Who Do You Resent?

Political polarization has created newly rigid political identities, complete with required enemies. Not only do partisans detest each other, devout Republicans and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Democrats also coalesce around those common enemies.

Democrats disparage the “un-woke,” distrust billionaires and powerful corporations, and rail against climate-change-deniers.

Republicans sneer at higher education, fear immigrants, use “socialism” as a dirty word (despite considerable evidence that most of them have no idea what it is), and really, really hate “elitists” –i.e., experts who actually know what they’re talking about.

“Elitists” populate the equally despised and mischaracterized “deep state.”

Frank Bruni recently had a column in the New York Times in which he explored the GOP’s resentment of professionalism–especially the patriotic public servants that Trump’s current, despicable press secretary labels“radical unelected bureaucrats.”

The impeachment inquiry and the events that led to it tell many stories. One, obviously, is about the abuse of power. Another illuminates the foul mash of mendacity and paranoia at the core of Donald Trump.

But this week, as several longtime civil servants testify at the inquiry’s first public hearings, a third narrative demands notice, because it explains the entire tragedy of the Trump administration: the larger scandals, the lesser disgraces and the current moment of reckoning.

That story is the collision of a president who has absolutely no regard for professionalism and those who try to embody it, the battle between an arrogant, unscrupulous yahoo and his humble, principled opposites.

Bruni notes that Trump’s contempt for professionalism is part and parcel of his aversion to norms of all sorts, including tradition and simple courtesy, and that such contempt has been a “distinct theme” in his business career, which has been “rife with cheating, and his political life, which is greased with lies.”

Go back to his initial staffing of senior posts and recall how shoddy the vetting process was. Also notice two prominent classes of recruits: people who had profoundly questionable preparation for the jobs that he nonetheless gave them (Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Stephen Miller, Javanka) and genuine professionals who wagered that their skills would be critically necessary — and thus highly valued — and that Trump would surely rise to the established codes and expected conduct of his office.

Now look at how many of those professionals (James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, Dan Coats) are gone. And tell me whether Trump has ever had the epiphany that the presidency is, in fact, a profession.

Interestingly, the Trump Administration’s sorry excuse for vetting came to public notice again just this week, when multiple media outlets reported that a senior official had embellished her résumé with highly misleading claims about her professional background, and had gone so far as to create a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it. She had invented a role on a U.N. panel, claimed she had addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and implied she had testified before Congress, none of which was true. Lying at this level should have been easy to uncover, but she was appointed–and continues to serve–as a deputy assistant secretary in the State Department.

As Bruni says

A crisis of professionalism defines his administration, in which backstabbing is the new glad-handing, firings are cruel, exits are ugly, the turnover is jaw-dropping, the number of unfilled positions is mind-boggling, and many officials have titles that are prefaced with “acting” — a modifier with multiple meanings in this case.

Trump slyly markets his anti-professionalism as anti-elitism and a rejection of staid, cautious thinking. But it’s really his way of excusing his ignorance, costuming his incompetence and greenlighting his hooliganism.

Two of the professionals who have come forward to testify about Trump’s effort to blackmail the President of Ukraine were described by Michael McFaul, a former United States ambassador to Russia, in a recent essay for The New York Review of Books titled “The Deeply Dedicated State.”

Both always have struck me as first-rate government servants, singularly focused on advancing American national interests. Both have served Republican and Democratic presidents, and even after decades of interacting with them both, I could not guess how either of them votes.”

He characterized them as “accidental heroes” who aren’t “likely to seek the limelight.” “They are extremely well trained, competent, and highly regarded professionals,” he summarized.

That’s why they bucked Trump. And that’s why he can’t bear them.

When people resent competence, when they sneer at honorable public servants as “elitists” or label them members of a nefarious “deep state,” it tells you a great deal about their own deficits.

Such resentment permeates today’s Republican Party, and that explains a lot.


  1. On a positive note, more of those competent public servants are coming out of the shadows to testify against 45. It appears that they have had enough of this administration’s efforts to destroy our country and they can no longer remain silent just to keep their jobs.

    45 is now attacking Pompeo …..gee, I wonder what the result will be. Once he starts attacking a member of his administration he doesn’t back down.

