Politics & Policy

Warning: Adult Content

Actor Alec Baldwin speaks at an anti-Trump protest in New York, January 19, 2017. (Reuters photo: Stephanie Keith)
There is an epidemic of political diaper rash.

Donald J. Trump today is sworn in as president of these United States.

Break out the adult coloring books.

Funny word, “adult.” We use the word communicating “maturity” to describe the most immature forms of expression. “Adult entertainment” should mean Moby-Dick. But this is a time of childishness, which, in some ways, should give us hope: If the Democrats really thought President Trump were going to be some sort of Hitler figure, they’d be acting differently. They’d be stockpiling firearms and that freeze-dried apocalypse lasagna they’re always peddling on talk radio, or looking very closely at the real-estate listings in Zurich or Montreal. They would be acting like adults.

In reality, they are doing the opposite.

Gender-studies departments across the fruited plain are reminding Americans of how silly and meretricious gender-studies departments are, organizing anti-Trump rallies along notably juvenile lines, heavy on the stuffed animals, puppies to snuggle, Wubbies, and that hideously dispiriting sign of our times, the adult coloring book. Some of these events are being put on by publicly funded institutions, which is improper and undemocratic and in bad taste. The stewards of our institutions, including those such as cultural organizations that are formally private but sustained by public grants, ought to hold themselves to a higher standard than they do. They abuse the support that is given them and then wonder why it is that so many Americans seem to resent funding for arts and education.

The fact that the election of Donald Trump has sent a generation of Americans seeking their security blankets tells us a number of things. One, that these people are intellectually defective, but set that aside for now. It also tells us that progressives do not understand they are the Doctor Frankensteins in this monster story, demanding endless expansions of the state, pressing for the concentration of power in the executive agencies and nondemocratic institutions, and inventing new pretexts for political intrusions into private life — only to be horrified that the instrument they have created has been entrusted to the leadership of a man they despise.

If the outcome of an election sends you into a condition necessitating the use of diapers, then your government is too big and your president too powerful. It is pleasant to imagine a galaxy of little lightbulbs going off over millions of heads in Berkeley and on the Upper West Side as the basic good sense of the libertarian disposition becomes clear to progressives so expensively educated that they’ve never had to think very much about it. Congratulations, comrades! Your Koch Brothers secret-agent decoder ring is in the mail, along with your complimentary Bastiat books.

No, they aren’t for coloring in.

While the knuckleheads on campus are acting more sophomorically than usual, Democratic officeholders are outdoing themselves, “boycotting” various inauguration events. As a wise man once put it, you either die a hero or live long enough to become John Lewis. Representative Lewis, who came to public life as an important civil-rights leader, is one of the most embarrassing men in American public life, a publicity-hungry partisan hack stuck in the 1960s who has declared Trump to be illegitimate. Other Democrats have joined in this characterization. Remember the day before yesterday, when Democrats insisted that questioning the outcome of an election was treason, or something like it?

There is simply nothing to support their complaint. Trump was elected through ordinary means in free and fair elections. Yes, there were foreign powers, nefarious Russkies, trying to influence our candidates and our policies — as there always are. The people who nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton hardly need to be reminded of this: Remember Charlie Trie and Johnny Chung? Or the Clinton Global Initiative, which managed to collapse spectacularly as soon as it was clear that there would not be another President Clinton?

(Settle down, Chelsea.)

Making Donald Trump president may have been foolish — my own views on his fitness for office have not mellowed at all — but it was entirely legitimate. The voters voted and the electors elected. As Ed Koch famously put it: “The people have spoken, and now they must be punished.”

Break out the adult coloring books.

Rosie O’Donnell, who in these unserious times reaches far more people than any pointy-headed political commentator, literally called for the imposition of martial law. The progressive intellectual Geoffrey Stone, who rejoices in the title of Edward H. Levi Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, called for an Electoral College coup d’état, not drunk on a barstool but writing in Time magazine. Paul Krugman, who as you may have heard once won the Nobel Prize for economics, has gone deep into conspiracy theory. Barack Obama, in his final presidential speech, wondered aloud why there is so little trust in our institutions. One wonders whether he’s been following the news at all.

There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and conservatives will enjoy it more than we probably should. But we should also take the opportunity to share with our progressive friends the virtues of federalism, localism, limited government, subsidiarity, a genuine culture of free speech and free inquiry that overflows the merely legal framework, and a model of authentic citizenship that puts the state at the service of the individual and not the other way around. And if Republicans start feeling grandiose, they should meditate upon that hilarious hostage-video image of poor old Mitt Romney dining at Jean-Georges with Donald Trump, and try twisting their own faces into the expression he was wearing to see how it feels.

Somebody has to be the adult in the room. And the Democrats have made it clear that it isn’t going to be them.

– Kevin D. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent.

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