This page is reserved for commentary on timely topics—including religion, politics, and societal trends— with special emphasis on Essential Value and Individual Freedom.  Respond to: hampday1@verizon.net.

The last two weeks have produced a flow of news leaked from anonymous sources.  We don't need "fake news" to tell us that Donald Trump is a deal-maker, not a statesman.  Having completed his first 100 days in April, our new Commander-in-Chief is learning that the deals he makes must be acceptable to the opposition as well as his chosen party.  You don't "win" in politics by behaving like a bull in a China shop or otherwise antagonizing your adversaries.  A show of respect will be particularly important this week as Trump begins his maiden overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy.

Cal Thomas nailed the need for finesse in a recent column titled "Mr. President, please stop the insults".  He points out that intimidation is ugly and unbecoming for any president, anger is not policy, and insults do little to change anyone's mind.  "The president was within his rights to discharge FBI Director James Comey, but it is the way he did it, sending a letter instead of a face-to-face meeting or even a phone call, that was disturbing. ...Whatever Comey's shortcomings, he deserved better, even if only to make the president look good.  ...Wouldn't it have been better had [Trump] said, I want to see the FBI move in a different direction?"

President Trump has threatened to cancel the daily White House press briefings because (he says) he is moving so fast his spokespeople don't always get it right.  Actually, he needs to put the fake news and protests it generates behind him, cease tweeting, and brief the press directly as FDR and Calvin Coolidge did.  This will eliminate much of the misunderstanding, as well as provide an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that he's doing what he promised to do in his winning campaign for the presidency.

Meantime, the losers' frustration is getting out of hand.  House Democratic leaders hastily called a news conference Wednesday to express their outrage at President Trump’s latest dramatics, taking great pains to show they were not seeking to railroad him out of the White House.  As Adam B. Schiff [Rep. CA] warned Democrats not to let their actions “be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means,” Al Green [Rep. TX] was in the well of the House thundering, “The president must be impeached!”  

Considering the frenetic state of our divided nation, we decided this would be a good week to restore some sanity with the ever rational historian Victor Davis Hanson.  As it turns out, his subject this week──rebuilding the Republican Party──implicitly calls for respect and amicability toward the opposition.  As always, we appreciate hearing your views at hampday1@verizon.net.    

--HP

 

                                    "I JUST FIRED THE FBI HEAD, A REAL NUT JOB." -Trump to Russian officials      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

              

 

Can Trump Successfully Remodel the Republican Party?

by  Victor Davis Hanson*  [Filed 5/11/17]

 

The Republican Party establishment is caught in an existential paradox.

Without Donald Trump’s populist and nationalist 2016 campaign, the GOP likely would not have won the presidency.  Nor would Republicans now enjoy such lopsided control of state legislatures and governorships, as well as majorities in the House and Senate, and likely control of the Supreme Court for a generation.

So are conservatives angry at or indebted to the apostate Trump for helping them politically in a way they previously could not help themselves?

For a similar sense of the paradox, imagine if a novice outsider such as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban had captured the Democratic nomination and then won the presidency—but did not run on either Bernie Sanders' progressive redistributionism, Barack Obama’s identity politics or Hillary Clinton’s high taxes and increased regulation.  Would liberals be happy, conflicted or seething?

For now, most Republicans are overlooking Trump’s bothersome character excesses— without conceding that his impulsiveness and bluntness may well have contributed to his success after Republican sobriety and traditionalism failed.

Republicans concentrate on what they like in the Trump agenda—military spending increases, energy expansion, deterrence abroad, tax and regulatory reform, and the repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act—and ignore the inherent contradictions between Trumpism and their own political creed.

But there are many fault lines that will loom large in the next few years.

Doctrinaire conservatives believe that unfettered free trade is essential, even if it is sometimes not fair or reciprocal.

Establishment Republicans (privately) argue that cheap imports into the U.S. at least kept inflation low.  If our trade partners dump state-subsidized products into the U.S., it is to their long-term disadvantage, not ours.

In this mainstream Republican view, the role of a superpower is to endure trade deficits to help its less powerful allies and keep the global order prosperous and stable.

But Trump’s idea of “fair” trade trumps “free” trade.

Trump is not willing to accept a permanent Midwest Rust Belt as the price of globalization.  If there are to be sacrificial lambs in world trade, for Trump it is better that they reside in China, South Korea and Germany, nations that for a change can try finding any upside to running huge trade deficits.

Unlike doctrinaire Republicans, Trump believes illegal immigration is a big—and bad—deal.

The Republican establishment’s employer argument is that illegal immigration ensures that the sort of work “Americans won’t do” is actually done.  Or, some establishment Republicans believe that undocumented migrants who cross the southern border will one day become conservative, “family values” voters.

Not so Trumpism.  It seeks to help the working class by stopping the importation of cheap labor.  It believes that secure borders will restore the sanctity of law, and that the end of illegal immigration will lead to greater integration and assimilation of Latino minority groups.

In the long run, Mexico will be a better neighbor by not counting on impoverished expatriates to prop up an often corrupt government in Mexico City and by addressing the plight of its impoverished rather than exporting its poor.

Trumpism views the world abroad largely in terms of realist deterrence.

Outside the West, the world is a mess, and it will likely not change—and cannot be forced to change—because of American blood and treasure spent on trying to replicate America abroad.  Instead, Trumpism seems to want to deter rivals to ensure a calm global order.

Trumpism has no illusions that there will ever be a world of liberal democracies.  It seeks instead only to make sure enemies understand that any future aggression will not be worth the anticipated benefits. As for dictators such as those in the Philippines or Egypt, Trumpism argues that it makes little sense to snub autocratic friends while cutting deals with autocratic enemies like those in Iran or Cuba.

On matters of identity politics, Republicans have often sought to play down but not actively oppose racial, ethnic and gender pressure groups.  The strategy has been to not antagonize the ethnic and race industries in hopes of receiving a greater share of the minority vote.

Trump is politically incorrect. He sees a person’s pocketbook, not his outward appearance, as the key to his allegiance.  Through deregulation, tax reform, immigration reform and fair trade, Trump hopes to grow the economy by 3 percent each year.

Such economic growth has not happened in over a decade.  But if Trumpism works, then prosperity will supposedly unite Americans to a greater degree than identity politics can divide them.

In other words, Trump apparently believes that if he achieves 3 percent GDP growth and avoids a major war abroad, his brand of economic nationalism, realist deterrence and America-first chauvinism will replace mainstream Republicanism.

If he stalls the economy or gets into a quagmire abroad, then Trump will end up like most other American populist mavericks—as an interesting footnote.

 

 


*Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare.  He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004 and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Hanson has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets, and is perhaps best known for his 2001 book, Carnage and Culture. This commentary was published Thursday, May 11, 3017© The Patriot Post. *

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