Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't Worry America, Megan McArdle Has Your Back

It's odd that Megan McArdle has written a post that seems to defend Donald Trump from accusations of dictatorship when she despises him so, but buried in the oh-so-many-words is a tiny clue.

While McArdle appears to be upset that The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik states Trump will be a dictator and the country won't recover, the political is always personal with her.
Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.’
No, you can’t. One can argue about whether to call him a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke made in a nightmare shared between Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe, but under any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is.
McArdle enthusiastically supported the #NeverTrump "movement." Gopnik insulted her and them. He pointed out they were powerless fools, without principles or spine. For that...he must die!!

McArdle's evidence that the US could never be taken over and permanently damaged by a dictatorship in modern times:

1. Nobody knows anything, so there's no way to tell whether or not countries recover from dictatorships.
Moreover, the “modern times” restriction makes it hard to generalize, simply because there just aren’t that many modern democracies around, or enough years of history to study from them.
2. You cannot prove a man will be a dictator; you can only find out after he dictators over everything.
And that assumes that Trump, having taken power, would turn into a Peron or a Lenin, and not, say, just a bad president. Leave aside for now the argument over whether he has genuinely scary-dictator instincts (I see worrying signs that he does, but this is unprovable until he tries to do scary-dictator things rather than just bray about them).
3. Just because armed men backed by the biggest, most deadly military in the world take over a country doesn't mean people will obey the folks threatening to kill them. McArdle knows this because FDR tried to become a dictator and he was stopped.
There are two stages to becoming a scary autocrat. First, you have to get into a position to seize power. The most traditional routes are the military (a task for which Donald Trump’s bone spurs left him tragically disqualified), or winning elected office to abolish or corrupt the electoral process. The former route has its risks, but once you’ve safely arrived in the presidential palace, it’s pretty easy to dispense with democracy, since you have all the guns. The latter route means you need the rest of government, including all the folks with guns, to go along with you.
This certainly does happen, even in countries that have been practicing democracies for a while. But it’s by no means a given. Franklin D. Roosevelt took a certain amount of constitutional liberty with his wackier notions, and when the courts pushed back, he hit on the scary idea of basically throwing out some Supreme Court justices and replacing them with others who would rubber-stamp his policies. (The phrasing was nicer than that, but this was the basic idea, and just the sort of first step that dictators like to take toward cementing themselves as Autocrat for Life). FDR’s own party rebelled, but the Supreme Court began cooperating, too.
4. Dictator FDR was unsuccessful in part because the FBI would never tap a phone on the president's order, or to gain power, or protect itself from a dictator's revenge, or protect their jobs....
There’s clearly a portion of the electorate that thrills to the more authoritarian and violent parts of his message, and presumably some of those folks are in the military and the civil service. But I’m still fairly confident that the FBI is not, say, going to start tapping journalists’ phones to find out if they’re making fun of President Trump’s comb-over, or disappearing the ones who do.
5. America's institutions are too strong to let a dictator take over the US.
All-out dictatorship is pretty low on the list, because American institutions do not seem weak enough to allow it.
No doubt the Republican Party will stop Trump if he tries to run for office. They're a long-standing, powerful American institution.

Oh, wait. They accepted him as their party's nominee and are backing his run, because Hiltery will be worse.

Sucks to be you, Republicans.


Anonymous said...

"The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief."

Clever Pseudonym said...

Just like American institutions aren't weak enough to kneel to powerful lobbies or the interests of campaign donors and the wealthy? Wait, those people are acting in the interests of McArdle, so no big deal.

Tengrain said...

Or as Chimpy said,

Bob M said...

"All-out dictatorship is pretty low on the list, because American institutions do not seem weak enough to allow it. "

Heck I can see it happen rather easily - One Trump is elected - Two a state of emergency is declared because of - well why is immaterial the only thing needed is that the level of be panic high enough to allow the next step: passage of a bill allowing the president to rule by decree given the emergency -(including appointments budgets what have you) and Supreme Court either allows it or is ignored and there you have it. It's pretty simple really and the plan could count on the full throated support of soulless evil hacks like Megan who will insist it's a temporary thing and besides things are really really bad and scary. And the main stream press would have discussions like "not having anymore elections: a good or a bad thing"

Ellis Weiner said...

"But I’m still fairly confident that the FBI is not, say, going to start tapping journalists’ phones..."

Oh. Well, then. Megan McArdle is "fairly confident." What's that, the "argument from complacency"?

Was this part of McMegan's piece on how Trump's rise is not the fault of the Republican Party? Or is this its thrilling sequel: "Okay, yes, he can win, but it won't be that bad"?

If any of us thought that the rise of Trump must be good for *something,* we were right. It's perversely entertaining to watch Megan McArdle (like other GOP shills) debase herself so thoroughly.

David said...

Ugh! she's the worst

brad said...

What is wrong with me that knowing McMegan is writing lots about Trump tempts me to dust off FMM?

Susan of Texas said...

Do it! She's out of control and I only cover about 1/3 of the atrocities per post.

brad said...

I count 25ish posts by her that are directly about Trump or the Repub debates. If I do it I think I'll do a series of shorters going through them all. I expect there's a slow transition from "he's tacky" to "Hillary is SKEEEEEwarrreeeeeeee*smoke and sparks from ears*".
My fear is if I indulge I'll then have to do a follow-up about her repeatedly predicting Hillary's failure. And then the cycle just continues and continues, spiraling down through the gaze of the void.

Susan of Texas said...

Yeah, she'll be predicting the death of Clinton's presidency until it's over, and then she'll lie about the effects.

I think she'll continue to be Above It All, dripping scorn and condescension on everyone and telling everyone that if they just listened to her, all our problems could be solved.

Ken Houghton said...

She's off on the Evil Emails Again.

I'm with Susan: FMM needs to return. I just fear for the sanity of anyone who tries carrying that load.

fish said...

"But I’m still fairly confident that the FBI is not, say, going to start tapping journalists’ phones..."

Of course the FBI won't start tapping journalists' phones. They will continue...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

A global hegemon that supports dictatorships all over the planet might become one itself?

** scoff **

Susan of Texas said...

I didn't even discuss Germany. If them, why not us? We both are/were highly religious and authoritarian; many people would go along, as they do with Trump. Our institutions could be taken over; we saw Bush et al stuff every level with their apparatchiks. We have our military everywhere and are militaristic as a people.

I also didn't get into the fact that dictators don't let you stop them; they have the power and you don't.

So much stupid, so little time.