I was honored to have lunch with a man of enormous stature, standing, common sense, and well-deserved reputation. I am sorry to say, though, that we had a disagreement, albeit a polite and civil difference of opinion. He’s pessimistic about progressives’ chances in 2020, whereas I believe there is reason for cautious optimism.
See, for example, the brand new WSJ/NBC poll showing that Biden wins the popular vote over Trump by nine points, Sanders wins by seven points, and Warren wins by five points. That’s materially better than the poll I posted about on July 13.
But public opinion changes, and we all know that polls can be unreliable. My cautious optimism, is based on more than polls, as is my friend’s cautious pessimism. Ever since he attended Yale many years ago, my friend has spent much of his life in the company of the affluent. I believe a lot of his pessimism comes from the failure of that social class to reject Trump and all his doings, and instead, largely, to embrace him.
Well, I concur: the rich, as a group, have surely not covered themselves with glory in the last few years. We have known for a long time that it’s easier for a rich person to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What we have learned of late is that the last place most of them want to be is within the Kingdom of Heaven.
But there are also few other things I think I understand.
Thing One: As a matter of logic, as a matter of human experience, and as a matter of common sense, the fact that someone—or some group—will put up with a lot of rancid bullshit does not necessarily prove they will put up with an infinite amount of rancid bullshit.
The same South Carolina senator who says he’s fine with unwashed people standing for weeks in cages too crowded for them to lie down in, might draw the line if Trump orders migrant children to be slaughtered by gladiators.
Thing Two: Trump is bound and determined to keep up with the rancid bullshit until he finds out where that line is. The go-back-to-Africa tweets nicely illustrate the point. As does the Politico headline cited at the top of this post.
Thing Three. Thing three is a two-handed observation. On the one hand, a lot of people are gullible, and the loudest voice often drowns out the most reasonable voice. On the other hand, my experience as a litigator taught a profound lesson: if one side is peddling a fairy tale while the other side is presenting the truth—or at least something resembling the truth—the lying side can win, if it’s well represented and the truth tellers are not well represented.
But if both sides are well represented by competent advocates, truth beats fairy tales every single time.
Remember what Harry Truman said: “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”