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Donald Trump’s Victory is a Failure of Liberalism. (I mean, as in what Liberalism originally meant.)

TaraElla
TaraElla
Apr 17, 2017 · 6 min read
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Ever since Donald Trump’s victory last year, progressives have been doing two things: mutually reassuring each other that we’re the sane people and Trump voters are the brainwashed people (who would soon wake up to the real Trump); and devising theories as to why Trump won and how to prevent it from happening again. The latter activity is much more constructive in my opinion: while the former is therapeutic, it distracts us from the reality that we have to face: Trump won because something went wrong, and if we don’t fix it, history will repeat again, probably in worse forms. As to why Trump won: there have been many theories flying around: that people don’t take feminism seriously, that people actually want some protectionism, that Hillary Clinton was seen as too establishment, that many voters are racist and would therefore love to see mass deportations, etc. All these theories are unsatisfying, however. They are superficial explanations of what we are seeing, and like the things people said in 2004 in the aftermath of the Bush victory, are likely to be either wrong or trivial in the whole scheme of things. But Donald Trump’s victory represents something more fundamental.

Donald Trump’s Victory is a Failure of Liberalism.

America never had a Trump before because it was, to a more or less extent, a liberal nation, with a liberal consensus. There was consensus that government power was limited, individual liberty was supreme, and by extension the arbitrary exercise of government power was unacceptable. But as America (and the rest of the West) had rapidly become less and less liberal in recent years, this consensus faded. Donald Trump won because liberalism failed. If liberalism had not failed, America would never have allowed Trump to win.

In truth, liberalism has been forgetting its roots for many years now.

The conservatives’ other agenda in the late 20th century, the culture wars, destroyed liberalism even more.

Up to this point, it had generally been conservatives who were responsible for destroying liberalism. But from here onwards, progressives sadly played an important role in liberalism’s demise too. Once conservatives decided that with ‘God on their side’ they could do anything, progressives too decided similarly. So-called liberal progressives began embracing things like limiting people’s freedom of speech and conscience, in the name of social justice. While traditional liberalism has sought to end racism, sexism and homophobia via civil rights, anti-discrimination laws and rational discourse, social justice warriors have embraced more coercive and social engineering methods, like enforcing a level of political correctness eerily similar to that found in the novel 1984.

The sensible common ground of liberty and mutual respect, freedom of conscience, limitation on government intrusion and rational discourse has been abandoned. The political field has become more and more like a choice between different tribes of authoritarians. Against this backdrop, Donald Trump’s authoritarianism has become nothing unusual, and is simply another choice. If the other versions of authoritarianism have failed, why not give Trump’s version a go? Alternatively, in a world where different kinds of authoritarianism are the only choices, Trump doesn’t look so bad or mad anymore.

In fact, I know for a fact that some people supported Donald Trump because they were tired of authoritarianism.

And maybe they’re not as crazy as they sound: after all, what’s remaining of the liberal consensus is almost nothing anyway, and freedom of speech is the most fundamental of all freedoms of the conscience. Progressives have dismissed this population as mostly privileged white men who cry oppression, but that would be the wrong way to look at it: I can empathize with their point, even as someone who is not a privileged white man. Under the influence of the social justice warrior mindset, American progressives have increasingly embraced restrictions on free speech and freedom of conscience, and even many young people and minority voters have simply had enough. I can’t help but think that, if not for the social justice warrior movement, Hillary might be president today. It is one thing to promote women’s rights, LGBT rights and environmentalism, but it is another, inexcusable, thing to make people feel oppressed in the process. (We also need to remember that making our opponents feel oppressed will only make them even less willing to change.)

if not for the social justice warrior movement, Hillary might be president today

The only way to prevent more of this madness is to start the liberal revival.

It’s too late to un-elect Donald Trump now. But it’s not too late to bring liberalism back into our politics.

TaraElla is a singer-songwriter, independent journalist and author, who is passionate about liberty and equality. She is the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which focus on developing a moral case for freedom-based politics in the 21st century.

TaraElla Report: The Moral Libertarian View

Reviving classical liberalism, putting the best of Western…

TaraElla

Written by

TaraElla

TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, passionate about free speech, liberty and equality. https://www.taraella.com

TaraElla Report: The Moral Libertarian View

Reviving classical liberalism, putting the best of Western civilization to use in the 21st century. Note that classical liberalism is NOT ‘neoliberalism’ or ‘radlib’!

TaraElla

Written by

TaraElla

TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, passionate about free speech, liberty and equality. https://www.taraella.com

TaraElla Report: The Moral Libertarian View

Reviving classical liberalism, putting the best of Western civilization to use in the 21st century. Note that classical liberalism is NOT ‘neoliberalism’ or ‘radlib’!

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