August 24, 2018
Post-Liberalism in the Age of Trump: In January 1981, Gore Vidal appeared on The Merv Griffin Show where he discussed, among other things, the received “mandate” of Ronald Reagan, who had just come off a historic landslide victory over President Carter two months prior. Deeply insecure a man as Mr. Vidal was, it was apropos that not a minute into the program, he began to lambaste our 40th president – in ways both spitefully draconian and superficial:
Merv Griffin: We have Mr. Reagan, who’s received a mandate from the people.
Gore Vidal: Well, he received something. It was certainly better than the old actors’ home (laughter). Now, if I were he, to be really shrewd, he ought to let his hair go white, and just suddenly appear, you know, after all those years of that waxy build-up[.]
MG: He denies that, and they’ve come up with proof, and he hasn’t touched his hair[.]
GV: Oh, well, maybe somebody else touches it[.] The above exchange might strike some as astonishing – not only for portending, nearly forty years outward, the crass and vacuous nature of political discourse in the social media age (albeit just a bit more erudite than today’s common vernacular), but also in miming the dialogue that can be routinely found on any of today’s talk shows almost verbatim, merely swapping the name Reagan for Trump.
In modern times, the vitriolic nature of leftist outrage may be used roughly as a gauge for the extent to which a political figure offers an antidote to the liberal status quo. President Trump, much like President Reagan, unquestionably instigates the prevailing liberal establishment, but he does so to a degree that far surpasses anything any one of his conservative (as that term is used in the everyday parlance) predecessors could have done. This is indeed in part due to the blustering character of Donald Trump the man. But there is also something extraordinary about our current president that so antagonizes the mainstream left-wing elite that makes it hard to imagine the Trump legacy undergoing a similar refashioning, which has steadily endeared Reagan, and even George W. Bush, to the mainstream political establishment, at least superficially.
That’s a good thing.
Link to article:
Was the Pre-Trump World Normal or Abnormal?
By Victor Davis Hanson
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