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Monday, June 11, 2018

Trying to See to November

For John, BLUFJust a few months ago (14 March) The Boston Globe was predicting a "Blue Tsunami".  It is a long way to November, but I don't think that Blue Wave is a certainty.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Old Gray Lady, by Christopher Buskirk, 8 June 2018.

Here are three key paragraphs:

Mr. Trump tapped into this.  Most Republicans accept his transgressive personality and his intentional tweaking of social and political norms because they see it as in service of those larger ideas.  That will seem counterintuitive to Trump haters, but fiddling with tax rates, however necessary and beneficial, can’t sustain a political movement, let alone a nation.  Issues of citizenship and solidarity — that is to say, asking what it means to be an American — have returned to the fore.  This is partly because of Mr. Trump and partly in spite of him.  What is important is that the tumult caused by his unusual candidacy and his unusual approach to governing created an environment in which an intellectual refounding of Republican politics became possible.

The three-legged stool of the new Republican majority is a pro-citizen immigration policy, a pro-worker economic policy and a foreign policy that rejects moral imperialism and its concomitant foreign wars.  John Adams described just such a foreign policy when he wrote that America is “the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all” but “the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Giving up on a failed policy of moral imperialism allows Republicans to focus on forming good citizens and restoring a sense of Americanism that relies upon strong ties of fellowship and belief in a shared destiny.  To that end, our candidates would be well advised to ignore strategists and consultants who talk exclusively in terms of messaging tailored to statistical constructs like “disaffected Democrats with some college” or “married suburban men who drive S.U.V.s.”  When it comes to politics, most people don’t want to be addressed as members of a demographic group looking for a payoff. They want to be addressed as Americans.

If you are a statistician it is good to know if there is a group of "married suburban men who drive SUVs."  That data, helps understand who is where.  We still need to understand what might be behind their voting Republican, if they do.

Here is another good point:

That’s why Mr. Trump’s rhetoric works.  When he speaks off the cuff, he talks about “we,” “us” and “our.”  He has said repeatedly that we love our farmers, our police, our flag and our national anthem — even our coal miners.  It is an odd construction, or at least one we’re not used to hearing.  It speaks to the essential fraternity of the nation, but when Mr. Trump says it — maybe when any Republican says it — too many people don’t believe that they are included in the “our.”  They hear something much narrower than what is meant.  People reject the essentially wholesome message because of the messenger.  That needs to change because they are, in fact, our farmers, our police and our coal miners, and we should love them.  The bonds of civil union that ought to hold us together demand that we love our fellow citizens in their imperfection even as they love us in ours.
And that is something have I noticed.  Unlike Presidents Bush and Obama, who were big into "I", "me" and "my", President Trump is not.  I wonder if the reason President Trump has such popularity as he does is because, unlike his two predecessors, he says "we" and "our" rather than "I" and "my".  From that may flow an idea in the minds of some that he is Walter Mitty come to life.  He will pull out his fountain pen at the needed point and put it where it will do the most good.  I can almost hear something going "pocketa pocketa".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr. Buskirk is editor and publisher of the journal American Greatness and a contributing opinion writer.

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