Making Trumpism Coherent

As far as #NeverTrump institutions on the right go, the most powerful would have to be The Wall Street Journal. Few people outside of right leaning political wonkiness read the National Review or The Weekly Standard. But the venerable WSJ is read by all sorts of business and other establishment types, giving that paper real heft to make their views known.  And they’ve been engaged in full blown warfare against Trump all year.  The hatred and bile towards Trump that drips from the Wall Street Journal editorial page is unprecedented. I’ve read their site online for years and just cannot recall this sort of attack against anyone on the left ever.  Maybe someone can correct me, but like with so many other things this Presidential year, we’re on new ground.

But there is one person on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board that is not simply interested in bombing Trump rallies then machine gunning any survivors.  This person wants to really understand what’s going on with the people who support Trump, and that person is former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.  Unlike her WSJ compatriots, Noonan has approached the rise of Trump with humility.  What did we miss?  How did things get this bad?  What we can do to fix it?  All good questions that the Republican establishment should have been asking for the past year instead of plotting various Jeb!/Cruz/Romney/French (David) coup d’etat’s.

Noonan asks again in this piece, A Party Divided, and None Too Soon.

The Beltway intelligentsia of the conservative movement continues to be upset about Mr. Trump’s coming nomination and claim they’d support him but they have to be able to sleep at night. They slept well enough through two unwon wars, the great recession, and the refusal of Republican and Democratic administrations to stop illegal immigration. In a typically evenhanded piece in National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru writes of conservative infighting. Most back Mr. Trump, but others, “especially among conservative writers, activists, and think-tankers,” vow they’ll never vote for him. “This debate splits people who have heretofore been friends with similar views on almost all issues, and who on each side have reasonable arguments to hand. It is therefore being conducted in a spirit of mutual rage, bitterness, and contempt.”

This tracks with my observations as well.  It’s less the political positions that separate the Trump/anti-Trump forces so much as where each person sits on the Red Pill/Blue Pill Conservative divide.  But make no mistake, there are political positions involved as well.  I’ve discussed the economic nationalism agenda that Trump brings before, but there hasn’t been much discussion of it as a movement other than in Alt Right circles.  That’s a territory that a Peggy Noonan would never venture into, but as an important member of the establishment, she knows people.

So she introduces the blog, Journal of American Greatness.  As Noonan gives their own description for themselves from their website:

Where they stand: “We support Trumpism, defined as secure borders, economic nationalism, interests-based foreign policy, and above all judging every government action through a single lens: does this help or harm Americans? For now, the principal vehicle of Trumpism is Trump.”

That is a description describes Trumpism as both conservative, and not conservative in the Bush/Ryan worldview. My suspicion is that these mystery bloggers are known writers and think tankers in the conservative intelligentsia, but obviously they can’t go public because, that’s a career death sentence.  Can you imagine a researcher at the Cato Institute or at The Weekly Standard coming out for Trump?  Maybe that’s why the Wall Street Journal didn’t allow a link to its site in Noonan’s original column in the WSJ.  They are certainly not going to encourage these kind of shenanigans.

But these are serious people, since they are capturing the eyes of Noonan, and some of them are probably names we would recognize.  Even noted anti-Trumper Jonah Goldberg referenced in a column an online discussion he had with one of the bloggers at the Journal of American Greatness.  Could there be a rapprochement between the two different sides of the Republican Civil War?

And then, the Journal of American Greatness shut down and deleted all of their posts.

Why did they do it?  It’s not hard to guess.   They were afraid of being doxxed and having their livelihoods destroyed.

And now, suddenly, they’re back; as JAG Recovered; returned with all of the previously deleted posts.  With the new website, they make clear how seriously they take their anonymity.

No, literally—who are you guys?

None of your damned business.

Why won’t you tell us?

Because the times are so corrupt that simply stating certain truths is enough to make one unemployable for life.

That’s a bit dramatic, isn’t it?

Ask Brendan Eich.

 

So they do have a point. But the long and short of Trumpism is that it’s simply Paleoconservatism, which got the boot from establishment conservatism when Pat Buchanan dissented on the Iraq War.  Turns, out, that’s what the Republican voter wanted all along, or else the Republican voter needed to see how bad things could really get before they would consider Paleoconservatism.

Well apparently we’re at that point.

But is it too late?  Probably so.  When people who want to write about such things are frightened of losing their jobs and livelihood merely for discussing issues like trade and immigration, then you’ve gone pretty far down the well.  There won’t be any big donors or institutions funding this, its people who are afraid of being outed and losing everything, and they will be attacked by forces of both the right and left.  Still, I’m glad that at least some people are trying.  Keep your heads low guys!

