He broke me,” Kathy Griffin famously said of our 45th President as she gazed, narcissistically, upon her self-inflicted wounds after incomprehensibly and symbolically decapitating the man Politico once called an outsider and an outer-borough brawler.
Many Americans of the conservative persuasion have been waiting for a brawler who would fight the good fight internally and not worry about breaking things or being overly attentive to decorum.
Writing in the Kansas City Star this week, Robert Leonard, a self-described liberal political junkie from Iowa who can’t stand the sound of Donald Trump’s voice, gave the clearest evidence yet of the astounding ability of Donald J. Trump to break things that very much need breaking.
Leonard itemized the conventional wisdom about Trump and recited all of the Left’s hopes and dreams for undoing his influence. Then, the surprising conclusion of said liberal political junkie:
This is delusional.
Here in conservative rural America, Trump is ascendant.
Yes, it is delusional, Mr. Leonard, and yes he is ascendant. Not just in conservative rural America, either.
Leonard compared and contrasted Trump’s Value Voters Summit speech as he first read it (he couldn’t bear to hear it because, remember, he hates Trump’s voice) and then as he understood it on a second reading, and this is instructive. He knew of the speech, in a vague and opaque way, through the filter provided by the mainstream media. This meant the import of the thing was diminished in his mind by reinforcing his focus on perceived gaffes and the hope that the president, once again, in the judgment of the “important people” failed.
Leonard, however, was stunned by the political substance of what he read:
Looking only at the written word, and putting Trump’s arrogant off-script comments aside, it was a beautiful speech. Powerful. Inspirational. Brilliant even.
The effect of the comparing and contrasting caricatured media filter to a first and uninhibited reading and then, most importantly, to a second reading speaks volumes. As Leonard made the effort to understand Trump as he understands himself, he discovered something ”powerful,” ”inspirational,” and even “brilliant.” You won’t find those three words often used to describe anything about the current president by people like Robert Leonard, but then, most of them don’t step outside of their echo chambers long enough to hear him as their neighbors do.
Leonard itemized ten different themes of Trump in this speech. To my ears, it’s extremely easy to see the winning formula they represent, for they clearly set down lines of demarcation that have strong appeal in a primarily center-right nation:
1) We’re sustained by the power of prayer versus Democrats who want prayer out of the public sphere.
2) Mass murder event caused by an act of pure evil versus Democrats who blame guns and want to take them away.
3) Honoring first responders versus elevating thugs and viewing our protectors in blue with disdain.
4) Quoting scripture versus Democrats ridiculing those who do.
5) Stressing American unity versus Democrats dividing American society into victims and oppressors.
6) Trump saying “We love our country” versus Obama going on an international “apology tour.”
7) Protecting the unborn versus Democrats turning a blind eye to the horrors of abortion.
8) Focus on strengthening the family unit versus Democrats’ policies that pull families apart.
9) Pride in American history versus Democrats tearing down monuments.
10) Great respect for the American flag versus Democrats who take a knee.
In large measure, this is Politics 101. However, politics at the retail level has been something of a lost art in America in the last several decades as a “New World Order” dictated by experts from on high aggressively sought to shape all things social, political, and economic through a particularly globalist lens. This unrelenting push for an inorganic and supra-national agenda gave rise to the national desire for a brawler who was not only willing to break things but capable of so doing—either through sheer force of will or by an imaginative and methodical strategery heretofore unseen.
And at this early stage of the 21st century, nothing in the United States political arena required breaking more than the identity politics cynically embraced by the Democratic Party.
I hope to write more in the future about how and why the Democrats have gone so badly astray in this way, but a good glimpse of the problem is provided by Joshua Mitchell in his piece, “The Identity-Politics Death Grip.” Mitchell laments the Democrats’ inability, given their political losses, to rethink their failed strategies. Instead, because of the identity politics death grip, they are doubling down on strategies that appear designed to cause national discord.
