Repristinating America

So Donald Trump is President, and things are looking up. Really, they are. The world is settling down as the word gets around that the sheriff, knows how to use not only words but the Glock on his hip. There are rumors of war (and trade war), but there always are when America asserts itself. But who really wants to fight America, apart from two or maybe three other powers, an American brush fire war is an existential struggle for existence. Not since Edwardian days has one power been so dominant. That one got out of hand and led to the Great War when Britain did the honorable thing (arguably) and played continental power (quite effectively) but in winning the battle lost the war.

Daniel Oliver at The Federalist had some good thoughts along this line the other day. Let’s take a look.

Conservatives tend to be skeptical of joining great political movements because they tend to be skeptical of both politics and movements that are great. They prefer the little platoon, the shire, which they know to be safe—or at least probably safer than what lies beyond. Not all politics may be local, but all politics that isn’t local tends toward the totalitarian, however far short of it it may actually fall.

That sounds almost like a philosophy of government—though not a government that any American alive today has experienced. But times can change, and they have with the election of Donald Trump. Conservatives who have been asking, “Where do we go from here?” have discovered the answer may be: “Where Donald Trump is going.”

Most conservatives and many Libertarians saw the conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of modern American conservatism, as a compromise (today’s Libertarians tend to see it as just compromised). Buckley was a free marketeer who opposed radical social experimentation. But he accepted the superstate (even knowing it was a threat to freedom at home) because it was necessary to do battle with the threat to freedom from abroad: communism, the force of darkness that threatened the globe for almost half a century.

That’s true enough, my formation as a conservative came from reading Buckley, and his formulation still resonates with me. Sure Communism is gone (other than the US Democratic party, and such) but big government always has totalitarian tendencies, but to a point (and a very limited point) has necessary functions.

One could read about those in the US Constitution, and the totalitarian tendencies in almost everything the federal government has done since Wilson was President, with the partial exemption of Reagan, and the much more complete one of Coolidge. But there are still dragons to slay, and borders to secure. So we need much more of a state than McKinley needed, faster transportation and communication (mostly) has made it so.

Skipping a lot that you should read, let’s continue…

So what should a conservative polity look like? It comes as a shock—like a Bob Mueller raid in the dark of the night—to realize that many of the policies promoted by President Trump are out of the conservative playbook.

Trump is no pious Christian, but he is proud of his role, synecdochically significant, in making it safe to say “Merry Christmas” again. He has wooed people who cling to their Bibles (and to their guns). And he may be the most anti-abortion president we’ve ever had.

Trump prefers America to other countries, a preference reported as scandalous because of his accurate, if … famously unusual, description of some of those other hell-hole countries.

Trump seems naturally federalist—e.g., in wanting to get rid of those “lines around the states” that restrict the health insurance companies from writing policies on people who don’t live in their states. He seems instinctively opposed to the superstate: his deregulation efforts have already gotten America moving again, and he’s making it easier to fire workers who work for the federal bureaucratic leviathan state.

He seems to care about communities that have had their middle class jobs shipped overseas. The free trade purists have their arguments: they tell us that free trade makes the world richer, and that may be true. But the US share of world GDP has gone down in the last 15 years, while the share of the Industrializing Six countries has gone up.

Could it be that “Make America Great Again” qualifies as a modern formulation of an ancient truth, even if not written in Carolingian minuscule? Many Americans, perhaps excluding the editors of some national political journals, would agree.

I’m going to leave it there, mostly because this is getting long. But he’s correct, Buckley, through us, may have made the greatest conservative convert in history, in Donald John Trump, or alternatively, and not entirely unlikely to my mind, he always was conservative, but played the corrupt New York business game to win, and so no one knew.

I doubt he knows himself or cares. And you know, I don’t either, actions speak much louder than words, that may be the lesson of lessons the teens have to teach us this century. And so we have that rarest of things, a repristination (see the article) of not only a great power, but it’s people. Because, you know, it hasn’t felt this good to be an American since the early sixties (with a reprise in the ’80s).

MAGA, Indeed

 

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

8 Responses to Repristinating America

  1. the unit says:

    Yep, the figures that don’t lie show it as MAGA, as it’s generally understood.
    Liars that figure see it as MAGA, but oops, Make America-haters Groan Again!
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Hah! Quite so! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas says:

        I also agree that while free trade is generally preferable, this element of protectionism is necessary to teach the world a lesson. The fact is, the market is people, and if people stink, the market stinks. MAGA.

        Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          Yep, I like free trade, but only if it is also fair trade. Now if only someone would MBGA! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Free and fair trade agreements require all stinky folks to trust and obey. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          I usually put it, Trust and verify! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • the unit says:

          Can’t dismiss the politics. 🙂

          Like

        • the unit says:

          Politics? Heck, I mean conservative common sense taking the day verifiably, without progressive falsifiable notions! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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