TNR Editor: Trump 'Turned the GOP Into the Party of Eugenics,' Which It Always Was

The New Republic offers an excellent example for progressives who want to discredit criticism of the president.


Trump campaign

In an essay that makes Meryl Streep look like an astute political commentator, The New Republic's social media editor, Sarah Jones, claims "Trump Has Turned the GOP Into the Party of Eugenics." Well, not literally, Jones concedes in the sixth paragraph. Or at all, it turns out, once you've waded through all 2,300 words of increasingly desperate argumentation.

At first it seems Jones wants to prove that Trump believes in eugenics, which she defines as "the idea that the human race could improve itself through selective breeding—through propagating good traits and quarantining the bad ones." Jones notes that Trump once told Oprah Winfrey, "You have to be born lucky, in the sense that you have to have the right genes." And according to one biographer, the Trumps "believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."

In case you are not yet convinced that Trump is eager to push a program of government-sponsored genetic improvement, Jones adds that anonymous sources interviewed by The New York Times said Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist, "occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners." Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general, "praised the Immigration Act of 1924 in a 2015 interview with Bannon," and Trump adviser Michael Anton has written (under a pseudonym) that Charles Lindbergh's America First Committee was "unfairly maligned."

That's pretty much it, which is why Jones ends up switching her focus from Trump to the Republican Party and from eugenics to "the party's agenda," which "in many ways channels the spirit of eugenics, even if it does not accept the theory in a literal sense." Hence the article's subhead, which contradicts the headline by suggesting that eugenics was not introduced to the GOP by Trump but has "always been embedded in the Republican platform."

How so? Republicans oppose Obamacare, like capitalism, talk about welfare reform, and support school choice, which according to Jones makes them eugenicists in spirit.

Jones omits a major target of anti-Republican rants: the GOP's pro-life stance, which is inconvenient for her argument because it entails rejecting tools favored by coercive eugenicists: abortion, euthanasia, and sterilization. She also conspicuously ignores the intimate relationship between eugenics and progressivism. It was progressive icon Oliver Wendell Holmes, after all, who declared that "three generations of imbeciles are enough" in Buck v. Bell, the 1927 Supreme Court decision upholding Virginia's forced sterilization of "mental defectives" (a decision that was joined by progressive luminary Louis Brandeis). Jones quotes a book about that case in her second paragraph but shows no interest in the ideological roots of the policy Holmes endorsed. She is so intent on exposing metaphorical eugenicists that she overlooks the political philosophy of actual eugenicists.

Jones's article is an excellent example for progressives who want to alienate allies while discrediting criticism of Trump. She manages to exaggerate the odiousness of the president's views even while conflating them with those of mainstream Republicans, turning what should be a discussion of Trumpism's peculiar dangers into a familiar attack on cruel privatizers and budget cutters. If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.

Addendum: As Jason Bedrick points out (via Jonah Goldberg) The New Republic itself took a pro-eugenics line in its early years. Goldberg quotes a 1916 editorial, probably written by Herbert Croly, agreeing with the argument that "laissez-faire as a policy of population leads straight to perdition," since "under laissez-faire imbecility is given full chance to breed, and does so in fact at a rate far superior to that of able stocks." The editorial argued that government intervention aimed at improving conditions for children would ultimately serve the eugenic cause. "When the state assumes the duty of giving a fair opportunity for development to every child," The New Republic said, "it will find unanimous support for a policy of extinction of stocks incapable of profiting from their privileges."

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  1. It is a bit ironic coming from progressives whose ideology is top down central planning and social engineering to bring about the perfect human via experts

    1. You can count me out if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao.

      1. +1 revolution (or 33 1/3 rpm, if you want)

      2. We don’t want to change the world.

  2. Shorter progressivism:
    We know better than you, so whatever we do is for your own good.
    If we were wrong at some point, well, we know better now so we’re still better, better for having gotten past the bad ideas that you losers are still hanging on to. So it’s for your own good. Always has been and always will be.

    Still shorter progressivism:
    The tyranny of good intentions.

    1. That is the old progressivism.

      The new progressivism is about punching up is good and punching down is bad and your location on the scale is based on how many diversity points you have.

