The Everlasting Lure of Victimhood

An interesting piece from Damian Penny, who pens the Damnation! Direct blog on Substack.

“You guys know he lost, right?”

So asks Kevin Williamson in National Review, who expresses his befuddlement at the Republican Party swearing Jonestown-level loyalty to a man who led them to a catastrophic defeat – not catastrophic enough, in my opinion, but still pretty bad – in the last election. Wasn’t the whole point of backing Trump was because he supposedly won at everything he ever tried?

Walter Mondale, who passed away not long ago, didn’t have Democrats scrambling to lick his boots in 1985. Bob Dole’s run as a Republican power player pretty much ended after his unsuccessful challenge to Clinton in 1996.

And, of course, we’ve seen what the GOP now thinks about its previous two Presidential election losers, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

But Trump’s iron grip on the party appears stronger than ever, and yet another assumption we made these past few years has been proven wrong. I figured the GOP would have tossed him overboard after losing the White House and the Senate (the latter by losing both Senate seats in freaking Georgia).

I underestimated just how powerful and intoxicating the feeling of victimhood can be. (Bolding mine)

When we talk about the weaponization of victimhood and trauma, we usually think about woke college kids, and not without reason. (The latest example: students at a university right here in Atlantic Canada pressuring the school to suspend and pledge to re-educate an Lebanese-born professor for expressing doubleplusungood opinions on her website.)

But it’s very much a phenomenon on the right, as well. Trump might be wrong about almost everything else, but he was deviously smart to identify growing dissatisfaction among the white working class in rural America and tell them that all of their problems were someone else’s fault. And the “stolen” election of 2020 is just the latest example of how the elites are screwing them over.

The thing is, many parts of America that went for Trump really have had a rough go of it these past few decades. I support free trade and drug legalization, but I cannot deny that the former has caused some real pain in some sectors of the economy, and the scourge of opioid addiction has made me reconsider some of my assumptions about the latter. If you’re in some rural county without well-paying jobs, what would you have to lose by voting for the guy who promises to shake things up?

The flip side, of course, is that a responsible politician – as opposed to a loudmouthed populist – sometimes has to tell even his own base hard truths they won’t want to hear. The world has changed and the good old days just aren’t coming back.

It might not be fair, but life ain’t fair. That’s what conservative Republicans used to think, isn’t it?

I didn’t include Kevin Williamson’s National Review excerpt, but it’s worth a read too.

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