  2. Bruni nailed it. It’s especially obvious in the ongoing selection of lifetime appointment of judges and their recurring ratings by the American Bar Association as “unqualified”. The senate nevertheless approves them.

  3. I don’t know what “woke” means (I will have to ask my friend, T-Rex), but ignoring that, the comparison of the lists between Democrats and Republicans is telling. The democrats distrust the component of the population that is holding everyone else back, and go crazy at the thought of those who deny reality. The Republicans resent anyone who is not wearing opaque glasses, and those who paid attention in school. In addition, they resent anyone who is naive enough to behave in a professional manner.

  4. Trump fears everyone he doesn’t understand in the same vein that crooks fear the detectives snooping into their nefarious businesses. Trump is a crook and a thug. Congress scares the crap out of him.

    In other news: What is the over and under for when Trump pardons Roger Stone, his favorite mob capo?

  5. On a Monday positive note, CommonGoodGoverning’s experience in the 2018 election cycle working with “post-partisan” candidates suggests that common sense can edge out resentment and get people to think about governing/problem solving instead of tribalism. We analyzed every November race where our our candidate lost (all were DEMS) and in each and every one of them (in GOP districts) they won a greater % of the vote than the DEM candidates in both 2016 and 2014 – a “blue undertow”.

  6. The un-woke, LOL, I remember the kids playing video games in my basement, all friends, all did well for themselves when they grew up. And most of them talk about the un-woke. Basically, the un-woke can’t see reality through the fog. It makes sense but, many factions have different opinions about who is or isn’t un-woke.

    Black Lives Matter are also a group who seems to have differing views on, what black lives really do matter. I’ve had discussions on this with some of my friends, or maybe I should say blog associates, on why just complain about police, when black people are taking black lives by the thousands every year. You can see it in Chicago here, some weekends you have men women and children shot down in the streets by black folks who live in the community. I’ve always said, a movement like black lives matter, would make a difference in the community, by getting people to point out the troublemakers and murderers, and to quit being un-woke to a problem that can be solved together.

    But, I am considered un-woke myself, LOL. So, the status quo remains, and nothing changes. Pastors march against violence, people don’t trust the police, politicians decry the violence, and everyone is supposed to pray, Really!

    Leaders, authoritarian leaders, don’t have much skill except to bamboozle enough people to stay in power. Citizens who truly are woke, the educated, that includes the press, the scientists, researchers, and historians who are at the front line trying to keep humanity from destroying itself.

    When those individuals can be disparaged, there is no roadblock to prevent chaos and unmitigated chicanery by those who have bamboozled their way to the ultimate authority. Those bamboozlers are like the CANDIRU, once they get in, you can’t get them out, at least not without a lot of agony and pain.

    Make no mistake, this was a long drawn out and protracted attack by foreign entities that have ingrained themselves in our social media, and have developed allies who many believed were always on the fringe, it’s been done slowly enough where no one notices until a saturation point has been reached. We have reached that saturation point. Will we have an ability to overcome this invasion? A house divided cannot stand, and all of these factions are just like the feet of iron and clay Daniel prophesied about.

  7. I am sorry, did nobody ever watch an episode of “The Apprentice”? It was a terrible show, but he did have some talented people doing neat projects on the show. But, the bottom line was the people that succeeded were the ones that would step on someone’s face to get ahead. If you did not pander to the ego, you failed.

    I guess it still true: you can fool some of the people all the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but (I hope this is still true) you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

  8. All such observations are true, but why? How did we get this way? It can’t be just politics as we align ourselves with a particular tribe, and I don’t think that explains it. That’s a conclusion and not a reason why. What roads did we travel to bring us to make such conclusions and tribal alignments? Is there something in our collective psyche that causes us to make such alignments, like life experiences, greed, fear, or some combination thereof? I don’t know because making such a diagnosis is beyond my pay grade (as the following demonstrates).

    So do we really believe in the supposed rationale for the rights granted us in the first Ten Amendments or do we say we do because of fear, i.e., fear that we may otherwise be swallowed up in some form of ego-busting Big Brotherism and not be recognized for what we bring to the table? Do we really believe that capitalism is good for everybody in spite of the evidence of its selectivity, or is that our greed speaking since we are into the market and are primarily interested in capital gains potential as measured by the Dow? Do we really believe that “we are all in this together” and our brother’s keeper or is that mantra designed to empower us as individuals to affiliate with and share the power of the majority while suppressing the libertarian minority who deny that we are all in this together and that our brother is on his own.

