In USA Today, Glenn Reynolds gets it correct, I’d say, when he responds to king of center-right MSM smarm David Brooks as follows:
Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America. It’s clear that he’d like a social/political revolution that was more refined, better-mannered, more focused on the Constitution and, well, more bourgeois as opposed to in-your-face and working class. …
Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.
Reynolds isn’t saying that the Tea Partiers became the Trumpkins, although of course some of them have, but that it’s a predictable sequence. If the tyrannists in the establishment see fit to dismiss a well-behaved populist movement — exploiting then ignoring them, on the Republican side, and actively mocking and persecuting them on the Democrat side — they’ll get a less-well-behaved populist movement. Just as Trump’s rhetoric and behavior expanded the margin for the bad behavior of those protesting him, contemptuous treatment of the Tea Party undermined the leverage of the populist Right’s better angels.
For those who continue to watch as Rhode Island sinks with no plausible correction in sight, one obvious question that arises is why this dynamic has not occurred here. The answer may be a lesson for both those hoping to predict the future for the U.S. and those looking to apply national lessons to Rhode Island (although I wouldn’t presume to articulate it, yet).
Simply put, people can leave Rhode Island. If the establishment can maintain a strong enough wall — we can plainly see that they spend enough of our money maintaining it — those who would change the state conclude that the cost of leaving is lower than the cost of breaching it. At the national level, escaping the abuse is less of an option, so when the more-moderate people give up and/or radicalize, they open a path for those with less concern for process and civil society.