Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Scariest Reason Trump Won. By Dennis Prager.

The Scariest Reason Trump Won. By Dennis Prager. National Review Online, May 10, 2016.

Prager:

There are many reasons Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The four most often cited reasons are the frustrations of white working-class Americans, a widespread revulsion against political correctness, disenchantment with the Republican “establishment,” and the unprecedented and unrivaled amount of time the media afforded Trump.

They are all valid.

But the biggest reason is this: The majority of Republicans are not conservative.

Conservatives who opposed Trump kept arguing — indeed provided unassailable proof – that Donald Trump is not a conservative and has never been one. But the argument meant little or nothing to two types of Republicans: the majority of Trump voters who don’t care whether he is a conservative, and the smaller number of Trump voters who are conservative but care about illegal immigration more than all other issues, including Trump’s many and obvious failings.

So, then, what happened to the majority of Republicans? Why aren’t they conservative?

The answer lies in America’s biggest – and scariest – problem: Most Americans no longer know what America stands for. For them, America has become just another country, a place located between Canada and Mexico.

But America was founded to be an idea, not another country. As Margaret Thatcher put it: “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”

Why haven’t Americans over the past three generations known what America stands for?

Probably the biggest reason is the influence of left-wing ideas.

Since its inception, the Left has opposed the American idea, and for good reason. Everything the American idea represents undermines leftist ideas. And the Left, unlike most Americans, has always understood that either the Left is right or America is right.

America stands for small government, a free economy (and therefore capitalism), liberty (and it therefore allows for liberty’s inevitable consequence, inequality), the “melting pot” ideal, and a God-centered population rooted in Judeo-Christian values (so that a moral society is created by citizens exercising self-control rather than relying on the state to impose controls).

Only America was founded on the idea of small government. But the Left is based on big government.

America was founded on the principle that human rights come from the Creator. For the Left, rights come from the state.

America was founded on the belief that in order to maintain a small government, a God-fearing people is necessary. The Left opposes God-based religions, particularly Judeo-Christian religions. Secularism is at the core of Leftism every bit as much as egalitarianism is.

The American Revolution, unlike the French Revolution, placed liberty above equality. For the Left, equality is more important than all else. That’s why so many American and European leftists have celebrated left-wing regimes, no matter how much they squelched individual liberty, from Stalin to Mao to Che and Castro to Hugo Ch├ívez. They all preached equality.

It took generations, but the Left has succeeded (primarily through the schools, but also through the media) in substituting its values for America’s.

While the Left has been the primary cause, there have been others.

The most significant is success.

American values were so successful that Americans came to take America’s success for granted. They forgot what made America uniquely free and affluent. And now, it’s not even accurate to say “forgot,” because, in the case of the current generation, they never knew. While the schools, starting with the universities, were being transformed into institutions for left-wing indoctrination, American parents, too, ceased teaching their children American values (beginning with not reading to their children the most popular book in American history, the Bible).

Schools even stopped teaching American history. When American history is taught today, it is taught as a history of oppression, imperialism, and racism. Likewise, there is essentially no civics education, once a staple of the public-school system. Young Americans are not taught either the Constitution or how American government works. I doubt many college students even know what “separation of powers” means, let alone why it is so significant.

So, then, thanks to leftism and America’s taken-for-granted success, most Americans no longer understand what it means to be an American. Those who do are called “conservatives” because they wish to conserve the unique American idea. But conservatives now constitute not only a minority of Americans, but a minority of Republicans. That is the primary reason Donald Trump — a nationalist but not a conservative — is the presumptive Republican nominee.

As I noted from the outset, I will vote for him if he wins the nomination — because there is no choice. But the biggest reason he won is also the scariest.


Hillary: The Conservative Hope. By Bret Stephens.

Hillary: The Conservative Hope. By Bret Stephens. Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2016.

The Republican Party ruined conservatism long before Trump. By Sean Illing. Salon, May 10, 2016.


