By Jonathan V. Last
Friday, June 02, 2017
So far as I can tell, I was patient zero for anti-anti-anti-Trumpism: the philosophy which says that it is not enough to avoid the subject of Donald Trump by criticizing the various hucksters, idiots, SJWs, and partisans who criticize him. Because President Donald Trump is the leader of the free world and they are not. He is the thing.
And yet, the last 24 hours have made the strongest possible case for being anti-anti-Trump.
The Paris climate accords are a sham. They have been a sham from the beginning. As Oren Cass put it Thursday night, the accords failed not in Paris, but in Lima, in 2014. The Paris accords themselves were merely an attempt to paper over substantive failure with a gaudy hootenanny of international virtue signaling.
People seem to have forgotten that—aside from the foundational question of balancing carbon emissions, conservation, and economic development—the Paris agreement allowed countries to set their own goals and then ostentatiously provided no consequences for countries which then failed to meet them. An honest supporter of Paris might say that, whatever its substantive failings, the agreement was a symbolic success that eventually become a gateway to actual policy change.
But that's the best argument you can make for Paris: That it's symbolism that might someday become a Trojan horse.
So whether you thought America should stay or leave the Paris agreement, that's what you were fighting over.
All of which, to be honest, made the case for leaving a bit dubious. As Tony Mecia argued earlier in the week, going to the trouble of leaving the Paris accords could just as well enhance the mirage of their legitimacy. It would have been better, as a matter of statecraft, to follow their logic by simply pursuing America's economic interests while staying in them.
And yet, the reaction of the left to Trump's announcement that he's pulling America out of this sham "agreement" almost makes it worth it.
After sticking by Trump in the face of The Wall and the Muslim Ban—both of which have as much real-world impact as the Paris accords, which is to say, none—Elon Musk and Bob Iger pulled out of their involvement with White House advisory groups. Liberals on the Twitters lost their minds. Garments were rent; teeth gnashed.
Here's the thing about virtue signaling: Sure, it's an empty gesture, but usually it's an empty gesture about something real. It would have been good to have gone after Boko Haram to #bringbackourgirls. Changing your Twitter icon to support the Iranian democracy movement was silly, but the Iranian dissidents were real people trying to overthrow real autocrats at the risk of real retaliation. The signaling was about real virtue.
But the left's reaction to Trump's Paris pull-out is something entirely new. It's virtue signaling about virtue signaling. It's like the cold-fusion of virtue signaling: the moment when the reaction becomes self-sustaining.
If there was ever a moment to indulge in anti-anti-Trumpism, this is it.