This New Yorker Cover Perfectly Explains the Problem With Donald Trump | Mother Jones

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Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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  1. Avatar Zac
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    Why progressives would rather lose than cede an inch of ideological sacred ground, exhibit eleven thousand nine hundred and ten, in an infinite series. You’re never going to get anywhere by making people feel ashamed of people who were their heroes — it just makes them dig in all the harder. Yep, Teddy Roosevelt believed some utterly reprehensible things, as did, by modern standards, pretty much every American president who ever lived, and frankly, I don’t think we’re going to look too great to our children, though the civilization of human-hunting, self-repairing robots who come after us may remember us fondly.

    It’s okay to be proud of your history, as long as you learn from it. The emphasis is on the second part. Winston Churchill was an unrepentant imperialist, but when Churchill had to choose between the British Empire he said he loved more than anything and defeating Hitler, he was willing to give up all the terrible things he loved for one beautiful truth worth defending. We are all bad guys. But we can all be more than that, too.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Zac
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      says:

      To be fair, I’ve seen some swipes at this from all sides. But while BSDI, it’s not symmetrical.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Zac
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      says:

      Churchill actually never gave up on being an imperialist. But a cover of the New Yorker is not really aiming at converting Trumpets. And at what point does your point about not making people feel ashamed end up meaning “never criticize or speak strongly” against someone.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Zac
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      says:

      You’re never going to get anywhere by making people feel ashamed of people who were their heroes — it just makes them dig in all the harder.

      Agreed – and not irrationally: Though I don’t take that particular progressive very seriously, his attitude points toward fanaticism, for judging the past and present in relation to an image of perfection, and in such a way that all that was conceivably good done in the name of a man of the past is discounted to zero, and only his errors remain.

      …though I think the main reason the spirits of those past presidents are appalled by Trump has little to do with judgments of his personal life and nothing to do with elements of his political platform, but rather with his lack of dignity. Washington was flawed in many ways and a creature of his era, but his conduct as a leader and not trivially his rhetoric appealed to reason and the common good, and therefore to the possibility of progress beyond his or his contemporaries’ imaginations. The same could be said for all of the others, to greater and lesser extent.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Zac
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      says:

      I never understand why so many progressives like to do this sort of technique either. I wonder if progressives in other developed countries follow the same technique as shaming people for being fans of certain historical figures. It seems almost puritanical in away. The Puritans hated theater because it involved people pretending to be what they were not. Many progressives seem to loathe people who see history or any historical figure with anything remotely resembling rose-tinted vision. The idea seems to be that if we can shatter enough “illusions” about the past than we can truly achieve our progressive tomorrow.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Zac
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      says:

      I’m getting tired in general of the you-can’t-do-anything-right shaming school of online progressive critique.Report

  2. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    “You’re never going to get anywhere by making people feel ashamed of people who were their heroes — it just makes them dig in all the harder.”

    And yet….it’s done continuously and those that do it wonder why no progress is made and they get push back.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Damon
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      says:

      “And yet….it’s done continuously and those that do it wonder why no progress is made and they get push back.”

      At least in my experience, it’s because it’s easier to simply evince a preening sense of moral superiority over whomever you perceive as your outgroup for the purposes of self-aggrandizement and social advancement within your ingroup than to do the hard work of learning real moral maturity. This seems to be true regardless of ideological affinity.Report

  3. Avatar Guy
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    says:

    I for one am of the opinion that this should be taken as what it is: satire, and pretty good satire at that. I mean, based on the last two paragraphs of the linked piece, the author clearly didn’t intend such, but still. Intent ain’t magic.Report

  4. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    I really don’t understand why Teddy Roosevelt is becoming this progressive hero. I guess it’s because of his statements about businessmen, but that was actually more him being petulant that they wouldn’t pay their taxes than any populist ideal.

    I mean, the man was the George W. Bush of his time. He talked the US Army into setting up a horse cavalry unit so that there could be a horse cavalry unit for him to ride at the head of. He managed to get the Navy to built a giant fleet of huge battleships so that he could sail around the world in a huge fleet of giant battleships. To be fair, everyone else was acting that way (see Kaiser Wilhelm for someone who did all that *and* started a war) but it’s not like that’s an excuse.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      Really? When did the Teddy Bear become a hero for our times. He said some things that resonate with people now and was also a belligerent blowhard. If people quote his statements about business the point might be to note that criticism about businesses having to much power or the need to regulate them are old and not some new hippie thing.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      And public lands. Teddy was in large part responsible for the initial shift in the attitude towards western public lands.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      Trust-busting, dude. He broke up Standard Oil.Report

      • Avatar David in reply to Zac
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        says:

        So many confusing shades of gray – how can we decide where we sit astride the moral arc of the universe if we can’t neatly circumscribe our historical heroes whose morality shines like a modern beacon from those villains whose power, venality, and abhorrent views proximate all that is wrong with contemporary political evils?Report

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