Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
They Said It:
Losers, like autodidacts, always know much more than winners. If you want to win, you need to know just one thing and not to waste your time on anything else: the pleasures of erudition are reserved for losers. The more a person knows, the more things have gone wrong.
Umberto Eco, Numero Zero, 2015.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: WINNERS AND LOSERS.
If you’re anything like the two of us, you’ve spent the last few days up to your armpits in analyses of, commentaries on, and rants about the election. Depending on the day and the source you happen to be reading, you know that this is the fault either of the coastal elites or of the unwashed masses in flyover country. You know that this is either the second coming of Ronald Reagan or the second coming of Adolf Hitler. You know that this is the greatest thing to ever happen to the greatest country on earth or the worst thing to happen to the worst country on earth. You know that this is a time for celebration or a time for riots. You know enlightenment is dead, while ignorance shall rein or that pomposity is dead, while common sense shall rein. Everyone, it seems, knows everything about the election and everyone is willing to share it with us – no matter how confused, contradictory, or ridiculous it sounds. You know what opinions are like, right? Well . . . let’s just say that everyone’s got one.
For our part, we don’t have the foggiest idea what is going to happen tomorrow, much less four years down the road. We do know that President-elect Trump isn’t going to be rounding up any bad guys tomorrow, shipping them off Gaia-knows-where in luxury Trump-branded box cars. The republic survived Richard Nixon. It survived Bill Clinton. It survived Woodrow Wilson, for crying out loud, and not only did he spend more than a year of his presidency unconscious, when he was awake, he was more egotistical and more authoritarian than Donald Trump and Barack Obama combined. The country is not without its problems, obviously. We detailed those problems extensively and repeatedly over the last month – and over the last decade, if you want to look at the bigger picture. And while nation’s problems are not going anywhere, and while they will not be resolved anytime soon – by Donald Trump or anyone else – there is, for the first time in at least eight years, cause for at least guarded optimism, and maybe more.
Now, this wouldn’t be a proper post-election piece if we didn’t start with a list of winners and losers. But as you will see, as you make our way through this list, you can’t help but be struck by the fact that the winners are precisely the people we would hope would be winners. And the losers are precisely those who we would hope would be as well. More to the point, this all applies even if one is looking beyond the near term and eyeing the possibility of broad, long-range systemic change. Obviously, all of the criticisms leveled at Trump by conservatives during the campaign still bear watching. Nevertheless, there is real reason to believe that the next four years could be among the most interesting and constructive in a good long time.
WINNER: THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
LOSER: THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
Our first couplet of winner and loser might seem obvious, given the results of the voting, but there is more to the story than might, at first, meet the eye. This was not your ordinary election victory. This was something different, something perhaps profound, something that could be both the result of and a portent of our oft-discussed “new political paradigm.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, as we prepared our brief comments for our conference call the next day and readied our thoughts for this post-election piece, we decided that the big winner of the night was the Grand Old Party. We knew by then that the House was safe. We suspected that the Senate was safe too. We figured that this constituted a pretty good night for a party that many observers thought was on the verge of collapse. Sure, the Republicans lost the presidency – again – but in the greater scheme of things, that was to be expected. After all, they nominated a man who not only wasn’t really a politician, but wasn’t really a Republican, or at least hadn’t been until recently. All things considered, the GOP had won a huge victory and had set itself up for an even bigger victory two years from now, when the roles will be flipped in the Senate and the Democrats will be defending a good number of marginal seats.
And then a funny thing happened….
Miracle of miracles, the GOP’s presidential candidate won, which is to say that the Republicans now control all of the levers of power in Washington. A week ago, every political pundit and columnist in the country was busy scribbling away, writing about the death of the GOP, about the party of Lincoln and Reagan succumbing to the new, post-Cold War reality. Everyone was trying to figure out “what comes next?” for conservatives, now that their nominal home in the GOP has been demolished. And everyone woke up on Wednesday to find that instead of collapsing, the Republican Party is now in its most powerful position since well before the Great Depression.