    My answer is > I don’t have one and am in great need of elitists in the appropriate disciplines to elucidate me on what led us to be what we are, like, perhaps, our hostess on this blog. So Professor Kennedy, we know where we are, but how about a thumbnail sketch on how we got here?

  9. I think you push the envelope a little too far when you say “… the presidency is, in fact, a profession.”

  10. trump wanted to change the office of the WH to a corporate run enitity. he expected the type of response the minions give when ordered,and screw the law, its whatever i can afford for each item.buy into a bigger groups of monied circles,and cover your butt whatever milton freidman mstructed. simple,we have a bunch of wall street goons running the show,after the republicans and limousine liberals agreed to forllow suit.. three sigantures,complete corruption in the right-wing side of congress..a dileberate disregard for decorum,and forum.best of all,we have the signatures, of everyone involved…with a steady eye opening,and a kick in our asses, we finally after 40 years,woke up
    ,,,for some recent items, seems sheldon whitehouse,mark warner,chris coons,angus king,tim kaine,demos,have joined with mike enzi, (r) to gut somemore programs,i.e. medicare,medicade,food stamps, in S 2765.
    commondreams.org jake johnson,”sen demos join gop to back auto austerity that would gut social programs,hamstrung bold policies..”..
    like i said, we have the signatures,its time for a public one on one forum,with the likes of these and demand change,or, find a new job…i lost my per diem as a company driver due the tax cut messure,im sure many more lost it to. my write off was because i spend over 300 days a year on the road. my wages are in line with a 40 year freeze,due the rates paid to run a trucking company..(competion) .that big time competion,from corp trucking companies, will,and do, keep us next to a poverty line,and total collapse as small trucking companies..trump and his buds, have made this even worse, to support the big guys(thru the ATA),while kicking us again,,,..any demos listening?..there is no driver shortage in my small company field,,,its the big dogs complaining because the drivers who start out new,and the ones who see the light bail on them,and this way of life,,wages next to poverty,demands of long hours by a dispatch which relies on growth,and their bonus,and allowing people in who couldnt do this job if their life depended,(and ours) on it.
    that vet program is a OJT pays half of their wages for the first year. (ill knock this one,ptsd)so your getting cheap labor, handling about 200 grand worth of equipment,and a training program thats not what it should be..im out here watching what happens while keeping a tab on the above sens, who seem to ignore we are a perfect example of being run over by policies and rules,and corp greed..hey Bernie, got a minute?

  11. The GOP is a party of buffoons. Enough said.

    There are, however, plenty of left leaning buffoons. The term “woke” is in itself an anti-intellectual term, both in its grammatical incorrectness and in the way it is used, to imply that one must toe the ideological line of some imaginary progressive policy authority or be considered “unwoke.”

  12. The followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence look on Professionalism, Civility, and Knowledge as elitism. They are frightened by the complexities and decisions that must be made in everyday life. The Evangelical bible thumper’s and conservative Catholics, wall themselves in with Male Authoritarian Theocracy.

    President Agent Orange was supposed to be their “Rambo” or some other mythological figure that would strike and slay the forces of the “Deep State.”

    There is a “Deep State” of Wall Street Steroid Capitalism and Corporatism, this is not what President Agent Orange had in mind as he is a part of it. The “Deep State” in President Agent Orange’s and Pastor Pence’s mind’s are the forces that say NO, based upon the law, regulations or professional conduct.

    For President Agent Orange the only test is absolute loyalty to him, competence, professionalism, intelligence, and critical thinking are traits that are a threat to him. Thus, Pastor Pence was the perfect choice for VP.

  13. It’s too bad we don’t have George Carlin around to discuss ‘euphemism’….he’d have a field day with the concepts Black Lives Matter and WOKE. I really miss him.

  14. There are no conservatives anymore. There are only liberals and authoritarians. Most conservatives chose between them.

