Flight 93 Has Not Landed

Like many readers of American Greatness, I have watched the unfolding debate over what can only be called “the Flight 93 question” with equal parts interest and annoyance.

Observers like Henry Olsen fret about the potential for a protracted apocalyptic conflict between an ascendant Trumpian Right and a vengeance-obsessed Social Justice Left, and question whether it might be time to consider how to negotiate a truce and head off that eventuality.

But Ken Masugi gently points out that any meaningful truce would be possible only once President Trump has put us in a position to deal from strength, and perhaps reacquainted America with Jeffersonian and Lincolnian principles along the way, presumably in 280 Twitter character bursts. Meanwhile, some in the comments sections seem to hold the opinion that, having wrested the proverbial cockpit from the terrorists, we should keep the plane in crisis mode by flying around a little longer just to spite them.

I think the whole debate is getting far ahead of itself. As I recall, the ultimate thesis of the essay that started it all went as follows: “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.”

Not to further butcher what was an otherwise very clever metaphor, but if this is Flight 93, we just got control of the cockpit, and Trump—the proverbial pilot—seems to have taken the past year figuring out how to fly. Even the most optimistic observer, I think, would have trouble arguing that Trump could land the plane in less than his first full term, and a more realistic take would assume he’d need two full terms (almost the decade Olsen fears) to even get us close to the ground.

Now, when I say “Trump hasn’t landed the plane yet,” I don’t mean that he’s failed to meet an abstract, ideological goal of the sort that I suspect Olsen and Masugi would both favor. By that standard, Trump will never land the plane, but will at best keep it hovering at altitude.

Brent Bozell Jr. once called the Founding Fathers “the only group of men in modern history to have set their minds to the task of constructing a commonwealth on the basis of prudence, and therefore free from ideology,” an assessment that I’m sure many writers for this site would hotly dispute. Without opining about the accuracy of Bozell’s description as it applies to the Founders, I will say that I think it applies spotlessly to how Donald Trump sees the job of reconstructing the commonwealth—that is, of making America great again. This is not an ideological president, and I believe it will bring only grief to expect him to bring ideological results. To the extent President Trump has an ideology, it consists of specific results he wants to achieve, and in many cases has promised to achieve.

Which is why, when I say Trump hasn’t “landed the plane,” I mean that he has not yet managed to meet multiple, tangible goals that I believe are essential to the process of removing America from its Leftism-induced crisis state, at least for the moment. In some cases, this is due to the short time he has been in office. In others, it is due to the steep learning curve any non-politician will face when assuming such a difficult political job. In others, I believe it is due to accepting help from the wrong people, whose influence will hopefully be temporary. Nevertheless, these are all goals that I believe a fully empowered President Trump can and will meet, given his titanic work ethic, as well as the right political climate, the right advisers, and just a tiny spot of luck. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 such goals:

  1. President Trump has not yet built his famed Wall across the Southern border, though he may yet be able to, if he plays his cards right in the DACA negotiations.
  2. President Trump has not yet forced North Korea to halt its nuclear program, though he may be able to squeeze China into inducing them to do so.
  3. President Trump has not yet wiped ISIS completely off the map, though at this point, it’s obviously only a matter of time.
  4. President Trump has not yet ended Obamacare, though he has made good strides with the individual mandate.
  5. President Trump has not yet signed an infrastructure bill.
  6. President Trump has not yet signed a bill putting America’s entitlements back on the path to solvency.
  7. President Trump’s administration has not yet taken steps to halt the wide-scale attempt by Silicon Valley’s Snowflake Barons to censor the political Right from the Internet, or to directly challenge their frightening monopoly powers, though his FCC has chipped away at their power by ending Net Neutrality, and has forced them into politically unsustainable territory as a result.
  8. President Trump has not yet presided over a lowering of prescription drug prices, though Congress has several good measures aimed at this end working their way through both chambers.
  9. President Trump has not yet ended the opioid crisis.
  10. President Trump has not yet fully curbed the rampant attacks on freedom of speech, assembly, and on due process on America’s college campuses, though his administration is to be commended for repudiating the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague letter” establishing Rape Star Chambers

Your own list of such “plane-landing” items may differ from mine. Whatever your list may be, until a majority of the items on it are completed, any talk of retreating from the Flight 93 posture of crisis is at best premature and at worst an invitation to allow charging the proverbial cockpit to be for naught.

