agencies they still try to control with Obama holdovers. But when you refuse to feel guilty, it’s a reminder to control freak progressives that there’s one thing they will never have: Your mind.

And say what you will about Donald Trump: Liberating so many of us from unearned leftist guilt is a beautiful thing.

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