That identity politics game, part and parcel of the Communism/Marxism/Socialism dialectic, could only work for as long as Americans of European descent were consistently hypnotized into thinking of themselves as guilty white people who forever had to apologize, apologize, apologize.
Mitchell correctly faults identity politics as the problem and asserts that the philosophy results in two important political problems. First is “its blindness to the nature of class in America.” Second is that “it misrepresents the long arc of history.” By this, Mitchell refers to the long arc as a pathway that inevitably sees humans of all races and ethnicities working together. Within a particularly American context, blacks and whites working together, for example, to heal the wounds of slavery.
Leaving aside the issue of class, Mitchell compares and contrasts Martin Luther King, Jr. plus Reinhard Niebuhr with the Democrat Party of today. He finds fault with the Democrat Party, asserts MLK and Niebuhr were Christian theologians who understood (as Democrats at their best do, he writes) that “suffering operates on a different plane, in which the central issue is the broken human condition and its sorrowful reverberations in history,” (emphasis added) and shudders at the thought of a successful evisceration of the America we know by a post-Christian left wing.
I do, too, but I draw comfort from knowing that identity politics is never, ultimately, going to be a winner in the United States.
Instead, what we see in America is the historical tension between our understanding of the brokenness of life and our God-fearing comprehension of the necessarily limited human condition. To focus on the “broken” aspect of this world is the mistake the Democrats (along with, perhaps, MLK and Niebuhr) have made.
That identity politics game, part and parcel of the Communism/Marxism/Socialism dialectic, could only work for as long as Americans of European descent were consistently hypnotized into thinking of themselves as guilty white people who forever had to apologize, apologize, apologize. I mean, every white male I’ve ever met has a white mother. Most of whom, love their son(s). These children often have white brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and—incredibly—white grandparents.
Donald J. Trump, simultaneously as Deprogrammer-in-Chief and Liberator-in-Chief, was able through skillful utilization of his brilliant and relentless laser (yes, by this I mean his Twitter account) to break the apology hypnosis that was strangling the dominant ethnic group in the nation. It was no surprise when a majority of white males voted for him to be president in the general election.
The no way to get around it stunner was that most white females voted for him as well. Donald Trump had invited them into the coalition to Make America Great Again, and they accepted.
And, with that, it is game over for identity politics in America.
I’ve always heard it’s a poor frog that won’t praise its own pond, however geographically and expansively you define your pond. It could be your neighborhood, your side of town, your city, your county, your state . . . but this is our country.
Alexis de Tocqueville may have had a highly conflicted view of the United States but he was certainly correct on the following broad points. When one is not fixated on the problems of our own nation but, instead, views it from a larger perspective and contextually considers it in relation to the entire planet, we are in fact defined by our loud and inclusive democracy, our preference for dual sovereigns and decentralized power, our fondness for a smorgasbord of group associations, and perhaps most especially by the intensity of our diverse Judeo-Christian religious belief. A belief that readily acknowledges as its foundation certain inalienable rights granted not by our governmental servants but by the Creator we serve.
On that score, the import of Robert Leonard’s article was noted by Don Surber. Trump the brawler, Trump the fighter, has connected with American voters tired of the country they love taking punches in the gut. Iowa was a reliable Democrat state, one that even voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988 by more than 10 percentage points at a time when George H. W. Bush won the national election in a landslide with a whopping 426 electoral votes. Obama won Iowa by 9.5 percent in 2008 and nearly 6 percent in 2012. Trump, however, won the state in 2016 by 9.4 percent, a switch of political earthquake proportions—nearly 20 percentage points. Democrats aren’t going to undo the damage their brand incurred in this disruption by shouting louder about how we have to buy their broken goods. We don’t. And now we know it.
And it’s not just Iowa. The Trump political earthquake was strong enough to break the national apology hypnosis that has been enforced for decades by a global elite and championed by an irresponsibly cynical Democrat Party. This won’t keep the would-be hypnotists from screaming at the sky on November 4. But their screams no longer have the power to compel our submission.