How Trump Challenges Establishment Truths

By | 2018-11-05T23:15:06+00:00 November 6th, 2018|
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Once upon a time, The New Yorker indisputably was the finest magazine in the English-speaking world. It’s still awfully good. In its November 5 issue, house music critic Alex Ross treats readers to a wonderful essay on the life and work of Claude Debussy, who died 100 years ago. Although the editors have been reliably liberal from the start, the magazine abandoned its partisan neutrality in 2003 when it took the unprecedented step of endorsing a presidential candidate, John Kerry. Since 2016, the place has succumbed entirely to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

The New Yorker may cover music and the arts with commentary that is as luminous as ever. But when it comes to politics, they’re just a high-brow version of a left-wing alt-weekly—you know, the ones they give away outside liquor stores and dive bars that used to support themselves with the back pages filled with sex service ads and, now that sex ads have migrated to the internet, with page after page of marijuana ads.

David Remnick, who has been The New Yorker’s editor for more than 20 years, opens the November 5 issue with a 1,081-word editorial, a partisan and very predictable screed attacking President Trump. But in his choice of a title for his rant, Remnick gets it right. He writes: “The Midterm Elections are a Referendum on Donald Trump.”

Yes, as a matter of fact, they are. But what are the core criticisms of Trump, and why do his critics wear blinders?

Trump’s detractors alternate between complaints about his character and his policies, which they deem—wrongly—to be inseparable. But they are blind to the positive aspects of Trump’s character. His successful, loyal family. His temperance. His work ethic. His stamina. His flexibility and adaptability. And—always evident if you watch his rallies—his inimitable sense of humor, which is often self-deprecating. Not least, his unswerving commitment to keeping his promises.

Smashing a False Bipartisan Consensus
Which brings us to what really matters—policy.

For decades, certain “truths” have been inviolable. These truths governed the limits of acceptable public discourse, and constituted a tacit consensus between Republicans and Democrats. The consequences of these truths were a gradual but profound decline, over the last few decades, in the prospects of America’s dwindling middle class.

Ultimately, these unchallenged “truths” represented a set of assumptions that guaranteed the eventual destruction of America’s global leadership, if not America’s sovereignty.

Trump has challenged nearly all of these fundamental “truths.” More to the point, he has backed up his talk with action.

If Trump was an offensive scallywag, but never challenged the premises of America’s bipartisan establishment elite, he would be indulged. Instead, he is hated.

So, what are these “truths”?

The first, not front and center during the midterm elections, but promising to reemerge if the Democrats retake the House of Representatives, is climate change. Donald Trump has not only defied the scientific “consensus,” the will of the international community, the environmentalist lobby, and most of corporate America, but he’s taken action. He approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, brought back coal mining, and withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.

What Trump recognizes is that climate change alarmism has been a means of not just stopping new pipelines and mining, but everything. In California, the housing shortage is caused by environmentalist restrictions. Every development project in the Golden State—all forms of infrastructure, all forms of resource extraction—that doesn’t involve software (exempting the Silicon Valley) is mired in climate change compliance mandates. Without Trump, these mandates would be rolling across the nation, stifling economic growth at a critical time.

Next, Trump challenged the consensus on “free trade.” Unlike his dogmatic opponents, Trump recognized the interplay between trade and national security, technological leadership, as well as the importance of strategic manufacturing. He also recognized the unsustainability of decades-long deficits with China. Trump’s opponents often claim trade deficits help the United States. According to this line, foreign investment makes up for any trading shortfalls. That’s true, but what sort of foreign investment, and from whom?

In the case of China, over the past 25 years the cumulative U.S. trade deficit is a staggering $4.9 trillion. China retains some of its trade surplus with us in the form of T-Bills, to the tune of $1.2 trillion. The other $3.7 trillion? That’s been used to purchase American assets. How is that good? The United States and China may well be on a collision course. Yet while we import Chinese steel, they buy up our technology. Even in overpriced, overhyped Silicon Valley, $3.7 trillion will buy a lot of technology.

Trump’s understanding of America’s long-term national security interests challenge free traders, globalists, libertarians, and naïve politicians from both political parties. None of these critics honestly confront the enduring fact that, as somebody once put it, “the world is a dark alley at three in the morning.”

Without U.S. military and technological preeminence, none of the globalist fantasies of a peaceful and prosperous world would have a prayer of being realized. Trump has increased military spending, with a focus on strategic supremacy. Also, two words: “Space Force.” Say them again. Do it.

Smashing Political Correctness
Perhaps the most heretical of Trump’s challenges is against political correctness. Trump’s accomplishment wasn’t the dark imaginings of his detractors, that a “racist is occupying the White House.” Trump’s accomplishment is to not care if he is falsely accused of racism, sexism, or of being Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and phobias yet to be invented.

The significance of Trump’s rejection of political correctness cannot be overstated. Suddenly we can have something approaching a rational conversation about immigration, affirmative action, culture, and religion. After decades of retreat, those of us who believe in preserving American culture and American heritage can go on offense. And to the delight of millions of Americans who are open-minded enough to see it, traditional American culture welcomes all Americans to join it.

Finally, behind Trump’s bellicosity, which—given the forces arrayed in unfair smear campaigns against him—is warranted as often as not, there is a moderate-centrist politician. Trump was the only candidate in the second Republican primary debate who was willing to say he would preserve Social Security and Medicare. “I will not let people die on the streets for lack of health care,” he said, as 16 candidates—all beholden to the libertarian donor class—looked on aghast.

Critics on the Right tolerate Trump because he’s made some good Supreme Court nominations. He’s done a lot more than that. He’s turned the establishment upside down. He tossed the old conservative checklist and redefined what truths we take for granted. He has expanded the terms of debate on the most important issues of our time.

While The New Yorker’s well-heeled writers and editors may have gone off the deep end opposing Trump, at least they are, like most liberals, true to their beliefs. And if they fail to see shades of grey, and if they fail to recognize anything good about Trump, at least they are able to wear those blinders in the name of pragmatic solidarity. This is unlike the libertarian utopians and NeverTrump crybabies who would rather see Democrats destroy the nation than close ranks with Trump and his supporters.

Photo Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

About the Author:

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a political and financial analyst, working primarily with start-up and early-stage organizations. In 2013, he co-founded the California Policy Center, a free-market think tank based in Southern California. He is a prolific writer on the topics of political reform and sustainable economic development. Ring, a fifth-generation Californian, has an undergraduate degree in political science from UC Davis, and an MBA in finance from the University of Southern California.