There was no abatement of Lefty hysteria in this, the second week of the first Trump administration.
The principal eruptions were:
The most interesting political question about it all is: How much does it help Trump?
I'm going to take it as a given that it does help him, at least short-term. My question is, whether it helps him somewhat, a lot, or a whole lot.
In the spirit of seeking the Middle Way, I think I'll settle on just "a lot."
When some faction incites widespread social disorder, there are a number of different directions that subsequent events can go in.
(I'd exempt the American Revolution from that. Hanoverian Britain had some rough spots, but it was by no means rotten by the standards of the time. Domestic disorder was at a low level — it was worse fifty years later, when the industrial working class was getting organized. The American colonists won by dint of logistics. They had land and distance on their side, big-time in both cases.)
If you want social disorder, anarchists are your guys.
Similarly in Germany at the same time. Leftist street-fighters and anarchists were disturbing the peace from the Spartacist uprising of 1919 pretty continuously onward through the 1920s and -30s.
How'd all that work out for the Left?
So revolution and counter-revolution are two possible outcomes. I don't think any sensible observer — a category from which I'd exclude the antifa mobs themselves — believes either thing is in the cards for today's U.S.A.
Three other outcomes are much more probable. All three of them depend on the fact, which I think is surely the case, that very few Americans today look favorably on serious social disturbances.
Even Americans who dislike Trump and would have preferred Mrs. Clinton in the White House are, by a large majority I'm sure, shaking their heads and clicking their tongues in dismay and disgust at the arson and window-smashing we saw in Washington, D.C. the night of the Inauguration [Limo torched in DC protests belongs to Muslim immigrant, may cost $70,000 in damages, Washington Examiner, January 23, 2017], or at Berkeley this week.
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These head-shakers and tongue-clickers are what, back in the dear old 1960s, we called the Silent Majority. Politicians are all — well, almost all — keenly aware of the fact that even though they may be silent, the Silent Majority vote. The name "Richard Nixon" mean anything?
So, first other outcome:
A swift over-reaction might therefore backfire, making the government broadly unpopular. You'd hear the word "un-American" a lot.
Second other outcome:
Third other outcome:
It's the way to go, though, and what we should all hope for in such times.
A British Prime Minister coined a phrase I rather like in this context: "the smack of firm government." That's what ordinary people want to hear in times of disorder. Not a club to the head, but also not a mere wagging finger.
The smack of firm government, well-timed and judiciously delivered.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He's had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.