“That’s why we call him lyin’ Ted,” the GOP front-runner [Trump] told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program. “The people are smart people. And they haven’t been taken properly care of by the government.”
Let that quote from The Donald soak in just a minute.
“…they haven’t been taken properly care of by the government.”
Sounds just like something a staunch conservative would say, doesn’t it?
Whether you believe this is a Freudian slip on the candidate’s part or simply another example of him putting his mouth in gear before engaging his brain, it’s actually not him I am thinking about. What amazes me is the total lack of reaction from his supposedly “conservative” base to the suggestion that government should be “taking proper care” of anyone.
This lack of reaction suggests to me that there is no real reasoning going on in the Trump ranks other than “we are going to win so much, you will be sick of winning.” Trump is riding a wave of populism so tall that it washes out all reason and ends with “Build the wall!” Therein lies the problem. Populism has emotion for a base and emotion eschews reason and principle. Populism may well be caused by issues related to reason or principle, but those are secondary to any populist movement. Emotion primarily fuels populist revolts – to such a degree that the followers of such a movement will disregard any fact or comment that seems to disagree with the way they feel.
An interesting exchange of ideas occurred this morning between yours truly and FB friend Per Weslien that “triggered” (as all the cool kids say) a thought about the Trump “movement” and I think some relevant questions that should be asked at this point, given that we face the real possibility of seeing Trump as the presumptive nominee after the polls close in Indiana today.
It would seem that some fundamental points to consider are these: Is the Trump “movement” real or is it simply an emotional explosion with a significant blast radius, a reaction to the failures and disappointment of the past? Does it posses independent motility derived from a lasting philosophical and ideological foundation – or is it a sort of an amoebic Brownian movement, wandering about the Petri dish, subject to the most powerful stimuli of the moment?
In short, is the Trump phenomenon a true movement with staying power or is it a fad based on raw emotion that will quickly pass?
Viewed critically, Trump’s principal “issues” are not new – all have been around for years, many attacked by the GOP with limited success, and many have been approached from a “let’s not do anything and just say we did” perspective. The only real difference is that Trump yells about them in 140 character bursts and through anger, either feigned or real, he seems to have convinced people, at least on an emotional level, that he will actually do something about it this time.
Cutting through the layers of emotion, it is difficult to see any solid foundation lending confidence that Trumpmentum has a very long half-life. Trumpmentum seems to be based on solely on anger over points all conservatives agree on, we just disagree about the way we get there and the speed at which travel. One would be hard pressed to find a conservative/classical liberal who didn’t believe that porous borders, terrorism, government fraud and waste and the economy weren’t killer issues – and that all of them aren’t interrelated. Most of my intellectual discussion partners would note that solving one is a start but the system cannot be repaired until all of them are addressed (for example, unemployment rates of young Americans and the black community cannot be resolved unless illegal immigration is resolved).
It is no secret that one can’t reform an inertia driven Leviathan in 4 (or even 8) years without some serious help from the citizens, Congress and SCOTUS – without them, one can nibble around the periphery and start the reform process – but that process has to be based on a solid ideological foundation shared by a majority (and lasting more than a couple of election cycles) or successive administrations, congresses and judicial appointments will erode any changes that are made. One cannot simply slow Leviathan and expect change, one must grab the levers and force it on a different path and lest we forget, progressivism has been Leviathan’s driving force since FDR institutionalized it as the official operating system of US government in the post-Great Depression years. For true, lasting change, adding a few patches isn’t going to work – the hard drives have to be erased and reformatted, a new operating system installed and the whole thing rebooted.
One can agree or disagree – but in my mind, the greatest weakness of Trump’s so-called “movement” is that if he is elected and doesn’t deliver immediately, the popular opinion will shift just as rapidly against him as it coalesced behind him. A populist movement based on emotional energy is volatile and causes the political pendulum to swing to the opposite side with little or no warning. Only classical liberalism, applied constantly, year after year, as progressivism has been, will make the changes America needs. I fear Trump’s populist “movement” is but a flash in the pan based on emotional responses to hard problems. It is a great fear that his brand of populism and its actions (reactions, actually) based on Adult Attention Deficit Disorder will not be sustainable.