Analyzing Trumpism on the Quick

Vox posted this morning about people trying to get a handle on Trump’s ideology — a tall order, since he doesn’t really have one in the sense we’ve come to expect from politicians.  He has beliefs and goals, of course, but they weren’t formed by years of fitting into a political party and being instructed by special interest groups.  They come from a lifetime of seeing what works — and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work, because he’s had plenty of failures too — and applying those lessons to situations as they come along.

The irony of so many conservatives attacking Trump is that his viewpoint and attitude are much like that of their idol Reagan. Reagan was more intelligent and educated than people thought, but he didn’t have an ideology based on white papers and party politics either. He had a common-sense, small-town conservatism that came from growing up and working in the Midwest. That gave him an optimism about America that may have led to some mistakes — most notably the immigration amnesty in 1986 — but which also helped him to inspire people and lead them to accomplish things which hadn’t been thought possible.  He had a “Hey, this isn’t right, let’s fix it” mentality that’s very traditional American.

Trump is the same way. His image of America may not always be entirely realistic, but goals don’t have to be. What matters is that he’s going to walk into the office each day asking what is being done to move America in that direction, instead of what needs to be done on the other side of the world today, or what he can say to look good in the media.

The knee-jerk perspective says that a man who owns casinos and is on his third marriage can’t hold a Norman Rockwell-like ideal of America.  But maybe owning casinos and being through divorce, and seeing what that world is like, makes a man long for a better America.

I Am the Leader of the Alt-Right

(This is a piece I wrote for some family and friends a month or two ago, to explain to them what the Alt-Right is and where it came from.  They tend to be conservative in temperament, but moderate and Nice, as you find in the Midwest.  So they don’t want to be associated with a movement that is too mean — and certainly not with Nazis of any sort — but they’re willing to listen to reason.)

I am the leader of the Alt-Right, and you can too. (I’ll explain that odd sentence later.)

Now that the Old Media have driven their approval ratings to historically low levels with their lies and omissions and complete failure to understand anything about this past election, they’ve decided to make themselves relevant again by attacking a small group of thinkers that has won some victories against them — the Alt-Right. This is stupid and will fail, but it means they’ve attacked some people I respect and consider friends. Since the media seem determined to make the Alt-Right a household word, I suppose it’s time to explain it.

First a little history. About 60 years ago, some liberals were unhappy with the direction of the left wing in American politics, especially its coziness with Soviet Communism, so they switched to the conservative/Republican side. Their most prominent members were writers for the Jewish magazine Commentary. Conservatives welcomed these new allies (during the Cold War, opposition to the USSR was the main issue), and because they were well-known thinkers and writers, they soon gained influence in conservative circles.

However, they weren’t really conservative, except for the anti-Communist part, so they called themselves neo-conservatives. They were still fairly liberal on social issues like abortion and guns. Their primary concerns were war — using military power to achieve their goals in other countries, especially where it could benefit Israel — and free trade and the free movement of labor, which they believed would benefit the global economy. They drew support from Wall Street and others who wanted a booming economy more than anything else.

Ronald Reagan wasn’t one of them, but by the time of the first Bush presidency, the neo-conservatives had pretty much taken over the Republican party and the prominent conservative organizations and magazines, and they solidified that during the Clinton and Bush II presidencies. They still paid lip service to conservative social issues, but their focus was war and global trade. Others on the right wing who weren’t on board with neo-conservatism began to form their own groups and organizations, and looked for a new term to describe themselves since “conservative” had been taken over.

Various names have been tried over the past few years, from Dissident Right to Dark Enlightenment, but none of them really worked. A couple years ago a guy named Richard Spencer came up with Alt-Right, short for “alternative right,” and it caught on. It seemed like a pretty good umbrella term for everyone who opposes the left wing and the neo-conservatives who claim to represent the right. So that’s where it comes from.

