30 Mar Make Socialism Great Again?
We’ve long feared that even though he has some good instincts, the absence of any ideological mooring to Donald Trump would be his undoing. His apparent determination to view the House Freedom Caucus as his political enemies is evidence of this vulnerability. Today’s Trump tweet:
The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!
The Trump true-believers will no doubt view this tweet as part of the four-dimensional chess that only Trump can play; that it reflects some notion of the all-wise deal-maker at work in bringing the country together to “Make America Great Again!”
We hope they’re right.
We think they are sadly and yugely wrong.
MAGA was a brilliant campaign slogan, an inspiring relief after 8 years of an administration relentlessly apologizing for America and mocking American exceptionalism as nothing different than the exceptionalism that any group of citizens feel about their own country. And Trump’s gut level connection with working class Americans made them feel certain that Trump’s view of making America great again was aligned with their own.
But just as the old debate about whether Obama loved America missed the point, so does the MAGA slogan. The first question in both cases is: what is America? Only after that question is answered can anyone know whether Obama loved America or what Trump means by making America great again.
At ACWT, we believe America is an idea which, boiled down to its essence, is a nation founded on the principle of individual freedom and responsibility under God.
It would take volumes to unpack everything meant by that principle, but for purposes of this post, the key words are “freedom” and “God”—a term that in America stands for the God of the Bible.
Even more to the point of this post, America as founded is profoundly ideological.
Neither Trump nor any other non-ideological leader is going to long be in synch with the spirit of America.
The House Freedom Caucus is ideological; for our money, it is precisely in synch with the core principle of the American founding.
HFC is, as Star Parker recently wrote, akin to the abolitionists of the 19th century. The ruling class of that day was consumed with the extension of compromises on the subject of slavery; the abolitionists were mocked as an extremist fringe. But no amount of political compromise could square slavery with the ideological foundation of America.
Fast forward to today. Americans never wanted government to take over the healthcare and health insurance industries. They never supported Obamacare; they still don’t.
Though articulated in different ways, they feel an instinctive revulsion toward the freedom-crushing nature of socialized medicine. If government once takes control of defining ‘health’ for all citizens, and controls the nature and price of each and every form of ‘care’, the individual ceases to be free. Period. Full Stop. It’s obviously not the crude and cruel slavery of the 1700’s and 1800’s, but it’s slavery nonetheless.
So…as applied to the last 8+ years: Americans never supported Obamacare, and in successive elections since it was passed, allied more and more with political candidates who professed a willingness to repeal it. For freedom reasons. For reasons ultimately amounting to a rejection of the substitution of government for God.
But for the widespread belief that Trump understood these reasons, he would never have been elected President.
Now that he has been elected, Trump’s non-ideological core is coming the surface, and it is going to be a large and growing turnoff to a very large portion of his base…and he doesn’t seem to know it.
Trump’s Priebus/Ryan team is assuring him that HFC is the 10% extremist fringe of the GOP; our guess is that it is substantially more than half of Trump’s base.
The House Freedom Caucus insisted on a repeal of Obamacare that really constituted a repeal, which “Trumpcare” or “Ryancare” or AHCA—whatever you want to call it—never was. They were taking a stand aligned with the ideological foundation of America; they were and are about ousting the very premise of a government-run healthcare system. To them, and to most Americans who voted for Trump, MAGA could never mean an embrace of socialized medicine. They want Obamacare gone.
So what does this mean for Trump?
To the extent he continues to act like a leader who believes it is virtuous to be non-ideological—i.e., he’ll work with Democrats before he’ll work with those hideous HFC types—we think he will grow increasingly out of step with the American people.
In the face of the ongoing Soros-funded radical left onslaught to oust him, Trump needs the American people to stay with him; he needs the HFC types to have his back. Alienating the people he most needs to have his back is a self-inflicted wound that even his worst enemies in the media could never inflict on their own. This self-inflicted wound could eventually bring Trump down.
What an irony if Trump brings himself down through an unforced political war with the HFC: the HFC is a product of the Obama years, during which a certain highly visible political figure was not serving in Congress. But when he was serving in Congress, his votes and speeches sound like someone who would have been a charter member of today’s HFC. His name: Mike Pence.
March 30, 2o17