One wonders at what ‘Trump’s insights’ might be, or more pointedly, what they might mean, or if those ‘insights’ even exist, except as a form of desperate political apologetics. From a former speech writer for Bush The Younger, whose career as pundit has faded, into a kind of obscurity, in the pages of an Atlantic magazine drowning in a surfeit of articles. Here is an example of what Mr. Frum might be writing about:
Their guy exposed the weakness of would-be Republican powerbrokers and veto-wielders, from the pro-life movement to the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
‘Trump’s insights’ are defined here by political seer Mr. Frum:
But for all Trump’s many faults and flaws, he saw things that were true and important—and that few other leaders in his party have acknowledged in the past two decades. Trump saw that Republican voters are much less religious in behavior than they profess to pollsters. He saw that the social-insurance state has arrived to stay. He saw that Americans regard healthcare as a right, not a privilege. He saw that Republican voters had lost their optimism about their personal futures—and the future of their country. He saw that millions of ordinary people who do not deserve to be dismissed as bigots were sick of the happy talk and reality-denial that goes by the too generous label of “political correctness.” He saw that the immigration polices that might have worked for the mass-production economy of the 1910s don’t make sense in the 2010s. He saw that rank-and-file Republicans had become nearly as disgusted with the power of money in politics as rank-and-file Democrats long have been. He saw that Republican presidents are elected, when they are elected, by employees as well as entrepreneurs. He saw these things, and he was right to see them.
Here are the issues according to Mr. Trump, from part of his web site called ‘Issues’. A collection of short videos on the topics listed below.
- The Establishment
- Trade War
- Making Deals With Congress
- Law Enforcement Respect
- First Day In Office
- Competent Leadership
- Drug Epidemic
- Live Free Or Die
- The 2nd Amendment
- Political Correctness
- Self Funding
- Illegal Immigration
- Unifying The Nation
- The Military
- Life Changing Experiences
- The Economy
These eighteen short videos trade on Mr. Trump’s extensive experience in television, where he played the decisive executive, who never tolerated under-performance from his apprentices. Using the swift justice of ‘your fired’, as his dismissive retort to those who didn’t meet his standards, in his Social Darwinist Circus: the survival of the fittest, defined by the Great Leader Trump!
I see absolutely nothing of what Mr. Frum intuits as the ‘insights’ of Mr. Trump, but just a collection of Mr. Frum’s own thoughts about what used to be called ‘Reform Conservatism’. Or has Mr. Frum been hired to write some political speeches for Mr. Trump? I would have to say that Mr. Trump is a gifted propagandist, from the evidence offered in his collection of videos: the short punchy admonition his strong point, with no need of Mr. Frum’s help! What Frum offers is a way forward to a Party after the Trump defeat.
Perhaps Mr. Frum’s temperate tone in the long quoted passage above can be attributed to his self-conception as Wise Party Elder , no need for insult when council is your aim. Especially when being admonished about the coming defeat of Trump, and what might be the best strategy in that defeat. Defeatism, as an operative political strategy, is always an unwelcome consideration in a Party long out of power. Even the consideration that President Obama has governed as an uninspired moderate Conservative is no balm to the defeated Republicans. But behold, what the reader gets is a misplaced Conservative Triumphalism over the Populist Tide, or as the Financial Times editorialists dubbed it ‘The Rebellion Against The Elites’.
The United States in the 1930s—and western Europe after the Second World War—defeated revolutionary communism not only by standing against subversion, but also by building social-insurance states that alleviated the discontents on which communism battened. By mitigating the terrors of unemployment and poverty and the anxieties of sickness and old age, our grandparents transformed proletarians into conservatives. It’s our job now to do the same thing with the dislocations caused by mass migration and the economic rise of China and India. Successful conservatives know when to yield a little in order to preserve more. If Republicans can take just that from the strange career of Donald Trump, we may yet owe him and his supporters some thanks.