What Is Trump To Us?

What Is Trump To Us? By Angelo Codevilla.

Donald Trump became the political vehicle for the American people’s resentment of an overweening, corrupt ruling class. Trump’s invaluable contribution to the Republic was to lead Americans publicly to disrespect that class.

Americans elected Trump to preserve freedoms and prosperity against the encroachments of that class. But instead, he became the catalyst by which that class cohered to transform the American Republic into an oligarchy.

During Trump’s presidency, more wealth passed from ordinary Americans to oligarchs, and more freedoms were lost than anyone imagined possible. As we consider how to remedy these losses, Trump’s fateful combination of things said and unsaid, of things done and not done, must be part of our search for the persons and policies most likely to lead republican Americans out of our quandary.

In 2015 and 2016, candidate Trump’s disrespectful, disdainful attitude toward the ruling class put him at the head of presidential preference polls ab initio, and kept him there. Throughout the campaign, he said little of substance — just enough to give the impression that he was on the side of conservatives on just about everything. His leitmotif was “I despise those whom you despise because they despise you. I’m on your side, America’s side.”

Trump promised to “make America great again,” but did not explain what had made it great in the first place nor how to restore it. Never a religious person, and one who had once expressed support for abortion, Trump delivered more stirring thoughts on religious freedom and the right to life than any candidate ever, including Ronald Reagan. …

[Trump’s] voters knew that hatred for the ruling class — not Trump himself — was why they supported him. It was about themselves, not Trump. The ruling class knew it, too. That is why, for most of the past six years, it brayed so much disdain from every available venue on him personally, trying to convince at least some of his followers that he is unworthy of decent people’s allegiance.

It’s about class, money, and power, and how that money is obtained. Do not lost sight of that, even if the left is tearing a multiracial society apart with anti-white racism and pro-black tribalism.

Trump’s peculiarities made it possible for the oligarchy to give the impression that its campaign was about his person, his public flouting of conventional norms, rather than about the preservation of their own power and wealth. The principal consequence of the ruling class’ opposition to candidate Trump was to convince itself, and then its followers, that defeating him was so important that it legitimized, indeed dictated, setting aside all laws, and truth itself.

But by all that unanimity, all that effort and vehemence, the ruling class showed that its real target could not have been one pudgy, orange-haired septuagenarian. No. Its target, its enemy, that they denigrated and wished to constrain if not destroy, was nothing less than the traditional America that they did not entirely control.

 

 

How Trump failed:

[Trump displayed] what Theodore Roosevelt had called the most self-destructive of habits: combining “the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.”

Trump denounced his and his supporters’ enemies, though seldom giving specific reasons for the criticism, while suffering rather than hurting them, motivating them to do their worst, and letting them do so with impunity. …

Suffice it to say, within a month of President Trump’s inauguration, few if any in Washington were afraid of him. At the same time, those who had voted for Trump were having their lives increasingly restricted. …

Blaming Trump for the ruling class’ oligarchic seizure of power makes no sense. But that seizure became possible only because Trump was who he was and acted as he did. …

This is an especially crucial point about the intelligence agencies, the enmity of which there was never any doubt: He criticized officials over whom he had absolute power, but left them in office. Even without considering that the majority of Trump appointees were hostile to him and his constituents, the fact that he filled scarcely more than a quarter of executive positions certifies that there hardly ever was a Trump Administration. …

Again and again, Trump signed mammoth spending bills that contained the Democratic Party’s wish lists, having promised not to, vowing never to do it again, and then doing it again.

By creating trillions of dollars in debt, which the Federal Reserve monetizes and channels through financial institutions, Trump was the sine qua non of the financialization that has transferred wealth from Main Street — which voted for Trump — to Wall Street, which is part and parcel of the ruling class. Trump also left untouched the tax code’s “carried interest” provision that is the source of much of the financial sector’s unearned wealth.

As Google, Facebook, and Twitter increasingly squeezed conservative content to the cyberworld’s sidelines, Trump railed against Section 230 of the Communications Act that lets them do it with impunity, but did nothing that would stop them, or subject them to lawsuits. …

Trump shared his voters’ resentment of, for example, being ordered to attend workplace sessions about their “racism.” But not until his last months in office did he ban the practice within the federal government. Never did he ban contracts with companies that require such sessions. Never did he try to insert a ban on such practices into spending bills. Hence, even the U.S. armed forces became his voters’ enemies. …

Who next?

Whoever would lead republican America going forward must reinvigorate Donald Trump’s priceless legacy: rhetorical disrespect of the ruling class. But Trump’s rhetorical leadership was not sufficient. …

As it turns out, these government elites and government-certified experts have been disastrously wrong and corrupt. … Resting their authority on claims to “expertise” as they did under Trump, those in charge of our institutions eliminated objective standards about what that is. They perverted “merit” by declaring competitive exams to be racist. But they are not about race any more than about excellence. They are about seizing power. Now, republican America must treat them as the enemies they are. …

America’s problem with “merit” and “expertise” starts at the top, with the unwarranted credit given to Ivy League and other “highly selective” schools. But these, preferring compatibility to excellence, admit many students with lower scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. In general, and with the exception of the “hard” sciences, the more highly rated the college, the less work it expects from its students. Hence they confer prestige, pretentiousness, and access to enviable careers to graduates who often know less than the kids out of Podunk State. This results in a progressive, negative selection of elites. Post-Trump leaders can lead Americans to end this by hiring — and urging others to hire — on the basis of exams rather than pedigrees.

In other words, inject objective talent back into the group of people selected to rule.