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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trump offers Americans the chance to be unbound from unelected 'international community' of rulers. This is why elites are terrified of him-Julius Krein

"What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community”."
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9/7/15, "Traitor to His Class," Julius Krein, Weekly Standard

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"Nothing is more terrifying to the elite than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism." 
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"It would seem to be the duty of every American pundit today to explain the inexplicable and problematic rise of Donald Trump. The critical question, however, is not the source of Trump’s popularity but rather the reason his popularity is so shocking to our political culture. Perhaps Trump’s candidacy threatens a larger consensus that governs our political and social life, and perhaps his popularity signifies a profound challenge to elite opinion.

Why is Donald Trump so popular? Explanations range from mere celebrity, to his adoption of extreme positions to capture the most ideologically intense voters, to his explosive rhetoric. These explanations are not entirely wrong, but neither are they entirely right.

To begin with, his positions, as Josh Barro has written in the New York Times, are rather moderate. As Barro points out, Trump is willing to contemplate tax increases to achieve spending cuts. He supports some exceptions to abortion bans and has gone so far as to defend funding Planned Parenthood. He has called for protective tariffs, a position heretical for Republicans, who are typically free traders. Although opposed to Obamacare, he has asserted that single-payer health care works in other countries. Even on the issue of immigration, despite his frequently strident rhetoric, his positions are neither unique—securing the border with some kind of wall is a fairly standard Republican plank by now—nor especially rigid. 

With respect to his rhetoric, whether one characterizes his delivery as candid or rude, it is hard to ascribe his popularity to colorful invective alone. Chris Christie, who never misses an opportunity to harangue an opponent, languishes near the bottom of the polls. Or ask Rick Santorum, as well as Mitt “47 percent” Romney, whether outrageous comments offer an infallible way to win friends and influence voters. Trump’s outré style, like his celebrity, helps him gain attention but just as certainly fails to explain his frontrunner status.

Most candidates seek to define themselves by their policies and platforms. What differentiates Trump is not what he says, or how he says it, but why he says it. The unifying thread running through his seemingly incoherent policies, what defines him as a candidate and forms the essence of his appeal, is that he seeks to speak for America. He speaks, that is, not for America as an abstraction but for real, living Americans and for their interests as distinct from those of people in other places. He does not apologize for having interests as an American, and he does not apologize for demanding that the American government vigorously prosecute those interests. 

What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community” and permission to wish to see that interest triumph. What makes him popular on immigration is not how extreme his policies are, but the emphasis he puts on the interests of Americans rather than everyone else. His slogan is “Make America Great Again,” and he is not ashamed of the fact that this means making it better than other places, perhaps even at their expense. 

His least practical suggestion—making Mexico pay for the border wall—is precisely the most significant: It shows that a President Trump would be willing to take something from someone else in order to give it to the American people. Whether he could achieve this is of secondary importance; the fact that he is willing to say it is everything. Nothing is more terrifying to the business and donor class—as well as the media and the entire elite—than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism. The fact that Trump should by all rights be a member of this class and is in fact a traitor to it makes him all the more attractive to his supporters and all the more baffling to pundits....

(p. 2) Conservative pundits have complained for years about the base and its desire for “ideological purity.” Trump shows that what is most in demand, however, is not ideological purity but patriotic zeal. Only a fool would believe that the fate of the Export-Import Bank could motivate millions of voters. It is not a minor and complicated organ of trade promotion that motivates but whether the ruling elite is seen to care more about actual national interests or campaign dollars and textbook abstractions like free trade. 

Trump’s critics misunderstand his political appeal just as they fail to comprehend his business appeal. Indeed, Trump is almost certainly not as rich as he claims he is, nor is his record as glittering as others’, nor is his a rags-to-riches story....For Trump, business is about winning and losing, and for real human beings, that’s what gives it life....

“Serious politics” is believed to be the politics of rational beings on the path to perpetual peace—not men, and certainly not Americans, with real interests that sometimes conflict with those of other nations. Questions of basic policy, if not argued from some victim narrative, are inevitably situated in arcane disputes over economic theory. The words victory and defeat have been banished from our discourse. “Serious politics” is now confined to detached rationality. 