 

 

The Slow Death of Conservatism

It’s more with sadness than with anger that I note the passing of movement conservatism.  It had a good run boys!  But alas, it was sabotaged from within and without both the conservative movement and the Republican Party, the allegedly titular “conservative” political party, which had been running a pretty successful shell game with conservatives; at least until recently.  “Hey just elect us and tax cuts, balanced budgets, strong on defense, rinse and repeat…”  So Conservatives dutifully voted Republican.  And they did a pretty good job at it too.  The Congress hasn’t been this Republican since before the Great Depression. And just look at all the conservative initiatives that have made it through Congress…

Oh yeah.

Mark Steyn wrote a sobering piece about just this thing, The World They Made. I highly recommend it.  Steyn riffs of a Rush Limbaugh monologue about an article from The Week which detailed an eerily prescient article by an old Pat Buchanan advisor who predicted the rise of Donald Trump, or at least Trumpism.  It’s unclear if he had a specific person in mind. But the author, Sam Francis wrote in 1996:

“…the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives.” 

Pretty good guess for a 20 year old prediction, and as I noted last July after Trump announced, the signature item of note from his agenda was nationalism, specifically a kind of put-America-first old fashioned economic nationalism. That’s finally taken root to the extent that, as Steyn notes:

“Rush’s view is that “nationalism and populism have overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal” – ie, that there are insufficient takers for conservatism. It comes to something when the nation’s Number One conservative talk-show host is putting it that way, but you can see what he’s getting at.”

And in the still not getting it department comes The National Review.  I have a lot of affection for the National Review.  It was one of the first conservative publications I stumbled across in college, and I’ve read and occasionally subscribed to it since then.  But the spasmodic reaction to Trump over the past 6 months makes me wonder how I can have a better understanding of the conservative movement, and what the attraction of economic nationalism is then “Professional” conservatives who are supposed to be well inculcated into the movement.  How could they not see this coming?

 

Now the magazine has gone into full scale attack mode against Donald Trump, featuring a special issue dedicated to attacking Trump.  The charge of course is that Trump is not a real conservative, which is surprising considering how many moderates the magazine has endorsed for President because “we want to win.”  This time, to Conservative Inc and GOP Inc, losing looks like the far preferable option.

I’ve never seen anything like this.  History will record this as a major battle in the Republican Civil War, but there may not be any winners in this war.

At least on the Right.

 

A Prediction for Europe

Most of the time (and by most I mean 99% of the time) discussing politics on an online forum is a waste of time and effort.  I still plead guilty however.

Ehhh…it’s a hobby.

But occasionally something worthwhile turns up.  I was discussing the future of the West with a Sunni Muslim from the Middle East who has a view of Western decline very similar to a Pat Buchanan style Paleoconservative; the decline of religion and morality in the West will chip away at Western institutions until they crumble.  He has his own version of a life boat, Ta Da!  Islam will ride in and save the day!   I don’t think Islam is as much riding in as boating and walking in.  Nor do I view it as saving the day. That’s more like my version of dystopia, as if Charlton Heston looks up from the beach and sees a giant Minaret.

But before Islam establishes its glorious new world order in Europe, he envisioned a  “bounce back” and revival of Christianity; however briefly.  I was surprised at his theory, because it parallels one that I’ve had for years regarding the future of Europe.

Basically what I’ve envisioned is this:

The demographic and Islamic conversion in Europe will continue, but as the percentages of Muslims grow they will flex their political muscle and slowly remake their societies in an Islamic image. Muslims are about 5% in the UK and about 7% in France, but what happens when they’re 25 and 27 percent?  Either one or more of the current political parties will Islamicize or there will be new Islamic political parties that will share power (if you are at all familiar with the plot of Houellebecq’s Submission you basically know how that will work).

Eventually Europeans, and by that I mean the native peoples who are by and large Christian, whether devout or not, will have a WTF moment, and realize that if they don’t do anything to stop the trend, the outcome is becoming a minority in their own countries, with all the joy that being a non Muslim minority in a Muslim majority country brings.  That’s when you have civil war.  Imagine Yugoslavia, spread out across the continent.

But I can’t imagine that happening until it’s too late to do anything about it. And I don’t think it will necessarily bring a rebirth of Christianity with it, although it could.

Do I think anything could put a stop to this sort of future?  I think that moment has passed. Very notable with last week’s Trump proposal to ban Muslims, European politicians criticized Trump on that, something I think is pretty much unprecedented for European politicians to do; criticize an American Presidential candidate who hasn’t even won the nomination yet.  The fact that they would do that is more than just signaling how morally upright they are, it’s a political signaling too to their own constituencies.  For Europeans, it’s already too late to ban Muslim immigration.  They are already too large a part of the European electorate.  President Hollande vowed to take in even more Syrian refugees.  That will show ISIS!

