President Trump’s former enemies in the mainstream media, which he has characterized as purveyors of “fake news,” turned on a dime the moment he bombed Syria: the Establishment was thrilled that, suddenly, he was acting “presidential.” CNN, a particular target of the President’s ire, was gushing: NBC’s Brian Williams, in a bizarre turn of phrase, hailed the “beauty” of the bombing, which killed a number of civilians. Democratic party politicians, with few exceptions, stood at attention and saluted, while Trump’s Republican critics – notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham – praised the President while taking the opportunity to agitate for more extensive military action.
On the other hand, conservative media that has been supportive of Trump reviled the move: Breitbart readers weren’t happy, and neither were some of the writers. Ann Coulter was furious, and Laura Ingraham was hardly supportive. Michael Savage declared himself a “conservative peacenik,” Tucker Carlson was very skeptical, and on Twitter, the “Trump trolls” were trolling their former hero. British populist Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit referendum to victory, and who endorsed Trump, opined that Trump voters “will be scratching their heads” in bewilderment. Even over at National Review, a neocon redoubt, the voice of dissent was raised.
In short, Trump’s most vocal supporters were joining the ranks of the antiwar movement, a development the media noted with the same vitriolic disdain it had formerly reserved for Trump himself.
The New York Times denounced anti-interventionists as representative of “a “small but influential white nationalist movement” on the “far right,” while the Washington Post described them as holding “racist, anti-Semitic and sexist” views.”
And now that Trump has ditched one of the pillars of Trumpism (America First, anti-interventionist foreign policy, etc.), those who took it seriously are being treated exactly like he was treated before – with a barrage of outright lies. It serves the War Party’s agenda to frame a narrative that characterizes anti-interventionists on the right as “racists,” “conspiracy-mongers,” etc.
The post-Trump political landscape is far better for anti-interventionists than it was before the orange-haired real estate mogul came on the scene: there now exists a considerable faction within the GOP and its periphery that not only supports an anti-interventionist foreign policy but is also in open rebellion against the policies of the President they helped elect. They are sorely disappointed, but they are also angry – and energized. Because anger, after all – anger at injustice – is the primary motivating factor in politics, and never more so than at this moment in our history.
As I said in January:
“This isn’t about Trump, the politician, or the journalistic trivia of the moment: we are engaged in a battle of ideas – and, slowly but surely, we are winning.”
We are indeed winning, and the War Party knows it: that’s why Politico, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are doing their best to marginalize the emerging antiwar movement. They won’t succeed, but our victory won’t happen overnight. Nothing worth achieving ever does. As long as we take the long view, and adopt a movement-building perspective, the case for optimism is irrefutable.