At the state level, going into last week’s elections, the Republicans held more governorships than they had in decades. And they picked up more. They took Missouri, New Hampshire, and even deep red Vermont. They defended every seat but one – North Carolina – which has still not been called. For those of you scoring at home, the GOP now controls more governors’ mansions than at any point in the last 95 years. They flipped the legislatures in Iowa and in Kentucky, where they now control the House for the first time since Reconstruction. In short, last Tuesday was a Republican sweep.
And that’s not the half of it. Right up until election day, the Washington consensus was the Trump would hurt down-ballot Republicans, whether they endorsed him or not. The only question was how much he would cost them. As it turns out, not only did Trump NOT hurt down-ballot Republicans, they actually helped him. In Ohio (Rob Portman), Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey), Florida (Marco Rubio), and Wisconsin (Ron Johnson), the Republican Senators ran ahead of Trump, sometimes by several percentage points. Four of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans – all of whom were considered endangered two months ago and two of which were expected to lose on Tuesday – not only won, but had coattails of their own to aid Trump. As bizarre and unexpected as it may sound, Donald Trump did NOT kill the GOP, he strengthened it.
Aha, you say, but the real fights are yet to come. He and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will clash. They will battle over priorities and agendas. They will tear each other – and the party – apart.
Well . . . maybe. But maybe not.
If you look at Trump’s early agenda – from the Supreme Court to taxes to regulation – he plans a perfectly Republican administration, one that will be virtually indistinguishable from any other hypothetical Republican administration. Consider the following list, which was compiled by Oren Cass, the former policy director for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. As Cass notes, this list is far from exhaustive, including only publications “with New York in their names” from the day after Trump’s victory last week:
In today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof writes, “Trump has talked about repealing Obamacare, deporting millions of our neighbors, instituting religious tests, overturning President Obama’s actions on climate change and moving the Supreme Court far to the right. How can progressives respond with anything but resistance — or emigration?” But repealing Obamacare, reversing Obama’s actions on climate change, or nominating a Scalia-like replacement for Justice Scalia are not extraordinary acts and should not be listed alongside mass deportations or religious tests.
Also in the Times, David Sanger writes that America now faces “an era of unknowns that has little parallel in the nation’s 240-year history.” But his first five examples are repeal of Obamacare, a Scalia-like Supreme Court justice, a border wall with Mexico, the return of Bush-era torture policies, and withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Some of those policies may be questionable, but none contribute to an unparalleled “era of unknowns.” They don’t even lie outside the margins of conventional American politics or the likely policy agenda of any Republican president. Only later does Sanger turn his attention to Trump’s truly unprecedented foreign policy.
At the New Yorker, David Remnick writes of “inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated,” as if restoring the pre-existing balance of the Supreme Court were the same kind of problem as Trump’s personal failings and ugly messages. He also condemns Trump’s “band of associates — Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan.” But Paul Ryan could belong on that list only by virtue of supporting a conservative policy agenda.
At New York magazine, Jonathan Chait places the upcoming “period of darkness” alongside the Civil War and slavery. His examples, though, are that “Republicans will pass massive regressive tax cuts; they will take access to medical care from the poor and sick; they will deregulate the financial industry and fossil-fuel emitters.” Trumpism, he feels, “grows out of a decades-long trend toward authoritarianism as the dominant tendency of Republican politics.” It seems clear that Republicans, not Trump, are his source of “darkness.” (Recall that, during primary season, Chait argued that “a Trump presidency would probably wind up doing less harm to the country than a Marco Rubio or a Cruz presidency.”)
