As I see it, Frum’s mission in this article was not to incite panic. I believe it was to galvanize the final check and balance in any democracy, aptly captured in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index as “political participation.” The wealthy have long participated in our democracy with their money and their power. The public too wields great power. Numbers. The sheer amount of people who turned out for protests, who phoned Senators in opposition to the refugee ban, are a formidable force. They are the separation between this world and the apocalyptic specter President Trump has conjured in the public imagination.
The protests rail against Trump’s policy proposals, his weaponization of race, gender, and class stereotypes, and his allergy to evidence-based reasoning. Although not wrongheaded, the protests missed a critical component that may very well be the glue that binds disparate identity groups together and returns cohesion to the Democratic Party, and liberals more broadly.
The march brought to light the mass discontent and outrage brewing in the United States and abroad. And that goes well beyond President Trump himself. As I learned at the march, in the eyes of many, President Trump is an incarnation of their darkest fears. As such he is a source of unintentional good. He is a bogeyman come alive who unknowingly wields the power of uniting people in proactive fear and solidarity.