Supercharging their efforts to gaslight America, Donald Trump’s enemies are denying the law of physics.
At least since Isaac Newton formulated his laws of motion, we’ve understood that every effect can be explained by its cause. This insight was a radical break from more primeval beliefs that things just happened or resulted from the will of often inscrutable deities and phantasmatic beasts.
Trump opponents reject this foundation of science and logic. Going beyond their grotesque comparisons of him to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, they now cast Trump as a mythical beast – like Golem, Leviathan, or Kraken – who wreaks whirlwinds of destruction without prodding.
Trump’s chief primary opponent, Nikki Haley, says that “chaos” accompanies him. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan argues that “impeachments, embarrassments, scandal, [and] 1/6” follow in his wake. Democrats and their stenographers at once-great news organizations say Trump’s description of his enemies as “vermin” upon whom he will seek “retribution” is proof that he plans to rule as a murderous dictator.
In their telling, all of this has come out of thin air – the uncaused cause and inevitable result of Trump’s movement across the landscape. Like the winds and thunderclaps of yore, he unleashes himself upon an innocent people. The tumult is solely a reflection of his evil nature. This is superficial to the point of being laughable, but it’s the story they’re telling.
Trump is not the cause of this uproar. The behavior they deem beyond the pale and disqualifying is largely the effect of the vicious and dishonest attacks they have leveled against him since he announced his candidacy in 2015.
Donald Trump is the greatest victim not felled by an assassin in the history of the presidency. No one has more of a right to express grievance than this man whose enemies have sought retribution against him for the sin of winning an election. He is not a cosmic force determined to impose his will, but a man under siege who largely lashes out in self-defense.
Trump’s enemies have memory-holed the ways they have caused the behavior they denounce: the unfounded abuse they hurl at him, the myriad ways they have corrupted our institutions to undermine him, the chaos they have unleashed because of their hatred of him. They want us to forget that they:
- Cast him as a Russian agent who colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election.
- Branded him a racist by falsely claiming he praised white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.
- Portrayed him as a nincompoop by insisting that he had instructed Americans to inject bleach to fight COVID.
- Helped swing the 2020 election by enabling Joe Biden and 51 former high-ranking intelligence officials to dismiss the evidence of his son Hunter’s shady foreign business dealings as likely “Russian disinformation.”
The calumny did not stop when Trump left office. They call him a criminal because highly partisan prosecutors, some of whom ran on the promise to “get Trump,” have brought 91 felony indictments against him while other states are working to keep him off the ballot. They call him a kleptocrat because foreigners stayed at his family’s hotels while he was president.
None of these efforts – and there are plenty more examples – were grounded in reality; all were demonstrable falsehoods. Yet when Trump responded to their baseless depiction of him as a treasonous, racist thief, they cited it as proof that he is unfit for high office.
What does this say about them? That is the question that is almost never asked. Neither is the great what-if: What would a Trump presidency have been like if his enemies had not engaged in relentless personal attacks against him? Trump is no Reagan; he is not sunshine and hope but preternaturally combative and often insulting. Still, we don’t know what aspects of Trump’s character would have come to the fore absent the daily bludgeoning. They never gave him a chance. Would Trump and his supporters have been so aggrieved by his 2020 loss if the establishment hadn’t spent four years using every dirty trick in the book to deny him power – and spent the five months before the election justifying the political violence of the BLM-inspired riots?
He lost, but he also had plenty of reason to believe he was shafted.
Nothing – not even Trump – happens in a vacuum. The laws of cause and effect abide. This raises a conundrum for voters as we head toward November. Trump’s enemies will only ratchet up their attacks. Trump, rightfully angered by his mistreatment, seems likely to double down on his oft-intemperate responses (even though it is not in his, or the country’s best interest). He can’t seem to help himself. Who could?
I understand why many Americans recoil at the prosect of four more years of tumult. But they need to ask themselves: Who caused the problems? By defeating Trump, they will only be rewarding the real cause of the chaos.
J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a