There is a specter afoot. It’s haunting America, but it’s not Donald Trump. No, it’s the administrative state, propped up by its oligarchic faction.
Recently, John Marini and the Claremont Institute, published what we think is the best commentary to date on the “American crisis.” Part of the problem in America that Trump has tapped into is the Progressive attempt to bypass political opinion, or public opinion:
Once elected or appointed, politicians and bureaucrats have utilized their will, in both domestic and foreign policy, in an unrestrained manner on behalf of bureaucratic rule.
Trump had the ability to address the concern surrounding the shortcut of the public will. Our elected officials have transferred to the administrative state and agencies the responsibility for interpreting, and in some ways, actually writing law. Therefore, Congress used the Progressive understanding of expertise that staffed the modern administrative state and employed it as political cover so that they would note have to make any tough political decisions. It’s a win-win!
If Aristotle is right about man being political by nature, then this was bound to fail. People are naturally political and they have a sense they should determine the direction of the government, even if it is based on policy decisions set up by the “experts.” This natural fact of life is why it is not only the Republicans who are experiencing consternation, but the Democrats too. They are equally capable of implosion this cycle for they are the owners of the attempt to transcend human nature through their progressive attempts to conquer it. As Harry Neumann always reminded us, you may show Nature the front door, but eventually it will come roaring through the back.
As Marini notes, there are so many expert organizations and groups, that we have no idea what is and is not legal any more. We also wonder to ourselves just who consented to this web of rules and regulations. Certainly the average citizen does not believe he or she did. No, there is something troubling about the Administrative State that seeks to strike down, or subjugate, the individual, and subtley strip from him his citizenship.
Coupled with this is the politics of identity. Now everything is about this or that group. The Republicans are not immune from this temptation of modern politics. At the DNC, there were speakers who were actually speaking for many personal afflictions they suffered through. Almost everyone on the first day had a “problem” that defined them. However, they were both at once, afflicted, and better for overcoming their malady. Marini notes something more:
When progressive intellectuals lost confidence in the idea of progress and Enlightenment reason, they abandoned the hope of a future good and began to revise the meaning of the past. When Nietzsche analyzed the malady posed by historicism’s abandonment of its rationality, he came to realize that “the excess of history has attacked the plastic powers of life; it no longer understands how to avail itself of the past as hearty nourishment.” The politics of our time is dependent upon how we avail ourselves of the past—whether as “hearty nourishment” or as a life-threatening poison.
Post-modern intellectuals have pronounced their historical judgment on America’s past, finding it to be morally indefensible. Every great human achievement of the past—whether in philosophy, religion, literature, or the humanities—came to be understood as a kind of exploitation of the powerless.
We have made the argument here that Trump represent a return, and that return is real progress. But as Marini notes, the idea of progressivism has been to obliterate knowledge. Of course this leads to dire and deadly consequences, but it also leads to the death of reason, or the belief in its capabilities.
Make America Great Again is but a slight tip of the hat at this reality. Trump wants to restore the Republic of Reason, tempered by the restoration of our Faith, even though he is not so outwardly faithful.
When Marini states that Trump is making an appeal to the common good, this is how he is trying to transcend the cesspool of progressivism. He’s the only Republican candidate to make that attempt since Reagan, and before him, it was Coolidge.
It is a real gamble Trump is playing, and he may be unsuccessful for we do not know how to reason anymore. Therefore, Trump is giving it to us in modern speak. He does not sound sophisticated, and many of those who loathe Trump are aghast, so aghast they they have rarely said a word about Hillary who is, in reality, a personally violent warmonger with blood on her hands and who employs DNC speakers who support Sharia. But as Marini notes, intellectuals left and right are dependent on the system as it now works because they get their bread buttered from the present arrangement.
Even those who are in the minority are happily so, because, well, they got something out of it and who knows what lies beyond. They suspect it won’t be much for them.
Marini correctly notes that Trump is going over the head of the established whatever (media, politics, bureaucracy, etc) to take his case to the people. This is a first. As Samuel Kernell noted in the 1980s in his book Going Public, doing that only works so many times, usually two, Reagan did it three times to some success. Trump needs to swing for the fences to get it right, and he is doing it right despite the hysterical hair being lit on fire by ALL of the press, including Fox. The positive thing for Trump is there more of the many than the elites, and the elites look rather unintellectual these days. Their days of persuasion are over.
This does not mean that Trump is assured a win, nor does it assure the movement will succeed. Hillary understands this and is trying to kill the entire idea of Greatness.
If Trump IS successful, then it might be possible to put the country on the long road to rediscovering the “fathers” and “natural right” as Marini notes. Trump is not talking about these matters outright, because as Marini notes, the ability to talk about unchanging things is difficult. Our entire education system is shot through with nihilists. Donald Trump Jr. noted this when he said that public schools, backed by an public union and elite, are failing to really educate our children.
Trump represents a return to the Constitution because he is trying to make a Constitutional majority–one that can really govern. We may disagree with the manner he is making that attempt, but it is the most Manly and brave attempt in the last 40 years.