I’ve been saying it for a while now: just by bringing these issues to the fore and getting people talking about them, Trump has already rendered a far greater service to the nation than any of the professional-politician pygmies ever have, or ever will.
A nation going broke providing freebies to its own citizens cannot afford them for non-citizens. A nation that criminalizes drugs creates an economic risk premium for dealing in those drugs, which is especially attractive for the relatively impoverished in Latin America. A nation that helps make conditions intolerable in other countries may be confronted with escaping refugees (as Europe has discovered). Those are simple, indisputable facts.
There has been no shortage of commentators pointing out these facts—for years, even decades—but by definition, even if their audiences were in the millions they were “fringe.” Back in late 2014, immigration reform—a “path to citizenship,” de facto amnesty, and meaningless promises of tighter border security—was the prevailing mantra, chanted by both parties’ candidates, endorsed by all right-thinking pundits as necessary to secure the increasingly important Latino vote (support from Republicans was paradoxical—most immigrants vote for Democrats). There would be no immigration issue because dissenting views were marginalized or suppressed, and the “solution” to the problem was a done deal regardless of who was elected.
Then Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and proposed building a wall at the border, funded by Mexico. The epithet and proposal were outrageous, but the concerns of millions of Americans had been ignored or dismissed as racist and xenophobic. It took something outrageous to get those concerns on the table and force the Cloud People to pay attention. They did so not out of any solicitude for the unwashed, the Dirt People, but because Trump jumped to the top of the polls. Immigration will be a front burner issue through the general election, and attacks on Trump supporters by Mexican-flag-waving thugs will only help his cause. He doesn’t even have to say: “What did I tell you?” It’s implied.
Like open immigration, free trade has been distorted beyond recognition by governments. In a free world, a decision either to migrate or trade across the artificial construct known as a border would be recognized as an act of self-interest that should not be hindered. Today’s decidedly unfree world means that so-called free trade arrangements augment the power and wealth of governments and their cronies at the expense of everyone else, just as “open immigration” expands welfare states with resultant political and economic advantages for the few.
Again, with rhetoric and proposals designed to roil the elite and agitate the electorate, Trump has exposed the sham of “free” trade. Real free trade among two or more countries would not be negotiated in secret and add thousand-page agreements, plus thousands more pages of implementing regulations, to a world already drowning in laws and regulations. A real free trade agreement would reduce laws and regulations—tariffs and trade barriers—and there would be no need to negotiate it in secret.
Real free trade increases the US’s economic well-being. By definition, two parties don’t engage in voluntary trade unless both parties benefit. However, present trade agreements have facilitated outsourcing of manufacturing and jobs. David Stockman persuasively argues that they are part of a one-two punch, the other punch being anti-deflationary monetary policies, that have frozen real incomes for decades (see his four-part series, “Losing Ground in Flyover America.”
Trump has broken through the mainstream narrative, highlighting the ongoing deterioration of the American economy and resonating with the millions who have been living through it.
Which is precisely why millions of us are willing to overlook whatever flaws he may have—and he does, and I doubt many of us are unaware of them, not being nearly as stupid or blinkered as the #NeverTrumptards presume us to be—and support him anyway. Robert covers an even bigger issue in Part the Second:
If Trump is elected and he’s able to implement policies implied by some of his criticisms of US foreign and military policies, his visage may get chiseled into Mount Rushmore. Back in December 2014, the only criticisms the anointed candidates had about those policies were that the US had not intervened enough, and where it had intervened, it had not dropped enough bombs or killed enough people. The operative word was “tougher”: everybody, including Clinton, was going to be tougher than the current inhabitant of the White House.
Then, crazy Donald reminded us that he had been against the 2003 Iraq war, didn’t see why the US had to be in Syria, didn’t see why our allies couldn’t pick up more of the tab for their own defense, and that he would negotiate, maybe do some deals, with the leader of the country with the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal. He hasn’t likened that leader to Hitler or equated his own manhood with killing terrorists, drone strikes, or ordering other people’s children into war.
Trump understands that you can do quite well in business with nowhere near 100 percent market share, and trying to attain such dominance is often ruinous. He has questioned whether the US can or should maintain unipolar dominance, the geopolitical equivalent of 100 percent market share. Even during its supposed heyday at the end of World War II and through the Cold War, US power was not absolute. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by the USSR, China, and lesser powers, the US’s string of inconclusive or losing military engagements since World War II, and the rebuilding of European and Asian economies devastated by that war chipped away at US dominance. The government refused to recognize it then, and still doesn’t.
It’s hard enough to maintain a confederated empire when its leader has clear military, economic, and financial superiority. When it doesn’t, the effort is dangerously delusional. For the government—deep in hock and unable to realize its objectives in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, and Ukraine, among others—to even contemplate confrontation and conflict with China and Russia would be farcical if the potential consequences weren’t so deadly.
The US government’s misbegotten drive for unipolarity is the most important issue Trump has raised. Humanity’s survival may be at stake. Call it the military-intelligence-industrial-media-complex, the powers that be, or the Deep State, if Trump follows through on his rhetoric he will be fighting the most lucrative and powerful cabal on the planet, a far greater threat to American liberties and lives than that which President Eisenhower warned of in 1961. Simply raising the issues he has accounts for the lion’s share of the fang-baring hostility towards him, especially from members of his own party. If his only accomplishment is to splinter the cabal “into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds,” as President Kennedy reportedly wanted to do with the CIA after the Bay of Pigs disaster, Trump will have earned his place on Mount Rushmore.
Indeed he will have. I have to admit, my expectations are not nearly so high as all that; my belief is that this country as we’ve always perceived it throughout my lifetime—the most free, most prosperous, most powerful, and most generally beneficent nation in history—is effectively finished, and there really is no bringing it back, if it ever really existed at all. Not with so high a percentage of the population absolutely determined to replicate ourselves as England v2.0, content to emulate the faltering, near-flatlined socialist democracies of Europe.
Steyn has always said that decline is a choice; that would seem to be the choice we’ve made, and I am highly skeptical of any one man’s ability to reverse our course at this late date. But if Trump can just stem the dismal tide for a while—maybe implement some common-sense immigration policy, re-establish a border to the south, and get us to at least openly discuss exactly who and what it is we’re supposedly fighting in the so-called War On Terror—well, that will be plenty enough for me.
No, it won’t be enough to bring us back to greatness. That’s more up to our benighted government-school “educated” populace than it is to any leader. Trump doesn’t have control over that—we do, to whatever extent that anybody does, and frankly, I doubt we’re up to it. But maybe, just maybe, he can get us looking in the right direction again. That’s not nothing, and again, though your mileage may vary: it’s plenty enough for me.