      1. And punching anyone who doesn’t agree with you it totally ok because, “bash the fash”.

      2. The New Progressivism is the Old Progressivism with a few more neuroses, and a frsh coat of pain slapped right over tho old peeling one.

      3. The new progressivism is indistinguishable from fascism as practiced on Bizarro world, where the Nazis make the white people wear pins indicating their racial sin and the blackshirts punch people for being right-wing. Well, not just fascism — the Democrats also keep white ladies from entering schoolhouses, and talk about seceding because racists are going to deprive them of cheap in-house and agricultural labor.

    2. I always think of progressivism as “Parasites helping parasites to help themselves – to other people’s shit”.

    3. If it’s progressive it must be good, because progress. So if it’s good it must be progressive.

  3. “If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.”

    As I’ve noted before, these people are Trump’s best friends.

    1. Oh, my god, yes. If these imbeciles keep this kind of crap up Trump can look forward to an absolutely EPIC lamdslide in 2020.

  4. Republicans oppose Obamacare, like capitalism, talk about welfare reform, and support school choice, which according to Jones makes them eugenicists in spirit.

    This seems to rely on the facile conflation of eugenics with natural selection. But the problem is that eugenics is unnatural selection. The eugenicists (ab)used Darwinian language and concepts but where Darwin was applying observational methods they wanted to apply prescriptive methods. This group of people is inferior, they say, and so we must take action to remove them. That’s selection alright, but there’s nothing natural about it.

    Of course, this is really the same fallacy underlying many leftist arguments, just repacked in a novel form. Not taking is giving, not subsidizing is not providing, etc.

    1. Um… have you actually read “On the Origin of Species or the Preservation of the Favored Races”. Unless it’s been redacted in more recent prints, he devoted an entire section to “This is proof the Irish are beneath us and we should cull their numbers lest they breed with our daughters and take humanity backwards” (paraphrasing)

      1. This is proof the Irish are beneath us


      2. Have you read it? Because the passage you are describing (I’m guessing second hand) is in Descent of Man. You know the one where he applies evolution to human development. And it’s not even his argument- he is paraphrasing Galton’s argument.

        These kind of errors are credibility destroying.

      3. Is the idea that the Irish are beneath us supposed to be controversial?

    2. God forbid we have a market for health care services. Market determined pricing could make it, gasp, affordable.

      Can’t have that. Massive bureaucracy is the only thing that will make health care less expensive. Yep.

    3. It’s like arguing non-anarchist right wingers are really communists, because whatever laws they support will broadly affect the economy, so they’re identical to deliberately centrally planning the economy.

  5. If anything, Trump’s presidency is proof of how far people can go without any genetic advantages, and indeed some moderate developmental disabilities.

    1. Of course, he’s not the first POTUS to prove that.

    2. It’s statements like that, that only serve to show the utter ignorance of the author.

      No one rises, and stays, at the upper levels of business or politics without some serious chops. Some are certainly masters in some areas and relatively weak in others, but all are upper tier across the board relative to the rest of the population. They have to be.

      You’re like some middle aged office worker ranting about how bad a kicker is for missing a field goal, with no perspective or appreciation of the serious ability required to even get to walk on the field.

      Criticize Trump for policy and mock him for fun, but realize that the man is a friggin giant….and he got there completely on skill. He spent negligible amounts campaigning and had the bulk of the RNC establishment against him…and he still won, based on shear power of personality, persuasion, and massive political chops.

      1. He got there by having a rich dad, being lucky, not having a discernible conscience, and ranting about the right people in the right place at the right time.

        Trump isn’t a giant. If he’d been born a few decades later he’d have crashed and burned in the housing bubble. His political career is also dependent on the right place and the right time. That goes for most big time politicians. A few years earlier and Obama would just be some forgettable one or two term Illinois state senator. Trump is no different.

        1. that is a really ignorant statement.

          Success is defined by seizing the opportunities that are available and having the abilities necessary to implement.

