Monday, September 26, 2016

The Song Of Angry Men

Donald Trump And The Politics Of Righteous Anger

By Taylor Lewis

When Donald Trump stepped out on stage at a recent Miami rally, the Les Misérables classic "Do You Hear the People Sing?" boomed from the audio system.  The audience –  which, let's be honest, probably isn't that into musicals – erupted.  Cheers filled the arena as the Manhattan socialite-turned-savior of the outcasts took to the podium, saying, "Welcome to all of you deplorables."

In that moment, Trump (or his campaign) found the perfect musical accompaniment to his pugnacious campaign for the presidency. Twisted Sister this wasn't.  It was a joyous tribute to the "song of angry men" that underlies Trump's growingsupport.

At this stage in the game, if the reality show star is going to have a chance against the entrenched Hillary Clinton, he'll need to keep focusing the anger of his backers in new and effective ways.  The sad truth is, elections are won not on the strength of ideas.  They are won on the fury felt toward the enemy.

Leashing his campaign's message – a great big "screw you" to the elites – to the Français anthem was a stroke of genius.  A great many Americans are POed.  They see elites like Secretary Clinton sitting pretty at the top of life, mocking them for being the part of the dirt-rotten hoi polloi.

Like Ernest Defarge, Trump has seized our national moment of perturbation.  But instead of charging the castle to commit regicide, the real estate tycoon is going about things democratically.  He's run a, so far, successful campaign based on stewing resentment.  To dismiss it, as many well off Washingtonians have done, denies politics' most potent force.

D.C. Republicans are always hesitant to utilize rage as a weapon against the Democrats.  They find it incongruent with the Aristotelian model of statesmanship.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan paints himself as a "happy warrior" because it makes him more presentable to a Washington class that hates to have the fine China rattled.

Trump's brash demeanor is a total rejection of the gelded norms of the elites.  Back during the primary contests, Trump stood out as the only candidate to reject South Carolina governor Nikki Haley's admonition to resist the temptation to "follow the siren call of the angriest voices."  Gov. Haley, as a minority, a woman, and banisher of the evil battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia from the state capitol, is a favorite among cocktail conservatives.  During a debate, her plea to forsake anger was used to knock Trump off his guard, pitting him against the popular governor.

Donald, being The Donald, didn't fall for it.  When asked what he thought about Haley's warning, Trump replied, "I am very angry, because our country is being run horribly, and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger."  It was then that mogul's pitchfork-and-straw revolution turned serious.

Trump was not going to back down from arousing the infuriated masses against entrenched D.C. interests.  He wasn't going to play by the GOP's emasculated playbook.  This was a no-holds-barred brawl at the ballot box.

With less than 50 days until the election, polls are tightening up, and even firm #NeverTrumps like Rich Lowry see a path to victory for The Donald.  With victory in his grasp, the question is: can Trump go too far?  Can he whip up the rage, but not so much that it backfires?

The answer is: it depends.

Anger alone is not a corrupting force.  What is corrupting is the reaction to it.  Looting a CVS over the faulty perception that cops are killing blacks in droves is an act of anger gone wrong.  Screaming at a college professor because of perceived slights from Halloween costumes is embarrassingly histrionic.

Anger is a virtue when it's channeled into positive outcomes.  As Virgil said to Dante in Purgatory:

   So, you can understand how love must be
   the seed of every virtue growing in you,
   and every deed that merits punishment.

Anger must be the impetus to change things by moral means – not destructive.

The deeds that merit punishment in contemporary America are near innumerable.  But here is just a smattering of episodes: the Hillary health conspiracy that became real after video evidence made media denial impossible; the bombings in New York City and New Jersey that Mayor de Blasio denied were terrorist-related despite the obvious intent to terrorize; the white death phenomenon that goes unmentioned in the news.

This is the kind of thing that inflames our sense of right and wrong.  Media hypocrisy, the growing but ignored threat of radical Islam, whites medicating themselves to death –  speeches about lowering marginal tax rates don't alleviate the kind of aggravation wrought by rank duplicity.  It takes a Howard Beale yelling, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Donald Trump is Howard Beale.  His unlikely but necessary campaign has created a suitable vehicle for a rage of correction.  No other candidate would have had the audacity to claim anger as his red-hued guiding light.  It took a billionaire businessman who was kicked in the teeth by elites all his life to bring America's blood to a boil.

The choice for voters in November isn't Trump or Hillary.  It's whether the country's present course is fine, or if they're fed up with liberalism's empty promises.

For the nation's sake, let's hope that anger, grounded in a sense of good (and accompanied by an stirring anthem), rules the day.

From The American Thinker (September 22, 2016)

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