On Wednesday, Jonah Goldberg published a little piece in The Dispatch that neatly sums up what the Beltway insider class thinks of you: “Emboldened by fever dreams of persecution, Republicans want nothing more than to anoint a strong man to punish their enemies.”
“If your ‘belief’ in our country,” Goldberg writes, “is so fragile and pathetic that you will lose ‘hope for our nation’ unless Donald Trump is given free reign [sic] to cleanse the land of evildoers, then you don’t actually believe in this nation. If your love of country is contingent on your preferred faction being in power, you’ve confused partisanship for patriotism. Taken seriously, all of this banana republic talk is un-American.”
Meanwhile, here is a tourist interviewed yesterday in the New York Post as she watched Donald Trump arrive for a grilling by the New York state attorney general: “In Argentina this is normal, usual, the rule. The party in power tries to put the other side in jail. Now the vice president who was president two times is being investigated in 10 separate investigations by the opposition party. But I didn’t know they do this in the United States.”
I would say it’s a sad day for political commentary when a random Argentinian tourist has a more acute understanding of American politics than Jonah Goldberg, but I’ve come to realize over the last few years that the “experts” don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Now Goldberg says we’re un-American for suggesting the FBI isn’t pursuing a majestic and impartial course of justice.
Is it more American to have a president who makes millions of dollars for his family peddling the influence of his office? Is it more American to let a former secretary of state store classified documents on a personal computer and then delete them all? Is it more American to fire people who refuse to take an experimental drug, and then use their money to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to audit them? Is it more American to leave billions of dollars of weapons and military equipment in Afghanistan? To ship billions more to Ukraine?
Is it more American that I have to spend half my life working for the government to pay their taxes just so that Jonah Goldberg can tell me I’m un-American for complaining about it? Shouldn’t I just shut up and pay?
I don’t want to anoint anyone, and, contrary to what Goldberg thinks, I haven’t been spending all morning beating a tambourine and dancing around my Donald Trump shrine. I just want the government to butt out of my life.
And that’s why I like Trump, and it’s also why the Beltway crowd hates him: Trump was the only politician willing to suggest that we could do with a little less of Washington, D.C. He was willing to act on the premise that Americans know how to run their own lives, thank you very much.
But, if you love Washington, D.C., and if you love politics—if, in other words, you are the lowest form of life on planet earth—you can’t stand the idea that someone is going to ride into town and trim back your circus a little bit. Because whether you are nominally a Democrat or nominally a Republican, if you’re part of the Beltway it means you believe that ordinary Americans can’t do without you. It might even mean that you’d rather see America start a new war abroad (or a civil war at home) than give up your own political power.
Jonah Goldberg makes a lot of “belief” in our country. He thinks we don’t “believe in this nation” anymore. But he seems to be confusing the idea of America, which is one of unparalleled beauty, with the current implementation of that idea, which today is lousy. When Jefferson became president, he fired all the federal tax collectors. He had opposed the creation of a Navy out of fear it would lead to an income tax. Madison wrote that “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending have enslaved the people.”
What would Jefferson and Madison make of the current situation? You can bet they’d be having more than a few thoughts the Beltway would call “un-American.” Back in the day, the ruling political class would have called them “un-British.”