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4 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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The new style of politics

Damien McElroy
The new style of politics

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was thrown out of a restaurant in Lexington - par for the course in a "suck it up" era. Michael Reynolds / EPA In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s swearing in as president, the first legislative wave was, in fact, a set of state assembly bills dubbed the “suck it up, buttercup” laws. While overshadowed by the president’s own dramatic coup, these initiatives were the earliest expression of the meaning of Mr Trump’s triumph to conservatives – not just those who voted for him but a wider slice of America that felt it had steadily lost out in its own country.

After more than a decade of suffering a pummelling in the culture wars — the tide turned shortly after George W Bush’s mishandling of the Iraq war — the US political middle and right was sickened by the progressive agenda.

Development after development was used to delegitimise not only the views but also the emotions of conservatives. Hence the "buttercup laws" that stripped funds from universities providing counselling for students who claimed they had been subjected to hate speech as well as institutions providing space for students seeking shelter in “cry zones” from their peers.

To proponents, the measures were fightback against the shutdown of the American psyche. To detractors, the laws were a form of attack in themselves.

It was a good signal that America on edge was the challenge the White House would present to the country at large. In truth, the buttercup movement was another road marker in the crushing of civility across US politics – maybe not the first in the recent cycle but one worth noting as Mr Trump’s ascendancy reaches maturity. The tragic events of Thursday in Maryland underscored just how tensions over incitement now easily dominate a news cycle. Reportedly, the attack on the local newspaper offices was carried out by a former litigant against the newspaper, whose grievance had been dismissed.

Yet as Mr Trump routinely smears the press as enemies of the American people, it is not hard to seen how the environment has become more permissive for such attack.

Two years ago, a British MP was murdered by one of her constituents at a time when the political atmosphere was charged with the most extreme invective.

Words have consequences. Witness how the president’s own inner circle are up in arms over a slew of in-your-face incidents targeting leading members of the White House and Congress.

Around Washington DC and the suburbs, flash mobs have recently hounded figures in the Trump administration and its allies in Congress. The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have all had to weather protests in social settings.

The rationale for these restaurant ambushes are clear and equate to the suck it up tendency. Angered over penal policies towards migrant children or thinly camouflaged race-based travel bans, a good section of Americans detect dictatorial policies emanating from their government.

Taking cues from the mantra "all that is necessary for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing", the protesters have shed social norms, such as not making a fuss in a restaurant. This could be a blindingly obvious but somehow hitherto neglected tactic. The fact enormously divisive public figures can go about their private lives unmolested is in many ways puzzling.

The instantly identifiable British foreign secretary Boris Johnson claims he is often verbally assaulted in the streets. If so, he is one of the few. For example, retired generals who have orchestrated major wars seem to bear no legacy from their public duties.

    The  National

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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