It’s the heartstrings that are far more important than the mind
Over the last five years, a large group of Americans has been manipulated into a loathing of other Americans, all the while astonishingly unaware that what they loathe about those others ironically describes them as well.
One example of this is that the single greatest, most effective practitioner of political correctness and its even more noxious cousin, cancel culture, is the very person who supposedly came to be the savior from those who engage in such deplorable behavior.
He struck a deal with his base, as well as with the vast majority of conservative media and virtually the entirety of the Republican political class, consisting of two parts. First, “I will free you to say what you want, when you want, about whomever you want, in exchange for never, ever daring to say anything, let alone do anything, about what I say and do” — up to and including impeachable offenses and a delinquent, self-interested response to the nation’s greatest health crisis, all committed before the entire country.
This blood pact’s Part Two would come into play in the event that someone violated Part One, in which case this one-man cancel mob would humiliate and threaten the offender before the nation. Online boycotts and petitions for dismissal? Nah, that’s for pathetic liberals. All that was needed were his fingers, tapping out on his phone to 89 million people at once, in his best Sicilian imitation: “Nice senatorial seat you got there, shame for anything to happen to it in 2022.”
And so, to quote the comic character Pogo, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.” Or in this case, “we are them” — the mirror image of progressive cancel mobsters, only magnified many times over. The amazing thing is that even after this person (who once promised “so much winning you’ll get tired of it”) succeeded in losing first the House, then the White House, and finally the Senate, he still retained the power to act as a Mafia Don toward Republican politicians.
As Senator Ben Sasse (just back from an extended bout of political laryngitis) recently wrote, “When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent — not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters.” He further noted that the Trump campaign’s own lawsuits have failed even to allege the sort of vast criminal conspiracy he describes in speeches and tweets — “because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.”
But because the Don had such a thorough grip on the heartstrings of millions of American voters, it made no difference that Republican officeholders felt it was all wild accusations and despised him in private. Almost to the end, they continued to step right up to the cameras and look the American people in the eye and lie to them, but instead of “It’s up to people to choose their gender,” it was “George Soros conspired with Hugo Chavez to steal the election,” or for the more “conscientious” among them, “We’re just asking questions because Americans are very concerned and upset,” or “We need to explore whether the vice president can choose alternate electors.” At least the gender-choosers actually believe their loopy words.
And so, the devil’s bargain held — until one week ago, when violent hordes stormed the Capitol in session, sending Congress into hiding for hours, smashing, stealing, smearing feces, and planting two bombs nearby. The violence left scores of people injured, many police officers among them, and five dead, including a police officer hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. Suddenly, there was an answer to the question lingering for four years: Is there any line the silent enablers will not countenance being crossed? Republicans in Congress and the administration, and conservative media people, scrambled to repurchase the souls they’d long ago sold, using words they couldn’t bring themselves to utter for four long years, and calling for the president to be removed or to just finally go away.
Yet, a Harris poll found 64 percent of Republicans approve of how Trump handled January 6. A large number of Republican House members, knowing intuitively what that poll found, declined to buy back their souls. Even as the blood still lay on the Capitol floor from the physical assault on America’s democracy, they carried on with their rhetorical assault on it, continuing on with the stolen election narrative — which to their great credit, Vice President Pence and many senators simply refused to do.
How to explain the results of such a poll? The answer lies in the soon-to-be ex-president’s thorough grip on the heartstrings of millions of American voters. It’s the heartstrings that are far more important than the mind, because human beings’ behavior in general is more accurately examined through an emotional lens than a logical one, and political allegiances are no different.
And that brings us to another example of some Americans abhorring others, oblivious to the fact that they exhibit the selfsame traits they so detest. Conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg, writing at The Dispatch, describes this dynamic:
One of the more popular phrases on the right is “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” coined by Ben Shapiro…. Conservatives mock “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and “snowflakes” who can’t handle hard truths. How many books have been written about liberalism’s “victimization cult”? How many careers have been made by saying things that offend liberal sensibilities?
Well, who’s the party of snowflakes now? Stripped of all their lawyerly evasions, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz endorsed the idea the election was stolen not because they actually believe it, but because the voters they crave want to hear that it was. They all prattle about the “voices of the unheard” and whine about the mean things people say about them or Trump. How much mileage have they gotten out of Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” thing?
Once the president succeeded in leading his base into the same pool of grievance and victimhood in which he wallows, he had a lock on their hearts, which all the facts and logic in the world couldn’t penetrate. Goldberg quotes Fox host Ainsley Earhardt matter-of-factly claiming that all 75 million people who voted for Trump are “scared… confused and heartbroken that their candidate didn’t win and they don’t want to be forgotten.” Her colleague Tucker Carlson told his viewers, “Millions of Americans sincerely believe the last election was fake. ‘Listen to us!’ screams the population’ ” — without mentioning that they believe this because they have been lied to by the president and his defenders.
After noting that “it’s literally impossible for 75 million people [many of whom actually voted against Biden, rather than for his opponent] to go ‘unheard,’ ” since they have a vast media complex — Carlson himself has the highest-rated show on the highest-rated cable network — and one of the two major parties speaking for them, Goldberg continues,
Similarly, not all 75 million of them are thin-skinned snowflakes who can’t handle hearing that Trump lost and that the election wasn’t stolen. But as we’ve learned from college campuses, treat people like they’re delicate little flowers and they’ll behave that way.
Besides, there’s a difference between being heard and not wanting to hear anybody else who disagrees. That’s what the “feel my pain” snowflakes say every day on college campuses. “Don’t tell me I’m wrong. Don’t tell me there are facts that contradict what I want to believe.” “Don’t tell me Trump actually lost. I want my fictions and my feelings confirmed, and if you contradict them I’m a victim and you’re an ‘oppressor.’ ”
President Trump is a whiner. He takes offense at disagreement and thinks flattery and loyalty to him are more important than facts or reality. He thinks it’s unfair when events or facts are inconvenient or don’t ratify his narcissism…. Cruz and Hawley know that what Trump was trying to do was unconstitutional and would, if successful, gut the Constitution and perhaps even democracy. They simply lacked the courage to tell the snowflakes what they don’t want to hear, so instead they lent aid and comfort to the atrocity this week. And thus has the Snowflake-in-Chief precipitated a blizzard of snowflakes all protesting in unison, “Our feelings don’t care about your facts.”
Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 844. Eytan Kobre may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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