That means the Alt-Right includes a wide range of people who don’t necessarily agree on much else except who the primary enemies of Western Civilization are (and sometimes not even that). I disagree with some in the Alt-Right on things (including Spencer, but he still came up with a good name). But most Alt-Righters I talk to are like you and me: people who think we’ve been going the wrong direction for a while and want to get back to common-sense values, putting your family first, and governance that puts Americans ahead of foreign interests. If I had to describe us in one sentence, it would be that we refuse to lie to ourselves about what our eyes can see. We don’t let political correctness prevent us from pointing out problems or offering solutions because someone somewhere might be offended.15578612_10154643500591421_5586703992157428550_n

When I said I was the leader of the Alt-Right at the beginning, that was a half-joke. It comes from a related fight that took place recently called GamerGate, when computer gamers and creators got sick of the corruption in gaming journalism and decided to root it out with an overwhelming email and social media campaign. GamerGate never had leaders; everyone simply pitched in and did what he thought would help. So the motto developed: “I am the leader of GamerGate, and you can too.” (One thing about the Alt-Right, similar to GamerGate: we’re kind of a bunch of smart alecs who don’t take ourselves too seriously, so there are a lot of jokes, and we’re irreverent to a fault. The picture below kinda expresses the general attitude, and I cleaned it up for you.)

The truth is, I’m not a leader, just a guy writing and doing things online. On the other hand, the Alt-Right doesn’t want or need leaders, so anyone who has a good idea is encouraged to run with it and be his own leader, along with anyone who wants to join in. If someone claims to be a leader of the Alt-Right, he’s probably lying and we don’t recognize him as such. The real leaders are focused on exchanging ideas and getting things done, not posing for the camera.

So that’s the Alt-Right: ordinary people who value Western Civilization, who don’t refuse to see what’s happening to it, and who hope to come up with some solutions before it’s too late. And we’re having fun, which drives our opponents batty most of all.

There’s Wrong, and Then There’s Crapping Your Pants in Public Wrong

People are often wrong, and most of the time, I don’t hold being wrong against anyone. (I’m talking about being wrong about judgments of fact and predictions here, not “wrong” in the sense of sinning.) We all see the world imperfectly through different filters, so being wrong is just part of life. The important thing to me is that, if I’m wrong, I want to figure out why I was wrong so I can be right more often in the future. Was I missing information or did I have bad information? Was there something wrong with my logic? Did I let my emotions override my reason? I want to know, because I don’t like being wrong. When someone else is wrong, I assume he’s going through the same imperfect process, so I don’t assume he will always be wrong, and I certainly don’t assume he’s a bad person.

But once in a while someone is so breathtakingly wrong that I have to step back and say, “Okay, that guy has a ‘being wrong’ problem, and I need to make a note of that.” One unimportant example came on a sports radio show I listen to, where one day one of the hosts said that Philip Rivers is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, ranking him at #3, I think. That’s so stupid that I (and his co-host) thought he had to be joking, but he was serious. At that moment my mind stepped back and said, “Okay, never take judgments by this guy seriously again.” I assume he’s not actually in love with Rivers, and that Rivers’s agent isn’t paying him for that opinion, so all that’s left is that he has a major screw loose in his ability to judge players, at least. That doesn’t make him a bad person or mean he can’t do an entertaining radio show, and I’ve continued to listen. But I wouldn’t let him make personnel decisions for a peewee league team — or much of anything else, because I don’t know how many other reasoning processes might depend on that loose screw.

A similar thing happened this weekend over Trump’s locker room bragging, though this time there are hundreds of loose screws all wobbling in unison. Now, you can think Trump was wrong to say what he did, whether it was bragging or lies. You can think it should disqualify him in voters’ minds for the presidency. You can think he should drop out of the race, or that his party should kick him out. You would be wrong about most of those judgments in my opinion, but they’re judgments that a reasonable person with a grasp on reality could honestly come to, and I wouldn’t hold them against you.

But when you claim that locker-room bragging is the same thing as sexual assault, that’s when I again step back and say, “Okay, mental note: never take a word from this guy seriously again.” Because there are only a few reasons someone claiming to be a conservative, a Republican, or just a reasonable inhabitant of reality might say that:

  1. You’re already working for the other side anyway. Done with you.
  2. You’re virtue-signaling: saying what you think will make the right kind of people like you. Done with you.
  3. You know it’s bullshit, but you’re trying to maintain your sinecure as Righteous Conservative Blogger #2138 or whatever niche you’ve carved out of the punditry for yourself. Done with you.
  4. You’re actually deranged enough to believe bragging==assault. In that case, no one should ever listen to you about anything again. You should never be allowed near a jury or any position of leadership, and quite possibly should be kept away from sharp objects. Done with you squared.

So as you can see, the result regardless of what brought you to this state of unreality is the same: Done with you. Somewhere in my mind is an assortment of stuff that I think about you, and somewhere in that mess is a little meter that’s labeled “credibility”, and it just pegged to zero and got nailed there. It doesn’t matter if you’re right 90% of the time, or even if I’ve liked your opinions in the past. You’ve exposed yourself as someone whose opinions may not just be wrong at times, but can come completely detached from reality, so I have no more interest in them. Besides, Conservative Blogger #2139 is also out there writing, and just might not be deranged, so there’s no great loss.

