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A taxonomy of never-Trumpers

January 21st, 2018

I’m a sucker for taxonomies, and Ross Douthat has quite a good one in the New York Times

Like any strange and quarrelsome sect, the church of anti-Trump conservatism has divided and subdivided since Donald Trump’s election. Some members have apostatized and joined the ranks of Trumpists; others have marched leftward, with anti-Trumpism as a gateway drug to wokeness. There is a faction that is notionally skeptical of Trump but functionally anti-anti-Trump, a faction that insists it’s just calling “balls and strikes” and a faction screaming that the president rigged the game and needs to be thrown out.

What’s interesting is that, from my observation, he has the factions about right in order of size. The group who have gone left is probably smaller than its ranking suggests, but contains most of what was left of serious thought on the conservative/libertarian side of politics. The smallest group, and the one treated most dismissively, consists of those who have remained politicaly conservative while being unremittingly hostile to Trump. Its members are either out of active politics already (like the Bushes) or are kicking Trump on the way out (like Corker and Flake). By 2020, it will probably be an empty set. That obviously raises the question of what will remain of the conservative movement when and if Trump is defeated.

A point of purely sporting interest is to classify Douthat himself. I’d say, some mixture of “anti-anti-Trump” and “balls and strikes”. The main part of his column, arguing that Trump is more of a joke than a menace, is consistent with this, I think.

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  1. Alphonse
    January 22nd, 2018 at 12:15 | #1

    Just as, greenhouse aside, Abbott was more joke than Howardian menace. Thankfully, Turnbull is scatching for runs on the board too.

  2. January 23rd, 2018 at 01:57 | #2

    Trumpers themselves are divided between the positions of nativist bigotry and plutocratic taxanomie.

  3. January 23rd, 2018 at 02:10 | #3

    The classic phrase for sectarian divisions is that of Sir Thomas Browne in Urne Buriall, 1641: “they do subdivide and mince themselves almost into atoms”. The full passage, indeed the whole book, is a treat of baroque English prose – search with the phrase plus Browne in Google Books.

  4. January 23rd, 2018 at 02:23 | #4

    Sorry, it’s his Religio Medici not Urne Buriall.

  5. Smith
    January 23rd, 2018 at 11:07 | #5

    There are also those who say that Victor Trumper should never be considered an all-time great batsman because his batting average was only 39. I don’t agree.

  6. Newtownian
    January 23rd, 2018 at 13:06 | #6
  7. John Quiggin
    January 23rd, 2018 at 13:36 | #7

    @Newtownian

    Not a bad taxonomy. But the post was about never-Trumpers.

  8. Ikonoclast
    January 23rd, 2018 at 17:35 | #8

    It’s amusing to joke about Trumpist Taxonomies but it lacks any serious point. Neoliberalism is not on the run, appearances notwithstanding. Is Trump crazy / terrible? Yes. Are his supporters foolish and deluded? Yes. Does the conservative professional political class and their journalistic boosters appear to be splintering into powerless, pointless and idiotic factions? Yes. Does this mean neoliberalism is on the run? No.

    Real power in our society is leaving government and the fourth estate and being re-concentrated in the hands of capitalist oligarchs and corporations. Government and mass media have become theaters of deception where only the pretense of power is carried on. The real locus of power has shifted and continues shifting behind the scenes to the capitalist oligarchs and corporation chiefs. This is consistent with our progress into late stage monopoly capitalism.

    Follow the money. The money of this system (late stage monopoly capitalism) buys government decisions and mass media propaganda. The true neoliberals (oligarchs, corporate CEOs and boards) are in power more firmly than ever. They have a stranglehold on this system and over the ordinary people. It’s going to take some extraordinary events to shake that power. Mind you, those events are coming.

  9. Smith
    January 23rd, 2018 at 17:47 | #9

    @Ikonoclast

    The revolution, like so much else, is always coming, but never seems to arrive.

  10. Mitchell Porter
    January 24th, 2018 at 08:02 | #10

    I suppose a more substantial topic would be an anatomy of “#TheResistance”.

  11. ZM
    January 24th, 2018 at 12:15 | #11

    @Ikonoclast

    We are currently in a transitional national security period. There is the possibility that the next national security plan won’t include neoliberalism due to the effects of the GFC.

    You might ask “why would a national security plan involve economic settings?” It’s because economics can affect national security. There’s been 2 major postWW2 national security plans. A forty year on from around 1945-1985, and a 25 year one from around 1990-2015. You will notice these correspond to the welfare state economics, and the neoliberal or economic rationalism economics practiced by government. Governments must take on advice from the chiefs of national security.

    The next national security plan is due around 2020 but may take longer due to leaks. My national security contacts indicate there’s a turn to include both refugee resettlement and climate change in the 2020 plan, but I imagine that there’s opposition to that from both within the national security agencies and from without by stakeholders including business owners.

    I doubt there will be a return to the welfare state of the post-War era in 2020, but it’s possible that economics will be rejigged in much the same way as the debate on economic rationalism rejigged the economy in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Although a big obstruction to this is that the mainstream media now do so little policy coverage and debate of policy alternatives, in comparison to how the economic debates of the 1980s flourished in the press, with Hawke as an economically literate Prime Minister.

    Turnbull could well lead these sort of policy debates, but has so far shown himself reluctant to, preferring to conduct himself as another “small target” Prime Minister, with the media so volatile these days, and Prime Minister turn over being so high.

  12. ZM
    January 24th, 2018 at 12:19 | #12

    Trump himself indicated a major policy upheaval with his Make America Great Again campaign, speaking to the people around the country who have lost out under neoliberalism; but in doing so he made himself a massive target and has been attacked by the media and entertainment industry in a way I’ve never seen happen to an American President before.

  13. paul walter
    January 24th, 2018 at 17:04 | #13

    Breaks my heart. But it is the same in this country as to the LNP.

    The optical organs work, yet the blindness is pandemic epidemic and endemic.

    Seriously, how can so many people without hands over eyes still not see?

    The species if headed for hell in a handcart and will deserve most of what it gets.

  14. Black cat
    January 24th, 2018 at 17:40 | #14

    @Smith though like buses, if it ever does arrive, you may get several in close succession.

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