To be sure, as a NeverTrumper, Cass presents all of this as a problem for Republicans, insisting that the GOP must be diligent not to allow the media to “tar all conservative policy and politicians with the same brush that Trump himself actually deserves.” But Cass, like the others in the press, misses the point. There is broad agreement among Republicans – including the President-elect of the United States! – about an early agenda for next year. They will repeal and replace Obamacare (or most of Obamacare, as political reality dictates). They’ll confirm a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia. They’ll get to work on cutting personal and corporate taxes. They’ll cut regulation. They’ll begin to address illegal immigration, starting by beefing up border defenses. And they’ll work to restore some semblance of sanity to the environmental and energy bureaucracies.
We know that Donald Trump is not a conservative. You know that Donald Trump is not a conservative. Donald Trump knows that Donald Trump is not a conservative. But for the purposes of his first year in office, at least on the domestic front, none of us, Trump included, will be able to tell the difference. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, even Ted Cruz wouldn’t do things much different in the early-going. All of which is to say that the mainstream and conservative Republicans may not have been able to get their guy to the White House. But their agenda is there and will likely be enacted. From the Republican perspective, then, what’s not to like?
On the other side of the aisle, of course, things look remarkably different. Obviously, in a two-party system, one party’s gain is the other’s loss, which is to say that everything the Republicans managed to hold or pickup last week, the Democrats managed to lose. So it stands to reason that if the GOP is in its strongest position since before the Depression, the Democratic Party is in its weakest. The Republicans’ sweep was the Democrats’ wipeout.
Making matter worse is the fact that the election can only be seen as a repudiation of the Obama era and of its leftward policies. Barack Obama’s personal popularity remains quite high. But then, why wouldn’t it be? Obama has spent much of his presidency playing the role that the Queen plays in Great Britain. He is the ceremonial head of state – and not much else. He makes grave and important speeches. He watches basketball games courtside. He dances with Ellen Degeneres and raps with Jimmy Fallon. He consoles the nation when it’s grieving and inspires it when it’s excited. He is an amiable man with a solid short game and a quick wit. He entertains us, intentionally and cheerfully. But he’s a rather derisory head of government. For many months now, several conservatives have referred to Obama as “our semi-retired president” and indeed he has been. He’ll make a show of being presidential on occasion, but he doesn’t really seem to care much about the work involved in running the most powerful nation on earth. That job, he leaves to the bureaucracy, which he knows he can trust.
To be perfectly blunt, Obama hasn’t even been the head of his own party for the better part of the last year. He allowed his own vice president to be bullied out of the race to replace him, and he allowed the party’s policy agenda to be taken over by his onetime rival, the patently inept Hillary Clinton. Obama has been a mere figurehead, probably since the 2014 midterms. He has used his immense gifts to convince people to like him, even as he has refused to use those same gifts to convince people to like his policy preferences. And as a result, the people roundly rejected those preferences.
At the same time, of course, the members of the Democratic Party seem blissfully unaware that any of this has happened. As far as they’re concerned, they lost last week because the FBI Director was mean to them. Or because Trump somehow rallied the seamy underbelly of American politics. Or because Hillary was a terrible politician. It never quite seems to occur to them that they really had no alternative. Hillary may have been terrible – not to mention dishonest and corrupt to the bone – and yet they rigged their primary in order to help her. They knew she was a bad candidate, and so they doubled down on her.
Why did they do something so stupid, you ask? Well, what other choice did they have? In retrospect, Joe Biden looks like a better candidate, and maybe he would have been. But then, Biden has run for president twice before, never getting past the New Hampshire primaries. Bernie Sanders looks good in retrospect too, but he’s a septuagenarian clinging to the remnants of an ideology that collapsed before many of the Millennials were born. The fact of the matter is that the Democrats cleared the way for Hillary because Hillary was all they had. And now that she’s been vanquished, they are left with nothing.
Think about the leaders of the Democratic Party, now that the Clintons are gone and Obama is going. There’s Biden, who is 73 and will soon be out of work. There’s Sanders, who is 75. There’s Elizabeth Warren, who is 67. And there is Chuck Schumer, who is 66. In short, the “new” leaders of Democratic Party haven’t been “new” at anything for decades. They are old, tired, white, and tied to a failed ideology.