Madison Avenue’s Uniformity of Diversity

Here’s a very typical TV commercial these days, which reflects the elite view of the future.  It’s a Hewlett-Packard tie-in with the next Star Trek movie, but either they didn’t want to pay for the real actors or the real actors wouldn’t have presented the right sort of diversity.

The ad features a tall black man as the captain, leading a crew of light-skinned people.  The crew is mostly women.  There may be some white men in the back of the crowd, but the one man near the front who speaks — perhaps the beta to the black man’s alpha — appears to be Asian.

This is what diversity in advertising has come to.  It’s gone way past trying to achieve some sort of racial quota or equality, and created an artificial world where normal white men almost don’t exist unless they’re needed to look bad so a woman or a black man can look good by comparison.  In an ad which is set in the future, they’re free to portray their ideal mix: a black leader who is definitely not at all the result of affirmative action, with a large harem of women, plus a few beta males (eunuchs?) to make sure some actual work gets done.  Sounds like a federal government office today, coming to your corporation tomorrow.

Why Conservatives Lose (#1?)

This was a comment for a post of Vox’s that got too long. Maybe I’ll write more about this topic of what “conservatism” as a political movement really is (was) and why it’s bound to lose. But here’s a major reason, riffing off another comment there:

Conservatives refuse to entertain the thought that the left means business, and plays for keeps.

Conservatives, most being at least nominally Christian, believe that “the truth will set you free,” but they mistakenly apply that to politics and social issues, instead of only faith where it belongs.

Thing is, no one’s born politically conservative, and they don’t teach it in schools. You might be born with a conservative temperament in a conservative family and neighborhood, but then you get a steady diet of liberalism from society as you grow up. So usually, conservatism is something you discover later. (This is probably why Republican politicians seem so fake, by the way. Their bios will talk about how they were president of their Young Republicans chapter by age 15, or as one Cruz ad said, spending “a lifetime fighting for conservative ideals.” Normal people don’t work that way.)

Conservatism (ditto libertarianism) comes in “Aha!” moments later in life, when you read something or listen to someone and it clicks and you say, “Well, of course that’s how it works. It’s so obvious. Of course people will be lazy and unproductive if you feed them from the common weal. Of course more private gun ownership leads to less crime.” Or whatever that moment of clarity is about. And since it’s now so obvious to you, it seems like it should be obvious to others if they would just listen.

So you don’t need to deport anyone, or even defeat anyone, really — all those unpleasantries can be avoided — you just need to spread the Good Word of Conservatism.

And what’s better for sharing the Word than a big ol’ revival tent? It needs to be really big, so you can get all the people in there who think conservatism is their enemy: the freaks and libertines, the socialists, the illegal invaders, the recipients of government checks — yep, a realllllly big tent. And you may have to compromise on many things to get all those people to enter your tent long enough to hear the Word. But it’ll all be worth it, because it’ll be easy to roll back those compromises when we’re all one big happy conservative family.

That’s part of what we’re seeing in the Trump frenzy, with basically decent people who have been fighting a losing battle all their political careers saying, “What was wrong with our big-tent-outreach approach?”  Well, nothing, except that you consistently lose.  There have been two of what might be considered conservative victories in my lifetime: the election of Ronald Reagan (and you could argue how much that had to do with conservative policy stances, and how much because he gave people a sense of pride and hope in America), and the Contract with America in 1994, which was an exciting moral victory that had no lasting effect because they didn’t pass the most important point — term limits.

So now the proletariat of the Republican Party — many of them “gut conservatives” even though they couldn’t pick Russell Kirk out of an NBA lineup — wants to try something different, something that kinda feels a bit like 1980 again, and the elitist leaders don’t want to allow it?  Well, screw them.  Their way hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, won’t work.  We may not get conservative victories from Trump, but we just may.  We certainly wouldn’t have gotten them from the same old pack of fools with the same old tactics of strategic retreat.

We Would Have Won, Too, If Not for Those Pesky Proles

Here’s what gentry Republicans are saying with their frantic attempts to derail the Trump Train. I’ve translated from Beltway-speak to standard American English for better understanding.