Trump, however, is eros and thumos incarnate, and his very candidacy represents the suggestion that these human qualities should have a role in our political life beyond quivering sentimentalism. Trump alone appears to understand that politics is more than policy and ideology. Beneath the bluster, he offers an image of Machiavellian virtù long absent from American politics.

Nothing in our politics seems worthy of being taken seriously anymore. The White House takes to Twitter with Straight Outta Compton memes about the Iran deal....This is precisely the precondition for Trump’s popularity, and his unapologetic mockery of more conventional forms of political theater makes him in some ways the most serious candidate in the race."
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"Julius Krein is a writer in Boston."

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Added: Related themes by Dr. Angelo Codevilla: 

2/20/13, "As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions Of Voters Are Orphaned," Angelo Codevilla, Forbes
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"Increasingly the top people in government, corporations, and the media collude and demand submission as did the royal courts of old."...  

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"The debate is over."...

10/20/2011, "The Lost Decade," Angelo M. Codevilla, Claremont Institute (2001-2011)

"Rule by Experts" (subhead, scroll down)

"Decision-making by "experts" rather than by people and procedures responsible to the American people has always been American progressives' prescription for American life. During the past decade, the pretense that America was at war has given this practice a major boost. For example, official and semi-official panels of experts from government, business, and the academy generated "studies" on the energy and health-care sectors of the economy. Based on these, the government promulgated regulations and presented Congress with demands that it approve massive legislation to "stop global warming" and to "establish universal medical care." These government-business-academic experts, i.e. this ruling class, presented their plans as demands because, they shouted, 


"the debate is over,"

and opponents are not qualified to oppose. Regardless of these demands' merits, such claims to authority are based strictly on the proponents' credentials. My point, however, is that these credentials are based largely on the government endowing these proponents with positions and money. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in his farewell address, such expertise is a circular function of government power.
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The event for which the decade is most likely to be remembered, namely the "great recession," was a similar phenomenon. When the financial bubble in mortgage-backed securities burst in 2008, the leaders of both parties, and pundits from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, assured Congress authoritatively that appropriating some $800 billion for the Treasury to buy up "toxic assets" would fix the problem. Three out of four Americans dissented, in part because of widespread recognition that the U.S. government's increase in expenditures from $1.86 trillion in 2001 to $2.9 trillion in 2008, due in part to the war, was unsustainable. Yet Congress bowed to "expert" opinion. But the markets tanked, the fix did not work, and the economic collapse gathered momentum. The subsequent Democratic administration increased spending even more radically, to $3.7 trillion, roughly doubling federal expenses in a decade, and pushed the national debt over $14 trillion—almost equal to America's GDP. By 2011, 40 cents out of every federal dollar spent had to be borrowed. .

As a prescription for salvation, the very same spectrum of experts that had certified the efficacy of bailing out big banks emphasized to Congress that the country needed to borrow more money and pay more taxes. Three fourths of Americans wanted neither to borrow more nor to pay more. The experts labeled them "irresponsible" and even "terrorists."

The markets tanked again, and the great recession got a second wind. The 2010 census reported that in 2009 the inflation-adjusted median family income was $49,445, down from $51,161 in 2001. Although the official unemployment rate at this writing is only 9.1%, a truer measure of America's condition is that only 45.4% of Americans of working age are employed full time—a true definition of depression."....

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"No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place."...(parag. 3)
 
July-August 2010, "America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution," by


"Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind.

Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about “global warming” for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it."...

America's ruling class lost the "War on Terror." During the decade that began on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government's combat operations have resulted in some 6,000 Americans killed and 30,000 crippled, caused hundreds of thousands of foreign casualties, and spent—depending on various estimates of direct and indirect costs—somewhere between 2 and 3 trillion dollars. But nothing our rulers did post-9/11 eliminated the threat from terrorists or made the world significantly less dangerous. Rather, ever-bigger government imposed unprecedented restrictions on the American people and became the arbiter of prosperity for its cronies, as well as the manager of permanent austerity for the rest. Although in 2001 many referred to the United States as "the world's only superpower," ten years later the near-universal perception of America is that of a nation declining, perhaps irreversibly. This decade convinced a majority of Americans that the future would be worse than the past and that there is nothing to be done about it. This is the "new normal." How did this happen? - See more at: http://www.claremont.org/index.php?act=crbArticle&id=319#.VeIfe5dLy








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