Donald Trump continues to recover in the polls (RCP average -3.9 at this wr) from a low following Hillary Clinton’s convention bounce and a series of missteps by the unconventional GOP candidate. The media, which have largely abandoned any pretense of impartiality, have elevated Trump’s defeat over pursuit of the facts. What then explains the growing appeal of this admittedly unusual candidacy?
First, decades of identity politics, political correctness, and national self-loathing—nursed initially in the universities, then fostered in the media and brought to maturity in the government—have come to fruition.
The critique long made of identity politics has proven as true as it is obvious. Identity politics is self-contradictory. It must without any rational basis exempt certain classes from its own claims, otherwise every class is free to adopt any identity and promote it without regard for the welfare of others. The attempt to transcend a universal understanding of human happiness and justice with power and identity—whether by race, gender or class—reduces politics to the interest of the stronger. Identity politics as such is incompatible with self-government, which depends on broad individual participation in political life rooted in public deliberation about a common good.
The reasoning of identity politics is not new. It is scarcely distinguishable from Stephen Douglas’s “popular sovereignty” in 1858. Douglas argued against Lincoln and the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Douglas’s answer to slavery agitation and the expansion of slavery in the territories lay in the people of the territories simply voting slavery up or down. He didn’t care which way they voted, he declared, having no regard for the people who might be enslaved as a result of those votes.
The Democratic identity politics coalition proposes vote for globalism and an administrative state that favors technocratic elites and their identity group allies without regard to the welfare of a large minority. In essence, identity politics is like Douglas’ popular sovereignty. Let globalism, open borders and the welfare state be voted up or down. Identity politics doesn’t care what the excluded classes—the underemployed, the hillbillies and bitter clingers, or the members of the wrong race—have to suffer for it.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is popular because it shocks people from the daze of bad teaching about identity, power, globalism and the administrative state. It reveals what identity politics actually means—unfettered tribalism. Everyone is equally capable of identifying themselves as having an interest apart from the whole, and all such identifications, whether black or white or rich or poor, are equally repugnant.
Opposed to identity politics is an American nationalism rooted in the Declaration of Independence, and Donald Trump’s candidacy—whether or not perfect—is the vehicle for it. It is not racist but rather a recognition that democratic self-government cannot be a selfish fight for power, but requires a deep love of country. It depends on a patriotic feeling to inspire citizens to participate in politics on the basis of public deliberation about the good of the whole, not one or more groups or classes. The flag waving and, yes, standing for the National Anthem, serves a critical purpose.
Along with American nationalism, Trump brings an outline of policies which are a repudiation of identity politics, although they are frequently interpreted by a biased media as an extension of it.
Immigration enforcement represents a rebuke of majority formation by the importation of new citizens to be groomed to vote according to identity. It also represents, along with an amendment of trade policies, a rejection of the importation of cheap labor and the export of jobs for the benefit of oligarchic interests at the expense of the middle class and poor.
Donald Trump’s superficial simplicity is a rebuke of the administrative state. Our laws should be no more complicated than an average man or woman can understand. Laws that are not widely understood may as well be written where no one can read them. The administrative state and its elites depend on the characterization of every problem as too complex and too nuanced for the average man or woman to understand, and if too complex for them to understand, too complex for public deliberation over the right policies.
This is the essence of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Our legislators did not read it because even they could not understand it. They said so. Their proudly mendacious million-dollar consultants said so. Even the Supreme Court said so. This is the cause of its failure. It is a disgrace of self-government, and Trump is a walking repudiation of it—as is every ordinary, competent man and woman.
Second, while the media portrays Donald Trump as as vulgar, uninformed, incompetent, authoritarian, racist, fascist and a threat to the nation’s survival, the public is well aware of a genuine threat to liberty and the survival of the republic: Hillary Clinton sells offices.
Trump has been in private life his whole career. There is almost no vice that Trump could possess that exceeds Clinton’s known public vices. In light of her history—one that she has created for herself through many poor choices over a long time—it is unreasonable to expect that Clinton will do anything other than sell the office of the presidency. It is not merely a hypothetical risk. The past is full of facts. It is, as the science people like to remind us, a data-based prediction.
The hand-wringers of the #NeverTrump campaign and fair-minded Democrats are obliged to confront this bare reality. There is no reasonable argument that should Clinton become president she would refrain from selling the office. There is no reasonable argument that the sale of the office of the President would not leave lasting, probably irreparable, damage to the United States.
Would Trump would be an even worse steward of the office? The only evidence of the “fact” is the distaste of elites for an unconventional candidate whom they say plays to the lowest common denominator. He is insufficiently urbane.
Hillary Clinton is urbane. She has a Yale law degree and has been abreast of or in high offices for more than 40 years. She is a student of Saul Alinsky, a high-priestess of globalism, and dogmatically commited to blurring that which makes nationhood and self-government possible, the distinction of citizen and foreigner. Aside from gender identity politics—her supporters chant the glass ceiling mantra—for what is she best known? There are no legislative or policy achievements on her record. She is known for the sale of offices, not infrequently to foreign concerns.
The American people are asked to choose between two candidates. One is an unconventional candidate, an American nationalist with common tastes and lowbrow remarks, delivered with energy and without fear of criticism. The other is urbane and conventional, painfully measured and PC, a dogmatic globalist, a gender-identity politician, tired from years of peddling the sacred trust of the American people.
Simony is the sale of ecclesiastical offices. In Dante’s Inferno it is an Eighth Circle sin, punished alongside the grafters. Hillary Clinton is a recidivist grafter and a simoniac of the church of globalism and identity politics. There is no flaw of Donald Trump that compares.