    As everyone knows, I believe that the cause of the present chaos was and is advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing over completely pervasive entertainment/social media. Sadly and surprisingly the success of the entertainment industry, now the largest industry in the country, came at the expense of society. What we call “developed” countries are in fact largely dysfunctional leaving developing countries at a loss as to how to get the benefits of comfort at far less cost than the functionality of society.

    People emerge from their learning years as either mainly competitive or collaborative, as either self or other centered, as either authority focused in the sense of power, or authority focused in the sense of accomplishment minded, as inwardly or outwardly focused.

    It turns out that the ability of advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing is more enabled by authoritarian personalities.

    Because we have never been here before what we don’t know is what happens now.

    China is one example of a society trying to figure that out. Can such a society be integrated into balanced power and freedom? Russia, we as an unrecognized colony of theirs and the Middle East are all trying to figure out the same thing in different ways. One obscuring factor though is the role of aristocracy in the dilemma.

    An impartial observer might find all of this chaos interesting but there are very few humans with the luxury now of being impartial as compared to profoundly affected.

  15. Gerald, I don’t think Sheila has the answer, she is befuddled as everyone else.

    Pete, excellent observation, we are witnessing a turning point in human history, we are living it, not reading it in a book.

    Maywin, George Carlin was definitely the explainer of things, LOL.

    Make no mistake, I believe black lives matter was a necessity, they’ve just missed the boat on their mission statement. And, in an arrogant fashion I might add. Their myopic view of black lives is a real shame!

    Why did the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin hate Jesus? Because he pointed out their corruption and hypocrisy! So the Jewish religious hierarchy decided Jesus had to go, he preached truth and unity, which was not part of their dogma anymore. So the die was cast, the Jews were not the chosen anymore, and those who followed Christ’s laws, went out into the nations (Gentiles) to make disciples. This was a new phase, this was history being made, (Christianity) although many failed to at that time, and still fail to grasp that momentous time.

  16. @ Gerald Stinson: you wrote,
    “How did we get this way? It can’t be just politics as we align ourselves with a particular tribe, and I don’t think that explains it.”

    I have a theory about that:
    Yes, we have always aligned ourselves with a particular political tribe but, generally speaking [during my lifetime, at least, and I’m 72-y-o] we haven’t been this polarized. At least NOT UNTIL THE 1990’s. Then it started — and it started with a bang.

    OK, what else was happening during the 1990’s?
    Here’s one: home computers were becoming ubiquitous. I got my first one in 1991 — and I was behind the curve.

    Americans began noticing that Russia was interfering in our affairs in 2016 — but was that when it actually began? I doubt it. Who’s to say that there weren’t Russian and Chinese and N. Korean bots poking and prodding us, needling us to take aim at one another, as far back as the 1990’s — as soon as the means became available?

    There were, after all, numerous individual warnings prior to 2016. We would hear, on the news, about some group finding its way into our information banks and even our electric grids, for instance. So we would harden our defenses in those areas — but did we broaden our aims to keep them out of our affairs generally? Probably not. Doing so costs money, after all. So we would poke our finger into one hole in the dike and ignore any other weak points that might burst in the future.

    Meanwhile, “Please don’t feed the troll,” became a byword on our social media. Did we question, “Who are these trolls who keep invading our forums?” Mostly, no — we didn’t. We simply assumed they were disaffected Americans wanting to stir up trouble and call attention to themselves. Many probably were exactly that — but were they all? Probably not.

    I believe “how we got this way” was a slow, insidious invasion from outside our borders. After all, we know Putin, for one, and probably many other leaders of nations that would love to take the US down a peg, know how to play the long game.

  17. twocrows, I find your theory in line with a big worry I had back in the late 1990s. At that time my children were entering high school and it was becoming more and more apparent that them having access to a computer and to the Internet was going to be helpful and necessary for their schooling. I was extremely worried that changes were happening so fast that things would quickly spin out of control and there would be no pulling it back. Your post brought those thoughts back to mind.