This is Barack Obama’s legacy. Over the course of his presidency, he embellished and enhanced his own personal image, even as he allowed his party to be gutted. The Republicans will long celebrate the Tea Party, the angry middle class, and the Trump Revolution, all of which brought millions of new voters into the “big tent.” The Democrats have now to contend with the other side of that proverbial coin. As we said, two-party politics is a zero-sum game. And Obama has not only cost his party political power, he has cost it a generation of leaders. The Democratic elected officials who should be lining up against the likes of Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Scott Walker and Ted Cruz to fight this ongoing battle into the next quarter century simply don’t exist.
BONUS LOSER: THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY.
For the better part of a decade, the so-called “Libertarian moment” has been upon us. Any minute now, the nation’s true libertarian spirits will break free from the stuffy conservative closets and the statist liberal bureaus to restore liberty and justice to all! Any minute . . . No, seriously . . . Aaaaaany minute.
When he ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, then-Congressman and erstwhile Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul convinced a great many observers, mostly on the Right, that libertarianism was the wave of the future. Paul’s positions were popular, particularly among young voters, those with whom Republicans have traditionally had trouble connecting. Paul ran again in 2012 and generated even more support than he had the first time, which reinforced the notion that the time was ripe for the libertarian revolution.
Paul’s son, Kentucky Senator Rand, was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and quickly became a prominent national personality. He too ran for president, in the crowded Republican primary contest this past year. And although Senator Paul’s candidacy didn’t get off the ground, his prominence and the emergence of a tested standard bearer to lead the party ticket further encouraged the Libertarians. Gary Johnson would bring the party its long-overdue national respect.
Except that he didn’t.
We like Gary Johnson. We really do. But if anyone killed the libertarian moment, he did. First Johnson picked as his running mate William Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts and one of the most adamantly and aggressively Pro-Choice Republicans in recent memory. Then Johnson declared that he didn’t really care all that much about religious liberty – the foundational liberty of the American experiment – and thought that this “liberty” was, more or less, an excuse that bigots use to discriminate against people they don’t like. Lastly, Johnson wandered aimlessly through the campaign, vowing to quit smoking pot – but only if he won! – and generally screwing up easy questions about foreign policy and other important matters that a presidential candidate should know. In the end, the Libertarian Party candidate served only to reinforce the stereotypes about Libertarians, i.e. he came off more as Jeff Spicoli than Thomas Jefferson.
Now, to be fair, Johnson was never going to win. But that’s not what he was supposed to do either. He was supposed to break the “magical” 5% barrier, which is magical because it ensures that a party will receive federal funding in the next election cycle. In July, Johnson was polling at about 10%, which made sense, since the Republican nominee was so disliked, particularly by other Republicans. Slowly but surely, though, Johnson’s support slipped, and he finished the race last Tuesday with a shockingly disappointing 3%. He didn’t break the barrier. He didn’t get federal funds for his party.
One can argue that with a statist “Republican” in the White House for the next four years the Libertarian Party will rise again. And indeed it might. But if Trump listens to his economic advisers – one of whom is the most prominent libertarian economist in the country, our friend, the brilliant Steve Moore – then the libertarian impulse will likely be diffused. Senator Rand Paul is already promising a deregulation “spree” Under President Trump, and Trump himself is known as a friend to gay men and women (the public perception notwithstanding). So…where does that leave the libertarians? Nowhere good, we’d guess. The moment has passed.
WINNER: KELLYANNE CONWAY.
LOSER: THE POLITICAL CONSULTANT CLASS.