          Both Obama and Trump succeeded because they each have the chops required. It’s stupid proggy nonsense to believe that people are just “lucky” for what they have achieved. Yes, luck is always a factor, but it is just what helps provide an opportunity. It’s the abilities that allow an individual to seize them and succeed at it.

  6. “If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.”

    Does this mean you initially wanted to be in the anti-Trump movement, but turned against it when you belatedly realized how insanely fanatical and truth-challenged it was?

    1. Why not a movement to agree with Trump when he’s right but oppose him when he’s wrong?

      1. That is crazy talk!!!!!!!

      2. Seems ‘reasonable’.

      3. Novel concept, that.

      4. bbbbbuuuuuuuttttt Trump’s always wrong. /progderp

      5. “Why not a movement to agree with Trump when he’s right but oppose him when he’s wrong?”

        What a bizarre concept.

      6. Sounds suspiciously like “love the sinner, hate the sin”, which is ungoodful untermensch thought.

      7. I agree with the caveat that Trump’s enemies seem bound and determined to make even opposing him when he’s wrong distasteful. “Sure, he’s wrong, but do you really want to support the batshit insanity that’s become the popular explanation of why he’s wrong?”

    2. If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.

      Does this mean you initially wanted to be in the anti-Trump movement, but turned against it when you belatedly realized how insanely fanatical and truth-challenged it was?

      The world ain’t black or white. The statement is perfectly understandable as sarcasm, as sneering, as many things, not all of which require either adoring or hating Trump.

  7. Know who else wrote articles that alienated allies while discrediting criticism of Trump?

    1. I know where you’re going but I don’t agree that’s articles alienate allies of liberty nor do they discredit criticism of Trump. In fact I think it’s important here to flush out another side of this which is the habit of some to use poorly presented arguments to discredit legitimate criticism.

      1. Ok, this time it’s Mussolini, right?

        1. Francisco Franco feeling left out

      2. Exactly how many poor immigrants and their grandma’s died because Trump is mean?

  8. she defines as “the idea that the human race could improve itself through selective breeding?through propagating good traits and quarantining the bad ones.”

    No, that’s biology. Talk to any farmer about selective cross-breeding. Eugenics is the belief that you *should* attempt to improve the human race, which is predicated on the fantasy that you know what’s best for everybody. If anything defines the Left, it’s their devout faith that they know better than you what’s for your own good. I’m pretty sure eugenics is a tool of the Left.

    1. You know who else was a tool of the left?

      1. My favorite adjustable wrench?

        1. And what’s in your right hand?

          1. His other tool?

    2. True, but many of the left reject even this idea that selective breeding could accomplish this. We’re all just blank slates at birth, completely pliable and ready to be molded. Everything is caused environment. You know, gender is a social construct and such. That way, we just need to the right changes to social institutions, abolish capitalist modes of production and….Utopia!! No need to worry about any inherit human nature.

      1. Denying science is okay when you’re punching up.

  9. forced sterilization of “mental defectives”

    From my cold, dead hands.

      1. “not protected from access to hypothermic needle.”


        1. I think that’s Legalese for “This stupid junky hoe left her needle where her little bastard kid could get his hands on it.”

        2. Hypothermic? Somebody get that needle a blanket to warm it up.

  10. increasingly desperate argumentation

    Nice album name.

  11. One thing you can say for a fact: Trump has been very, very lucky in who his enemies are.

    1. It does speak well of him.

  12. I tried to come up with a comment, but the stupid was too strong in this one.

  13. *Looks at Ivanka*

    Ok, he may have a breeding program going on to create the superior Aryan woman, but come on, she’s half Slavic he married her off to a Jew.

    1. If you want to dive deep into Nazi theory (and, cmon, who doesn’t?), they stole a lot of Polish orphans to be adopted off to Germans based on having an Aryan appearance. Blond hair and blue eyes was supposed to be a marker of the presence of superior Aryan blood, despite their being Poles. Thus, Ivanka’s half-Slavic blood is outweighed by the other half, which is obviously Nordic in origin.

  14. Republicans oppose Obamacare

    except not really

    like capitalism

    except not really

    and support school choice

    except not really

  15. Social Darwinism and eugenics are not the same thing. If you argue that the right are social Darwinists you probably have something resembling a case. But making a false equivalency to eugenics blows up your whole case.