“Trump is attracting exactly the kind of NASCAR-watching, barely-literate, beer-guzzling, racist, sexist, trailer-park trash that we’ve spent years insisting at cocktail parties are NOT a meaningful part of our party. (Democrats are the real racists!) These are the people TV comedians mean when they sneer about “red-staters” being unwashed hicks churning out babies like rabbits. They don’t even know the difference between a 501c3 and a 501c4! They couldn’t point out Iraq’s most important oil fields on a map, let alone explain why it’s critical that we continue bombing the place.

“We’ve worked hard for decades to distance ourselves from these people by throwing more money at non-whites, giving heartfelt MLK Jr. Day speeches, and proving how much we care about asylum- and work-seekers from other countries — and now the Trump campaign is bringing these horrible people front and center. The other parents at our child’s elite private school won’t even talk to us anymore!

“We don’t want these people in our party. Decent, anti-racist Americans aren’t going to want to be seen going to the polls with them. They’ll probably be hungover on election day and forget to vote anyway. So Trump can’t win, and we don’t want him to, so we’ll do anything — even burn down the party we claim to be trying to save — to get rid of him and these rubes who support him.”

End translation.

Trump represents a new, loosely organized party, the White Prole Party. However, because the two-party system has created a structure where third parties have no chance, he had to commandeer one of the two parties to have a viable campaign. That’s okay, no one was using the GOP anyway — except the Democrats, as a foil — so it’s about time someone put it to use. If he wins, it will make this new alignment permanent, and the gentry Republicans will have nowhere to go, which is what their hysteria is really about. We don’t need another party to hold their globalist, crony-capitalist, war-seeking positions anymore; the Democrats have taken those over. They don’t want to go Democrat — and the Democrats probably wouldn’t have them — but they sure as hell don’t want to stand with people who might occasionally say unspeakable things like, “You know, sometimes I wonder if Israel has too much influence on American policy.” So they’ll be out in the cold, possibly even without a job. Losing they could take; that just means more work for the next election. This would be far worse.

[Hat-tip to Derb for “gentry Republicans” and “white prole party.”]

Chumps Against Trump

(Yeah, I know, it’s been a while.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  No promises.)

Allow me to try to explain the delicious hypocrisy of conservatives who have suddenly, here in the spring of the Year of Our Lord 2016, discovered that the GOP isn’t a safe space for them.

Here’s how the nomination process has gone for as long as I’ve been old enough to vote.  Conservatives rally behind a candidate or two.  Perhaps a conservative candidate (such as Buchanan) even does pretty well early in the primaries.  Then the movers and shakers in the party put a stop to that and nominate an establishment liberal.  Most conservative leaders then come to their rank-and-file and say, “Okay, that was great, getting excited about a conservative for a hot second there, but it’s time to get behind the annointed guy now.  We know he’s not as conservative as you’d like, but that’s why it’s so important that conservatives get behind him!  We need him to owe us for helping him win, so we can get conservatives into his administration and push it to the right.  If we stay home pouting, either the Democrat wins, or the liberal Republican wins without our help — conservatism loses either way.  Remember the Supreme Court!!”

So that was the standard take every time.  Now, according to some conservatives, the party has selected another liberal — more liberal than ever, they say.  But here’s the thing: according to them, he also has extremely malleable positions.  That’s one of the main things they say is so dangerous about him.  So unlike guys who have held the same positions for decades, his positions are fuzzy enough that getting a few conservatives into his administration where they could nudge things one way or another could make a real difference.  That’s as least a logical possibility, so their old argument makes more sense this time than ever before.

Are they making that argument?  No, this time we’re supposed to use the slash-and-burn tactics they talked us out of in the past.  This time it’s better to let liberals completely dominate his administration if that’s what happens, while we sit on the sidelines and feel righteous about it.  Conservative leaders called that short-sighted and childish for the last 30 years, so what’s changed?

What’s changed is they got played this time.  The game changed while they weren’t paying attention, and when they started calling from their dusty old playbook, no one was listening because Trump was already carrying the ball downfield on a QB option.

It’s not about the issues, and it’s not about conservatism.  These guys were perfectly happy to let conservative goals languish while Republicans and Democrats alike raised spending, increased foreign entanglements, and added new unconstitutional powers and departments to the federal government, as long as they got a piece of the action and Israel was catered to.  The rest of conservatism was campaign fodder.

What it’s about is that they look like chumps, and they know it, so they’re embarrassed and pissed off.  Their power center is being yanked out from underneath them — by a bunch of proles that they really consider beneath them, too — and there’s not much they can do about it except whine.  So whine they shall.