So long term, eventually you have a Muslim Western Europe, at least as far as political power goes.  That doesn’t mean that even the majority in those countries would necessarily be Muslims, but it seems unlikely they could unite in any meaningful way. Those things only seem to become possible and thinkable when it’s already too late.

 

 

Why Is Rubio in the Gang of 8?

Contrary to popular opinion, both in the national press and in the Republican Party, the conservative movement is split on the amnesty issue.  Just cast your mind all the way back to…last year.  During the Republican Primary battles, all of the conservative candidates were in favor of some version of amnesty.  The single hold out?  Mitt Romney, the “moderate.”

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House a...

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it’s a confusing battle space that has anti tax activist Grover Norquist on the same side as liberal Senator Chuck Schumer, and moderate, establishment Republican columnist David Frum on the anti amnesty side while traditional conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer is pro amnesty.  On the talk radio side the views are more what you would expect, Rush Limbaugh  and Mark Levin are reliably anti-amnesty, however Sean Hannity switched sides after the election and now supports amnesty (although he is still cagey about it).  Otherwise, things are more what you would expect from a conservative split on immigration.  The neo-cons are pro amnesty (think William Kristol) and the paleo-cons are anti (think Pat Buchanan).

So where does that leave Tea Party darling Marco Rubio?  Square in the middle.

Rubio is a real conservative.  I’ve listened to enough politicians talk to know when they are the real deal and when they are just using the conservative movement to advance their own careers  *cough* Newt Gingrich* cough.

Rubio has long been a supporter of some variation of the Dream Act, which are a series of proposals to legalize illegal aliens brought over as children.  Given that as children they didn’t really have a choice about crossing the border illegally; it’s fairly easy to make the moral case to anti-amnesty conservatives for creating some mechanism for them to stay, after border security.  But it was a shock when he joined in with a group of liberal Senators and pro-amnesty Republicans, the Gang of 8, to craft a comprehensive immigration bill.

First, it was a shock that after the disaster of Obamacare, any Republican Senator would try to make common cause on a bill that intends to be “comprehensive.”  For conservatives, comprehensive is code word for cramming as much crap as possible into a massive bill and hope no one notices what’s in it.  The purpose of comprehensive bills is to slide revolting items through the process that would never pass on their own.  Of course, in the case of the immigration bill, the sole purpose is to get amnesty through.  Everything else in the bill is a sweetener to buy votes for amnesty, even though there are plenty of real, needed issues that need to be worked on.  Instead, nothing is more important than amnesty.  Steve Jobs found this out while trying to convince President Obama to loosen up on the H1-B Visa program.  From the Wall Street Journal:

According to Mr. Isaacson, Jobs “stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign students who earned an engineering degree in the U.S. should be given a visa to stay in the country.” The president reportedly replied that this would have to await broader immigration reform, which he said he was unable to accomplish.

“Jobs found this an annoying example of how politics can lead to paralysis,” Mr. Isaacson writes. “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done,” Jobs said. “It infuriates me.”

A simple bill to allow graduates of US schools to get a Visa would enjoy large bipartisan support and would pass easily.   So therefore we can’t allow it until we make sure we drag 11 million other people along with them!

So now Rubio is stuck riding this tiger all the way to completion.  Meanwhile, his reputation will be marred by every little crazy line item that is stuck in the bill, such as the one creating a biometric data base of all US adults.  So why would he join in with the Gang of 8?  How could this benefit him?

Just a couple of ideas and I don’t know if any of them are close to the mark:

+             He knows it won’t pass and just wants to build up some “moderate cred” for 2016.

+             He’s inexperienced and doesn’t realize  that Schumer and his gang are taking him for a ride.

+             He’s extremely experienced (a former Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature) and he’s playing the Gang of 8 by trying to “cooperate” up to the point that he can exploit the weaknesses of the bill and then blame the Senate Democrats and the Obama administration for sabotaging the bill with poison pills to keep the bill from passing and keep it as a political issue.

I’m sure there are probably many more possible reasons, but I don’t see any way for this to end well for Rubio’s political future other than at some point he disowns the bill.  If he doesn’t and ends up voting for whatever monstrosity slithers out of the Senate, than Rubio’s reputation will be damaged.  To conservatives, he will be a traitor, and to liberals he’ll be a gullible fool.

Which pill will he choose?  The red or the blue one?

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