Today’s Washington Post carries the story of a Utah man, reportedly a sometime left-wing activist, who was inside the Capitol during the insurrection. Rep. Mo Brooks and Rudy Giuliani have climbed down from the President’s lap long enough to use this as supposed evidence that the insurrection was actually an Antifa operation. That fantasy deserves no attention, but this does: Were it true, what would it say about the Trump supporters who marauded through the Capitol, apparently not only blindly devoted to the President but also blindly obeying the manipulative directions of their political enemies?
The fact that Brooks and Giuliani see this fiction as somehow exculpatory even if it was true underscores the condescension at the heart of populism, as does this question: Suppose either Brooks or Giuliani had been at the riot. Would they have been hoodwinked by left-wing agitators executing a plot to trick others into raiding the nation’s Capitol, disrupting a constitutional process and calling for the Vice President’s head in a noose? Are they so gullible? Can they be manipulated so easily?
One doubts it. Such frailties are for the little people. And the populists who speak for them wish it very much to be known that they are protectors of, not comparable to, the little people.