Is Trumpism the new punk rock?

Amateurism, insurrection, transgressive appeal, a DIY ethos... Sound familiar?

Ready to be sedated?
(Image credit: Illustration by Lauren Hansen | Images courtesy Bailey-Cooper Photography / Alamy Stock Photo, Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

A new quarterly journal that debuted last week proffered weighty philosophical answers to the question of what, idealistically, Trumpism might mean. The first issue of this journal, American Affairs, is replete with lofty references to Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, Locke, and Burke. A young Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendee, however, pointed in a different direction, much closer to Earth. He said he'd grown up a standard-issue George W. Bush conservative Republican, but had more recently migrated to the alt-right movement. One of its attractions, he said, was that it felt like "the new punk rock."

Now, depending on your inclination, such a characterization may confirm your suspicions about the controversy-courting characters who travel under the alt-right banner. The word "punk," to many, evokes images of angry hooligans and anarchic behavior. Then again, it may sound blasphemous: The memory of "punk rock," as it has been canonized in the upper echelons of rock criticism, is associated with left-wing anti-authoritarianism. Hence it would be ridiculous to call yourself "punk" while supporting a right-wing authoritarian like Trump.

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