We’re going to be marveling, cringing, sometimes cheering, sometimes defending, but above all reflecting on Trump nonstop between now and November, and I’ll probably change my mind about him or aspects of him more than once along the way. So somewhat above the spirit of my previous post on “Five Ways to Think About Our Trumpian Moment” (which some of you took waaaayy too seriously), here are five propositions that are intended for serious reflection going forward:
- Divided parties invariably lose presidential elections. See: 1860, 1912, 1968, 1980, 1992. The only exception really is 1948, when Republicans nominated a doofus, while Democrats had three candidates in the general election, and still won anyway. Hmmm: Democrats are on their way to nominating a total doofus. And depending on how well Bernie does the rest of the way, the Democrats may yet end up divided, too. Which leads to:
- To the extent that Trump represents the rejection of the political establishment, the GOP is just getting out ahead of Democrats. Their crackup could be much more severe than the right: see any of our “Civil War on the Left” posts from the last couple years to understand the reasons why. Hillary Clinton is not the person to keep this increasingly fragile coalition together.
- Trump and Sanders both expose the obsolescence of policy wonks and policy wonkery. (Good thing I took up a new phase of my career when I did.) Both Trump and Sanders derive the bulk of their popularity less from specific policy ideas than more general attitudes.
- Keep your eye on the Journal of American Greatness, which is making the best intellectual and political case for Trump. They do this with wit and style, such as this satire of a Tom Friedman column, but also with the lacerating post “Everything Was Awesome” that nails Republican complacency with irony and sarcasm wielded like a sledgehammer.
- Is it possible to suggest that everyone keep calm? I don’t mean going full Kevin Bacon, but it is startling how severely the divisions over Trump are causing complete ruptures in personal relations. Let’s stop with the making of lists and threats of permanent ostracism (with the single exception of Mike Murphy—he should be flogged at the very least). There will be plenty of time for recriminations later.