The Year of Living Dangerously

The potential greatness of Donald Trump

Amazement reigns across America!  The much-derided Donald Trump, reportedly far behind the anointed St. Hillary Clinton, and despite being opposed by the massed conspiracy of the media, the moneymen, and just about everybody who is anybody has somehow managed to pull it off through sheer bluster and win an apparent victory.

Of course, at this early hour, it's not possible to say whether he has actually managed to win in the sense of making it all the way into the Oval Office.  We have no doubt that lawyers are even now poring through miles of video footage, with their aides and expert witnesses crunching numbers from polls all across the fruited plain, seeking some reason, any reason to question the results.

They may well be successful: after all, there are a great many reasons to question the truth of election results in America.  The problem is, thanks to decades of tireless work by Democrats, it's quite hard to actually prove shenanigans, even for the party which is expert in performing them.  Plus, in Donald Trump they have a fearless and well-funded opponent, which hasn't happened in living memory.

So it's quite likely, though by no means assured, that on January 20, it will indeed be The Donald solemnly swearing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.  At long last, victory is ours!

A Return to Reality

Or - not.  For all the virtues of Donald Trump when compared to the infinitely corrupt, venal, vicious, and utterly anti-constitution Hillary, the fact remains that he is conservative only by comparison and in some of his instincts.  He has never claimed an intellectual affinity for the doctrines of conservatism, and is unfamiliar with many of its founding principles.

What makes him conservative, to the extent that he is, is his age and history: he grew up in a time when the country was unrecognizably more conservative than it is now, and that's what he thinks of America as needing to be.

This means, for example, that in Donald Trump's America, churches and religious folks should have every right both to believe and also to publicly practice the tenets of their religion.  It also means that religious folks whose practice of their religion involves blowing up other people will be briskly dealt with.

However, young Donald's America was also one in which the government had a great deal of power and secrecy, as well as universally being charged with responsibility to take care of the poor.  We can't expect slashing of welfare; Mr. Trump firmly believes in a hand up and a hand out, because that's what he grew up with.

So even in the best of circumstances, conservatives would have a full-time job ahead of them attempting to keep The Donald on the straight and narrow at least most of the time.  But these circumstances are anything but.

With Friends Like These

For who, exactly, can President Trump trust and rely on?  Most presidents have close friends and aides who have worked with them for years, who they know will do what is in their best interests.  Not Mr. Trump - his close aides are his business executives and family, talented people perhaps but not experienced politicians or wily administrators capable of weaponizing vast bureaucracies.

Most presidents are the leaders of their party, and most of the time, most party officials will mostly follow their lead.  Not for Mr. Trump: establishment Republicans hate him worse than they hate Democrats, and possibly worse than the Democrats hate him; the feelings of Tea Party types like Sen. Ted Cruz are dubious at best.  To steer an agenda through a morass like the Congress he faces would take the strategic skills of Napoleon, the chicanery of Lyndon Johnson, and the underhanded scheming of Richard Nixon, none of which Mr. Trump has evidenced in his long life.

There is exactly one asset President Trump has, for what it's worth: an angry, sullen, bitter, betrayed, howling mob at his back, overflowing with righteous indignation, bearing richly-deserved pitchforks and torches and itching for violent battle with the Washington aristocracy.  In revolutionary France this might be eminently useful; in modern America it's considerably more dangerous, because if Mr. Trump should put a foot wrong, they'll turn on him as quickly as on any other betrayer.  That's why our Founders so feared democracy and populism: it all too easily leads to mob rule and civil strife.

Can Mr. Trump channel, control, or leverage these forces?  Little in his past suggests that he can, though he certainly did manage to inspire them to the polls against all expectations.  We can only wait, watch, hope, and help.

Because this situation is unprecedented in America - a President whose most obvious course for retaining power is to lead the people in a charge against their elected officials.

Now, it's the plain truth that most of our elected officials deserve to be charged - then tried, convicted, and imprisoned.  Unfortunately, history shows that populist leaders who rile up the citizenry against genuine corruption in high places all too often wind up seeing no alternative but to take absolute power into trustworthy hands - their own, of course.  Even deeply religious freedom fighters like Oliver Cromwell can end up absolute despots for lack of any other remotely honest alternative.

The only way to avoid this is by having a government populated with halfway honest men - which is most certainly not the case today.  Can Donald Trump help bring that about?  Does he know that honesty is what's needed?  Does he even know how?

About the only immediate action he can take is to deploy his trademark phrase against the ranked masses of the bureaucracy.  Not only would firing vast swathes of them save enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars, it would reduce the power of the executive and restore a bit of balance to our system.

Fortunately, getting rid of regulations and Federal employees were two of his hundred-days promises.  Simply by reducing the power and reach of our Federal government, corruption will be reduced because there will be less opportunity for it.

But we have hope for much more: Donald Trump, like every salesman, tends to exaggerate, but he does seem to evidence a fundamental honesty that is alien to all too many politicians.  It's hard not to think that he won't suffer liars gladly, which will make things tough on high-ranking bureaucrats and political timeservers more used to the back-rubbing venality of Washington, D.C.

The massed media has spent a year digging through every possible avenue where Trump might have been corrupt, in a decades-long high-flying business career, and the best they could come up with was a few disgruntled students from a defunct educational venture.  In contrast, Clinton corruption is everywhere in her organization, and indeed everyone she works with is drawn into her swamp.

Have there been any serious allegations of corruption or fraud from the Trump Organization, like we've had from virtually every major bank and a host of other large companies?  No.  That bodes well for an honest Trump administration.

Ronald Reagan was much derided as a mere actor with a second-rate intellect, but he was one of our greatest presidents because he was mostly an excellent judge of character.  With a handful of exceptions, his appointees were first-class, honest, patriotic men who served their country well.  Trump has made many missteps, but his instincts are fundamentally American.

Perhaps, just perhaps, The Donald is trying on the Mantle of Reagan and discovering that it doesn't need too many alterations in order to fit?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

If he does nothing more than restoring justice to the Justice Department and ordering them to root out corruption where ever it is found, then he will be a very successful President, and put the country well on the road to recovery. That in fact should be quick and easy; quick because there are a number of good choices for Attorney General, and easy because the republican controlled Senate should be quite willing to confirm a good nominee (especially if he gets their advice first) and because the AG will do the work from then on.

In fact he will then have time to do at least some of the many other things that need to be done. Next on my list would be to help Ryan push through his economic plans, as improving the economy will benefit all Americans (and indirectly the world).

November 9, 2016 1:52 PM
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