For nearly seven years, the Left in this country has wasted its and the American people’s time constantly prattling on about the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v FEC. That ruling, you may recall, held that independent political expenditures by corporate entities are protected by the First Amendment. Pretty standard and tame fare, if you ask us. If you ask anyone on the Left, however, they’ll launch into a tirade about how corporations aren’t people and how they shouldn’t therefore have the same rights as people and how this ruling is destroying America and how it’s the worst thing the Court has ever done and…on and on. Citizens United is the Leftists’ Great White Whale. It consumes them.
You see, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, the Left and many “good government” types on the Right believe that the biggest flaw in the infamous “iron triangle” of American politics is the fact that the American people occupy one point on this triangle. They would much rather that the people stay out of the delicate business of governance, which is to say that they would rather the people kept their damn money out of politics. Love of money in politics is the root of all evil, they would have us believe, and therefore the system could operate far more smoothly on the people’s behalf if the people and their money would just go away.
Up until last Tuesday, these good government types had two problems with their plans to “eliminate money from politics.” First, they have been “ridding” the system of money for more than four decades now, but somehow the money still flows. No matter what they do, they can’t get the laws or the regulations right, and so they have to try again every few years, with ever more draconian rules. Second, of course, is the ruling in Citizens United v FEC, which was handed down by the Court nearly seven years ago.
The Left had planned to fix all of this after the election, when Hillary Clinton would get to appoint a replacement for Antonin Scalia, thus tipping the balance of the Court and threatening the Citizens United precedent.
Obviously, that’s not going to happen now. The bigger issue, though, is that Left now has a third problem, one which will be extremely difficult to overcome going forward. All of a sudden, the Left’s Grand Theory of Elections has a very large and very prominent counter example. It turns out that you can’t simply buy an election. It doesn’t necessarily matter how much money you have or how much money spend. What matters is how well your message resonates with people and how effectively you communicate that message. In many instances, money probably helps. But not always, as Donald Trump – and his brilliant campaign manager – just proved.
For those of you who may not know, Kellyanne Conway is, by trade, a pollster. She is also a very smart, very driven, and very amiable woman. We’d like to be able to tell you that she, like Steve Moore, is an old friend, but she’s actually not. She’s an acquaintance, someone we met only a few times. But those few times were enough to convince us that she was a formidable force in conservative Washington. Now the whole world shares that opinion – or should.
Donald Trump broke all the rules on his way to White House. He said things politicians weren’t supposed to say. He did things politicians weren’t supposed to do. He discussed issues politicians weren’t supposed to discuss. And he did it all without hiring a slew of campaign consultants or spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
Every night for the last few months, you could turn on CNN or MSNBC or any other “news” network (save Fox) and watch countless campaign consultants and advisers laugh at Trump and his campaign team. “It’s almost malpractice,” these consultants would shriek. “He’s not running a real campaign at all!” Of course, what these folks never told you was that they themselves get paid big money – which comes from big campaign donations – to run losing campaigns. Sometimes, they ran campaigns that lost to Barack Obama. Sometimes, they ran primary campaigns that lost to Trump. Sometimes, they ran both. Whatever the case, they were part of the class of professionals who created the current campaign system and who were compensated well for doing so. And they couldn’t imagine a situation in which someone could do something differently and still win. But Trump did. And he did so with behind the steady guidance of Kellyanne Conway.
You haven’t heard much about the shattering of glass ceilings this past week, the media narrative having been routed. But Kellyanne Conway just shattered her own glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign. And what makes her effort all the more impressive is the fact that she did it by playing by her own rules, just as her candidate did. Together, they proved that money isn’t as important the message.
WINNER: ALTERNATIVE MEDIA.
LOSER: MAINSTREAM MEDIA.
When Bill and Hillary Clinton sit down over pie next week and discuss the people they most hate in the world, the name that will be mentioned first is likely to be that of Matt Drudge. Eighteen years ago, Drudge provided the forum for Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff to leak the Monica Lewinsky story that his magazine had spiked. Drudge became a household name, and Bill was impeached. This year, Drudge created what Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein recently called an “alternative universe” in which Donald Trump was a serious contender for the presidency. “The alternative universe of Drudge, alt-right, the different press and social media that we have seen almost dominate to some extent a big part of the electorate is a wholly new phenomenon,” Bernstein told CNN on election day. “If it turns out that Drudge is right in what he is putting up on his site, Donald Trump is going to win.”
