A Movement of A People: Trumpism as the New Exodus

By | 2017-06-26T08:00:08+00:00 June 21st, 2017|
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Exodus. It is 1,500 B.C. It is a hot day east of Memphis at the edge of the waters. With the Egyptian army at their backs and the sea in front of them, certain of the Hebrews hesitate.

“Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”

America today is in Egypt. The great industry of ordinary men and women has been idled to fill the granaries of the administrative state with the fruits of globalism. The misery of this once enviable middle class—now the working (when it can) poor—is plain to see in statistics of opiate addiction, broken and half-formed households, failing education, and retreating health.

Trumpism is not an exodus to a new land, of course. America remains the Promised Land. Still, Trumpism no less overturns the order of the administrative state than the exodus of the Hebrew slaves overturned the order of Rameses.

Here we find ourselves, at the brink of the curling, salty waves. #NeverTrump conservatives, who trust not, hesitate before the waters. They long for reconciliation with Egypt. They fear they might die in the desert, on the way to a rebirth of self-government.


“What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people.” —Donald J. Trump, Inaugural Address.

Let the American people go, Trump says. But the heart of the administrative state, at one time at least theatrically committed to elections, has hardened. And just as the armies of Egypt pursued the departing sons and daughters of Abraham, the security and prosecutorial apparatus of the administrative state pursues the voters that cast ballots for Trump, hoping to restore their docile submission, by removing a President from office.

Here we find ourselves, at the brink of the curling, salty waves. #NeverTrump conservatives, who trust not, hesitate before the waters. They long for reconciliation with Egypt. They fear they might die in the desert, on the way to a rebirth of self-government.

The man who has brought them to the shore in the swelter of eastern Egypt has caused all this trouble. Don’t speak of the Promised Land, where it is, and how to get there.

Instead, #NeverTrump conservatives murmur: Trump is not eloquent and married thrice. He joked about shooting a man in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

There is truly nothing new under the Sun. Moses was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Exodus 4:10 He had a Midian wife, whom he divorced. Exodus 18:2 Moses murdered an Egyptian. Exodus 2:11-15.

#NeverTrump conservatives say they want someone else to lead them out of Egypt, a career politician—maybe a Cruz or a Rubio, someone, anyone but . . . him. They want an Egyptian. It is an impossible wish.

President Trump’s crudely fashioned extemporaneous remarks and Twitter habits, feed their discontents as they overlook the audience, imagining it must be themselves. They long for the orderly everyday elocution of Egypt, for which they have acquired a taste.

The call of Egypt is strong. When #NeverTrump conservatives lament a rude utterance or tweet, they signal they prefer the turgid and obfuscating speech that is itself a product of the culture of the administrative state. This has become confused with high discourse.

These modern speeches remind one of Edward Everett’s endless word train delivered at Gettysburg, and how Lincoln’s ten sentences were dismissed.

President Trump’s crudely fashioned extemporaneous remarks and Twitter habits, feed their discontents as they overlook the audience, imagining it must be themselves. They long for the orderly everyday elocution of Egypt, for which they have acquired a taste.


Yes, #NeverTrump friends forget Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg flopped. He didn’t even get a “He became President today” from the #NeverLincoln crowd. The Harrisburg Patriot & Union wrote:

“We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.”

Lincoln had few friends in 1863. He ran a disorderly White House, with an undisciplined child hanging about his neck (while he worked!) and scream-fests with Mary Todd. He was known for vulgar jokes, in which he delighted, to the shock of New England prudes, who figured good Christian abolitionist style abjured scatological humor.

Lincoln’s America too was stuck in Egypt. It was deeply sick, divided over, of all things, whether property should exist in a man, and further divided between two amoralities: whether one shouldn’t care either way (Copperheads) and whether one should retreat from the abomination of slavery into the vanity of religious isolation (radical abolitionists).

Only a minority of the country was committed to union and the great moral struggle before it. It is a singular blessing that this rump of support for union did not mistake the rustic elements of Lincoln’s daily conduct for the meaningful struggle in which the nation was engaged. They pushed forward to a new birth of freedom.

Lincoln’s America too was stuck in Egypt. It was deeply sick, divided over, of all things, whether property should exist in a man, and further divided between two amoralities: whether one shouldn’t care either way (Copperheads) and whether one should retreat from the abomination of slavery into the vanity of religious isolation (radical abolitionists).


#Resistance and #NeverTrump conservatives parallel too the divisions of the Civil War. #Resistance is, obviously, the Democrats’ revival of the Rebel Yell. And #NeverTrump conservatives are either indifferent to the administrative state, as were Copperheads of Chicago and Detroit, or engaging in a cloistering pantomime unaware, as were the radical abolitionists of New England, that it is as impossible to escape moral struggle by being above it as it is by being indifferent to it.

And here we are, at the blistering margin of the Red Sea. The Egyptians are close behind.  3,500 years ago someone had to go first. According to the rabbinic midrash, Naashon went first, walking in head-deep until the waters parted, and the others followed. Today, a small number of scholars and writers and the dwindling American middle class have gone first. They are the Naashons of this movement.

Last night, Georgia’s 6th Congressional District and South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District followed. Time is running short to follow. Egypt is a false promise. We need your help, now. The waters and the Egyptians will not wait forever.

About the Author:

Jay Whig
J. Whig is an attorney practicing in New York and a resident of Connecticut specializing in insolvency and restructuring. Opinions are his own.