The Democrats' Pathology

Failing to defeat Trump in the election, the Democrats have worked endlessly to deflect their humiliation with denials, demonization, conspiracies, and pathological diagnosis. These are not new political tactics. Although they are amplified more, they remain pathetic and ineffective.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life was written in 1962 by noted historian Richard Hofstadter, but was conceived earlier to explain the rejection of Adlai Stephenson, the preferred choice of academics and credentialed intellectuals, in favor of Eisenhower. Rejecting an intellectual candidate was considered synonymous with rejecting reason and knowledge, but this arrogance of the left that they hold a monopoly on these virtues blinds them to the reality that progress, innovation, and insight are not limited to their institutions. In fact, one could easily argue that most of our progress occurs outside of our institutions of higher learning. Our universities serve to archive progress and innovation, but it does not always originate there. Eisenhower’s victory came after a period where intellectuals had come to dominate Washington’s institutions during the FDR years. The need to move beyond the leviathan that guided us through the Depression and WW II may have had less to do with any opinion of intellectuals than with the new postwar dynamics.

Hofstadter’s anti-intellectualism has echoed ever since to explain any election the left loses. For a country that is anti-intellectual, we seem to lead the world in Nobel prizes in all fields of science and the arts. Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, IBM, Tesla and thousands of high-tech startups that have dramatically changed the way we work and live have solid American roots. No country can match us in startups.

Nor does the intellectual left explain their wide support of the most deadly and nefarious political movements from Mao to Chavez. The left confuses intellectualism with credentialism. The institution of the blue-collar intellectual is to be found in the laboratories of Thomas Edison and other tinkerers as well as our educational institutions. We are not anti-intellectual because we reject bad ideas.

Thomas Franks in What’s the Matter with Kansas? contended that Midwestern rubes were easily deceived into voting against their own best interests. Consider the irony that the highly educated elite who control much of the traditional media had such a hard time convincing voters what was good for them. How arrogant is it to assume you know what is in others’ self-interest? Obama even contended that the dissatisfaction with the ACA was mostly a communication issue.

Hofstadter and Franks attributed their party’s loss to a pathology of the voters. The rejection of their candidates and their ideas was not a rational response, but some kind of social or psychological malfunction. There is a movement that believes the 25th Amendment should be invoked against Trump, contending that the President is unfit because of a severe narcissistic disorder.

Social media has made narcissism as American as baseball; it should be no surprise that Trump’s narcissism was deemed acceptable considering the alternative. But to contend that he has crossed a line to unfitness for office opens a very dangerous precedent. Tyrannical regimes have imprisoned thousands on questions of psychological fitness. Fifty years ago, psychologists considered homosexuality a psychological disorder.

Democrats are revulsed today from tools they created handed to their worst nightmare. Yet they propose more tools that are more dangerous to our liberty than the problems they address. Trump is quickly filling lower court positions free of the Senate filibuster thanks to Harry Reid. They have discovered that the pledge at the inauguration did not include upholding executive orders. The elevation of the power of the Supreme Court was a rallying cry to independent voters and helped Trump, who now stands to appoint possibly three or more justices.

The Supreme Court hearing on Wisconsin gerrymandering could possibly hurt Democratic votes. But little could backfire on them as much as making a pathology from dissent. Do they really want to seek impeachment or invoke the 25th Amendment on mere policy differences and leadership style?

The violence carried out in the name of political correctness, the ’ends justify the means’ mentality using moral supremacy to justify immoral acts, and their gaslighting that faults those who reject their arrogance all raise questions of their psychological fitness. It becomes a bit difficult to claim credibility on judging Trump’s psychological fitness while Kathy Griffin is hoisting a bloody severed head, a bunch of women are marching wearing vagina suits, and black masked students march to shut down free speech while claiming to be the anti-fascists.

Perhaps the Democrats suffer from severe denial. Anosognosia is not simply denial of a problem, but the genuine inability to recognize that a problem exists.

Efforts to identify strategic and communication failures have excluded the recognition of the rejection of their policies and their ideas. Criticizing those who reject you is not productive to making the changes required to win. It has become an obsession bordering on the pathological.

Henry Oliner blogs at