To Henry Olsen, I say with the greatest respect: Until the plane is on the ground, I have no interest in finding middle ground with the hijackers, even if it might avert future cockpit charges.

To Ken Masugi, I say also with the greatest respect: Let’s land this plane, now, before we try to get everyone to accept general principles that would prevent any and all future hijackings.

In short, yes, the Flight 93 election went our way, and the Flight 93 presidency may also. We got control of the plane. We just learned how to fly it. We have still to learn how to land it. And, as a certain wise man once observed, “There are no guarantees.”

About Mytheos Holt

Mytheos Holt is a senior contributor to American Greatness and a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty. He has held positions at the R Street Institute, Mair Strategies, The Blaze, and National Review. He also worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, and reviews video games at Gamesided. He hails originally from Big Sur, California, but currently resides in New York City. Yes, Mytheos is his real name.

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21 responses to “Flight 93 Has Not Landed”

  1. I am a retired professional pilot and veteran aircrew member in the US Air Force. If there i one thing to be learned about airplanes that are taken over, is that the flight does not end well. There are many things in this author’s list that are beyond the capability of any president, such as forcing North Korea to abandon their nuclear program. North Korea is the direct result of Harry Truman’s incompetence. ISIS is the direct result of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. One thing that bugs me about American Greatness is the tendency of writers to idolize Lincoln – the American president who divided the country and got some 750,000 of his fellow Americans killed. (Oh, but he freed the slaves!) I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next three years, much less the next seven, but I do know that Donald Trump spends too much time chasing rabbits. We had a revolutionary election but then Trump kept the enemy in the White House. I’m afraid Flight 93 is going to end up a smoking hole. The (only) good news is that Hillary Clinton isn’t in the White House and now the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation.

    • That’s the only good news you’ve seen in the last year?
      Record numbers of conservative judges appointed.
      A nearly miraculous rollback of overregulation and they have just gotten started.
      A well structured tax cut.
      Perhaps above all else, the exposure of friend and foe, very often by those rabbit trails he supposedly is always going down.
      He’s already accomplished more than most anyone could have hoped and done it in the face of a congress more useless than most anyone could have feared.

  2. Let modify the metaphor a bit. What we needed was a pilot that will keep the plane flying. The threat was, by replacing our Constitution with euro-social/welfare state, was that individual freedom was to be subsumed by a tyranny of Woodrow Wilson’s ‘experts’ regulating every action in living our lives. The opposite of Jefferson’s phrase, pursuit of happiness.

    The US has the great nation that it is by keeping the plane flying for some 250 years, not landing. This is the only way we will give our children the gifts of freedom first articulated by the Declaration of Independence. We now have a president who is showing that he can do that. The threat was the alternative, Hillary purposely putting the plane into the ground, and thereby denying the legacy of freedom to our children.

  3. Not to further butcher what was an otherwise very clever metaphor, but if this is Flight 93, we just got control of the cockpit, and Trump—the proverbial pilot—seems to have taken the past year figuring out how to fly. Even the most optimistic observer, I think, would have trouble arguing that Trump could land the plane in less than his first full term, and a more realistic take would assume he’d need two full terms (almost the decade Olsen fears) to even get us close to the ground.

    This is maddening: not only do we need both Trump terms, but at least another further *generation* (read: 20-years) to get this plane safely down. This fantasy, by too many on the right (which gives birth to wildly, insanely, overly optimistic expectations of Trump*), has got to die. This isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon. Make peace with it and act accordingly.

    *Who is then excoriated by a fringe of the base who think he’s NOT GOING FAST ENOUGH when they don’t grasp that he is little more than the first shot over the bow at the lunatic left–you get the sense that a good 20% of the base wants a *dictator* and not president, and while I can empathize with that on some level, you won’t like it if the worm turns…

    • Agreed. There are a lot of things politically that Trump can do, but the root of the crisis is that American society has become unmoored from the founding principles required for our government to work properly. Restoring those principles, recreating a virtuous society, may be impossible, but it is certainly worth the effort, an effort which will take decades and not happen overnight. And they are not something I would expect to forced from the top down. While I want our leaders to exhibit them, it’s up to each individual citizen to live by them and inculcate them among immigrants and succeeding generations.

