Glenn Reynolds, Ross Douthat, And The Liberal Onslaught That Created Trump

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Is Donald Trump’s rise a backlash against liberal overreach? At the Atlantic, James Parker said Trump “has co-created a space in American politics that is uniquely transgressive, volatile, carnivalesque, and (from a certain angle) punk rock.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat echoed this, observing that “the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion.”

As if to prove them right, mere hours after Douthat’s column posted, this condescending video, featuring sanctimonious celebrities lecturing us about how to vote, emerged:

The video was “insufferable,” but utterly predictable. And while it was soul crushing, no humans were injured during the filming or viewing.

The same could not be said about the looting, lawlessness, and violence in Charlotte, North Carolina, we witnessed later that day.

CORRECTION UPDATE: Civilian who suffered gunshot wound during protests is on life support, critical condition. Not deceased.

— City of Charlotte (@CLTgov) September 22, 2016

After protesters shut down traffic on I-277, libertarian-leaning law professor and columnist Glenn Reynolds took to Twitter and fired off a tweet: “Run them down.” His account was promptly suspended.

In response, Reynolds suggested that “Twitter is out to silence voices it disagrees with,” and this opinion seems to reinforce a sense that—whether you’re talking about social media platforms, Hollywood films, or the news media—the deck is stacked against conservative Americans.

(Note: I think we can all agree his tweet was ill-advised, but it’s also fair to note the potential danger motorists face during these situations. See Reginald Denny. Indeed, as Reynolds later posted on his blog, “blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people.”)

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So what does a celebrity video have to do with the Glenn Reynolds story? These two data points (which also come on the heels of the New York bombing story) both seem to confirm the central premise of Douthat’s theory: Conservative Americans see their culture eroding—and the evidence suggests America’s media elites think they are the villains.

Once considered the counterculture, Hollywood, social media, and the news media have become the establishment. Their will is imposed, first through persuasion, then through more heavy-handed tactics. They do not tolerate dissent. And it’s only natural to want to rebel against this imposed consensus.

Some Republican primary voters who backed Trump did so out of frustration. They saw that the game was rigged, and figured they had to nominate their own strongman to beat back the liberal onslaught. It wasn’t a decision I would have made. But, as I write at Roll Call today, it wasn’t an irrational reaction.