I make the point in this post to highlight how very much of our ruling social narrative is falling apart.
Basically, it’s all been such a big lie, for such a long time, that it can be very hard to see the full outlines of it. A lot of people know viscerally that it’s wrong. They feel the wrongness, and that’s why so many of them are flocking to Donald Trump.
For what it’s worth, I think his fans misjudge how independent Trump is of our ruling social narrative. He clearly buys into most of it (more as a matter of convenience than of conscious reflection, I think).
But where he bucks the narrative, Trump is open and unapologetic about it, and he keeps winning points against the media and the old-consensus political establishment. He’s all the voters have in the way of a standard-bearer for independent thinking about our current situation as a nation.
Then there’s Mitt Romney. I’ve never despised Romney, and still don’t. I think he has many admirable qualities. But independence from the ruling social narrative is not one of them. Romney is in total narrative capture. He demonstrated that on Friday in an interview with Wolf Blitzer.
Mitt Romney warned here Friday that Donald Trump’s election as president could change the nation’s moral character and lead to the normalization of racism, bigotry and misogyny. …
“I don’t want to see trickle-down racism,” Romney told Blitzer. “I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”
Do you see yourself as likely to succumb to “trickle-down racism”? How about your neighbors? Your family? Your co-workers, the people you know at church or shul, your fellow students or volunteers? If you look around at your social circle, do you have a model in your head of how alarmingly susceptible all these people are to an insidious onset of racism, brought on as a sort of unhappy, cosmic accident by an irresponsible, diarrhea-mouth president?
Because Mitt Romney does. That’s how he sees you.
If Americans could be infected by trickle-down racism of the kind Romney seems to have in mind, we’d see plenty of it already, after nearly 8 years of Obama and his administration’s and supporters’ incessant race-baiting.
But we don’t see it. We see fringe groups trying everything they can think of to foment it. But as tired and cranky as we are, across the nation, we have not turned into a racism Petri dish. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds continue overwhelmingly to get along with each other. We’re not perfect, and we increasingly worry about racism as a public problem. But that’s not because it has become some oppressive, inescapable factor in our daily lives. We still look at each other, in our own streets and workplaces, with less suspicion and hostility than any other people on earth.
I don’t trust Soros-bribed rent-a-mobs (or their organizers) any further than I could throw them, but they’re not average Americans. I do trust average Americans to not turn into racists just because some real estate entrepreneur turned politician says “Mexican” out loud. How does Romney not know that he can trust them? What planet has he been living on? Who does he think the American people are, out here?
Romney speaks as if he accepts the radical-leftist model of leadership in social thought, even though he would oppose the uses the radical leftists would put it to. Romney agrees with the elitist idea that the people can be sold any old irrational narrative by their leaders.
But the Trump phenomenon is evidence of the opposite. It’s evidence that the people can’t be turned into racism-bots by 7 years of constant, one-direction race blather from their leaders. Whether they can define it in detail or not, the people recognize the most important thing: that this is all wrong. And they’re figuring out in droves that they can’t turn to old-consensus politicians to address it.
Do you see it yet? That the very premise of Romney’s complaint here is invalid? He’s got a profoundly wrong view of how “racism” works in the heads and hearts of the people. He’s not wrong that national leaders influence us. But he is wrong about how those influences work, and on what subjects and how quickly.
His view of how people are influenced and motivated is much closer to that of the Marxist 20th-century agitator than of the Judeo-Christian canon of moral ideas. The people’s moral sense is not obedience training. It’s something innate to our God-designed natures, something that runs deep and is highly resistant to tinkering. It’s why, try as we might, we can’t be happy, but only self-destructive, living lives of purposelessness, promiscuity, irresponsibility, godlessness. It’s why our spirits would rather not be racist, why it’s a relief to not be racist, and why people who choose racism — even if they’re in the majority in a political sense — have to be constantly pepping themselves up and talking themselves into it: because it feels wrong; because it is wrong.
I guess Romney doesn’t “get” that America ultimately rejected slavery because the uncorrupted and higher-aspiring moral sense of a plurality of Americans won out over the apathy of others, and the racist self-pep-talk of still others. It’s as if he doesn’t understand and appreciate the amazing moral drama this was among the people — both black and white.
Where does he think epic social developments come from? If we went by the Progressives’ signature idea, that they come from political leaders and government bureaucrats, the only thing we’d have to show for any of them would be a proliferation of government agencies — and problems that conveniently never get fixed.
And that’s where Romney seems to be: seeing social phenomena through the lens of their mechanical relevance to government activities. Again, I don’t have a special animus against him, or against any other old-consensus politician. Until we got to these last few years, it wasn’t clear to me either that the premises of our old-consensus leaders were so corrupted by Frankfurt School modernism. For the Frankfurt School, the center of gravity of human life is central-government power. That’s the only thing the Frankfurt School never tried to demolish with “critical theory.”
Maybe Romney could define “moral man” in terms recognizable to Judeo-Christian philosophy, if you asked him to. But he doesn’t talk as if he really sees the American people that way. And the people understand, even where they can’t fully articulate it, that that is no longer good enough.