    1. This.

      Also, no mention in either article about one of the most famous American proponent of eugenics, Margret Sanger? Wonder why.

      1. Because when one looks at the race being exterminated through abortion, it’s right in line with Sanger & Friend’s stated goals of the Planned Parenthood organization? There’s some disagreement in modern times over Sanger and if she actually believed the same things that the rest of the people around her believed, but I think that’s just the left trying to distance themselves from the horrors of racial extermination.

  16. It was progressive icon Oliver Wendell Holmes, after all, who declared that “three generations of imbeciles are enough”

    If only Oliver Wendell Holmes’ great grandparents had been forcibly sterilized. We might have been saved the 3 generations of imbeciles that lead to him. /sarc

    If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.

    Unfortunately, that is pretty much what the anti-Trump is all about, at least on the left. The Trump opposition on the left has more to do with the wrong authoritarian statist asshat wielding the power of the modern imperial presidency, not with the imperial presidency itself. Principals > principles

  17. The (false) premise of her position is that one person’s gain is another’s loss. She is saying, essentially, that anything that stands in the way of socialism is designed to propel the “superior” to the wealthy upper class while, by extension, keeping the genetic inferiors destitute and dying on the street. It pure recycled Marxism, and has been thoroughly refuted yet continues to be taught as gospel on college campuses. The universities are the true root of our problems today.

    1. Public schools as well. I’d argue that’s an even worse problem.

  18. The Democrats are “the party of eugenics”, and I mean that in the simple, straightforward, historically accurate sense.

    The Democrats are also the party of segregation and scientific racism.

    1. You don’t even have to go back in history for the segregation part, since it’s back in style on college campuses.

  19. Progressives will make eugenics popular again if they keep pushing their bizarre agendas.

    It’s is difficult to imagine a future that does not devolve to ethnic violence if they keep escalating the ‘welfare funding of baby mamas’, ‘uncontrolled immigration’, and ‘white priviledge’. Americans are a very tolerant and slow-to-anger people (in any rational country-to-country, culture-to-culture comparison), but damn….not that tolerant.

    1. They’ve been hard at work stoking hatred against white people. It’s not really going to result in more tolerance and understanding.

  20. AFAICT “the spirit of eugenics” is that succeeding generations will be genetically better. Who wouldn’t want that? And we’re developing tools to actually do that effectively.

  21. As Jonah Goldberg has written, the Left has no intellectual history. In other words, the arguments they make serve the needs of the moment and past contradictory beliefs or arguments are memory holed.

    1. They have no cultural history either, and what they do have they’re actively trying to destroy.

  22. She also conspicuously ignores the intimate relationship between eugenics and progressivism.

    Yeah, they do that a lot. It’s projection, top to bottom. Malthusians and eugenicists are products of the left with their alien concepts of the perfectibility of man. What, pray tell, were the National Socialists and Soviets trying to create? Oh, right, a perfect race of man.

    They need to ignore that their ideaology has been tried, and has failed, with horrific results time and time again. You see, they just didn’t have the right Hitler and it wasn’t real socialism after all. With that kind of idiocy, is it any wonder they can ignore the roots of their own Malthusian ideals?

  23. The ultimate dysgenic force is the welfare state! You’re paying low-IQ people who otherwise could not afford children to breed!

    And what’s so crazy about property-owning men voting? It was in the Constitution because the Founders distrusted democracy (rightly so) and thought most women valued security over freedom (which they do). Ann Coulter is also against womens’ suffrage because women vote so “stupidly”. Across the West, when suffrage was extended to women, you had a welfare state arise within 10-15 years.

    I understand these are not popular opinions, but they’re borne out by facts.

  24. Meryl Streep is representative of all of those that only wanted a woman in office and cannot get over the fact the wrong woman was the candidate and it didn’t take long for the country to figure it out. Just consider where we would be if Hillary was elected. Crying women in the streets with a brain only large enough to say finally a woman but completely ignoring the gridlock our country would continue to endure.

    I want a woman as President also but folks guess what, it has to be the right woman.

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