Well . . .
For decades the Democratic Party could count on the press to carry its water. Whether they needed the New York Times to fabricate a story about John McCain maybe . . . possibly . . . hypothetically . . . maybe . . . having an affair with a pretty blonde lobbyist, or the Washington Post to dedicate its front page to what a prankster Mitt Romney was at boarding school fifty year earlier, the Democratic Party could always count on the media.
Never was this more true than this year, when countless reporters and editors insisted that this election was simply too important for them to remain objective. In August, the New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg justified his and his colleagues’ abdication of journalistic standard practice, arguing that to do otherwise would be an enormous moral error. According to Rutenberg, reporters of conscience had to “throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career.” They had to “move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional.”
Rutenberg and his colleagues – not to mention countless others at mainstream media outlets throughout the country and the world – did just that. They became “oppositional.” And it killed them, along with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump, by contrast, reveled in his associations with alternative media, not only praising Drudge, but actually hiring Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News to be the CEO of his campaign (and now a strategist and counselor to the new administration). Trump has been roundly criticized for his fondness for Bannon, whom critics label a “racist,” but the fact of the matter is that the alternative media won, while the mainstream media abandoned its principles in pursuit of fantasy it had helped create. Someone lives in an alternative reality, in other words, but it’s not Matt Drudge.
LOSER: RACE HUSTLING POVERTY PIMPS.
The general consensus among the mainstream media and their allies on the political Left is that Donald Trump is an inveterate racist. This view is largely derived from an intentional misrepresentation of policy positions Trump staked out during the primary season. Some of those policies would indeed be foolish – deporting more than ten million immigrants or halting Muslim immigration, for example – but they are not overtly racist. Of course, the Left has a stake in maintaining the image of Republicans as racist, which is why Democrats and the media have tarred every Republican candidate in recent memory with that same brush. In Trump’s case, though, we suspect that the effort will backfire and indeed already has.
According to the best data available today, we know that Trump earned more votes from both Hispanic and black voters than did Mitt Romney. We also know that black voters in particular voted in smaller numbers this time around than they did in the last two elections. Some of this latter phenomenon, of course, has to do with the fact that Barack Obama was not on the ballot this time. But some of it has to do with the candidate who was on the ballot, a woman who promised more of the same policies that have helped make the lives of urban minority populations significantly worse over the last eight years, Barack Obama’s ethnicity notwithstanding.
Donald Trump appears to have taken the charges of racism seriously and personally, which is to say that he seems to want to prove his critics wrong. Just yesterday, in fact, the Trump transition team announced its plans to offer urban minorities a “new deal.” CBS News put it this way:
[T]he president-elect’s transition team is making its first efforts at minority outreach, pushing a “new deal” for African-Americans with a “plan for urban renewal.”
Surrogates for Trump’s team gave MediaTakeOut.com, which describes itself as “the most visited African American website in the world,” the 10-point plan, an outline of policies Trump first proposed at a North Carolina campaign rally in October.
“In election after election, Democratic party leaders take African-American voters for granted and year after year the condition of Black America gets worse,” the plan reads. “The conditions in our inner cities today are unacceptable. Too many African-Americans have been left behind.”
It proposes to change the condition of black communities by promoting school choice, reduction of crime, business tax cuts, financial reforms, stopping “trade deficits,” ending illegal immigration, new infrastructure investment, protections for “the African American church” and an “America First” foreign policy.
