The best analysis I’ve seen anywhere about Donald Trump, Hillary and her Democrats and the hapless Republican Party comes — wait for it — from a Georgetown University professor writing in Politico Magazine. Yes, Politico, that bastion of liberal political thought. Yes, a professor. Excerpts are reprinted nearby.
He asserts that in the entire 20th century in the USA, there were few really big ideas, in fact only six of them: “The Progressivism of Wilson; Roosevelt’s New Deal; the Containment Doctrine of Truman; Johnson’s War on Poverty; Reagan’s audacious claim that the Cold War could be won; and finally, the post-1989 order rooted in ‘globalization’ and ‘identity politics,’ which seems to be unraveling before our eyes.”
In their place, he posits, Trump — hugely imperfect and largely inarticulate — has planted six big new Ideas, capitalized. They’re not his originally, but he is their standard-bearer. Trump rejects that post-1989 order explicitly with these six assertions:
1. Borders matter.
2. Immigration policy matters.
3. National interests, not so-called universal interests, matter.
4. Entrepreneurship matters.
5. Decentralization matters.
6. PC speech — without which identity politics is inconceivable — must be repudiated.
“These six ideas together point to an end to the unstable experiment with supra- and sub-national sovereignty that many of our elites have guided us toward, siren-like, since 1989,” Mitchell writes.
“That is what the Trump campaign, ghastly though it may at times be, leads us toward: A future where states matter. A future where people are citizens, working together toward (bourgeois) improvement of their lot.”
Try to read the following paragraph without breaking into a fist-pumping cheer:
“What I am saying is that Trump is that quintessentially American figure, hated by intellectuals on both sides of the aisle and on the other side of the Atlantic, who doesn’t start with a ‘plan,’ but rather gets himself in the thick of things and then moves outward to a workable idea — not a ‘principled’ one — that can address the problem at hand, but which goes no further. That’s what American businessmen and women do. (And, if popular culture is a reliable guide to America, it is what Han Solo always does in Star Wars movies.)”
And this following paragraph is the best description I have read about the 2016 GOP:
“…[O]ne of the more pathological notions of our age is that political life can be understood in terms of ‘principles’ that must be applied to circumstances. Politics-as-engineering, if you will. Republicans themselves succumbed to this notion, and members of the rank and file have noticed.
“Republicans stood for ‘the principles of the constitution,’ for ‘the principles of the free market,’ etc. The problem with standing for principles is that it allows you to remain unsullied by the political fray, to stand back and wait until yet another presidential election cycle when ‘our principles’ can perhaps be applied. And if we lose, it’s OK, because we still have ‘our principles.’
“What Trump has been able to seize upon is growing dissatisfaction with this endless deferral, the sociological arrangement for which looks like comfortable Inside-the-Beltway Republicans defending ‘principles’ and rank-and-file Republicans far from Washington-Babylon watching in horror and disgust.”
We conservatives have our “principles” … and we keep losing every battle against ever-growing statism, even when our candidates have won some elections. Even when our candidates win, we lose. We need a change.
I’ll be voting for the U.S. Supreme Court. I recommend you read the entire essay at Politico Magazine. It is a significant contribution to understanding the political moment.
[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since its founding in 1993.]