By ann summers
“Ronnie doesn’t dye his hair; he’s just prematurely orange.” – Gerald Ford, on Ronald Reagan,
Who knew that Trumpism has theoreticians … much like deplorableness might have its swamp and isn’t theory just an “inside joke”. The real problem is that ideas are subordinate to concepts in terms of developing theory, and Trumpism is barely coherent as a conflicted noise that erupts when rationalizing a series of RWNJ memes, like all those tea-bagger cliches.
So there’s this Millenial, Julius Krein, willing to try to theorize Trumpian thought without cracking a smile, much like Reaganism from Bonzo’s point-of-view.
Krein will be wasting RWNJ cash on a quarterly publication to theorize the rationalizations represented by the Flight 93 Election website. In that narrative, Trumpians were willing to stormfront the cockpit to save America from HRC and since 9 November 2016, managed to take control of the flight deck, a goal beyond their falsest consciousness.
In Kreinian theory, Trump is apparently a class-traitor to the nouveau riche, which pretty much explains Trump Steaks and Mar-a-Lago.
Trumpism as a bastardized conservatism will be the Easy-Bake Oven approach to an isolationist pragmatism, tempered by ethnic-nativism, and only a Molotov cocktail away from producing heat much less the light of a used flashbulb. Like the Steve Forbes flat tax, it can be put on a 3 x 5 index card and have the same falsifiability. Except that thin-skinned Orange Gazbag seems incapable of reflection upon theorizing his hegemony.
My point there is you beat ideas with ideas. You can challenge the “theoretical foundations of ‘conservatism’” (perhaps starting with an explanation for why you put it in scare quotes) or you can defend a theoretical program. Unless you’re just going to defend Pragmatism and/or the instinctual, infallible, wisdom of Donald Trump in all cases, you’ll either need your own theory of the case or you’ll need to allow for writers willing to criticize Trump outright. There’s nothing wrong with that, except American Affairs is being launched to defend Trump and Trumpism.
If Krein isn’t willing to tolerate serious criticism of Trump in furtherance of Trumpism, then he should skip the journal and go work directly for Sean Spicer.
If he does allow criticism,
- (a) good for him and
- (b) he should be prepared for his pro-Trump journal to be denounced by Trump himself…
But when Wilson was elected, and started leading us to war, The New Republic was all over the map because of disagreements among the editors. Eventually, their old ideological hero Teddy Roosevelt charged into the offices of The New Republic like a Bull Moose to chew them out for their disloyalty. Realizing he couldn’t set them straight, TR shouted that the magazine was “a negligible sheet, run by two anemic Gentiles and two uncircumcised Jews.”
Like most conservatism, its layered products are baked with the heat from light bulbs, with the same economic obsolescence and utility.
Conservative theory, other than its self-serving governance and individualist property rules has nothing to fear from yet another Trumpian rebranding of privileged, libertarian neoliberalism. There are so few vaccines for such trickled-down syndromes, but rather than Children of Men we have the revenge of the spray-tanned Man-Children.
“We hope not only to encourage a rethinking of the theoretical foundations of ‘conservatism’ but also to promote a broader realignment of American politics,” Krein said. It will launch in both a print and digital version, and a substantial portion of the funding will come from Krein himself. He said donors to traditional conservative institutions have been “surprisingly” receptive to his pitch, though he declined to name the additional contributors.
Some are skeptical of whether it’s possible to make sense, ideologically, of Trump’s ad hoc approach to decision making. “It will take a good deal of time for even Trump’s most gifted apologists to craft an intellectually or ideologically coherent theme or narrative to his program,” said Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review. “Trump boasts that he wants to be unpredictable and insists that he will make all decisions on a case-by-case basis. That’s a hard approach for an intellectual journal to defend in every particular.”
Krein isn’t starting from scratch. During the campaign, the most muscular and controversial defense of Trump came from an anonymous author calling himself Publius Decius Mus in a piece titled “The Flight 93 Election,” published in the Claremont Review of Books. He argued that there was actually some intellectual coherence to Trump’s views, even “if incompletely and inconsistently” articulated. Trump, he wrote, had taken “the right stances on the right issues — immigration, trade, and war — right from the beginning.”
Before he published the article, Decius was writing for an obscure, now-defunct blog, the Journal for American Greatness, where a band of reprobate conservative academics loosely affiliated with the Claremont Institute, a California-based conservative think tank, had gathered to mount a case for Trump…
Krein served as the blog’s day-to-day administrator while holding down a job at a Boston-based hedge fund until the site’s editors shut it down, telling readers that their audience for what was mostly intended as “an inside joke” had “expanded beyond any of our expectations.” Krein deleted all off the archives. But the Journal’s unexpected popularity, the editors said, made it clear that “many others similarly felt the desirability of breaking out of conservatism’s self-imposed intellectual stagnation.”
So for example the regulatory theory of Trumpian trade is to renegotiate trade by threatening tariffs while proclaiming concurrently that the objective is to promote free trade. This deficit-maximizing denial transforms comparative advantages of international trade into the post-truth version of customs enforcement, mainly self-dealing kleptocratic bribery. It’s a pre-demographic theory of migration where the state is only necessary to enforce borders that segregate humans (see Apartheid and Jim Crow).
…most pressing is the realisation that the populistic rhetoric of Trump and Farage will fail to meet with reality. The return to a rose tinted isolationist utopia that probably didn’t exist then, certainly doesn’t exist now, will fail. National economies have evolved to become interwound with one another to the upmost degree and the specialisation that Smith envisioned has taken hold to create a truly global economy. A vote to leave or the ripping up of an established agreement causes a self inflicted wound on a nation as the economy undergoes utterly unnecessary restructuring to reach the new equilibrium.
Rosenthal argues that Tea Partiers bring to a reading of the Constitution the same approach that Christian fundamentalists bring to reading the Bible, resisting any interpretation that clashes with what they believe is the inerrant word. And he writes that the Tea Party blends populism with the free-market absolutism of the Koch Brothers, ideological descendants of those who objected to the New Deal.