Working people warm to Donald Trump. He appeals to a good segment of real Americans. The circle jerk of power brokers that is American media, however, lacks the depth and understanding to grasp the fellow-feeling Trump engenders in his fans.
THE MEDIA STRUMPETS
Amid sneers about Trump’s “crazy, entertaining, simplistic talk,” the none-too bright Joan Walsh, Salon editor-in-chief, proclaimed (MSNBC): “I look at those people and I feel sad. That is really such a low common denominator. They’re all Republicans … they really don’t have a firm grasp on reality.”
For failing to foresee Trump’s staying power, smarmy Michael Smerconish (CNN) scolded himself adoringly. He was what “Mr. Trump would call ‘a loser.’” Smerconish’s admission was a way of copping to his superiority. From such vertiginous intellectual heights, Smerconish was incapable of fathoming the atavistic instincts elicited by the candidate. Nevertheless, the broadcaster “quadrupled down.” The country would be delivered from Donald by Mexican drug lord El Chapo, who’d scare Trump away.
Campbell Brown, another banal bloviator, ventured that Trump resonates with a fringe and was fast approaching a time when he would, like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, “max-out the craziness” quotient.
Trump supporters were simply enamored of his vibe, said a dismissive Ellis Henican.
As derisive, another Fox News commentator spoke about the “meat and potatoes” for which Trump cheerleaders hanker. I suspect he meant “red meat.”
National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein divined his own taxonomy of the Republican Beast: the “upscale Republicans and the blue-collar Republicans.” The group of toothless rube-hicks Brownstein places in Trump’s camp.
Pollster Frank Luntz provides his own brand of asphyxiating agitprop: The little people want to elect someone they’d have a beer with.
A British late night anchor—a CNN hire!—offered this non sequitur: Trump painting himself as anti-establishment and, at the same time, owning hotels: this was a contradiction. In the mind of this asinine liberal, only a Smelly Rally like “Occupy Wall Street” instantiates the stuff of rebellion and individualism. (Never mind that the Occupy Crowds were walking ads for the bounty business provides. The clothes they wore, the devices they used to transmit their sub-intelligent message; the food they bought cheaply at the corner stand to sustain their efforts—these were all produced, or brought to market by the invisible hand of the despised John Galts and the derided working people.)
I know not what exactly the oracular Krauthammer said to anger Trump, but it was worth it: “Charles Krauthammer is a totally overrated person … I’ve never met him … He’s a totally overrated guy, doesn’t know what he’s doing. He was totally in favor of the war in Iraq. He wanted to go into Iraq and he wanted to stay there forever. These are totally overrated people.”
Even media mogul Rupert Murdoch moved in on Trump, calling him an embarrassment to his friends and to the country.
Inadvertently, one media strumpet came close to coming clean about the serial failures of analysis among her kind. Wonkette, or Wonkette Emerita, aka Ana Marie Cox, spoke of “the superfluousness of the media’s predictions and its inability to perform the service of making sense of events.” Like Smerconish, Cox is hoping against hope that the little people are having fun at her expense and “are in some way in on the joke” that is Trump.
POLITICAL POWER VS. ECONOMIC POWER
To understand why his campaign has legs, it is necessary to grasp the difference between The Donald and The Career Politician. Why so? Because although his supporters can ill-articulate these differences, they live them and feel them viscerally. Their reaction to Mr. Trump is informed by a sense of Trump the private citizen, the businessman, the anti-politician. As such, they grasp that Trump’s reality, incentives and motives sharply diverge from those of the professional politician. His reasons for doing what he’s doing are different.
Differently put: A successful politician and a successful businessman represent two solitudes, never the twain shall meet—except when the capitalist must curry favor with the politician so as to further his business interests, a reality brought about by corrupt politics. Trump’s donations to both parties fit a pattern forced by the regulatory state, whereby, in order to keep doing business, business is compelled to buy-off politicians.
“What, then, is the difference between economic power and political power?”
Capitalism.org supplies a succinct reply: “The difference between political and economic power is the difference between plunder and production, between punishment and reward, between destruction and trade. Plunder, punishment, and destruction belong to the political realm; production, reward, and trade belong to the economic realm.”
By definition, a professional politician is opportunistic and parasitic. For his survival, he must feed off his hosts. To convince the host to let him hook on and drain his lifeblood, the political hookworm must persuade enough of them to believe his deception. The energies of this political confidence trickster are thus focused on gaining voter confidence by promising what will never be delivered and what is impossible to deliver.
