Donald Trump and the Law of Merited Impossibility.
I hear it was a good show!
1. November 14
Many people are saying—in the media, the fake-news media, but also some good media—that Donald Trump is going to make an announcement on November 14.
We don’t know exactly what he’s going to say. But it’ll be a very strong announcement. And I think people are going to be happy with it. It’ll be historic. Maybe the biggest thing to ever happen in American politics. Something we’ll all remember for a very long time.
Top aides to former President Donald Trump have been eyeing the third week of November as an ideal launch point for his 2024 presidential campaign, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Two sources said Trump’s team has specifically discussed November 14 as one possible announcement date, which would come less than a week after the midterm elections and just days after the former president’s youngest daughter Tiffany is due to be married at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
This person cautioned that no date has been locked in and Trump could move up his desired announcement date – or push it back – depending on how Republicans fare in the elections on Tuesday and the availability of venues.
Once upon a time, Rod Dreher came up with what he called The Law of Merited Impossibility. The law goes something like this:
The subject of X comes up.
Some people object to X.
Other people, who are not pro-X, but are anti-anti-X, insist that X is ridiculous, that no one is talking about X, that X will never happen, and that anyone warning that X may come to pass is a crank.
The anti-anti-X people become pro-X. They now insist that X must come to pass. Will inevitably come to pass. That anyone who is not onboard with X is a crank.
Dreher’s shorthand was: People will tell you a thing can never happen and that you’re crazy to worry about it—right up until they tell you that this thing must happen.
Dreher was talking about progressive policies—same-sex marriage, trans issues, etc.—but this dynamic holds pretty well for institutional conservatism in the time of Trump.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told:
Why do you make everything about Trump?
He’s the past; why aren’t you focused on the future?
Once Trump loses, he’ll slink away and Republican voters will move on.
He’s never going to run for president again.
If he did run for president, he couldn’t win the nomination because the Republican field is so strong. DeSantis!
And I am telling you, as sure as I sit here, that by August of 2024, all of the people who said those things to me will be saying:
He’s not really that bad. It’s just some mean tweets.
The Democratic alternative is worse.1
The institutions will prevent him from doing anything really bad. Remember: That little protest failed to overturn the election.
It’s just one more term. After those four years, he can’t run again and the party can finally move on.
Sorry, you have to vote for Trump.
The only real question is whether or not the members of Conservatism Inc. will enjoy a transition period between Trump’s announcement and nomination during which they can pretend to favor DeSantis or Youngkin (but not Pence or Cheney, obvi).
2. Political Violence Is a Wildfire
We care about political violence for both moral and practical reasons. The moral reason is that democracy can’t function when people and/or their representatives are under physical threat.
The practical reason is that political violence cannot be controlled. It’s not a weapon. It’s a wildfire. And once it breaks containment, no one has any idea where it will spread or when it will stop.2
Yesterday the Carolina Journal reported that on October 14, someone fired gunshots at the home of the parents of Pat Harrigan.
Harrigan is the Republican running for North Carolina’s 14th district.
We don’t know anything else about the incident yet—maybe it was an accidental discharge. Maybe it was unrelated to politics.
Here’s what we do know: Harrigan’s kids were at the house at the time, staying with their grandparents.
So if this was a politically motivated act, it’s only by the Grace of God that these children weren’t murdered.
I think we assume that, since most of the political violence over the last seven years has originated from the right, then it will be contained to the right.
Maybe. But historically, that’s not the norm. Political violence eventually creates retaliation, which feeds escalation. It would not surprise me at all if the attack on Harrigan’s family home came from the left. Because the embers are floating on the wind. Fires eventually spread.
I have been a real hardass in the comments over the last three weeks because of this. And I want to underline it again here:
Be civil. Don’t call people names. Don’t even use insulting nicknames for public figures. Don’t dehumanize people.
Look at what’s happening out there in the world: Read this long Reuters investigation on the threats being directed not even at politicians, but at civil servants just trying to carry out the basic business of governing.
Taking political violence seriously means confronting it, condemning it, and making double-sure that you’re not saying something that could contribute to it.
And what I want us doing here, together, is the opposite: I want us modeling how we should talk to one another, and about others, in ways that are healthy.
You guys are the nicest, most thoughtful, and most serious group of readers I’ve ever had the privilege to write for and on the whole, this is the best community I’ve seen on the internet. So this isn’t me chastising. It’s me saying thank you and keep it up.
In his Orphan X books, Gregg Hurwitz has a mantra: How you do anything is how you do everything.
How we talk to each other here is how we’ll carry ourselves out into the world.
3. Substack Chat?
Which brings us to one final question:
Substack has rolled out a new feature called “Chat,” which I don’t fully understand, but seems to be (1) Like a private-Twitter feed where you guys would just get . . . me; and also (2) Like a private group DM, where you could all talk to each other in your replies to me.
Is this something that would interest you at all? It takes place within the Substack app so I’m not sure how many of you use that. And also maybe this community is too big for it to be fun? I’m haunted by our last AMA experiment.
Anyway, I wanted to ask you guys if this sounded like something worth experimenting with. Let me know your thoughts in the comments?
And help me get a sense of where we are on this stuff by answering three quick polls:
It will not matter who the Democratic alternative is. The Dems could nominate the Romney-Ryan ticket and you’ll have to vote for Trump.
I want to attempt a subtle distinction. No one who commits political violence is right in the head. But there are acts of violence which are primarily caused by mental health and then there are acts of violence which are primarily motivated by politics.
For instance: The guy who shot Steve Scalise seems to have been a crazy guy who was motivated by political grievance. The guy who shot Gabby Giffords seems to have been a crazy guy who was motivated by the voices in his head.
This distinction is worth making because we need to understand that mental illness will always be present at a certain level in the population, and we have a lot of guns in this country, so there will always be some political violence. Our aim as a society is to lower the temperature so that no one is motivated to commit violence for political reasons.