Here's another article to file under "Doesn't Age Well Post-Election":
Some smarmy egghead over at the failing New York Times recalled a lecture from his freshman PoliSci 101 class at Marxist U and decided to declare that "The Paranoid Style in American Politics Is Back." He's referring to a very influential article in Harper's Weekly from 1964 by the historian Richard Hofstadter in which he declared that paranoia was a central tenet in American political culture.
Written during the 1964 presidential campaign, which of course included as one of its candidates the proto-Trump shitlord Barry Goldwater, it appealed to a liberal intelligentsia fearful of - as Hofstadter himself terms them in his piece - the "Radical Right". The New York Time article brings his ideas back from the grave (where they rightfully belonged) and ascribes them to the Trump phenomenon.
It begins by claiming that...
The paranoia of the Trump campaign has found expression in the accusation that the Republican establishment in the primaries and now Hillary Clinton and her allies in the general election are committed to rigging the vote to prevent Trump’s rightful accession to the White House.
Viewed in our current context, after "Hillary Clinton and her allies" actually tried to steal the election
through electoral college manipulation, it's fair to say that the "paranoia" of the Trump campaign was completely justified in this case.
The piece goes on to quote (((Seth))) Masket of the University of Denver, who worries about the potential for violence as a result of this Drumpfkin paranoia...
Part of the reason that our nation has been relatively free of political violence is that losers of contests have nearly always accepted their loss and opposed the victor through legitimate means, such as challenging them in future elections or working against their agenda in Congress. The 2000 election was very close and obviously very controversial, but Al Gore nonetheless conceded after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Were Trump and his supporters to continue to argue that the election had been stolen from them, it would mean that they reject nonviolent solutions to political differences. It could jeopardize future elections, undermine the legitimacy of the federal government, and create an environment in which political violence becomes more likely.
Again, this astute political analysis looks even more absurd in the rear-view mirror than it did at the time. Not just the far-Left, but even many middle of the road moderate Democrats now think it is completely okay
to bash in the heads of Trump supporters.
It would be worth looking at Hofstadter's own definition of the "paranoid style":
(It is) made up of certain preoccupations and fantasies: the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary.
I suppose I should mention that Hofstadter was Jewish and, though it's an observation straight out of the "paranoid style" he derides, it's not to surprising to me that someone like him would substitute psychological analysis for political analysis. I guess the funny thing, though, is that the above quote really does describe a political movement in the US. It's a movement built on basic fantasies, run by people who view themselves as the Elect, premised on the idea that the people of their side are "persecuted", and prone to attributing to their enemies a certain "demonic" ideology that justifies violence against those who hold it.
Hofstadter's final observation about this type of politics is that it induces...
a process of psychological projection in which the enemy’s own horrendous conduct is emulated as a supposed way of surmounting it.
The irony of a Jew accusing his opponents of projecting won't be lost on any of you, I assume. Although his point is very applicable, again, to our current political climate - just not in the intended way.
Looking back over it I can't help but marvel at how astute Hofstadter's analysis was and indeed how farsighted the New York Time's revival of his work proved to be. Once you read them as acts of projection in and of themselves, unintentionally self-aware and revealing, they make a lot of sense.
I, for one, agree that its time for us to get serious about the worrying rise of "The Paranoid Style in American Politics".