When Democracy Fails to Deliver

When Democracy Fails to Deliver, by Pat Buchanan.

In 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected president when a spirit of rebellion against America’s failed elites roiled both parties. Both the Trump campaign and the Ted Cruz campaign, which ran second in the Republican race, offered anti-establishment ideas. So, too, did the Bernie Sanders campaign in the Democratic primaries.

Trump’s defining agenda was basically this:

He would build a wall across the Mexican border to halt the flood of illegal migrants. He would extricate us from the half dozen Middle East wars into which Bush II and Obama had plunged us.

He would abrogate the trade deals that had seen imports from NAFTA nations, China, the EU and Japan replace goods made in the USA. He would halt the shuttering of tens of thousands of U.S. factories and the hemorrhaging of millions of manufacturing jobs.

He would call off the new cold war with Russia.

Halfway through this presidential term, where are we?

Part of the U.S. government has been shut down for a month. The wall has not been built and may never be. President Trump’s decision to pull 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria has met massive resistance from our foreign policy establishment. Trump is being pushed to confront Russia from the Baltic to the Black Sea and to trash the intermediate-range nuclear missile treaty that Ronald Reagan negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev.

And we are being pushed toward a new Mideast war with Iran.

This was the establishment’s agenda, not Trump’s.

Likewise Brexit. Can democracy work for the non-left anymore, or only for the left?

While populists have won elections and carried out peaceful revolutions, often the policies for which they have successfully worked are never implemented.

In the 1975 book “Conservative Votes, Liberal Victories: Why the Right Has Failed,” this writer sought to explore and explain the forces that so often deny the right the policy fruits of its political victories.

Foremost among these was “the New Journalism.”

The essence of press power lies in the authority to select, elevate and promote one set of ideas, issues, and personalities and to ignore others,” this writer wrote. “The press determines what ‘people will talk and think about’ because of the monopoly it holds over the news and information flowing out of Washington.”

Among the reasons for Trump’s political success, such as it is, is that today’s conservative media did not exist back then, nor did the new social media that he has mastered so well.

Yet still, the left’s power over America’s character- and culture-forming institutions remains overwhelming. It dominates public schools and teachers unions, mainstream churches, college and university faculties, media and entertainment, TV and film.

The media sets the agenda and lies by omission, which is enough to steer the public conversation. See here on the ABC for a detailed case study. Does this mean democracy is kind of dead?