Nicholas M. Gallagher writing in NRO
* * *
Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination by exploiting vulnerabilities few were aware existed.
* UM... OK... IF YOU SAY SO...
When the 2016 race began, almost no one seemed to have understood that a plurality of the Republican party had a fundamentally different set of policy preferences from those of doctrinaire conservatism.
* ON TRADE, YES; ON OTHER ISSUES (INCLUDING, UNFORTUNATELY, AT LEAST TO A LARGE EXTENT, FOREIGN POLICY) NOT SO MUCH.
* NO. THE KEY REASON TRUMP IS WHERE HE IS IS THAT A HUGE SEGMENT OF THE REPUBLICAN VOTER BASE HATES THE GOP ESTABLISHMENT ONLY SLIGHTLY LESS THAN THEY (WE!) HATE BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON!
* OH... AND WE'RE NOT SO THRILLED WITH THE LIKES OF NRO EITHER...
Trump saw this opening and took full advantage. Trump’s positions follow the contours not of movement conservatism but of American folk nationalism, often known as Jacksonianism.
* AND REAGANISM.
As Walter Russell Mead, my boss over at The American Interest, has noted, Jacksonians characteristically emphasize anti-elitism and egalitarianism while drawing a sharp distinction between members of the folk group and those outside it.
In domestic policy, this translates to tough-on-crime stances and stubborn adherence to traditional views on social issues (and, historically, opposition to civil rights), and to advocacy of government assistance for “deserving” members of the folk group.
Looking abroad, they are uninterested in Wilsonian nation-building projects or promoting global order, but if they feel the nation is threatened, they are willing to fight back by whatever means are necessary.
* I WONDER IF THE AUTHOR IS AWARE THAT WE JUST SUCK AT "PROMOTING GLOBAL ORDER."
* AND I WONDER IF THE AUTHOR "GETS" THAT OFTEN WE "PROMOTE GLOBAL ORDER" AT THE COST OF OUR OWN PEOPLES' BEST INTERESTS.
* ANYWAY... CONTINUING:
Jacksonians don’t fit easily into either the liberal or the conservative camp; they are the “radical middle.”
They also don’t comport with regional stereotypes. (Jacksonians are not synonymous with southerners or rednecks: Trump has performed best in northeastern states and prospered in cities.)
In the past, Jacksonians have been found at the heart of the Confederacy, but they also formed the core of the Union Army, and later the one that defeated Hitler.
* I WONDER IF THE AUTHOR KNOWS THAT IT WAS ANDREW JACKSON WHO QUASHED THE ORIGINAL SECESSIONIST MOVEMENT WHICH HAD SPRUNG UP DURING HIS TIME?
(*SNORTING WHILE SHAKING MY HEAD*)
When Jacksonians take up politics, they do so with a vengeance, and Jacksonian uprisings have overturned the American political order more than once. But Jacksonians tend to be quiet politically when things are going well. Much of the time, it’s easy for elites to misread them as supporters of other movements, forget them, or take them for granted.
And that’s exactly what Republicans had been doing.
* NOT "REPUBLICANS" - "REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT TYPES."
After the “paleoconservatives” and "Buchananites" were defeated a generation ago...
* THE COUNTRY STARTED GOING TO HELL.
* LET'S REPEAT THAT:
* AFTER THE "PALEOCONSERVATIVES" AND "BUCHANANITES" WERE DEFEATED A GENERATION AGO THE COUNTRY STARTED GOING TO HELL. THANKS TO PAPPY BUSH WE GOT CLINTON. THANKS TO CLINTON WE GOT BUSH. THANKS TO BUSH WE GOT OBAMA.
* FOLKS... IN MANY WAYS REAGAN WAS A PALEOCON AND... IF YOU REMEMBER... PAT BUCHANAN WAS WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATION'S DIRECTOR AND SPECIAL ADVISOR TO "THE GIPPER."
* FOLKS... BUCHANAN WAS ALWAYS LOYAL TO REAGAN. THE BUSH FAMILY? PLEASE...!
(*SPITTING ON THE GROUND*)
...leading GOP politicians minimized and sometimes outright denied tensions between Jacksonian sentiment and conservative ideology. They focused on issues where the two viewpoints overlapped (from an aversion to liberal identity politics to the need to take the fight to the bad guys after 9/11), while politely ignoring (or forgetting) the important differences between the groups. This was made easier by the fact that for much of that period, a rising economic tide lifted all boats and kept the visibility of disagreements to a minimum.
Many Republicans, especially those of the “neocon” persuasion, went a step farther by denying the existence of American nationalism outright. This usually involved their contrasting nationalism, which was something bad that others (usually: Europeans) had indulged in, with patriotism, which was presented as good and American — and universalistic and ideal-based.
* NEOCONS HAVE GOTTEN US INTO THE INTERNATIONAL MESSES WE'RE IN.
* AND FOLKS... BOTH THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC ESTABLISHMENTS ARE NEOCON. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON IS AN ARCH NEOCON!
The reappearance of naked nationalism has been a shock to those who spent decades maintaining that America’s unique and unqualified achievement has been to synthesize love of country and universal democratic ideals. Jacksonians have consistently felt that some combination of ethnicity, where you were born, and faith, unite the American people...
* YES. NATIONALITY MATTERS... BUT... ANYONE CAN BECOME AN AMERICAN - ANYONE WHO WANTS TO. THE PROBLEM IS... OUR ENEMIES - FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC - SEEK "FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE" - THE OPPOSITE OF DESIRING TO BECOME (OR REMAIN) AMERICAN!
