Samir’s Selection 03/16/2016 (p.m.)

  • Philip Gourevitch on how Donald Trump inspires a lawlessness that Lincoln saw as the most pressing threat to the Republic.

    /// To Lincoln, the offense was lawlessness, and he argued that both those who indulged in lawlessness and those who fell prey to it would eventually come to regard “Government as their deadliest bane . . . and pray for nothing so much as its total annihilation.” It was this feeling of “alienation” rather than “attachment” to public institutions that Lincoln feared most in the “mobocratic spirit.” …

    However far we may be today from the scenes of violence that Lincoln described, it’s easy to see the danger he was talking about gathering force across contemporary America. Donald Trump personifies the mobocratic spirit; he fuels it and is fuelled by it, though it is doubtful that he can control it. All the elements are there: the incessant, escalating lust for violence; the instinct for mobilizing a mob to take the law into its own hands; the claim that whole groups are the enemy; the belief that those who are not with the mob forfeit all protection from the mob and invite attack; the attribution of hostile conspiracies to peaceful independent actors; the contempt for evidence, as if accurate information and honest adjudication of competing claims were dirty tricks contrived to disadvantage the mob; the vilification of the press as hooligans who deserve to be beaten, if not killed; an all-encompassing animosity toward the government and its institutions; in short, an ever-intensifying lawlessness.

    This ugliness and violence and destructiveness is all that inflates Trump. His support reflects deep strains of preëxisting disenfranchisement, alienation, and division, but, although Trump gives echo to these passions and has an uncanny genius for harnessing them as his engine, he proposes no coherent remedy, only swagger: there will be blood. His success thus far reflects a world-upside-down sort of triumph, in which every word and deed that should destroy his candidacy only seem to fortify it. In this respect, Trump is the true representative of a party that has, for far too long, preferred to indulge all the dangers that Lincoln warned of and done nothing to protect itself, much less the nation, against them. That the Republicans were once the Party of Lincoln makes the danger that Trump’s party now constitutes not only alarming but tragic. And nobody foresaw the tragedy more clearly than Lincoln himself in his speech to the Lyceum, seventeen years before the Grand Old Party of the Republic was founded.

    Haunted by the spectre of Francis McIntosh, Lincoln described the coming of a figure startlingly like Trump as all but inevitable: someone whose singular ambition and genius for power so “thirsts and burns for distinction” that he will pursue it at any cost. It would be foolish, he warned, not to expect such a person to arise. And when that happens, Lincoln said, there is only one solution: “it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.” Is that asking too much? ///

    tags: demagogue mob violence law disorder vigilantism lynching Lincoln warning USpolitics UShistory DonaldTrump

  • Jane Mayer on the Koch brothers’ surprising disapproval of Donald Trump, and their own history of toxic rhetoric.

    tags: JaneMayer USpolitics conservative extremism hatespeech KochBrothers TedCruz Obama DonaldTrump

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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