Baptism by Fire

Reader Durandel asks,

Can we win with the leaderless, multiheaded hydra approach without at some point having a legitimate, genuine leader who is then martyred for the cause to trigger the Right into action?

I’ve had reservations about the “no leaders” approach for a while. Granted, military history is not my forte. But every social system abhors a power vacuum, and people naturally seek out leaders to guide them–see the alpha-beta dynamic. The fact that many willingly followed the Charlottesville organizers into a trap those leaders should’ve seen coming is just one example.

At the same time, abuse of leadership does not militate against legitimate use. There’s a difference between decentralized action and a leaderless movement. What’s brewing on the horizon is more likely to herald the arrival of the Man.

We’ve seen that cycle play out elsewhere already. Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Brazil, to name a few, have their true populist nationalist leaders. Most of those countries faced crises far more severe than anything the US has yet experienced. It seems like rebirth may not be possible without going through the fire.

Contrast Trump with figures like Orban, Salvini, and even Bolsonaro. Trump is not the Man. He is more of a Tar-Palantir figure who makes a last doomed effort at reform while the rest of the elite tragically refuse to repent.

We may have to go through whatever waits in the post-Trump era and come out the other side before we get serious leaders. Despite all the troubles, most Americans are too fat and complacent to risk losing it all by challenging the powers that be.

They martyrdom question has taken on new pertinence lately. Ever since Mueller kicked off his witch hunt, MAGApedes have issued dire warnings of large-scale civil unrest, up to and including open rebellion, if Trump were impeached on some bogus process crime.

But that was before it looked nigh certain that Trump would fail to deliver on the major promises he made to his base. His last chance to build the Wall is rapidly slipping through his fingers. In a tragic twist, the same cosmopolitan elites who’ve been desperate to get rid of Trump to quash his agenda may clear the way to get rid of him by having quashed his agenda.

One of conservatives’ favorite mistakes is assuming the Left’s threats aren’t serious. Seeing as how everyone on the Left from street thugs to washed-up comedians to network talking heads has sworn a mighty oath to make sure Trump spends his golden years in prison, it beggars belief that the man apparently doesn’t think his many powerful enemies won’t pull out all the stops to see him thrown in prison for life.

Perhaps he assumes the Left won’t stoop to incarcerating an ex-president. If so, he hasn’t been paying attention. They’re fighting tooth and nail to lock up a sitting president. The residual glamour of the office won’t save him.

A leader is only as good as his advisers, and Trump has surrounded himself with some supremely foolish and two-faced advisers. Odds are they’re falsely assuring him that if a crook like Hillary Clinton can get away with murder, he has nothing to worry about since he’s innocent of the charges. As we’ve seen, that’s not how it works.

How Trump didn’t realize that he faced implacable foes, that his base’s loyalty was his only safeguard, and that failing his base would leave him at his enemies’ mercy, is a riddle we’ll probably never know the answer to.

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