As we enter yet another day of unhinged, unsupported attacks on the president, it is a good time to take a moment to analyze where the motivations on both sides are. Those on the left, with their core of true believers in the legacy media, see themselves as fighting a heroic resistance battle.
After all, Donald Trump is Darth Vader and the Republicans constitute the Empire, right? Trump and Trumpkins constitute the institutional embodiment of the dark side, the willing and/or unknowing advocates of evil on Earth. Leftist icon Noam Chomsky made this explicit in a May 11 interview with the BBC. Chomsky claimed President Trump and Republicans are a greater threat to the world than North Korea or ISIS. They are, he said, “dedicated to destroying the prospects for organized human existence.” These sentiments are shared by a lot of people, both in and out of positions of power in the Democratic Party.
Of course, this is ridiculous, but what inspires or explains it? The progressive movement has successfully re-defined what liberty means in the minds of so many Americans. Most people do not understand that liberty comes from the recognition and institutional protection of natural rights. Instead they simply believe in the power of “democracy” and “equality,” untethered to any universal truths. It is a kind of spiritual worship of willfulness. They believe that humanity itself is possible of greatness, if only we would trust the wisest and most educated to run everyone’s lives. There is no place for God or for the need of the individual will in the face of these new truths.
The great founding ideals of the United States have been under attack for more than a century. In 1907, future President Woodrow Wilson wrote of the natural rights foundation of the Declaration of Independence:
Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us.
Franklin Roosevelt makes clear that these progressive ideas are foundation of the New Deal in his 1944 State of the Union:
[T]hese political rights [natural rights] proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
Roosevelt argued that the American founding, and a liberty based on natural rights, had become outdated. To the progressive there is no eternal truth. That is why religion is often viewed as a regressive, hostile force in opposition to the natural progress, and inevitable perfection of man. And since then, progressive have more or less assumed that the battle to replace the founding ideals with these notions of progress was over. Republicans might push back around the edges. But there was no serious fundamental opposition.
Donald Trump stands against this progressive ascendancy like no leader since Ronald Reagan. He is unashamed to revere the founding principles that made our nation great. And people who paid no attention to other Republican politicians cheered him. He resonated with something deep in them.
Let’s look at what he’s done and started doing in the first months of his administration. He has replaced the greatest voice for founding values on the Supreme Court in Antonin Scalia with an equally strong voice in Neil Gorsuch. He has ordered a comprehensive review to eliminate redundant, ineffectual, and counterproductive bureaucracies. He has placed his crosshairs particularly on the Environmental Protection Agency, with its reckless record of violating private property rights in the name of justice and equality far removed from its mission to protect the environment. He has ended its ability to propagate and publicize radical climate theories. He is working to simplify the tax code and business regulation in order to empower the private sector.
President Trump is proud of American history and unashamed to assert U.S. sovereignty in immigration, trade, and national defense policies. He refuses to submit to guilt mongering. Trump understands the founding principle of the value of individual, natural rights. It is this foundation that is essential for real liberty to exist.
This is what the progressive cannot understand. As Calvin Coolidge said on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1926, “Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments.” This is the anti-progressive notion that individuals are the key to collective liberty. Coolidge goes on to assert that which is universal is unchangeable, regardless of time or technology,
No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Trump refutes the progressive narrative at every opportunity. This is where his conflict with the mass media has its roots. To the media, the progressive vision is unquestionable. To disagree is heresy. What do you do with heretics? Burn them. The fear of this virtual burning has cowered generations of conservative politicians. Trump is the rare politician who has no fear of the media. He can go home to his private life comfortably at any time; they have no power to destroy him. The media left does not know how to handle its impotence, and lashes out in more and more vicious attacks, regardless if they are supportable.
These aggrieved progressives also cannot understand how principled, religious conservatives can support Donald Trump on personal grounds. He is Darth Vader, right? How can good people support the dark lord? It is because he is willing to fight the progressive ascendancy, and can do so effectively that conservatives support him. Those people must be hypocrites.
Darth Vader is the wrong Star Wars analogy. Donald Trump is Han Solo, not Darth Vader. Han Solo was a scoundrel. He was a cutthroat capitalist, looking only to make money. He was willing to disobey Imperial law, he associated with gangsters and smuggled goods. Han Solo was good at looking after himself. He didn’t believe in the Force, light or dark. But circumstances changed his mission. He became a champion for good, a revolutionary vital to overthrowing the evil order he had never given much thought about before.
Trump’s agenda is the restoration of founding values. True conservatives are willing to tolerate and support a foul-mouthed, twice-divorced man of questionable character and personal values because of what he has come to represent, not for what he permitted or engaged in in the past.
The progressive battle against him has become a battle to the death over questioning progressivism itself. If they defeat Trump, no one will dare question the truth of progressivism again. Identity politics will be here to stay, the cult of victimhood our nationally established religion. The devaluation of private property and personal liberty in the name of equality will be back with a vengeance.
A victory of the Trump agenda will mean a real debate about what American liberty means once again. It may not result in a wholesale return to the values of the founders, but it is the last, best chance for it to happen. Help us Donald Trump, you’re our only hope.