Historically, upheaval is triggered when a set of existential problems confronts a nation’s institutions, but these institutions are unable to acknowledge them, let alone attempt difficult solutions. For better or worse, our inability to address problems is reaching a terminal phase. However, disaster doesn’t have to be a total downer. The entire 2016 election process was a highly entertaining reminder.
The Psychological Element Is Essential to Recognize
The two relevant institutions in this matter are the DC establishment and the MSM. Beyond their general incompetence and ignorant echo chamber, there’s a basic psychological issue driving this terminal dysfunction: Successfully confronting a personal problem requires accepting uncomfortable facts about oneself. This is extremely difficult to do, so most people don’t pull it off.
This is precisely the phenomenon unfolding in DC. There’s an intensely personal aspect to this fiasco that can’t be understated. It’s manifesting itself it ways that are truly self-destructive. The election was a vicious slap to their faces. A guy with no political background flipped the script, fought both parties and the media, and won. He demonstrated that they lack their self-attributed prestige and credibility. It was a tough revelation that most of them still can’t accept. These people are insufferable assholes. That means you’re free to savor their misery without slightest twinge of compunction.
Who Would’ve Thought that Disillusionment Could Ever be this Enjoyable?
Recall the Republican primary debates. They were genuinely humorous. The other candidates were baffled. Who is this guy? Why won’t he exchange platitudes with us? Why is he getting so much traction by simply bullying us? We spent big money testing these phrases with focus groups, how could they not work? In order to understand his win, they’d have to realize that they’re objects of contempt. Jeb Bush thought he was anointed to be president. He was clearly living on another planet, but didn’t realize it until he was humiliated on national television. Do you think these guys engaged in some self-reflection in order to understand what transpired? Of course not, bring on the special prosecutor!
One of the many delightful tidbits from those leaks was that behind the scenes, the Clinton campaign urged the MSM to push Trump coverage, thinking his candidacy would seal her presidency. How delicious is that? I remember when I read those emails over some coffee on a hot day, feeling giddy. As I sipped my coffee the morning after the election, reminiscing about that moment, my bitter beverage took on a sweet flavor.
There was a modest hope that Trump’s campaign brought up many critical issues that the establishment was unwilling to address honestly: open borders, disastrous foreign interventions, appalling corruption, dangerous debt, etc. In doing so, perhaps some pressure could be released and a broader calamity delayed. They can’t do this for the same reason they can’t understand why he got elected. In order to maintain their own psychological equilibrium, they have to double down on all of it. Their problem is that these issues continue to escalate whether they address them or not.
A Super Villain Arrives
The real danger they fail to appreciate is that the successful imposition of their narrative and agenda is the equivalent of turning up the heat on a stove. It was working for them until a couple of years ago. They must have assumed it was a sustainable tactic. They only allowed one opinion, so how could they appreciate the magnitude of the backlash building up? It’s impossible for them to see that Trump followed their long string of infuriating successes just as Nemesis follows Hubris. The stench of their hypocrisy wafted high up to the top floor of Trump Tower. Then beast descended out of the sky in his gaudy jetliner, unleash his narcissistic wrath upon them. You couldn’t make this stuff up in a movie.
Trump adds his own napalm to the pyre. If you don’t like him, he’s got exactly the flair and personality to drive you insane. He’s so fun because he dramatically escalates the situation just by being himself. This man literally draws the crazy straight out of people. It’s almost a supernatural power. They hate him with such ferocity that they will do anything to get him gone. They can’t even decide what they hate more: His hair? His tan? His relentless self-compliments? Their hate is blinding them to the consequences of pulling down the temple on their own heads.
Two recent examples are instructive. First is the State of the Union Address. Trump cited a more realistic, staggering figure of unemployment. Then, he gets “Fact Checked” and found to be a total liar. Why? Semantics. In government lingo, if you haven’t found a job within a specified period, then somehow you’re no longer unemployed. Trouble arises because the immense scale of the employment problem is readily apparent, just not in Manhattan, SF or the Beltway. They congratulated themselves, seemingly unaware this issue was how he won the rust states they thought were untouchable. Do you think those disaffected people would change their votes after hearing his speech?
Second are the court battles over his cosmetic travel ban. They celebrate thwarting it legally, and then a teeny bopper concert gets blown up. I have no idea what that girl sings, but I bet a bunch of age 40+ mothers do. They have teens, so they’ve probably worried about letting them go off to some event. Watching this horrific scene on TV hits likely hit them a visceral, personal way. This was a crucial demographic in the campaign. Any lesson learned there? Nope.
Credibility lost is nearly impossible to reestablish. You need no further proof of their illegitimacy in the average mind then November 8th, 2016. I remember watching those bewildered, dejected hipsters at the Javits Center and wishing I could drink their sweet, testosterone-free tears. Was it victory? No, it was just deeply satisfying to behold.
Anything but Introspection
The establishment partially realizes this loss and it’s unsettled them. That’s why they’re trying to cut off sites like Breitbart from ad revenue and engaging in Orwellian “news education” programs along with useless social media filters. This war they’re conducting against dissenting media voices is a manifestation of their own denial. Instead of trying to understand how they chased off much of their audience and deeply eroded their credibility, they’d rather blame it on an enemy that doesn’t even compete for their audience.
Their Dinner is on the Line
Newsflash: we don’t have any fuckin revenue. One of the primary motivations for the plethora of content contributors in our sphere is simply the catharsis of getting thoughts in writing and sharing some insights with like-minded individuals. Whoever reads or doesn’t read our articles has no effect on the revenue we need to sustain ourselves. The MSM is a different story and that’s a big reason why they’re lashing out. I never thought desperation could smell this good.
A narrative once propelled by unchallenged dishonesty is now trying to be enforced through other, far less effective means. I take pleasure in watching them be their own worst enemy. There’s nothing anyone could do to them worse than what they’re doing to themselves.
Don’t Lose Sight of the End Game
The country was already beyond fixing a while ago. The financial and demographic poison pills have been swallowed. This context is helpful for not getting too emotionally invested in this fray. I’m quite fond of Trump, especially his inability to endure an insult. His degrading dinner with backstabber Mitt Romney was masterful. I’d never imagined I’d witness anything like this in national politics. I hope he gets to finish his term and indulge his ego to the max the whole way.
To our chagrin, he’s made some terrible (maybe hard to avoid) personnel choices. Still, even if he magically was able to do everything he promised in the campaign, there’s no getting off this train to perdition. Just keep that in mind and try enjoy to watching. It’s only getting crazier. What new or interesting spasm will come next? Just wait and see.
-By Tom Shackleford