As a form of nationalism, Jacksonianism has had two saving graces. First, it’s proven to be expandable in a way that no other folk nationalism in history has been. Although it was originally carried to America by the Scots-Irish who settled the frontier, the Jacksonian understanding of the folk group has expanded in time beyond its white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant roots to include millions of immigrants from far-flung places, such as Irish Catholics and Eastern European Jews.
* AND ASIANS... AND BLACKS... AND HISPANICS...
* TO REPEAT: ANYONE WHO SEEKS TO TRULY BECOME AN AMERICAN IN THE SENSE OF OUR FOUNDERS' IDEALS!
This record of assimilation is an immense and unprecedented achievement in the bloody annals of a fallen world.
* IT WAS... UNTIL THE LEFT - AND THEIR NEOCON AND RINO ALLIES - SUCCESSFULLY ENGAGED IN "FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION."
* HOW DO YOU LIKE THE... "TRANSFORMATION"... FOLKS? (I SURE AS HELL DON'T!)
Second, Jacksonianism has usually embraced and supported American idealistic patriotism.
It’s an oversimplification to think of these as competing ideologies: One operates (mostly) at the level of feeling and the other at the level of principle. Most Jacksonians would profess to be ardent patriots and lovers of America’s founding principles, and most Americans have at least some Jacksonianism in them. The tension between the two is nonetheless real and tricky to manage for a conservative movement that is, as it’s suddenly and rudely been reminded, a minority both in the country and within the Republican party.
Conservatives need Jacksonian votes to form a governing coalition. Yet from trade to immigration, foreign policy to fiscal policy, Jacksonian instincts are often incompatible with conservative prescriptions.
* JACKSONIANS ARE RIGHT! PALEOCONSERVATIVES ARE RIGHT! BUCHANANITES ARE RIGHT!
* IF YOU CALL YOURSELF A "CONSERVATIVE" YET DON'T IDENTIFY WITH JACKSONIAN IDEALS... PALEOCONSERVATIVE IDEALS... BUCHANANITE IDEALS... RE-REGISTER AS A DEMOCRAT AND PLEASE - FOR GOD'S SAKE - MOVE THEIR PARTY TO THE RIGHT INSTEAD OF CONSTANTLY MOVING OUR PARTY TO THE LEFT!
There are lots of ways to deal with this friction. The least helpful is to pretend it doesn’t exist. Exhibits A and B of this tendency are the proposed immigration bills in 2007 and 2013, which repeated in their essentials the failed 1986 amnesty-for-enforcement bargain.
More broadly, party leaders failed to take the Jacksonian base’s positions on economic policy into account or even acknowledge them rhetorically, and they failed also to respond to Jacksonian dissatisfaction with the Wilsonian aspects of the Iraq War.
By the time 2016 rolled around, the Republicans — including much of their supposed anti-establishment wing — were acting as though Jacksonianism didn’t exist.
* THESE CLOWNS ACTUALLY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO PUT JEB BUSH IN THE WHITE HOUSE!
* SERIOUSLY... THESE FOLKS ARE DELUSIONAL!
Meanwhile, structural shifts in the economy, from globalization to automation, have been breaking down traditional sources of blue-collar and clerical employment, even as 50 years of mass immigration — a large chunk of it not sanctioned by law — have altered the nature of the American folk group.
* YEP. AND I'M TALKING CULTURALLY... VALUE-WISE... NOT SIMPLY SKIN COLOR, RELIGION, OR EVEN "GENDER IDENTITY."
The latter has weakened social cohesion, and the former not only grates on Jacksonians’ sense of economic security but undermines their very identity as industrial workers and providers.
* OBAMA AND CLINTON HAVE BRAGGED ABOUT DESTROYING AMERICA'S COAL INDUSTRY!
* AND JUST YESTERDAY I POSTED A PIECE WHERE SOME IDIOT RINO WAS ACTUALLY ARGUING THAT WE'RE BETTER OFF NOT MANUFACTURING IPHONES HERE AT HOME - IN AMERICAN FACTORIES EMPLOYING AMERICAN WORKERS!
Meanwhile, the perception that the world abroad was threatening and thankless grew even as confidence in the efficacy of conservative foreign and military policy waned.
* OUR... ESTABLISHMENT... LEADERS... (BOTH PARTIES!)... ARE... TOTALLY... INCOMPETENT!
The conditions for a Jacksonian revolt were ripe.
* ARE RIPE!
* GO, TRUMP, GO! GO, TRUMP, GO! GO, TRUMP, GO!
Ideals need gut instincts and folk tradition on their side in order to be efficacious. The Jacksonian sense of common American identity enables self-governance, charity, and neighborliness; for many — including groups that the GOP has been trying to court for years, such as Hispanic Americans and single women without college degrees — it gives important meaning to life.
And Jacksonian support will also be necessary to addressing our pressing foreign-policy problems.
* DAMN STRAIGHT! EVERY PRESIDENT POST-REAGAN HAS BEEN FRIGGIN' INCOMPETENT!
For now, Jacksonianism lies closer to conservatism than it does to the identity-politics Left, and one may reasonably hope for a “best of both” compromise between intellectual conservatism and Jacksonian impulses.
* FOLKS... LOTS OF DAMNED FOOLS IDENTIFY THEMSELVES - AND ARE IDENTIFIED BY THE MSM - AS "INTELLECTUALS." WELL... NO MATTER ONE'S "CREDENTIALS," IF ONE IS WRONG FAR MORE OFTEN THAN RIGHT... THEN THE TERM "INTELLECTUAL" REALLY SHOULDN'T APPLY.
(*SMIRKING; SPITTING ON THE GROUND*)