By now you’ve probably all read the “Flight 93 Election” piece in the Claremont Review of Books. It’s a first rate assessment of our culture and the dynamics of our left vs right political debate, and makes the best case I’ve read so far for supporting Donald Trump. If you haven’t read it, do so. But I didn’t want to write anything about it until the intelligencia started responding to it.
The left called it “Stupid” for all the reasons you’d expect. What they offer in response is the very little more than the “Don’t be ridiculous” portion of their standard incrementalist argument. (This is usually followed by the execution of the very thing they called ridiculous, as soon as the last thing they wanted has become the ‘new normal’.) I would call this ‘sticking to their guns’.
But the right, in the form of National Review, is sticking to it’s pop guns as well. I say pop guns not because they are as intellectually bereft as the left is, but because their arguments, salient and cleverly offered as they ever are, are completely unpersuasive in 21st century America. No one buys it. They are not convincing. They are offering high minded socio-political arguments to what has become an argument about who we are.
NR thinks that the left has fractioned America by identity and turned the parts against each other. If this were really the case, then the last piece I published here could never have been written. A black man and a white man sitting together and socializing? Where’s his “justifiable” rage against my white privilege? Where’s my open disgust at his dark skin? That isn’t the line that the left has really drawn.
Where the left has divided us, and where all the corrupt intelligentsia mentioned in the CRM piece continue to struggle to keep us divided is by personality type. The left believes in emotion as a source of truth, and the right, or what has been called the ‘establishment right’ is clinging desperately to logic and reason.
These are more then decision making processes. They are the means by which our two opposing camps judge failure and success. The left’s policies fail by any logical and reasonable assessment of outcomes, but they don’t feel that way. They describe themselves as being on the ‘right side of history’ for the sole reason, that regardless of the outcome the policies make them feel better about themselves. “Mission Accomplished!”
The NR right, likewise fails. They point to the numbers and data which unambiguously support their view, and in the process, persuade no one who didn’t already agree with them. “Mission Failed!” they cheer, or to quote the flight 93 piece, “Our ideas were never tried!”. Same difference. The left fails on merit but manages to persuade none the less, the right fails to persuade but is correct on merit. And we all continue to talk past each other.
This is the biggest thing that the Trump candidacy has given us. He’s shown us how an arguably conservative view can be persuasive in 21st century America. “His basic position is correct” to quote CRM, but his presentation is all about emotion. As a longtime reader of NR, it seems to me that’s the ‘establishment right’s” biggest problem with him.
They hate his alleged inconsistency and his vagaries. They abhor his lack of Burkean presentation. They call him dishonest and ‘ignorant of the facts’, the same way they do a to any leftist politician. Rather than listening to him in the style he wants, they are applying their own standard, the very same standard that has provided them failure, after failure after failure.
The conservatism of NR is failing. It’s a withering vine. It’s influence shrinks by the day, not because of the Alt-Right or the left, but because of itself. They are looking at the problems of America and rather than seeing the real issue, they return to their standard measures of success and failure. There is no reason to believe this will ever produce anything except the same results. High mindedness and Burkean consistency no longer matters to America. No one is listening to them anymore. The dorm room Marxist analogy offered by the CRM piece, is tragically on point.
That’s how you fail. You correctly solve the wrong problem, because you're using the wrong measure to assess them. Trump may not be the right solution either, but at least he’s seeing and addressing the real issue. He’s making people feel good about America again. He’s convincing people who only know how to decide in the way the left does, and instead of offering the left's hatred of liberty and top down "we'll take care of you" maternalism, he’s convincing them to give Americanism one last try.