  4. What’s amazing about this is how small-bore most of it seems. Judging by the list, what Mytheos Holt wants is an End to Politics. America is DOOMED if Trumpist conservatives can’t have their way on things reasonable people can disagree about.

    How small, sad, and silly.

      • Well then stop playing with it and put it back in your pants. No one wants to see that — including you, apparently.

      • Well I was already feeling great to begin with, but I have to admit that there is some added enjoyment to hosing down a garden variety shit-wit like yourself.

    • Unless you are what is commonly referred to as a sympathizer ;

      Please educate yourself about the Frankfurt School. A quick run to wikipedia may suffice.

      Learn about an Italian communist named Antonio Gramsci who proposed an innovative strategy, the long march through the institutions.

      Finish it off with a nine minute investment here with former KGB Yuri Bezmenov. Pay particular attention at 3 minutes 50 seconds. “ done by Americans to Americans “.


      America isn’t necessarily doomed. It just won’t be America anymore. Is that big enough for you ?

      And fwiw, Donald J Trump can not possibly save America. Americans must do that themselves.

  5. We’re in the midst of an unCivil war and still fighting for control of the cockpit.

  6. There is no opioid crisis. The was no “child crisis” when No Child Left Behind became a new federal boondoggle. There was no health care crisis when Obamacare solved the “health care crisis”. There was no “consumer crisis” when Elizabeth Warren and Obama created the Consumer Finance Protection Board. There was no “rental crisis” when New York created Rent Control boards. The “opioid crisis is an invention of leftists to create a need for a new huge unconstitutional federal intervention that adds to the Flight 93 crisis. The author has fallen into the trap and is now engaged in helping the Left destroy the Founders vision. Did the Founders put the Federal government in charge of dispensing health care? No. Until we stop helping the Left we will continue flying toward our national death.

  7. …between an ascendant Trumpian Right and a
    vengeance-obsessed Social Justice Left, and question whether it might
    be time to consider how to negotiate a truce and head off that

    Too ridiculous to even consider. The left will have to be defeated, decisively. A “truce” based on what? They have politicized everything and there is no reasoning with them whatsoever.

    We’ll only outlaw half the pronouns in Webster’s? Only persecute half the Christians? Only take away half the guns? There’s no truce to be had in policy or debate with such people. They use federalism selectively to advance their agenda and that will never change. Only victory will save America from their clutches and hamstringing ourselves in this fight will hand them the advantage.

  8. This excellent piece does not address the massive shift in the dialogue and feeling of value (even virtue) that Trumpism has brought. Americans were slowly, but (make no mistake) forcibly, being herded to the back of the plane and told to shut up and take whatever the hijackers wished to do. There wasn’t even a request for trust. We were viciously castigated if we dared to even question the hijackers. Storming the cockpit took enormous courage as well as a leap of faith, but the many benefits of having the hijackers tied up (but still scheming) can never be fully appreciated. We are braver now and we have earned the self-respect that has come because we took over the plane so that Trump could at least try to fly it.

  9. i would love to remind Mr. Mytheos, we could be living under the most corrupt administration in American History and at its head would be President Hillary. i’m grateful for anything President Trump accomplishes. While i love your task list, it reads like “Mission Impossible” and probably is in one human lifetime, much less eight years. God bless Donald Trump for even wanting to take control of Flight 99 back from the hijackers. However, taking on the impossible task of reconstituting our country back to what it was founded to be will have to endure a lot of flak, both literally and figuratively speaking.

  10. President Trump has accomplished a number of significant things in his first year and will accomplish more in the rest of his term.

    But he did what I wanted most on election night when he defeated the $*$@@=+$&£_> Hillary and kept her out of the Oval Office. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

  11. This has to be the sickest article I’ve ever skimmed. It is literally making the case that it is better for everyone to die than for left and right to make peace. It is an incitement to political violence.