Proceeds to throw A-bomb around: It's important to understand one key point:
The Washington Post's Colbert King doesn't want to generalize! More specifically, he doesn't want to generalize about the nation's Trump voters.
We know King doesn't want to do that because he tells us so. He says so early in his weekly column in today's Washington Post:
KING (3/5/16): A stipulation: It would be unfair and dishonest to paint all Trump supporters with the same brush.That heartfelt stipulation comes early in King's piece. But uh-oh! After presenting his stipulation, he proceeds to "paint all Trump supporters" with a rather unpleasant brush.
With which brush does our columnist paint? This is the headline which sits atop his column on line:
"Trump: The authoritarian’s candidate of choice"
(That's the current headline on-line. In our hard-copy Post, the headline employed a milder brush: "What Trump voters are afraid of.")
According to the current headline, Donald Trump is "the authoritarian’s candidate of choice." Presumably, King didn't compose that headline himself. But we'd have to say that it's a fair summary of the column he wrote.
That headline doesn't say that all Trump voters are "authoritarian," whatever that unpleasant term will be taken to mean. The headline doesn't even say that most Trump voters fit that unpleasant description.
That said, we'd have to say that King's column does paint with a very broad brush. We'd also say it's terrible work, of a familiar, destructive and dangerous type.
Why are people supporting Candidate Trump? Given what is happening this year, that's an important question.
Not wishing to be "authoritarian" ourselves, we'd assume that the answer to that question would differ depending on which Trump supporter you spoke to. We also note this fact:
We see no sign that King spoke to any Trump supporters in the course of assembling his column. A certain type of semi-"authoritarian" mind will typically function that way.
King plays a familiar game. As he proceeds in his piece, he simply tells us what Trump supporters think—and what he tells us about their imagined thinking tends to be highly unflattering. Highly privileged folk at the top of the heap will frequently function that way.
Could there imaginably be valid reasons explaining some voter's support for Trump? Let's just say that King hasn't worked his imagination real hard in pursuit of that question.
In our view, King's column is horrifically bad, but it's also quite instructive. Overall, we wouldn't describe King as a liberal. But his column shows how we in our liberal tribe tends to function when we're at our intellectual worst, which is where we can be found a large amount of the time.
Because King's column is so instructive, we'll almost surely return to it next week. For today, though, let's only note where King ends up.
King ends his column by saying what follows. As he does, we'd have to say that columnist King is ignoring his own gruesome history:
KING: Trump’s willingness to flout all the conventions of civilized discourse when it comes to out-groups and others that his authoritarian supporters find so threatening is, as Vox observed, a benefit rather than a liability for him.We agree! Over and over, again and again, Candidate Trump has shown a "willingness to flout all the conventions of civilized discourse when it comes to out-groups and others."
Even if Trump is out of the picture, Vox’s Taub points out, the authoritarians “will still look for candidates who will give them the strong punitive leadership they desire.”
Thus a seminal finding: There is a sickness in our body politic that Trump’s candidacy exposes.
Here's the problem. We're so old that we can remember when King and his horrible Washington in-group spent many years engaged in the same highly destructive practice.
In our view, Colbert King was Donald Trump long before Trump came to town. So were the many others who rode around, year after year, in the insider establishment Washington clown-car with him.
This in-group was assaulting our journalistic conventions long before Candidate Trump came along. Trump has come along in the past year and destroyed things a tiny bit better.
Colbert King and his gruesome in-group were destroying our discourse long ago. His newest column continues to do so, in a way which is pleasing to liberals. Let's close with a basic point:
In the past few months, we've frequently asked a basic question. Here it is:
Can we the liberals discuss modern politics without the use of our bombs?
King said he doesn't want to generalize. Then just like that, he started throwing his A-bomb around.
Again and again, this seems to be the only play our liberal tribe knows. As we've noted many times, we liberals love our various bombs.
We don't leave home without them! It's a vaguely authoritarian practice, and it makes you-know-who strong.