C., Trump’s future Rasputin told him, “I’m a Leninist. One august figure on the Right, the columnist George Will, renounced the Republican party in June 2016, declaring himself unable to witness its submission to Trump.
Stalin’s paranoia went back to the beginning of the Russian Revolution, which had inspired anti-Bolshevik uprisings in Ukraine and caused his predecessor, Lenin, to say, “We must teach these people a lesson right now, so that they will not even dare to think of resistance in the coming decades.” Well, the decades kept coming, but so did resistance, in ever-changing forms.
Today, it is the Never Trumpers who are holding out against “forced collectivization”—imposed by the leaders of their own party—and feel locked in an epochal struggle, with a great deal riding on the outcome.
Trump, old lines are blurring and new alliances are forming in remarkable ways.
Exhibit A is the owner of the grand house on Foxhall Road: David Frum, a former hardcore conservative and speechwriter for George W. It was Frum who, with another Never Trumper, Michael Gerson (now a columnist), coined the phrase “axis of evil” in 2002 and promptly entered the annals of liberal infamy.
At the time, Trump seemed headed for a historic rout in the general election, and the spectacle of these chagrined oppositionists was a cheap-thrills sideshow to liberals, who chortled, if only to themselves, “So you get it.” What was missed was the message the Never Trumpers were trying to send, and how genuinely alarmed they were.
“There wasn’t a single conservative I talked with at the beginning of 2016 who thought Donald Trump was a remotely acceptable candidate for president,” says Max Boot, a neoconservative foreign-policy writer who served as an advisor to John Mc Cain in 2008 and Marco Rubio eight years later.
Book parties in Manhattan tend to be overspillings of the workday.
People stop by in office clothes on their way home—uptown, downtown, to Brooklyn, or out to the suburbs. C., book parties are social occasions, even when they involve business, which is to say politics, the only business that matters.
To them Trumpism is more than a freakish blight on the republic. “We’ve seen a moment before when holders of property gambled that their best hope of retaining their property was to disenfranchise fellow citizens,” Frum told me.
“We’ve seen before when important parts of society put their faith in authoritarianism.
“We had a little discussion beforehand about whether we should talk about the cookbook in honoring a book about the famine,” Applebaum said.