In the southwest of Virginia, there
is a popular family boating resort,
in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where
the gubernatorial houseguest of a di-
et supplement huckster. Smith Moun-
tain Lake, not far from Roanoke, has
also a permanent population of acute
devotion to Donald Trump. I walked in-
to a typical roadside fish bar and
honky-tonk there, one night a year
ago this week, and was greeted amiab-
ly, by all the patrons. They were my
introduction to the attitudes Trump
is riding very well toward governing.
I knew nothing of Donald Trump, apart
from his interest in real estate, and
a television career I never examined.
I learned a great deal about him, just
by the muscular vows of vengeance for
one perceived infringement or another,
of interests evidently shared by the
entire establishment. And this is an
Establishment, we are discovering now.
Donald Trump hasn't put it together,
is their toy. If anything exposes the
catastrophic miscalculation that this
Establishment is not serious, it is
the fantasy that he would be discarded
for his peculiarity. Let him call him-
self, their voice.
I need hardly say, that the disdain
for the Establishment Trump has iden-
tified, has aggravated and codified
a schism which will destroy the next
Presidency, even as it emerged under
many. We are not presented with
a candidate who contemplates resolv-
ing it, only evading it; and yet we
anxiously aspire for an impossible
victory for our interests and values.
As fate had it, Mrs Clinton ostra-
cized Trump's voters from her retinue
of redeemables, allowing her stagger-
ingly exceptional candor in brutal-
ity to confess just how structural
their grievance is. It's just as well,
of the people I met in that bar, then
pitied them for their "dark emotions,
incompatible with American values,"
because he has shown Mrs Clinton's
formulation to have been no accident.
Beyond any license in its tenets or
its impulses, these two candidates
have betrayed liberalism before our
eyes, as a shameless variation upon
inhumane politics at its very worst,
rendering unfalse a sour equivalency.
So, they pray, let Trump be Trump. As
if to reinforce the suggestion, they
adopt the sectarian language his fol-
lowers use, to articulate an expulsion
not merely to statelessness, but from
their Eden of secular spotlessness.
Trump speaks merely of exile; they of-
fer the withholding of God's grace.
At its brightest and best, and at the
most urgent height of its peril, this
Establishment can marshal nothing bet-
ter than gross arrogance. They are as
merry with civil war as Donald Trump.
I have endorsed their candidacy and
I have urged the defeat of the other.
I continue to do so, because this is
our election, and its outcome is ours.
Yet theirs is a contest of spent forces,
and the polls are beginning to confirm
this. Every element of Barack Obama's
coalition is distinctly diminished, be-
yond embarrassment with his candidates.
The schism we were not allowed to heal
has deepened, the purity of the alter-
native is distilled to alluring toxici-
ty, and we are reduced to a battle of
condescension and fanciful revanchism.
The parties didn't have to draw us to
this place, for us to see their worth:
two sanctimonies, dragging out their
dénouement, for us to bear their shame.
In such circumstances, the livelier ques-
tion is, whether the parties possess a
philosophical resiliency to rebound from
what may be anomalies at the top. To turn
to their platforms for guidance may be
naïve, but everyone's entitled to the de-
fense of subscribed intent. To weigh their
conduct in the States for the same reason,
is not illegitimate, to distinguish even
their national profile from any possible
site of innocence. In these two exculpat-
ing prospects, Trump's party does come
up worse than empty. Devoted to share-
cropper economics at every turn, includ-
ing spectacularly, the most frantic and
systematic suppression of underclass
wages, benefits, education, opportunity,
health, safety, mobility, representation,
and voting rights since the 1920s, to say
nothing of the most vituperative and in-
humane hostility to gender liberation in
the Western world, this curious party is
at a loss to grope for excuses, upstream.
And for that reason, the anomalies which
Trump brings to the height of the party's
sinecure strivings are essentially ones
of degree. Say what one will for the rude-
ness to a stately tempo in Mrs Clinton's
challenger in the primaries, the coali-
tion he assembled, too, embodies the core
of liberalism's unblemished raison d'être,
and has inoculated every office-seeker in
its colors with egalitarian expectations.
It has endowed that candidate with the
most radiantly progressive platform since
Franklin Roosevelt; and rather than embark-
ing in exultation across the land, with an
uplifting message of hope, she campaigned
unto pneumonia, to stroke a fat cat's fur,
and chuckle at its cuddling compliments.
Mr Sanders has shown the way the ball is
bouncing in this system, for all its ruts
and ill-run grooves; this identifies the
survivor strand, in this dark and turgid
grinding out of decrepit, shameful forces.
In every legislative office on my ballot
this year, I know where I will mark my X.
Deliverance isn't on the list just now,
and who could wish it were? Preparedness
will do just fine.