Make America Not Small Again

On the eve of the release of the IG report, President Trump can be seen in relief against the backdrop of a year and a half of events. So can his enemies.

The elite’s embrace of globalism has choked off recognition of ordinary Americans—those without a recognized grievance—in favor of the outer of the concentric circles of human relations: aliens and foreigners.

Trump’s presidency—particularly in its rebellion against globalism—has brought distributive justice for these forgotten Americans and apoplexy to the elites.

Magnanimity is the Aristotelean word ascribed to the habit of seeking a role in society—an office—which may receive a great amount of honor. Aristotle actually named it megalopsychia or greatness (megalo) of soul or psyche (psychia).  Greatness of this sort is the characteristic—or potentiality—of people who desire high honors.

Magnanimity and justice are related. One cannot do great justice without high office, and without magnanimity one will not end up in high office, other than by accident or the vice of empty ambition.

The most compelling case against Trump is one of vain ambition. Yet the case for vanity is better made about the last disastrous Republican president and, though genteel convention begs us to abjure this judgment, the last president as well.

The case against Trump evaporates as Trump has demonstrated unique competence: no one could have withstood the showers of arrows shot at him—many from his own camp and from defectors from the leadership of his camp—and still kept going, let alone kept his promises.

Trump’s tenure in office has revealed something else perhaps we did not know or know fully: the American “elites”—the bureaucrats, the academics, the technocrats, the media, et al.—are infected with smallness of soul.

Everything small is big to Trump’s enemies.

Papadopoulos: Big.
Flynn: Big.
Russian FaceBook: Big.
Adult stars: Big.
Manafort: Big.
Etiquette: Big.
Tweets: Big.
Themselves: Really, really big.

Elections: Small.

The top reeks of mikropsychia—Greek for smallness of soul—low objects mistaken for decency, people who want to stay in office to satisfy their itsy-bitsy vanity (hidden sometimes in 6’8” bodies), tartuffes, sneaks, intriguers, fops, and martinets.

There is very little that Shakespeare did not write about, and mikropsychia is no exception. Twelfth Night’s Malvolio—a name meaning ‘ill will’—paradigmatically represents this sort of small character.

Misled to think the lady of the house, Olivia, seeks his affections, Malvolio, a valet,  becomes full of a self-importance which lacks all sense of proportion.

Maria: Why appear you with this ridiculous boldness before my lady?
Malvolio: ‘Be not afraid of greatness:’ ‘twas well writ.
Olivia: What meanest thou by that, Malvolio?
Malvolio: ‘Some are born great,’ —
Olivia: Ha!
Malvolio: ‘And some have greatness thrust upon them.’
Olivia: Heaven restore thee!
Malvolio: ‘Remember who commended thy yellow stockings,’—
Olivia: Thy yellow stockings!
Malvolio: ‘And wished to see them cross gartered.’
— Twelfth Night, Act III, Scene IV

Malvolio is so small he cannot distinguish between greatness and a pair of socks.

A whole cast of Malvolios has been revealed in the past eighteen months, a petty, self-important and frighteningly powerful claque of small-souled people. McCabe, Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Strzok, Yates, Farkas, Page, Rice, Powers. The list goes on.

All appear to be smallish, vain people who lack a sense of proportion, who seem to have thought or think they are beyond accountability, and entitled to exercise real power from offices to which they were not elected, and in some cases, no longer hold. They see themselves as big and the will of the electorate as small. They delude themselves that they can serve the American people and also hold them in contempt.

Even Trump’s enemies would admit Trump is larger than life.  That presents an opportunity. Trump’s great service may be to teach just enough of these tiny hollowed-out spirits to think a little bit bigger, to emulate magnanimity, to distinguish between the small and the large and thereby help restore somewhat this awful mass of people commonly called “elite.”

About 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.

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