Come what may in the primary voting that is—finally!—about to begin, people will be analyzing the Trump phenomenon for a long time. The Week has two interesting pieces up right now, starting with Michael Brendan Dougherty, arguing “For Trumpism, Against Trump.”
I’ve been waiting for a Republican who would say, bluntly, the Iraq War was a disaster. I’ve been waiting for a Republican candidate to say that the trade deals and legal frameworks that drive globalism have been bad deals for America’s workers. I’ve been waiting for a candidate who would question the elite consensus on mass immigration, not tweak it. And I’ve been waiting for a candidate to deliver a shock to the conservative movement and the Republican Party, something that would force them to reconnect to the actual material interests of their voters, to make them realize that the market was made for man, and not man for the market.
Unfortunately, the candidate espousing these views is Donald Trump. . .
I can see clearly why Trumpism is having such a romp. Trump doesn’t just talk about change, he is the change. Barack Obama was better at giving a politician’s speech than most politicians. But Trump doesn’t give speeches the way most politicians do. He doesn’t form policy or take positions in the way modern politicians do, with the advice of the professional and permanent political class. Of course Trump’s very style would appeal to people who are weakly attached to the political system, the people who are worst-served by it.
If nothing else, Trump is exposing the political malpractice of Republican leadership and many conservatives.
The second article in The Week is from James Poulos, “Why I’m Not Afraid of Donald Trump.”
Donald Trump is no Napoleon. He’s not even an Andrew Jackson — the roughshod populist president compared, in a time of establishment terror, to his contemporary the Emperor. But as established Republican elites fracture over whether to panic in the face of Trump or throw themselves at his feet, what I love about Bonaparte has inspired what strikes me as an urgently needed corrective. . .
Begin with the idea that, if elected, Donald Trump’s power would not be all that great. If elected, he would likely be one of the most constrained presidents with the greatest of incentives to strike popular bargains. If nominated, he would likely try to win, working to placate as much of the electorate as he thinks he needs. Remember: He’s a narcissist and narcissists want to be universally loved. . .
Trump is far more likely than Napoleon was to be constrained by the deep cultural and historical fabric that truly holds the so-called status quo in place. Our national institutions may be weakened and corrupted. But our habits, customs, and memories are not so poorly off. They will exert the same power, at every level of life, as those that pulled society back into the regular orbits once so seemingly threatened by Bonaparte, Jackson, and other western revolutionaries.
PAUL adds: It’s not much of an advert for Trump to say that, in part because of his narcissism, he won’t be another Napoleon Bonaparte.