I’m supporting Trump for president, rather enthusiastically in fact. I supported him in the 2016 primaries and in the general election. He was a refreshing voice of nationalist populism, critical of the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, immigration, and trade.
There was much to like, both in contrast to his Republican opponents, and certainly to Hillary Clinton. This time around, his opponent is a truly terrible candidate. Joe Biden is thoroughly dishonest, not terribly bright, has no fixed principles, and apparently is quite corrupt. Far from the humble and empathetic public servant of media fantasy, Biden is a typically venal and base product of our political system. He’s what my grandfather would have called “a typical politician.” Owing to his advanced age, he also will have little energy to resist the far-Left of his party.
That said, I am hopeful for the future and view this election as a “win-win” scenario, regardless of the outcome.
The Temporary Reprieve
As for the easy part of this argument, Trump mostly has been a competent, conservative, and patriotic president. On policy, he certainly did better than any other Republican would have done. Domestically, he has supported traditional Republican policies, including tax cuts, regulatory reform, and efforts to control the civil service.
He also improved upon the Republican legacy, by reducing our presence in the Middle East, while defeating ISIS. He negotiated better worker-friendly trade agreements with Mexico and Canada, while putting trade pressure on China, which many opposed. He has nominated a solid core of originalist judges, both for the Supreme Court and the appellate courts. And he has tried, in big and small ways, to limit immigration.
He has exposed the media for the propaganda apparatus most of it has become. And he has blown up some of the silly pieties of our political class, who, until Trump had mostly cooperated with one another in thwarting the desires of voters and advancing their own collective interests.
On the coronavirus, Trump has shown the right instincts: to protect the American people from the virus by encouraging the development of a vaccine, while protecting the economy, jobs, and our historical freedoms. In this, he has been only partially successful because of the overbearing responses from highly ideological Democratic governors.
Of course, there have been some disappointments, including his flirtation with expanding H1B visas and letting criminals loose —his son-in-law’s harebrained scheme to win over black voters. And he was more bark than bite in response to this summer’s wave of urban riots. But, as I wrote in another piece, his flaws at least reflect popular opinion, i.e., he is “the closest embodiment of Rousseau’s ‘general will’ in American political life.”
On balance, if Trump is reelected, it will be a good thing. It will buy us some time. It will slow down the rot. It will give his supporters additional confidence. Foreign wars are less likely. He will resist the worst depredations of the managerial class. And his victory would also give us all time to prepare, socially and economically, for whatever comes next.
But another Trump term is not a panacea. It will only be four years. The rest of the Republican Party has not gotten the memo on what he has done and why it is working. Whoever succeeds him, even a Republican, likely will reflect the more general leftward drift of society.
A second Trump term also will not address the crisis in education and demographics. The most important development of the last 50 years is the transformation of the American people. Every day, the slow-motion demographic time bomb is doing its work. Older, more conservative Baby Boomers are dying. Highly indoctrinated and left-leaning Gen Z types are taking their place. New immigrants with little understanding of America’s traditions are also being added to the political mix. Their enormous numbers create problems on their own; but these problems are amplified by pervasive leftist lessons in anti-civics that flatter and embolden these newcomers with the lie that the country is “systemically racist” and otherwise unworthy of their respect.
The plausible argument that Texas might “go blue” should be a wake-up call to every right-of-center American about what future elections and America’s future will look like. Think California and New York.
The Divided Country
There is also some chance for absolute chaos after the election. This may spill beyond courtrooms into the streets. After all, in spite of their talk of conceding, it is the Democrats who failed to concede in 2016, instead grandiloquently labeling their obstruction and misuse of intelligence agencies as some romantic “Resistance.”
Earlier this summer, we saw riots run rampant in our large cities with the connivance of mainstream cultural and political leaders. If Trump wins, the American people, particularly in “flyover country,” will become more hated by the ruling class, who view them as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, collectively guilty because they twice elected a monster. The Left will no doubt embrace their opportunities for revenge.
Neither Trump nor Biden can realistically bring the country together. The two political factions view the country, its history, and its traditional balance of freedom and order in irreconcilable ways. While there is some small chance of soul-searching and a move to moderation by the Democrats—as they did before after three Republican wins in a row during the 1980s—it seems more likely they’ll revert to the “emerging majority” talk of the late Obama years. This view led them to immoderation and unrestrained antagonism toward heritage America.
