Donald Trump is once again confounding his critics. He is holding fast to a common sense view of politics that puts his opponents on constant defense and busts the monopoly they once had on shaping the American mind.
Trump’s tactics are plain to see for anyone who bothers to look. Over and over, he drives a wedge between the political and cultural elites and Americans who don’t share their views of morality and “patriotism.”
The president’s off-the-cuff comments on Friday at a rally for Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange was a textbook example of Trump’s strategy in action. He riffed on an assortment of topics before setting his sights squarely on the National Football League.
Trump brought up NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!”
Though it may cause some elite conservatives to cluck their tongues over Trump’s impropriety, this is the colorful language Americans (including even most of these elite conservatives) use all the time in break rooms, auto mechanics’ shops, and especially in the branches of our military.
Trump went on to point out how the NFL and the increasingly Leftist sports media have undermined the virtues that have attracted generations of Americans to the game of football. While Americans understand the safety concerns that come naturally in a sport where players run into each other at full speed, they know that reward comes with risk. Character, a manly self-assertiveness, and a chance to hone one’s natural abilities at the highest level are important elements of being a good citizen and a good human being.
As Trump noted:
The NFL ratings are down massively. Now the No.1 reason happens to be they like watching what’s happening…with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard: 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They’re ruining the game! That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
These thumotic manly virtues—the traits that are typically unique to men—have been ridiculed and despised by the cultural literati. Men today are commonly depicted in the popular culture as buffoons who can’t do the simplest task and whose default mode in raising their children is failure.
But most Americans don’t buy the views set down by our cultural elites. They understand the virtues it takes to raise a family and that basic differences between men and women are grounded in nature. And they are more than comfortable with changing a tire, hanging drywall, or going on a weekend 30-mile backpacking trip.
After the rally, Trump underscored his tactic of using sports to drive a wedge between the elites and the rest of America:
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Before Trump rolled up the red carpet, the Golden State Warriors were reportedly deep into thoughtful discussions about whether to attend a ceremony at the White House honoring the team’s 2017 NBA championship. But that was all a sham. They were never going.
As head coach Steve Kerr said in May, Trump is a “blowhard” who is “ill-suited” for the presidency. Stephen Curry, the team’s point guard and outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter, earlier this year quipped that he agreed that Donald Trump is an “asset” to the nation, but only “if you remove the ‘et.’” On Election Night, Curry tweeted his support of Van Jones’ observation that the results were a “whitelash against a changing country.”
Trump simply called their bluff. And in doing so, he again highlighted the differences between the elites and most Americans—whether they are Republican Party lifers, newly-minted Trump Democrats, or Americans who didn’t even vote for Trump but retain a morality antithetical to the ruling class. These Americans have had enough of constantly being lectured and told to repent of their manifest heresies against the orthodoxies of modern liberalism. They are fed up with having their way of life sneered at and disrespected by employees of the transnational corporations that dominate the U.S. sports-industrial complex.
The NFL, NBA, and the NCAA, along with ESPN, are long-time participants in helping the ruling class steamroll the people’s concerns and interests. From condemning North Carolina, where the people’s duly elected representatives passed a bill mandating that individuals use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth sex, to spreading disdain for Arizonans who approved of measures designed to stop the influx of illegal aliens streaming across their borders, these corporations represent the elite consensus that brooks no dissent. You’re either with them or against them. There is no other option.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement reacting to Trump’s comments is the height of the deep narcissism and self-loathing concealed beneath the thin veneer of the elite’s pseudo-morality. Goodell said Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.” Goodell, who is generally despised by football fans, sportswriters, and players alike, is blind to the divisiveness incited by the very organization he leads. And that he thinks an entity like the NFL is automatically owed any respect at all is revealing. What exactly is it that places the NFL beyond reproach?
Trump wasn’t responsible for botching case after case involving NFL players who committed violence against women. It wasn’t Trump who stood against the attempts of the legislatures of Georgia and Indiana to pass laws strengthening religious liberty protections for those who object to gay marriage. It wasn’t Trump who talked a good game about “player safety” while simultaneously engaging in talks about expanding the NFL schedule to 18 regular season games.
Americans have had enough of constantly being lectured and told to repent of their manifest heresies against the orthodoxies of modern liberalism. They are fed up with having their way of life sneered at and disrespected by employees of the transnational corporations that dominate the U.S. sports-industrial complex.
Rather, Trump is reacting to the deep divisions Goodell and his ruling class cronies have sown through their seething contempt and obvious disrespect for Americans. Trump is not the cause of our current crisis. Trump didn’t politicize everything in American life. He is 63 million Americans’ answer to a politicization that constitutes an attack on everything they hold dear.
This politicization has been precipitated by the very political and cultural elites who are now raising hell against Trump’s move to box them out. They are angry over his attempts to break the chokehold they have been administering to the American body politic for decades. But Trump couldn’t care less about their gnashing of teeth. And neither should anyone else.
Like Lincoln who, before the 1860 election, helped drive a wedge between Senator Stephen Douglas’s Northern Democratic coalition and Deep South Democrats who were fanatically pro-slavery, Trump is attempting the same feat with a different set of coalitions. I’m not arguing that Trump is playing “4D chess,” as many NeverTrumpers flippantly suggest Trump supporters ignorantly believe. I don’t believe that Trump has planned out every single action and word in advance like some mastermind. This is obviously far beyond the capacity of human beings, the forked creatures who are a little lower than the angels.
But perhaps some conservatives have been so accustomed to losing in the political arena that they actually think 4D chess is what’s required to win it. Wrong. This basic political strategy that even people with minimal political skill have used for centuries to conquer and divide their political opponents while enlarging their own base of support. It’s called fighting. They might try it sometime.
Trump’s strategy of engaging the cultural bullies instead of cowering in their presence, so far, seems to be working to perfection. It also has the added benefit of drawing out the pretenders and posers who may talk a good game but are ultimately useless in combating the ruling class’s hegemony over American public life.
Exhibit A of this group is Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.):
btw, Trump wants you to kneel–because it divides the nation, with him and the flag on the same side. Don't give him the attention he wants. https://t.co/ic5Vc9oGyB
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) September 23, 2017
Contra Sasse, Trump offers a view of America based upon a common patriotic love that aims to protect the rights of all citizens. To say he is dividing America—this critique from the same ruling class that divides Americans by race, sex, class, income, level of education, etc., every minute of every day—is a remarkable assertion. It speaks to the depths to which the ruling class mindset has been accepted by our political elites.
Former Democratic Representative Donna Edwards tweeted this gem:
— Donna F. Edwards (@DonnaFEdwards) September 23, 2017
Trump has put his opponents either in the position of showing their ruling class credentials or openly calling for disrespecting the country—moves that can only help his chances at reelection in 2020. Even more importantly, it will help to isolate those whose hostility to bourgeois morality and traditional cultural mores has helped the “pluribus” overwhelm the American “unum.”
May Trump succeed in letting the people reassert their sovereignty over those who would rule us without our consent. Republican government demands no less.