Donald Trump and the Future of MAGA

Donald Trump and the Future of MAGA. By Thelonious.

On his signature issues of immigration, trade, and foreign policy, Trump blew up the two-party orthodoxy that had reigned in Washington for decades. Despite a lack of any discernible popular support, the GOP and Democratic establishments had settled into a broad, corporate-backed consensus in favor of virtually unrestricted immigration, “trade agreements” that subsidized the mass movement of U.S. manufacturing overseas and the mass importation of cheap foreign goods (often the products of slave labor), and interventionist adventurism abroad. Any dissent from this consensus was marginalized swiftly and aggressively by the establishment enforcers of both major parties, with heretics labeled as extremists, lunatics, or both.

Within a matter of months, Donald Trump demonstrated that this seemingly unassailable establishment consensus was, in reality, a paper tiger. Outside of the Washington Beltway, the agenda of open borders, “free trade” with an increasingly dominant and aggressive Communist China, and endless wars abroad, enjoys virtually no popular support. While the D.C.-centric constituencies promoting these policies — deep state bureaucrats, special interest lobbyists, and defense contractors — profited enormously from this general agreement among the ruling class that brooked no dissent, the interests of average Americans oppressed and abused by the elite agenda went almost entirely unrepresented in Washington.

The interests of the bureaucratic ruling class diverge markedly from the rest of us:

Trump exposed the rot of America’s most revered and powerful institutions so thoroughly and dramatically that any remaining pretense of integrity and competence they retained became utterly implausible.

  • The relentless promotion of anti-Trump narratives, however fraudulent or absurd, permanently broke the mainstream corporate media, demolishing their credibility in the eyes of all objective observers.
  • The vaunted and powerful “intelligence community” was exposed as a thoroughly politicized bureaucracy, capable of massive fraud, propaganda, and media manipulation to advance the purely political end of deposing a president who threatened their preferred narrative and policies.
  • Although it has long been apparent to many that the education establishment, both at the university and public school levels, is a breeding ground for political correctness and the suppression of speech under the guises of “diversity” and “inclusivity,” the Trump presidency divulged a level of ideological zealotry in the endless promotion of racial grievance and identity politics on the part of educators that was hitherto unimagined.

Why Trump failed to accomplish much, despite so much popular support:

But in terms of implementing the populist, nationalist agenda Trump brought to victory against all odds, his administration was a dismal failure in most respects.

On issue after issue, Trump was continually confounded and outmaneuvered by opponents of his agenda, even when the GOP retained a majority in both the House and Senate during the administration’s first two years. ...

If personnel is policy, Trump made the fundamental and unforgivable error of farming out the staffing of his administration to people and entities (Chris Christie, Mike Pence, the Heritage Foundation) in fundamental disagreement with his agenda on every one of his key issues. … Trump was constantly surrounded by people looking for ways not to carry out the agenda he had been elected to implement. …

His experience in business may have led Trump to believe that, as the country’s new CEO, his underlings, dependent on his support and patronage no matter their ideology, would do his bidding. Anyone with the least familiarity with how things work in Washington immediately grasps just how absurdly naïve that view is.

Deep state bureaucrats ensconced in the various federal agencies have long made a profession of putting up administrative and procedural barriers to any reforms being pushed by the White House, and they know how to operate the bureaucracy. They are prepared to wait it out as long as necessary until the storm passes, knowing that they are playing a long game.

Trump evinced his naïveté early on in the administration when he answered questions about the relatively slow pace of political appointments to the executive branch compared with Obama by saying “You know, we have so many people in government . . . I look at some of the jobs and it’s people over people over people. I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.” Savvy advocates of critical reform of federal agencies, realizing that any attempt to tame those agencies would be dependent on absolutely flooding the departments with political appointments in order to exert control, were shocked at the approach, convinced that it meant unconditional surrender before the battle was even engaged.

That election:

During the summer of 2020, Democratic Party operatives like Marc Elias were working feverishly at the state level to dramatically loosen voting procedures and ballot security using COVID as an excuse, imposing universal absentee ballot distribution and expansion of voting days by means of court orders and gubernatorial dictat rather than through the state legislatures that retained the constitutional obligation to approve all changes in voting procedure.

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale (recruited by Jared Kushner), took precisely zero measures and spent no resources to insure ballot security in November, failing to head off the train wreck of an unprecedented number of absentee ballots being distributed in Democratic states and cities, usually without being requested by voters.

Trump predicted fraud, but neither he nor his campaign took effective measures to push back against the new voting procedures. Parscale appeared more concerned about funding his conspicuously extravagant lifestyle than he was about heading off the most predictable election steal in history.

With Trump’s biggest political plus — the robust economy — effectively neutralized by the severe economic impact of the lockdowns, the approaching election that had looked like a potential blowout just 10 months before became close enough to steal in the Democratic-controlled major cities of the crucial swing states. And that’s just what happened.

Trump’s supporters saw blatant thievery happening in real time as polling places in Democratic-controlled cities of crucial swing states unprecedentedly shut down the vote count (in seemingly coordinated fashion) on election night and vote counts were extended for days — because of absentee ballots — to make up for Trump’s swing state margins of victory.

After Biden and the Democratic Party’s media lackeys called the election for Sleepy Joe, Trump’s supporters — with the candidate’s encouragement — rallied in the contested states demanding audits and investigations, hoping against hope that something could be done to reverse the steal. Predictably, courts wanted to stay as far away as possible from the political controversy, taking the view that enacting measures to prevent fraud is the responsibility of political parties and candidates and that reversing election outcomes would be politically toxic for the judiciary.

It all came to a head on January 6, with what now looks like a classic setup of Trump supporters by intelligence agencies and Democratic law enforcement. A year later, as some of those loyal supporters continue to rot in jail as political prisoners awaiting trial, Trump continues to complain about the stolen election but hasn’t lifted a finger to help his persecuted followers, other than to fundraise off of them.

What next for the Trump and the classes that voted for him?

With the Biden Administration in freefall and Trump contemplating what now appears an entirely plausible political comeback, it is time for serious proponents of the MAGA agenda to consider whether he is the most effective vehicle to advance that agenda.

Arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, there is little indication that he has learned any actual lessons from his experience of serial betrayal and sabotage of his priorities during the tumultuous four years of his presidency. …

Back at Mar-a-Lago, things seem largely the same with Donald J. Trump. Jared and Ivanka are evidently still as influential as ever with the old man, despite the debacles of 2020. …

Brad Parscale is back in the inner circle, angling at another senior campaign position, apparently failing up after the malpractice of his 2020 campaign management. …

Trump genuinely doesn’t appear to grasp the gravity of the historical moment we are now in. It is a moment in which authoritarians in governor’s mansions across the nation have used “emergency health measures” to seize an unprecedented degree of arbitrary power, issuing mandates that have largely done away with the constitutional rights of their citizens to worship, assemble, and conduct business. …

It is a precarious moment, not so much for Donald Trump as for the people who supported him.

Trump broke the Republican establishment mold in many ways … He showed there is a huge constituency of American voters looking for political leaders who will stand up unapologetically for their interests and call out those forces (including big corporations) working to destroy our civilization, without fear of offending the bland, poll-tested orthodoxies of the political consultants and the donor class.

Ron DeSantis is the obvious next choice.