In Our Time

Who’s a Populist?

The mood in Washington during the weeks leading up to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump combined the bloodthirsty rage of the Reign of Terror with the wild comedy of A Night at the Opera, as the New Jesus and his holy family prepared for their ascension from the Capitol Building on January 20 immediately following the swearing-in of the New Antichrist.  The judgment expressed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador following his defeat in the Mexican presidential election of 2006 perfectly conveys the mood of the Democrats, and of liberals generally, these days: “The victory of the right is morally impossible.”

As damaging as the practical political loss sustained across the board by the Democratic Party last November was, the symbolic affront by the Republican candidate to what liberals call their “values,” to their idols and orthodoxies, and to themselves was perhaps more damaging still.  That is the reason for their volcanic reaction to Trump’s predictably aggressive response to the view of Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the civil-rights demonstrations who was beaten and jailed in 1965, that Trump would be an “illegitimate” president.  Though Lewis could have offered no greater insult to a President-Elect than this one, Trump was instantly assaulted by swarms of enraged army ants for saying that Lewis would do better to look to very real problems in his own...

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