What the cultural and political establishments can't grasp about Donald Trump
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Time magazine named Angela Merkel its “Person of the Year.” With her flooding of Europe with Muslim migrants, the German chancellor may, after all, go down in history as a primary destroyer of Western civilization. Yet there’s no question in my mind who is Man of the Year: Donald Trump.
After underestimating the businessman early on, some are starting to understand Trump’s ascendancy and staying power. Yet, even now, few truly appreciate what Trump represents: a political and cultural phenomenon heretofore unseen in America. His rise is historic, amounting to something even more astounding than the Reagan Revolution. This is true, and will be true, whether he ultimately wins or loses, whether you love him or hate him, or whether it turns out he’s driven by principle or personal ambition.
There are the obvious factors here: how Trump has tapped into anger against the Establishment and over immigration, and how he’s a plain-spoken breath of fresh air. Then there’s the astute observation made by the Weekly Standard’s Julius Krein in September:
“What differentiates Trump is not what he says, or how he says it, but why he says it. …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.”
In other words, Trump professes a palpable politically incorrect nationalism in a time of prostrate, politically correct treason -- or, as some put it, “internationalism.” Yet even this is just the iceberg’s tip.
Many have said that Trump is not a conservative -- and they’re right. Nor is he a “liberal.” He is a populist. You only become a populist by exploiting what is popular, and in this the Trump phenomenon reveals a great truth about the great lie of our time:
What’s popular isn’t political correctness.
Why did politicians and pundits underestimate Trump? Why didn’t some other presidential aspirant beat him to the politically incorrect punch? A major reason is that they fell victim to the illusion that political correctness (PC) is far more popular than it is. They lost sight of what Reagan called the difference “between critics and box office.” And why? Because the academia/media/entertainment (AME) Axis -- the Cultural Establishment -- has us living in a Matrix-like faux reality in which elite swill masquerades as popular will. Agree with the idea or not, for example, relatively few Americans are actually “offended” by the proposal to halt Muslim immigration.
But while PC isn’t popular, it is potent. It’s much like the state ideology in the old Soviet Union: few average people subscribe to it in doctrinaire fashion. But most everyone is afraid of the ideological machinery of the state (“thought police” in our time). And this brings us to perhaps the most significant factor in Trump’s popularity.
Taking the Marxism analogy further, imagine it’s the old Soviet Union, and there’s a colorful dissident saying everything other citizens want to say but fear to. Now imagine the government sends its secret police to silence him, and they just get consumed. Bullets have no effect on him, and with every assault he simply becomes bigger. Imagine how frustrated and fearful the Kremlin commissars would become.
And imagine how the people would be in his corner.
(Oh, they might not always be willing to voice their support, but their hearts would be with him. And we see the same phenomenon today: a recent analysis indicated that Trump was under-polling because certain people, particularly the college-educated, were afraid to support him publicly due to social pressure -- which, mind you, will be absent in the voting booth.)
And Trump is that dissident. He’s the man saying things Americans want to say but fear to, stifled by the social code, PC, enforced by the AME Axis and elitist political establishment. Trump is their crusader against those hated oppressors. In fact, he is the first and only such champion they’ve ever had. The AME Axis destroyed Joe McCarthy. It pummeled Richard Nixon. It discredited Dan Quayle. (It didn’t destroy Reagan, but he never quite so brazenly bucked PC.) It guillotined all who dared oppose its diktats, boasting an unbeaten record.
That is, until Trump came along.
To understand why Trump is Superman and his adversaries Lex Luthor without Kryptonite, consider what typically happens when someone crosses the PC thought police. The media may demonize him, the elite political establishment may try to destroy him, and any high-profile position he has will be lost (e.g., ex-Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran). Obscure individuals also suffer at the hands of PC companies fearing bad press and lawsuits. And once cast to the winds, the victim can mount a soapbox and eloquently plead his case, but without media coverage he’ll be the tree falling in a forest with no one to hear it.
Why is Trump immune? First, he’s mega-rich. And the main impact this has is not, as many think, that he can’t be bought (many billionaires, such as George Soros, seem like the sort who would sell their own mother for another billion).
It’s that he can’t be bullied.
Trump has lost business -- notably a Macy’s contract -- for opposing PC. But he has what I’ll refer to as, avoiding the vulgar descriptive, go-pound-sand money. But he’s not just any old billionaire (they’re a dime a dozen now, aren’t they?). Most of the mega-rich are somewhat PC themselves or aren’t interested in politics, and most of the rest couldn’t effectively wage a propaganda war against the Establishment. But Trump has transcended his profession and even his wealth; he has long been a member of the glitterati, a celebrity in a celebrity culture, a natural-born character, the man who can colorize a drab news day. He’s one of the people People can’t do without, and note: that magazine has greater circulation than any news publication.
Thus, the media can’t wither Trump on the vine. Even if, let’s say, The New York Times aimed to and ignored him, it would simply wither its own exposure. So the media cover him big, and he uses it in a big way because he has a big personality; he likes the camera as much as it likes him. Yet there’s one more critical factor.
Imagine you went to a John Wayne movie years ago and the Duke, instead of being an intrepid champion of good, sheepishly apologized to the villain. You might have wanted your money back. For a hero stands up for what’s right, against all odds and even in a hail of bullets. And were he to back down, he would relinquish hero status.
Yet backing down is par for the course when confronted by the thought police. People will cower and apologize -- thus relinquishing any support they might have had. Why would fellow citizens stand up for you if you won’t even stand up for yourself? And virtually everyone makes this mistake.
Except Donald Trump. Not only doesn’t he apologize, but he gets in the thought police’s face, doubles down and may demand an apology from them.
And his supporters go wild. Obama said in 2008 "We are the ones we have been waiting for." But, no, the Trump phenomenon is what oh-so many have been waiting for: a crusader who takes on hated PC, can weather the storm and doesn’t back down. This is why people flock to Trump. He’s the one who’s got Mussolini hanging upside-down and is beating him like a piñata. And when you have a hero, leading the troops in the heat of battle against a despised oppressor, you don’t worry about his marriages, past ideological indiscretions or salty language. You charge right behind him.
This is what the cultural and political establishments don’t fully grasp and why they’re apoplectic. Their PC weaponry, heretofore deployed to such devastating effect, is as nothing. Trump is like The Blob: the more trash the thought police throw at him, the bigger he gets. And this is because PC has always been trash, foisted on us by cultural illegal dumpers who, proceeding contrary to the people’s will, have acted as undemocratically as the KGB.
Trump is taking out the trash. And the more it tries to burn him, the more people will want to see it burn.