    News has always been sensationalized and selective. That is nothing new. Social media is fairly new and I would argue maybe necessary to bring forward what is not being reported in the mainstream news. Example: I am a faithful watcher of the PBS News Hour yet I am frustrated daily by the lack of a broad range of topics that could be covered during that hour. I know that things happening in Hong-Kong are very significant and impactful in their lives yet the amount of time dedicated to that topic could be, dare I say “lazy journalism”. Like children, we only know what is selectively given to us until we become “teenagers” and begin to seek more and different, then fall into jumping on a bandwagon. I think all the options of information whether they be fake news/propaganda/social media are our “adulthood” and now we need to sort it all out and make decisions. It’s not an easy task and feels like a vicious cycle.

  18. Boycotting. God haters. Avoiding a group just because your full of resentment toward them.
    Calling for tolerance yet being intolerant. Losing the ability to educate because of resentment.

  19. Lisa, “ News has always been sensationalized and selective.“

    That’s not my experience. I remember when Rush Limbaugh entered the entertainment picture and the concern over Rupert Murdoch bringing to America what he did to Australia and GB.

    Before that journalism of all sorts was an extremely professional and trusted partner with democracy and civics and science and history and politics in educating the public.

    I do agree now that it’s pure entertainment business which makes it much harder (though not impossible yet) to sort news reporting from advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing.

  20. Pete, excellent point! I just perused your comment completely and you hit the nail on the head. Is it any coincidence that China is going after freedoms in Hong Kong? The GOP likes to forget how they hamstrung Barack Obama in getting involved overseas.

    Remember sequestration? This started in 2010 under Obama and went all the way through both of his terms. He could not accomplish any of his goals, even, adding to the military spending, because the Republicans blocked it. Yet Donald Trump, decries how terrible everything was, and now, the Republicans spend like drunk gamblers with the taxpayers money. It’s pathetic. It just came out today that FedEx has an effective tax rate of 0! And yet the Republicans put a limit on how much of your real estate tax you can deduct, thereby destroying your HOME property value! The Republicans scuttled the ship, now their drilling holes in the bottom to let the water back out, LOL, it is insane. Donald Trump didn’t start the lying, he just picked up on the GOP’s penchant for lying, and they rolled out the red carpet for him.

    Two Crows,

    You are absolutely correct about social media, I’ve been commenting on that for quite a while. Even in the comment above, I mentioned it. And I think it’s important that people realize what has, is, and will happen. And yet, social media takes the money, all the while letting infiltrators across our borders electronically. Why sneak in, when you can do it electronically? It doesn’t take much to sow discord, I’ve never met an American that didn’t love a conspiracy!

  21. John Song,

    “And yet the Republicans put a limit on how much of your real estate tax you can deduct, thereby destroying your HOME property value!”

    Don’t understand how this upper cap on how much you can deduct on your real estate taxes has anything to do with the market value of your home? Seems to me you would welcome this limitation on tax breaks for the wealthy, if I have been reading your world view correctly.

    Respectively. John

  22. It seems to me that there may be a connection between population density, technology and the power/freedom continuum.

    Self government, democracy, may be more viable in simpler situations of low population density and low technology. At some point in the growth of both, the capabilities of the majority of those governed may fall behind understanding the more and more complex issues.

    Is that why here the power of the Presidency has grown significantly over our lifetimes?

    Of course up until now the capability of the individuals elected may have kept up with the growing complexity of the office.

  23. John Neal,

    You can only deduct $10,000 in property taxes no matter the value of your home. I will reach that threshold in about the next year or so. in Tennessee, people who have the same type of house I own, pay about $2,000 in taxes, in South Carolina, it might be less than $1,000 a
    In taxes. But because I live in the county of lake in Illinois, I’m penalized by Donald Trump’s GOP because he doesn’t like Illinois. The same with New York and New Jersey Oregon, Washington State, Washington DC, and California. The higher your taxes, the less value you have for your property. you can’t sell your property for as much as it’s worth because the taxes are so high!

  24. So the $10,000 limit is basically a millstone around your neck. no one wants to buy the property if they can only deduct $10,000 of the taxes they have to pay especially if the amount taxed is over $10,000. There is a farmer not far from me has a 200 acre corn and soybean farm. His taxes based on the amount of property he owns are over $30,000 a year. He can only deduct $10,000 of that assessed value. So he will eventually have to shut down his business.

Comments are closed.