On the morning of Thursday, January 7, as Trump finally acknowledged that Joe Biden will enter the White House, a sigh of relief swept through the halls of Washington, not only among Democrats, but among many Republicans who are confident that things will return to “normal” after Donald Trump’s departure. They are wrong.
If the last few months have been challenging and bitter for America’s institutions and political life, what is coming may be even more serious. Yes, worse things will come, much worse; unless we move in the right direction.
Here are three reasons for pessimism and one indispensable solution:
Reason 1: Trump is not an anomaly
Four years after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, much of the political class still does not understand what happened. They believe that Trump was an anomaly, a “glitch” that will not be repeated and that after removing him from power they could return to the old consensus and practices.
Not so, Trump is indeed a singular character, but what transformed his candidacy from a vanity project to a viable idea was the deepening of the gap between the left-wing elites (and their voting blocs in urban areas) and conservative Americans. This process accelerated from the year 2000 and moved the Democratic Party consensus further and further to the left, breaking the basic consensus regarding the institutions and identity of the country.
As a result, nearly half of Americans feel increasingly despised by the elites. Those voters were the ones who backed Donald Trump and they are not going to disappear once Biden is president. The grievances and demands that drove the Republican candidate will continue to be present, and will even increase if the new Democratic government chooses a path of arrogance and radicalization. If progressives think Trump was bad, then worse is yet to come.
Reason 2: Democrats are creating monopolies
Hollywood is a minefield for conservatives that is more than documented and explained. The problem is that the land of stars is being joined by other spaces where conservatives are not welcome. Another case is the drastic ideological radicalization of the universities: currently, there are an average of 6 “liberal” (leftist) professors for every conservative teacher (and in the most prestigious universities, that ratio can reach 40 or 50 to 1).
A difference of that size can only be explained by censorship and discrimination. Despite all its supposed support for diversity, the left has transformed the academy into a parade where colors and preferences vary, as long as everyone thinks the same.
The subsequent radicalization affects not only conservatives (who are forced to keep a low profile or are denied access to university) but even liberals who at some point dare to mention anything that goes against the orthodoxy of the radical left. Cases such as Brett Weinstein or Lawrence Summers are only the tip of the iceberg, which adds to the violent censorship exercised by groups of alleged students against speakers related to the Republican Party and conservative students.
Also in the high-tech industries and especially in social media, reports of political donations given by employees of the technological giants show overwhelming percentages of support for the Democrats: 97 % in Facebook, 98.4 % in Twitter. That’s not normal. That’s a North Korean politburo. And uniformity is followed by layoffs, like that of James Damore, who was liquidated by Google for daring to raise internally arguments other than the hegemonic discourse on gender equality.
There are more cases in other sectors, including the boycott of Goya Foods for the “sin” that its CEO had his picture taken with Donald Trump. As a result, millions of Americans are getting a very clear message from the left: being conservative or right-wing makes you evil and unworthy.
Worse things will come, because people are taking note, even subconsciously. And that humiliation eventually feeds fear, mistrust, and anger. The surrealist takeover of the Capitol is a reflection of this feeling, and the American political class would be making a grave mistake if it did not understand that behind the clumsiness of these protesters is a feeling of disengagement and outrage that is shared by almost half the country.
Academics and establishment media insist that the anger of Trump’s supporters is due to their being racists, classists and so on, but when the elites deliver that verdict they are echoing their own prejudices.
The courage and hopelessness of Trump’s supporters do not come from racism, but from the fact that they have been systematically attacked and humiliated for decades. Sometimes directly (as in the media lynching of students of Covington Catholic High School) and many others in passing and seemingly inconsequential comments, the same in The View as in The Simpsons, which when added up end generating a climate of rejection and “double standards” that does not go unnoticed, that generates resentment and that feeds the conditions for radicalism.
Reason 3: Political violence has been legitimized
2020 goes down in history as the year when political violence became a “legitimate” weapon within American democracy. That is very serious, and if it is not corrected there will be worse things in the near future.
After the riots on Capitol Hill, the Republicans immediately, strongly, and absolutely condemned the acts of violence. The left should have done so, but instead, when their mobs destroyed entire neighborhoods under the pretext of police violence, the Democratic Party and its cultural machine turned the violent people into “vigilantes,” literally bowing to their demands and paying bails to get them out of jail.
The message was clear: violence is praised when it comes from the left, and that feeds, even more, the feeling that the dice are loaded in favor of it, which emboldens the radicals on both sides (the leftists, because they know they will be able to destroy with the support of the press; those on the right because they receive pretexts to justify their rejection of political paths). More than a third of the supporters of both political parties consider violence a legitimate way to gain political advantage, a sign that riots and worse things will be something to get used to unless the solution ahead is chosen.
The solution is reconciliation
Over the past few weeks, Biden has emphasized unity. This is a mistake: At this point, Biden’s message of unity sounds more like a threat than a dialogue to half the country, because the “unity” we have seen him practice on the left is the unity of the ideological monopoly, where everyone takes on, by hook or by crook, the commandments of the progressive movement.
What is the path then?
The path of reconciliation, which must begin on the Democrat side, because they control the cultural machinery. Academic institutions, the industrialized press, and the elites must understand and recognize that the other half of the United States also exists, also contributes, and also has a right to a place at the table. Denigration and arrogance must be replaced by dialogue and true diversity: that of ideas.
Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will have a key opportunity to save the republic. If they succeed in containing the radicals on their side and regaining the indispensable consensus, they will also defuse radicalism on the right and the lunatics on each side will return to being the tiny minority they once were.
At the end of the day, radicals flourish in turbulence, but wither in peace. And that peace will only be possible in reconciliation, in the strengthening of shared identity and consensus. Then, yes, as a second step, unity will be possible.
The American Republic proclaims “E pluribus unum.” It is time to remember that not only the “unum” but also the “pluribus” have a right to exist. That is where reconciliation will begin. This will avoid facing worse things.