The methods of politics, encapsulated in the title of broadcaster Mark Levin’s latest book, are deceit and plunder, in that order. (And no, Mr. Levin, electing a conservative will not transform this modus operandi.) The machinery of politics is coercion and force. If elected, a politician gains power over those who did not support him as well as over those who supported him. Once in power, and backed by police power, he revels in the right to legislate and regulate vast areas in the lives of people.
Conversely, to succeed, a man in the private economy must deliver on his promises. If he doesn’t fulfill his promises, he loses his shirt. He goes belly up.
Whereas success in politics depends on intellectual deceit and economic plunder; success in the private economy indicates that an individual has delivered on his promises: he has provided goods and services people want, built buildings and resorts they inhabit and frequent, provided his investors with a return on their investment.
And he has done so using the peaceful, voluntary means of free-market capitalism. He has not passed an individual mandate to compel any and all to patronize his buildings, businesses or buy his products.
Flawed though he most certainly is—Donald Trump belongs to the category of Americans who wield economic power.
Trump has had moral and business failings aplenty. He has taken risks for which he has paid with his capital and good name. (He certainly owes recompense to the Scottish farmers of Aberdeenshire, whose lives he upended with his development.) Not given to the contemplative life, Trump is a pragmatist. He has waded into some very polluted waters. But he swims. He doesn’t drown.
To that people relate.
RAPING REALITY WITH POLITICAL THEORY
For his credibility, the politician cloaks himself in the raiment of political theory, cobbled up by liberal academics. Theory that controverts reality is his stock-in-trade. And so the politician, Democrat and Republican, will conjure “ideas”—delusional ideation really—that flout reason, the nature of man, and the natural laws of justice and economics. People, however, are smart. They sense the discrepancy between contrived political theory and reality; between conceptual frameworks that do not reflect reality, but rape it.
The macroeconomics parroted by Democrats and Republicans dictate that economic recessions and depressions must be cured by increasing the availability of easy credit so that more spending can take place. People know this is bogus. They know they cannot “deficit” spend themselves into prosperity. Why, then, would the “country” manage to disregard the immutable laws of economics?
From the safety and comfort of rarefied zip codes, open-border theorists tutor the little people in the positive economic effects of, say, high population density on productivity and economic growth. But regular folks don’t have to travel to Cairo or Karachi to discover that this urban theory is an urban myth.
The same sort of thing happens in the hearts and minds of ordinary working men and women when Trump says Crimea is Europe’s problem. Yes, let a regional power like Germany police that neighborhood.
Or, when Trump reveals that he pays as little tax as he can. “I hate what our country does with our taxes.” A noble sentiment, because true.
Libertarian theorist Wendy McElroy explains why certain verities are second-nature: “The more basic the political issue or principle, the more likely it is to be understood by most people and to appeal to their interests.”
For example, despite pronouncements from up high that “the common man should not be allowed to judge the law” because he lacks intellectual sophistication, “the trial by jury lauded by Lysander Spooner was meant to place community opinion as a safeguard between the individual and the State. As Spooner explained, ‘The trial by jury is a trial by the country – that is, by the people – as distinguished from a trial by the government … The object … is to guard against every species of oppression by the government.’”
That Trump is no “GOP loyalist” hardly disqualifies him from representing the Republican base, which the GOP habitually misrepresents. Given the GOP’s record; a failure to swear fealty to the Republican Party is an award-worthy failing.
On the topic of awards, James Webb, the decorated Marine who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the navy is no GOP loyalist, either. Webb, indisputably the last salt-of-the-earth Democrat, is considering a bid for president as a … Democrat.
Trump would do well to triangulate, à la Bill Clinton, and place the talented Mr. Webb on the Trump ticket. Then, make immigration a central theme in the campaign, advance a principled, major, pro-black policy by speaking to the legalization or decriminalizing of drug use and sale—and Trump will have secured the vote of blacks, white southern Democrats and other Reagan Democrats. Like no other, drug legalization is a proxy black issue, worthy of the endorsement of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
A ticket sporting two Alpha Males, moreover, is likely to infuriate the Alpha females of media (including those with the Y chromosome).
In an interview with NBC, Trump explained the difference between the politicians running and a businessman like himself: He has a lot to lose. They have nothing to lose.
As a longtime observer and analyst writing in opposition to the state and the political process, I find the specter of the anti-politician—the rugged, unrefined, cowboy individualist—fascinating, certainly worthy of tracking, and quintessentially American.
Among America’s great industrialists and capitalists there has always been a long history of noblesse oblige—the notion that wealth, power and prestige carry responsibilities. Public service to the American Founders meant that men put their own fortunes and sacred honor on the line. Their lives too.
Ilana Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the U.S. She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Her latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. Follow her on Twitter. “Friend” her on Facebook.