Confessions Of A Traitor To His Class
This must be how Phillip Nolan felt. Nolan was the protagonist in Edward Everett Hale’s The Man Without A Country. Nolan, an Army lieutenant, renounces his nation after a trial for treason. He’s sentenced to spend the rest of his life on a series of ships without a word about the United States, never allowed back in the homeland again.
Lately I feel like Phillip Nolan, a man ostracized for the crime of being a traitor. To my class, not my nation.
As the Trump presidency has unspooled, I have had the most remarkable meetings with friends I’ve known for years. They look at me as if I’ve been undergoing some remarkably unsuccessful plastic surgery. Their brows knit, their eyes squint, their laugh is nervous and apprehensive. They ask, “What happened to you?”
What they mean is, you’re become a traitor to your class. “Down the rabbit hole”. Cast out.
In the tumult of Donald Trump’s election as president in the United States, it’s tantamount to a crime against your urban liberal class to think this is anything but a calamity for America and the free world. That class being white educated Boomers who cut their teeth on The West Wing and The End of the Innocence.
The kind of people who still laugh at the tired tropes of Weekend Update on SNL or believe that CNN’s Don Lemon is an honest broker of facts. Obama uber alles. The Canadian iteration of this class might be the most smug. The Trudeau mansplainers who celebrate our healthcare while ignoring that the U.S. takes care of our defence for us.
I should know. I used to be one of them. As long as I sang from the hymn book I was golden. I have a prize to prove it. Two, in fact. Still know the secret handshakes. Know how to spot a racist or a homophobe when no one else can see one.
Because I have been one of them, I know that no one in their virtue circle is conservative. They probably know more pygmies than conservatives. So they base their prejudices on cartoons painted for them by Stephen Colbert. It comforts them to condescend.
It’s been remarkable to see the surgical removal of humour from this self-regarding class. As Robert Tracinski of The Federalist says, they’ve immunized themselves against hostile messages. “(F)or years, the left has trained itself in the habit of assuming that the only reason anyone disagrees with them is because of racism.
“As a consequence, those who live in this bubble tend to reflexively dismiss anyone who brings them a contrary message from the outside world.”
Former liberal heroes, like law professor Alan Dershowitz and journalist Glenn Greenwald, have also felt the sting of being excommunicated for not embracing the Trump/ Russia cabal. “It is not an insubstantial portion of Democratic online loyalists who believe that if you deviate from Democratic Party orthodoxy on the Trump-Russia question, you are a paid Kremlin agent,” says Greenwald.
Anyone who questions the Russia consensus, he says, “becomes a blasphemer. Becomes a heretic. I think that’s what they see me as.”
It’s not pretty. A recent exchange on Twitter with a (now) former friend ended with his bitter judgement about what has become of my career. What he was saying is that my political views have made me unacceptable in the media offices of downtown Toronto, where he’s been lodged for some time now, receiving the hosannas for keeping to the party line. Which is his choice, of course.
It’s very easy to hew to the party line. Liberalism is certainly light lifting. It’s the astonishment of people who ask each other in the office, at the dinner parties or waiting at private schools for their kids: “Do you know anyone who actually likes Trump or would vote for him? Me neither. But Dowbiggin supports him. How sad.”
They’re honestly surprised that millions out there did vote for the vain, profane Trump for president. (And will be when Doug Ford becomes premier.) Knowing all his faults, they still understood the alternative Clinton (Kathleen Wynne) was far, far worse for their country. Rather than broaden their net, the SJWs I meet use a Jimmy Kimmel stereotype to dismiss the whole thing as some great accident that can be rectified by a zany scheme where the Russians got Trump elected.
As for Trump: I think most of the assessments of his temperament and vanity are spot on. He’s that rare creature: a really poor winner. He’s been his own worst enemy so often I’ve lost count. He’s allowed himself to be played by the DC swamp creatures he decries (helloJames Comey). I wouldn’t want anyone I know to marry him. Working for him looks like a trial by fire— as Rex Tillerson learned.
But you must give him this. While the perfect people like Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler and Tom Hanks virtue signalled at their Oscar or Grammy parties, this highly imperfect outsider schooled the GOP establishment and the Clinton Mob to become POTUS 45. He risked everything, put his name and family on the line while this tony critics were vexed between grande macchiato and grande americano.
He’s an imperfect chalice, but only a fool ignores the contents of his appeal.
Where do we go from here? The media, the one institution that might have kept the middle ground clear of debris, has disqualified itself with its partisan narrative about Russian collusion— serving as cutouts for the plan to fix the election concocted by the Obama administration, the FBI and the intelligence community
The DC media was so hot to kill Trump that they spent their capital spreading false or flawed stories. This fever may have kept the eight-person CNN panels humming, but it only served to destroy their credibility with average voters. How this has happened so often is neither a fluke nor an accident. It’s abdication of the trust most cherished in our business. How— or if— they will report when facts are settled is an open question.
So Trump? Take him or leave him. His message? A clear rebuke for people who think they have it all figured. The media: Irreparably damaged.
And if assessment that makes me a traitor to my class, I guess it’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)