F.H. Buckley on ‘How Trump Won in Two Dimensions’

Author and law professor Frank Buckley joins American Greatness Publisher Chris Buskirk to discuss his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Listen to the interview and read the partial transcript, below.

Chris Buskirk: Hi I’m Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn. We are joined by Professor Frank Buckley. He is a professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law. That’s the Scalia School of Law. He’s also the author of a number of books, one of which . . . published last year, [is] called The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America. Frank, welcome to the show.

Frank Buckley: Chris, great to talk to you.

Buskirk: Thanks for coming on. Frank, you know, I was thinking about your last book, The Way Back, when I was reading the piece that you wrote for the Wall Street Journal yesterday, “How Trump Won in Two Dimensions.” I don’t know if you see it this way, but I saw a line or a connection between what you were writing about in the book and then how you thought about how Donald Trump won the election last year.

Buckley: Well I consider that incredibly astute of you.

Buskirk: Okay, well it’s not going to get any better than that. I guess we can conclude right there.

Buckley: Right, exactly. Yeah you know the book, which Trump praised, was one which said we have a real problem with mobility. We don’t have parents whose kids are going to be better off than they were, and I blamed it all on roughly things that the liberals wanted. You know, there are a lot of false explanations for what’s going on, but it really came down to things like immigration, terrible schools, terrible rule of law. And these are all things the liberals love. And that explained, I think, the Trump phenomenon. I mean, Trump loved the book, and my op-ed in the Wall Street Journal basically was simply something which added to it. What I noted was, you know, most Americans, most voters, they’re not right-wing crazies. You know? They’re middle of the road types. But they’re solidly patriotic Americans. And that’s the sort of thing that the liberal Democrats, basically the Democrats in general, simply haven’t gotten. I mean, they’ll talk about being patriotic but the point is they have a very, very, very narrow sense of their issues. They’re socially very, very liberal, and the problem is that excludes a whole bunch of Americans. Right? Unless you sign onto all of their issues, their social agenda, you’re going to be excluded.

Buskirk: Well we saw this with the young man at Google who wrote his internal memo at Google, talking about the stifling PC culture there and was promptly fired for it.

Buckley: Yeah, really. Well you know, Google can do whatever it wants. It’s a private company. I mean it’s a massively important private company. At some point you start to wonder about that. But it’s the mindset that’s interesting. Right? I mean, the mindset is, “Hey we know we have the truth and justice.” And then if you’re not on the right side, you’re basically cast into the fiery pit, right? You just don’t belong in ordinary humanity. Well you know, the Trump voters got that. They figured out all the contempt, all the condescension, and we paid them back.

Buskirk: Yeah that’s it, right? It’s if you don’t agree with whatever’s in vote now on the forefront or the cutting edge of the liberal social agenda, then not only should you not be paid attention to, right … that’s bad enough, just you become an un-person … no you need to be cast out of polite society. That’s what happened with this young man at Google. He said something that not that long ago would have been completely unobjectionable. He’s a Ph.D. from Harvard. He writes like an engineer. I don’t know if you read the memo. It’s very well-reasoned. It’s very careful and it’s very methodical. It was not rhetorical or polemical in any way, but he said some things about things like gender differences, and that’s just not acceptable today on the left.

Buckley: Yeah, right. And it’s sad because the Democratic Party has, to a large extent, committed suicide. I mean, you know back when there was something noble, maybe a little naïve, maybe more than a little naïve, but something noble about the way the Democrats tried to unify the country. I mean, this was the party for forgotten Americans. It was the party of the civil rights revolution. And let’s not forget that Republicans were mostly, many of them, on the wrong side of that. Certainly the conservative Republicans. I mean, the Democrats were also the party for the ethnic minorities who got forgotten. Right? And that ideal of American identity and equality is completely gone amongst the Democrats, because they become the party of identity politics. When you sign on to identity politics what you’re saying is, “Well we’ve got our prized groups and we’ve got Hispanics and African Americans and women and if you’re not in that group, too bad for you.”

Buskirk: Too bad. That’s right. Frank, you probably hear the music. This was a short segment. We’re going to go to a quick break and then we’ll be right back with Professor Frank Buckley.

Listen to the whole interview.


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