Stephens:

The best hope for what’s left of a serious conservative movement in America is the election in November of a Democratic president, held in check by a Republican Congress. Conservatives can survive liberal administrations, especially those whose predictable failures lead to healthy restorations—think Carter, then Reagan. What isn’t survivable is a Republican president who is part Know Nothing, part Smoot-Hawley and part John Birch. The stain of a Trump administration would cripple the conservative cause for a generation.

This is the reality that wavering Republicans need to understand before casting their lot with a presumptive nominee they abhor only slightly less than his likely opponent. If the next presidency is going to be a disaster, why should the GOP want to own it?

In the 1990s, when another Clinton was president, conservatives became fond of the phrase “character counts.” This was a way of scoring points against Bill Clinton for his sexual predations and rhetorical misdirections, as well as a statement that Americans expected honor and dignity in the Oval Office. I’ll never forget the family friend, circa 1998, who wondered how she was supposed to explain the meaning of a euphemism for oral sex to her then 10-year-old daughter.

Conservatives still play the character card against Hillary Clinton, citing her disdain for other people’s rules, her Marie Antoinette airs and her potential law breaking. It’s a fair card to play, if only the presumptive Republican nominee weren’t himself a serial fabulist, an incorrigible self-mythologizer, a brash vulgarian, and, when it comes to his tax returns, a determined obfuscator. Endorsing Mr. Trump means permanently laying to rest any claim conservatives might ever again make on the character issue.

Conservatives are also supposed to believe that it’s folly to put hope before experience; that leopards never change their spots. So what’s with the magical thinking that, nomination in hand, Mr. Trump will suddenly pivot to magnanimity and statesmanship? Where’s the evidence that, as president, Mr. Trump will endorse conservative ideas on tax, trade, regulation, welfare, social, judicial or foreign policy, much less personal comportment?

On Monday, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who savaged Mr. Trump during the campaign, published an op-ed in these pages on why he plans to cast his vote for the real-estate developer as “the second-worst thing we could do this November.” Too much is at stake, Mr. Jindal said, on everything from curbing the regulatory excesses of the Obama administration to appointing a conservative judge to the Supreme Court, to risk another Democratic administration.

Mr. Jindal holds out the hope that Mr. Trump, who admires the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision on eminent domain (the one in which Susette Kelo’s little pink house was seized by the city of New London for the intended benefit of private developers), might yet appoint strict constructionists to the bench. Mr. Jindal also seems to think that a man whose preferred style of argument is the threatened lawsuit and the Twittertantrum, can be trusted with the vast investigative apparatus of the federal government.

The deeper mistake that Mr. Jindal and other lukewarm Trump supporters make is to assume that policy counts for more than ideas—that is, that the policy disasters he anticipates from a Clinton administration will be indelible, while Trumpism poses no real threat to the conservative ideas he has spent a political career championing. This belief stems from a failure to take Trumpism seriously, or to realize just how fragile modern conservatism is as a vital political movement.

But Trumpism isn’t just a triumph of marketing or the excrescence of a personality cult. It is a regression to the conservatism of blood and soil, of ethnic polarization and bullying nationalism. Modern conservatives sought to bury this rubbish with a politics that strikes a balance between respect for tradition and faith in the dynamic and culture-shifting possibilities of open markets. When that balance collapses—under a Republican president, no less—it may never again be restored, at least in our lifetimes.

For liberals, all this may seem like so much manna from heaven. Mr. Trump’s nomination not only gives his Democratic opponent the best possible shot at winning the election (with big down-ballot gains, too), but of permanently discrediting the conservative movement as a serious ideological challenger. They should be careful what they wish for. Mr. Trump could yet win, or one of his epigones might in four or eight years. This will lead to its own left-wing counter-reactions, putting America on the road to Weimar.

For conservatives, a Democratic victory in November means the loss of another election, with all the policy reversals that entails. That may be dispiriting, but elections will come again. A Trump presidency means losing the Republican Party. Conservatives need to accept that most conservative of wisdoms—sometimes, losing is winning, especially when it offers an education in the importance of political hygiene.