President Donald Trump’s greatest sin was threatening the power and privilege of the ruling class.
For that, it will never stop seeking to bludgeon him, those seeking to carry his mantle, or their tens of millions of supporters—those icky, intransigent, irredeemables, judged as such because they refuse to submit.
In so doing, it has shown that it presents the very authoritarian threat it claimed he did.
The ruling class raved that Trump was a tyrant, madman, and traitor in part because it believed it needed to delegitimize him, to neutralize a threat to the racket it’s had going at the expense of the American people for too long, but also in part because he really broke them.
One need not play armchair psychiatrist to see both elements at play in the latest revelation, in an endless stream of them, of the opinion of Trump held by one of his senior-most military officials.
That the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—a man who proved the point that “wokeness” has infected our national security apparatus, when he recently divulged that he considered understanding “white rage” to be part of his job description—harbored fever dreams of Trump as Hitler, says far more about him, and his ilk, than it does about Trump.
Needless to say, such comments are neither made in good faith—coming from someone who had publicly opposed the president previously—nor do they seem to be rooted in any sort of rigorous, fact-based argument.
But let’s for a moment entertain them. For starters, were Trump everything his political adversaries accused him of being, he would have sought to exploit the coronavirus tragedy to usurp maximum power, ruling by fiat, controlling speech under the guise of health and public safety, seeking to manipulate 2020 election laws to maximize his odds of victory, and so on.
Instead, even as pressure mounted to act unilaterally in response to the coronavirus, Trump largely respected federalism—redounding to the benefit of the millions who lived in the few states that remained relatively free during the pendency of the crisis—and dramatically reduced regulations to enable a vaccine to get to market in record time.
It was his political adversaries in the public health bureaucracy, in Congress, across state and local governments, and in the hysteria-fomenting, hyper-politicized media, who acted like the authoritarians they accused Trump of being—all while conspiring to take him down.
This is to say nothing of course of the myriad ways Trump reduced centralized power during his Oval Office tenure, from the bevy of initiatives he undertook in defense of American life and liberty, to his related tax and deregulatory policies, judicial appointments, and beyond.
Trump, who on many issues arguably acted in a restrained manner, and ranks among the most checked, sabotaged, and stymied presidents in American history, yet who was still able to implement such a conservative agenda, was anything but the dangerous autocrat his adversaries slandered him as.
The “woke,” unhinged insubordinates, who evidently sat atop the ranks of every aspect of the federal bureaucracy, including in the armed forces, posed an infinitely greater threat to our values, principles, and institutions by flouting the consent of the governed.
Stated differently, the ruling class, led by a determined cadre of vitriolic and vindictive zealots in the national security, intelligence, and law enforcement apparatuses who weaponized their powers against domestic political foes and violated their fundamental rights, presented a far graver danger to America than the commander in chief they undermined.
And that danger was made most acute by the rank insubordination in the very areas of government that it can’t be tolerated: those devoted to defending American life and limb.
For this cadre, Trump’s greatest crimes were a willingness to end blood-and-treasure-sapping military boondoggles; to ask basic, commonsense questions about whether the status quo was really in America’s national interest—to look upon the conventional wisdom with skepticism; to dispense with diplomatic niceties and dubious deals driven by illusions of utopic progressive globalism and greed, and to grapple with foreign powers as they were, not as we wished them to be.
This was simply intolerable because it would have put much of the ruling class out of business.
The danger presented by those who resisted Trump continues today as the executive branch mobilizes, in coordination with major corporations, to pursue the up to half of the country that Trump represented in a “Woke War on Wrongthink” that could well eviscerate liberty and justice.
In working to smear, target, and criminalize up to millions of intransigent deplorables, treating such political dissenters as dangers to society, our ruling class is emulating the bogeyman it warned of who never materialized over the past four years.
Is there any silver lining?
In recent weeks, with the FBI tweeting that Americans ought to report on their friends and family if they suspect signs of (ill-defined) extremist radicalization, reports that “Biden allied groups” are seeking to “work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages”—on top of the Biden administration’s door-to-door vaccination effort—and with President Joe Biden delivering a speech in which he called defenders of election integrity subversionists, claiming they were assaulting democracy, and comparing them to Confederates, it’s hard to remain optimistic.
Yet, the demagoguery, the manufactured hysteria of the ruling class, and the tyrannical lengths to which it believes it must go to impose its will—using civil rights-imperiling force and coercion rather than persuasion—would seem to betray weakness, or at least an admission that too many Americans aren’t buying what it’s selling.
When everything that doesn’t comport with the official regime narrative is cast as misinformation, nothing is misinformation.
The ruling class doth protest too much.
But unfortunately for our country, in its desperation to perpetuate and grow its power, freedom-loving Americans will bear the brunt as it lashes out in uniquely disturbing and dangerous ways.
Ben Weingarten is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and co-host of the Edmund Burke Foundation’s “The NatCon Squad.” He’s the author of “American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party” and is currently working on a book on U.S.–China policy and its transformation under the Trump administration.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.