Conservatives have argued for years that the black community in particular is ill-served by the Democratic Party establishment, which conflates government aid with government help. In so doing, conservatives say, the Democrats perpetuate black poverty and also create a population that is dependent on bigger and bigger government. Donald Trump appears to want to put the government’s money where the conservatives’ mouth is and to try to change the status quo.
We have no idea if he will be successful in this effort, but we do know that current urban policy is a disaster, which is to say that any change from the present course will be a step in the right direction. If he succeeds – or if his legislative plans regarding taxes and regulation succeed, thereby accelerating economic growth – then he will not only have helped a long-suffering population break the bonds of poverty, but will also have helped the GOP break the traditional Democratic stranglehold on black votes. More power to him, we say.
WINNERS: ORDINARY AMERICANS.
LOSERS: INTELLECTUALS, ACADEMICS, AND PRECIOUS SNOWFLAKES.
We could go on with this “winners and losers” theme for many, many pages. We suspect, however, that you might, eventually, get tired of it. Likewise, we could talk and/or write about this election and what it means for weeks. And, of course, we will.
In the meantime, we will close with a few thoughts on the future that we be will most certainly be chewing on throughout 2017. First the good news.
For ordinary, working class, middle class, patriotic Americans of all races and creeds, who are concerned with the economy and with economic growth, the Trump presidency offers a ray of hope not seen since Ronald Reagan guided this shining city on a hill. On the advice of smart men and women – including Steve Moore and his longtime co-author, supply-side guru Art Laffer – Trump intends to free the economy from the chains placed upon it by the current tax and regulatory regimes. As the markets have been suggesting over the last week, that’s something positive to which we can all look forward.
Moreover, those who have a personal or professional investment in a contrary theory of politics and economics are likely, for the first in memory, to suffer the indignity of being largely ignored, both by the policy makers and the public at large. This not only includes the “talking heads” in the liberal media, but the best and brightest liberal minds at America’s colleges and universities, along with their flocks of weepy students who need safe spaces and feel that playing with puppies and play-doh is an appropriate response to disagreeable election results. What pray tell will become of the hugely inflated egos of individuals like poor Noam Chomsky, who just yesterday declared that the “Republican Party has become the most dangerous organization in world history?” What will happen to the ideologically driven professional agitators with longstanding ties to the American Communist Party, and who trace their origins to their support for the Soviet invasion of Hungary?
Our guess is that they’ll all continue to stomp their feet and make fools of themselves. They’ll threaten violence and promise revolution but, in the end, will deliver mere theater and inconvenience. They insisted for months that the real threat Trump posed was that he would not accept the legitimacy of the American electoral system. But now that that system has delivered them a stunning defeat, they’re throwing their own temper tantrums. In the process, they’re convincing many people who didn’t vote for Trump that they should have, if only to ensure that these violent ignoramuses are kept as far away from power as possible. These delicate snowflakes will eventually tire of this macabre performance, particularly as their violent fantasies about a Trump presidency prove as ridiculous as everything else they do.
In the meantime, we suggest you enjoy the ride. Hope and change are in the air, at least for the time being.
There is no doubt that the political opposition remains formidable and that there is a serious risk that the Republicans will overreach. Moreover, the long-term, systemic problems facing the nation are equally formidable. The on-going clash between ruling class and country class isn’t going to dissipate simply because a billionaire businessman wrested the presidency from a mere hundred-millionaire politician. The hegemony of the administrative state isn’t going to vanish just because the nation elected a man from outside of government who scorns and derides the “rule of experts.” The inevitable pension catastrophe and the equally inevitable entitlement catastrophe aren’t going to solve themselves. The war over resources will continue to dominate governance at the state and local levels. And, of course, corruption in government and business will persist inexorably.
These and countless other systemic problems still plague the nation and will continue to affect the public policy process in dramatic and occasionally unforeseen ways. Whether or not they will have the potency to destroy the 45th president and his “revolution,” however, remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Copyright 2016. The Political Forum. 3350 Longview Ct., Lincoln NE 68506, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.