Trump’s America — The Uncharted Path
Monday, February 27, 2017
By Reed Galen
What will happen, good or bad, in the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency is America’s new political parlor game. Of all the possibilities, one thing is for sure: The “system” as we’ve known it, is gone. Whether it’s our 70-year national security stance, how the federal government operates or how chief executives conduct themselves, little will be the same when Trump leaves office. This was the whole rationale for his candidacy and the promise he has made to all of us — it’s best we start taking him at his word.
At last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said his goal was nothing less than the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Had he only spoken these words and no others, his appearance would have been noteworthy and telling. Despite the conjecture of the chattering class of what Bannon really meant, we should take him at his word, too.
A self-avowed Leninist, Bannon spends his days in the West Wing metaphorically poring over federal government org charts with a red Sharpie in one hand and a Zippo lighter in the other. Much like his spiritual guide, Vladimir Ilyich, Bannon is seizing the opportunity not to reform “what is”, but to burn “it” to the ground and create something new from the ashes. Surely Bannon has considered the collateral damage that would occur from such an effort, but this is to be both expected and allowable. Nothing great can be created, after all, without blood, sweat and tears. Who that blood, that sweat and those tears belong to is simple: Anyone who gets in the way.
When Lenin and the Bolsheviks created the “dictatorship of the proletariat” they simply replaced the Tsarist autarchy with one of their own making and design. Steve Bannon may want to “deconstruct the administrative state” but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a government or a bureaucracy; it will just be different, (Bannon’s a radical, not an anarchist) likely far more focused on state security and as a perpetual motion machine for his and Trump’s vision. The subtle genius will be the new system’s ability to morph into whatever said “vision” is from day-to-day.
During his remarks, Bannon also made sure to attack his favorite bogeyman, the “corporatist, globalist media.” When I first watched the clip and heard the words my mind immediately went back 80 years to another time of great political upheaval when the enemy was “International Jewry.” Bannon and Trump’s obsession with the media, is that Trump himself (and Republicans for many years) have won many, many elections despite media bias. Dozens of governors, thousands of legislators, both Houses of Congress and the White House are occupied by conservatives. If the media was as powerful as Bannon and Trump make it out to be, well, we’d be California.
Mr. Bannon knows this, he’s nothing if not highly intelligent. But disdain for the mainstream media is the one common vein that runs through American conservatives. Whether you were for Trump or not, as a Republican you probably don’t trust ABC, CBS, certainly not NBC or MSNBC. Fox News is the only reliable outlet to watch; along with the myriad conservative radio hosts from whom you can get your context and marching orders. The systematic vilification, denunciation and delegitimization of the press is not a bug of the Trump White House, it’s a feature.
At that same CPAC conference, President Trump gave remarks to a crowd of ecstatic once-principled conservatives who’ve chosen bandwagoning over principle. This shouldn’t be surprising. He won. He’s in charge. For most folks, it’s a lot easier to “be for what is.” Trump’s remarks, too, harkened back to the 1930s, again, I assume by design. His speech was a Blood and Soil barn-burner, reworked for the 21st century.
“…The color of the blood we bleed, it’s the same red blood of great, great patriots…” — President Donald Trump, Remarks to CPAC 2017
Full of strawmen, angry invective, the unpatriotic nature of his opponents, the screaming nationalism, Trump as savior of what it means to be American, really American, not like those people you see on television. It was classic Trump in that he recited his campaign promises as if all the things on the tick sheet had already been done. For President Trump, once he’s said it out loud, it’s a done deal. This is the true genius of his tenuous connection to reality — he doesn’t need it.
While couched in terms of conservatism, what Trump’s speech was to begin the great reshaping of the GOP in to the American Conservative Workers Party. Anti-immigrant. Anti-trade. Anti-intervention. Anti-cooperation. Might makes right, everywhere and all the time. Don’t get bogged down in the details, we’ll take care of those for you. You just keep being angry at everything going on and we’ll be sure to keep stoking your ire. It’s not your fault, after all. It’s their fault. You know, them.
(Author’s Note: Turns out he didn’t do this. See update below.) As President Trump prepares to stand before Congress tonight and give his first true address to the nation, the themes outlined during his campaign, during his first month in office and last week at CPAC will be expanded and elevated. With 535 targets arrayed before him, expect that the president will attack them vigorously — either as pawns to special interests, or the media or some dark, spooky ethereal anti-American power. From the rostrum he will channel his inner Mussolini and wag his finger at the bums. The crowds will love it.
In his first address to Congress, President Trump did something that is being hailed as remarkable: He stood at a podium and read off a teleprompter for an hour. He spoke in complete sentences. There was a moving moment when he recognized the wife of a fallen Navy SEAL. His words carried the same meaning they have, simply with a high-polish on them.
Now, for those who are concerned about this new path we’re on, and the new system that is being constructed, it’s time to dial back on the adrenaline, find your center and begin take President Trump and his team seriously. They believe this stuff. There are innumerable reasons for concern, but living in a constant state of agitation will only exhaust you before we can get any real work done. In Washington, in your state, in your community, develop your strategies and execute on your tactics. Trump’s ascendance has once again proven that elections do indeed have consequences.
Let’s not our anger, outrage or disappointment paralyze us. It’s time to get to work rebuilding our communities and our communications. We may have started as Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, or something without a name, but we’re all Americans first. Let’s show President Trump and his White House just what that means.
Copyright 2017. Jedburghs, LLC.
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My chronicle of last year’s presidential campaign, The American Singularity — A Guided Tour of Campaign 2016, is available now!