Patterico's Pontifications


Assange Arrested After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum — How Will the Two Parties of the Old GOP React?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am


Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

The Met Police said he was arrested for failing to surrender to the court and following a US extradition request.

Ecuador’s president said it withdrew his asylum after repeated violations of international conventions.

But Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

Mr Assange was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon.

The reaction to this will be interesting. Conservatives used to despise lawbreakers like Assange. But the old GOP has now broken into two parties: one pro-Trump and one anti-Trump. I’m not sure which party has more core, committed members. But these days, the pro-Trump party claims the vast majority of members, given that (to paraphrase the words of the great Tom Lehrer about Wehrner von Braun) their allegiance is ruled by expedience. And the two parties will react quite differently, as they do to many things.

I’m generalizing here quite a bit, but the anti-Trump party (my party) consists of the few people who believe in positive principles like limited government, the free market and the rule of law. We will applaud Assange’s arrest and cheer on his prosecution.

The core of the pro-Trump party — cretins like Sean Hannity and the biggest Trump superfans — are the folks obsessed with Muslims and defeating the left and “winning.” They don’t have many principles other than crushing the left — and if the left came out in favor of free markets (for example) they would be against free markets. (You may think I’m joking or exaggerating, but their support for Trump’s tariff’s proves I’m dead serious and exactly right.) These folks will decry Assange’s arrest and portray him as a political prisoner for revealing the truth about Hillary.

My belief is that the vast majority of current members of the pro-Trump party, and most readers here, are “Wehrner von Braun” members, whose membership is predicated on the fact that Trump is president. These folks assess him to be doing a mostly good job, while reviews of his personality are mixed. Some like his combativeness but most are put off by his tweeting and self-obsession. They’ll generally sign on to most of the core Trumpers’ hypocritical arguments defending Trump as a person, excusing his rampant lying and fraud as typical of politicians and nowhere near as bad as those evil and awful leftists like Hillary. They care far more about policy, and positively support some of Trump’s policies, like his defense of the country’s sovereignty.

These folks care a lot (I think far too much) about his main contributions to policy, which are mainly inconsequential nods to the base — things that matter very little to the big picture, but make a guy drinking a beer say “hell yeah!” Here I’m talking about the multitude of Trumpian gestures to the cultural aspects of the right. Stuff like yelling at football players for taking a knee and that kind of nonsense. But these folks also still remember, distantly, what it’s like to care about things like the free market and the debt, and that’s why their defense of tariffs tends to be halfhearted, and they show some embarrassment if the issue of federal spending comes up. And they’re sometimes in favor of the rule of law, as long as it doesn’t affect Trump, and especially if the rule of law hurts a leftist.

These are the people whose reactions will be most interesting, and the comments here ought to be reflective of their views. My guess is that their take will be that Assange did a lot of good stuff in revealing the “truth” about Hillary, but maybe they’ll be OK with his arrest and prosecution too. Who knows? It will be interesting to see.

Although this post is nominally about Assange and his arrest, the bigger question here is the schism caused by Trump. Because if I’m right about the vast majority of pro-Trumpers, the question is: what happens when he’s no longer president? I think the singular figure of Trump matters to these people far more than his dopey policies like tariffs, or kissing the ass of every murderous dictator in sight, or his desire to literally close the entire border in places, even to legal commerce that American car companies depend on. Once he’s gone, there will be no more allegiance to such idiotic policies.

But what will happen? I’ve given up prognostication, for the most part, but it will be interesting. I think a lot depends on who comes along next, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because I see practically nobody who could bring the two parties back together.

There is so much bad blood these days. I feel no kinship whatsoever with Trump or the core pro-Trumpers, and I react with excessive distress at the way that the expedient crowd has also gone along with Trumpism. I’m writing a blog mostly for people who aren’t part of my party, and who don’t like me. Think about that. Many readers have left as a result and the readership is down, and I mainly write for the small number of the core anti-Trump party that remains, as I respect them more than anyone. Otherwise, it’s as if I’m suddenly writing for Democrats — not that pro-Trumpers are Democrats, but they are a different party. Imagine what it would be like to write a blog and suddenly have 85% of your readers become Democrats. You’d feel alienated and dispirited — but especially happy about the 15% who remain ideologically in tune with you.

I don’t feel I have changed. I used to hang out with people like Ace of Spades and Charles C. Johnson. The latter had posting privileges here. They both now make my skin crawl. Did I change or did they? I submit that we all changed, but that they changed far more.

Anyway, when you start to ramble and you need to get to work, that’s when it’s time to end the post.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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