Trump emerged for a reason. The political class would like to believe he is merely a fluke, a spasm of confusion and an artifact of the Electoral College. But he emerged because Obama’s eight-year presidency radicalized the Right and the middle class. Particularly in his second term, Obama showed hostility not only to traditional American practices, but to the American people themselves. He revealed that the pace of progressive demands was accelerating. No arena of life was left untouched. What everyone believed 15 minutes ago was now labeled blind prejudice.
Although 2020 has been a trying year, the coronavirus lockdowns and other intrusive measures reminded middle America of the hateful and utterly callous attitude of the Left when it is in power. These are bad people that will govern very badly.
The Catalyst Candidacy
Nonetheless, the reason the election is a “win-win” is that a Biden or Harris presidency, like Obama’s, will further radicalize middle Americans. This is a good and necessary thing, whether it happens under Trump, Biden, or otherwise.
Those on the fence are realizing politics cannot be ignored. They are also realizing that even having a Republican presidency will not save them from the constant barrage of leftist propaganda and interference in normal life.
There are other important power centers besides the presidency, including the media, technology monopolies, finance, the education establishment, and the deep state. The Right’s natural constituencies—small business owners, gun owners, families with children, Christians, Red-State Americans, and the like—need to prepare to have political influence in a country where they are no longer a majority.
Future politics will not be confined to winning elections, certainly not nationally. There is a reason dissident groups in other times and places have found ways to assert themselves and preserve some space for their way of life. They can boycott, strike, mock, and refuse to cooperate, while also creating parallel institutions of support. Such power may not translate at the ballot box, but, cohesive, organized, and self-conscious minorities can have disproportionate influence if they are sufficiently cohesive, organized, and self-conscious. Thinking about this problem and finding ways to do this effectively must be an imperative for the Right.
Four more years of Trump would likely slow down this process. A second Trump term may lull us into complacency, in the same way owning guns gives those on the Right a false sense of security. Think about recent events: many of us cannot work, go to church, go to a bar, or go outside without a mask, but that AR-15 in the closet is there “just in case.” Just in case of what? Every dimension of life that matters—economic, social, cultural, and otherwise—is already hostile and grim, and the pace has barely slowed under the Trump presidency.
The Right, Forged Through Fire
By contrast, if Biden wins, the Right will be focused and alarmed. His proposed gun ban, for example, would create real dissidents and mass noncompliance around the one issue that unites the Right. I don’t want a gun ban and am something of a Second Amendment absolutist. But I don’t want a lot of other things, too. Those other things are happening, and we are not organized to stop them because of the false sense of security guns and a Trump presidency give us.
A Biden or Harris presidency, like Obama’s, would remind people of the stakes and get people off the couch. Coupled with God-knows-what new iterations of identity politics, it would radicalize Middle America when it still has the resources and the numbers to organize a real, multidimensional political movement.
Politics is fundamentally about who is in charge and whom they mean to benefit. While in a healthy society much is outside of politics, under a revolutionary system, everything becomes politicized. The whole point of progressive politics is to encroach upon the various realms of life once distinct from politics—commerce, religion, art, love, family, and leisure—in the name of a radical view of progressive social justice.
Similarly, the tools of politics are more than elections and parties. They include who one honors, how one makes a living, whether one is free to speak his mind, and whether one has a share of power and recognition by those in power. It also includes questions of authority—who one turns to in order to resolve disputes and keep order.
In a revolutionary time, every honest, true, good, and beautiful thing is a counterrevolutionary act. Similarly, every source of allegiance and power outside of the system is treated as a mortal threat to the system.
The optimal time to do something, whether it’s to form a new party, form institutions of self-defense, and otherwise to resist the inevitable is when one is able to do so. Prepare for the rainy day before it rains. There is not always more time.
If we continue with a false sense of security, important and possibly irreversible things will happen all around us, from the population bomb, with which the Left aims to win all elections going forward, to the steady corrosion of all the habits and institutions that once defined us as a people.
Either we get a four-year respite during which we can prepare, or we waste this opportunity, focus quixotically on national elections that will soon be impossible to win, and will be forced thereafter to organize in extremis, as the Left has further consolidated its hold on power.
It’s an exciting time to be alive. Hard days are ahead, no doubt. Win or lose, now is the time to get ready, organize, and prepare to stand up for our people and civilization. No matter who wins this election, plan for the struggle to come.