I’ve been meaning to do shorter, more frequent posts in addition to the longer ones. So I’m starting “Excursion Around The Right.” The name is a play on this song.
First up, this article on Social Matter. Read it. It’s long, but worth it.
I only wanted to add one point to it.
The article quotes Francis Fukuyama on Plato’s conception of the soul:
[Plato said] there were three parts to the soul, a desiring part, a reasoning part, and a part that he called thymos, or “spiritedness.” Much of human behavior can be explained as a combination of the first two parts, desire and reason: desire induces men to seek things outside themselves, while reason or calculation shows them the best way to get them. But in addition, human beings seek recognition of their own worth, or of the people, things, or principles that they invest with worth… The desire for recognition, and the accompanying emotions of anger, shame, and pride, are parts of the human personality critical to the political life.
Fukuyama (building on Nietzsche) says that liberal democracy molds people into men without Thymos, also referred to as Men without Chests. The article goes on to apply this to our current political climate:
The alt-right insult “cuckservative” is directed precisely at these men without chests. Trump, on the other hand, is a perfect example of a man of thymos, a man with a broad chest and “high energy,” who again and again confounds the expectations of this era’s best approximations of last men.
This analysis of Trump struck me like a hammer blow, because it pinpointed the exact moment in history when I stopped being simply entertained by Trump, and when I started being fully on his side. That exact moment was during the speech with Trump’s famous interaction with Jorge Ramos. But it wasn’t the wonderful flippancy of “Go back to Univision” that sold me on Trump. It was this line.
We’re going to get things back in shape. This country’s gonna be so strong and so great, and you’re gonna be so proud of it.
That word right there. Proud. Trump used the word many times before and since, saying the voters will be “Proud of him” and that he’ll “make you Proud to be an American again.”
At the time, that struck me as an idea in politics I couldn’t remember ever hearing before, at least not recently. Can you imagine Hillary saying “I’m going to make you so proud”? I can’t. If you search “Hillary Clinton Make You Proud” without quotes, you get two types of results. First, Hillary saying she’s “proud to be _____” which is exactly the opposite of an aspirational phrase. The other type of result is articles about Trump. That says something.
Trump’s use of the idea of pride, I think, is exactly the kind of thing Thomas Barghest was talking about in the Social Matter article. An appeal not to the mind, or the gut, but the chest.
Was anyone else struck by Trump’s use of “Proud” throughout the campaign? Does this seem like an adequate explanation?