Skip to content

Niallist rhetoric

July 31, 2016

It is one thing to recognise that no political vehicle is perfect, it is quite another to reject someone who goes most of the way with you because he doesn’t have everything you want. Donald Trump has no political history, no past set of political judgements to assess him against, and there is no certainty how he will act in any particular set of circumstances. But I don’t worry about renegotiating trade arrangements, I am not worried that he will start some war by accident and it never crosses my mind that me will renege on his stated aim to close the American border and restrict immigration. He is also more likely than anyone to take on the most dangerous issue of our time which is the jihadist rampage across the West.

Meanwhile, we have Niall Ferguson in a particularly vacuous article titled, Paranoid Republidents for Trump. You would think that given his previous concerns about immigration, he might at least lean towards Trump for President. If he believes any of what he has written here, he is instead among the shallowest of our current commentators on Trump’s run for the president who has no idea how to achieve anything he says he wishes to see achieved. He is, by the way, Mr Aayan Hirsi Ali and this is what he has to say:

Trump’s acceptance speech was a ghastly masterclass in what Richard Hofstadter more than 50 years ago called “The paranoid style in American politics.” As Hofstadter summarized it, the paranoid view was that “the old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; [and] the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots.”

The paranoid worldview verged on the religious: “The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms. . . . He is always manning the barricades of civilization. . . . Like religious millennialists, he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days.” Yet even as he denounces the corrupt, cosmopolitan elite, the political paranoiac is implicitly expressing a kind of attraction. He hates intellectuals, yet he provides extensive footnotes.

This — including the footnotes, 282 of which the Trump campaign supplied on Friday — is about all you need to know about Trump’s acceptance speech. It was all here, beginning with the conspiracy theory. “America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers,” yelled Trump, “that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics. . . . No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.”

“Big business, elite media, and major donors” were backing Hillary Clinton, Trump declared, “because they have total control over everything she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.” As a result, “corruption has reached a level like never before.”

For me, adjusting for the typical rhetorical flourishes that are the basics of political discourse, there is nothing there that seems exaggerated. But if you cannot see how dangerous a Clinton presidency would be, even if you think of her as the lesser of two evils, then your ability to make sound political judgements is running on empty.

Found at Five Feet of Fury which even has a link to this.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: