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Friday, May 27, 2016

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Good post, Bill. While I still don't really understand your aversion to Trump, I agree very much with your criticism of this obsession with "principles". I think that many of the "principles" that American conservatives have endlessly regurgitated in articles and other media are either misguided, ineffective, or even antithetical to the ends that they, or most people who call themselves "conservatives", are truly seeking. The Trump phenomenon is pushing this tension to the surface. There seems to be opportunities for political realignment and new conversations about what we should be trying to accomplish with government and politics.

Thanks, Anon.

Honestly, I don't understand your not understanding my aversion to Trump. Since you are a philosopher, I may reach you with this example. When the Paris-to-Cairo flight went down recently, Trump right away asserted that it is 100% certain that terrorism was the cause. Now that sort of irresponsible use of language should offend a philosopher and indeed anyone who values truth. Here is one of those cases where W. K. Clifford's principle applies: "It is wrong always and every to believe anything on insufficient evidence." Trump had no good evidence for his assertion, but that didn't stop him from shooting his mouth off. That sort of bluster and bullshitting is what Obama does. A while back he said something like: 97% per cent of Muslims disapprove of terrorism, which is provably false. But truth doesn't matter to the bullshit prez; he'll say anything he can get away with that fits his agenda.

Both Obama and Trump are bullshitters (in Harry Frankfurt's sense) and both are POMO in that truth is not a value for them.

You and Jacques come across as blind partisans. I don't understand that given that you are both intelligent and caoable of thinking objectively.

>>I think that many of the "principles" that American conservatives have endlessly regurgitated in articles and other media are either misguided, ineffective, or even antithetical to the ends that they, or most people who call themselves "conservatives", are truly seeking.<<

Here we will agree, though I would like to see some examples. Teaching backward peoples how to live is a neocon principle that has little to do with conservatism of an older sort.

I understand the aversion to Trump the person. He is everything you say he is. His crude character is not what we expect from a conservative candidate, but when so called conservatives say they can't vote for Trump because they can't abandon conservative principles, these principles are never spelled out. Is Trump's tax plan not conservative? Is his immigration policy not conservative? Is a foreign policy that puts American interest first not conservative? Is his list of SCOTUS judges not conservative? Is his promise to repeal Obamacare not conservative? Since it's never explained what about his proposed policies are not conservative, could it be that we have a different understanding of conservatism? (you kind of touched this on your Will the 'True Conservative' Please Stand Up? post).

I don't comment much, but I've been reading your blog everyday for years.

Thanks for reading, Kurt.

We basically agree. Trump is conservative on the points you mention.

Even if he is not conservative on some issues, he is more likely to act on the ones he is conservative on -- unlike the usual Republicans who specialize in mere talk and compromise.

Bill,
I would like you to back up your claim that Anon and I "come across as blind partisans" on this point. You've now said this a few times. Trump has some flaws. Yes he's kind of rude and vulgar. Yes he sometimes engages in "irresponsible use of language [that] should offend a philosopher" and sometimes he says things that are false or bullshit. I've never denied any of that. So does it make me a "blind partisan" that I just don't care much about these flaws given that Trump -- alone among every mainstream political figure in America -- is speaking all kinds of important truths and standing up for millions of ordinary people who haven't had a voice for decades? What is the relevant fact I'm overlooking here?

Trump is conservative about the ur-issues or meta-issues without which no other kind of 'conservatism' matters. Unlike 'neoconservatives' like Kristol, who are really just elite war-mongers and globalists, Trump wishes to conserve _America_ as a concrete nation and culture and people. No one else was even willing to discuss that idea in mainstream politics and media until he made it discussable. How could you seriously prefer Joe Lieberman, for heaven's sake, if that was the choice? Would Joe Lieberman be advocating for a ban on Muslim immigration or a wall with Mexico? Would he be pointing out that Muslims have ruined Belgium and bravely stating that he will not allow that to happen to America? If Trump did even one or two of the things he's said he'd do, or if he just approximated one or two of those things, he'd have done more for the cause of true conservatism in America than any political figure in decades. It seems so weird to me that you view a Trump presidency as some kind of regrettable lesser-of-two-evils when it would almost certainly be the first time in many decades that genuinely _conservative_ values might be put into practice in America.

I guess it's the emphasis that you put on Trump's shortcoming that I find puzzling. Of course he's a liar and a misleader, just like every other high level politician. Of course his reasoning doesn't withstand serious philosophical scrutiny, just like the reasoning of other politician's doesn't. But in the context of American democratic politics, which is far less than ideal, Trump is not only a good candidate, but is the best and most effective candidate to emerge in a very long time. He is destroying the left's stranglehold on political discourse and has, in the course of the campaign, singlehandedly shifted the Overton window more than armies of pundits and think tanks have been able or willing to over the course of many years. The traditional American nation is hanging by a thread. All the major cultural institutions - the media, entertainment, and academia - are cesspools of leftism and there has been no viable or effective political opposition. But fortunately, amazingly, a charismatic, rich person comes along willing to fund his own campaign and successfully fight against the tides.

From all the excellent writing that you've done exposing the left on your blog, it genuinely puzzles me when you say things like this:

"For example, would I support Trump if he were running against Joe Lieberman? No, I would support Lieberman."

I can only start to think that you don't agree with me about the extent of the cultural and political rot that has taken hold. Because Joe Lieberman is most certainly not a person who is going to do anything effective in fighting that. He would be more of the same, perhaps with very slight modifications. What we desperately need is someone who doesn't care about the destructive, suicidal, and insane precedents and decorum that American politicians, including "conservatives", have accepted for far too long.

"What we desperately need is someone who doesn't care about the destructive, suicidal, and insane precedents and decorum that American politicians, including "conservatives", have accepted for far too long."

Agreed. If a Trump presidency can crack these egg shell veneers of Leftism and all their PC defense mechanisms, maybe the actual people in America who are democrats can have a voice in reclaiming their country along with the rest of us. Democrats who are not libs, or progressives or the like still exist outside of large cities. They have been quiet for too long.

Hello, I am Italian so I'm not directly implicated in your presidential elections but, of course, you understand that I care because the result of such an event has huge political and cultural impacts everywhere.

I strongly fear the case where Clinton prevails, since that would mean at least four more years of elitist radical politics - something we have to resist with all our strength. The damage would be a deeply cultural
one, and a long lasting one; I would say a spiritual damage, because her milieu is spiritually corrupted. Given the very similar attitude reigning in the European political class, I dread a toxic alliance controlling all the western world.

Trump appears to be a coarse and illiterate man, but he's no ideologist: the damage he could do is really superficial. The hate he induces in so many is partially an aesthetic one: he is not an elegant man and this is often perceived as unfit for a public person; many conservatives are a little snob,as well, and don't want to loose their place in the good society. For sure, if he wins we have to expect the most extreme and irrational reactions - and much of the press will excuse all of that.

Murray's position is a contemporary bourgeois's one. He seems to be fearing more a fall of style than the demise of society. There's also a political fallacy I see in his position: he appears to believe that, if you vote for Trump, you are in fact electing him as the model of conservative life. This is not certainly the case and is quite a posh attitude: let the left-wingers confuse politics and religion.

Welcome, Paolo.

Your comments are excellent. Yes, the damage that Clinton has caused and will cause if elected is as you say "spiritual damage." The worst damage the Left causes is spiritual, not economic.

You are right that Trump he is not an ideologue; he is too much the pragmatist and opportunist for that. He is not as interested in promoting a cause as he is in promoting himself. He betrayed this attitude of his in a recent interview with Megyn Kelly. (This is the reporter he had earlier viciously attacked for doing her job, making references to her menstrual blood, an attack wholly unprovoked.) She asked him whether it will all have been a waste if he fails to win the presidency. he said yes; it would a total waste of time, energy, and money. That speaks volumes about the man's motives. So while Trump is not an ideologue, he is not exactly principled either.

To appreciate my point, compare Trump with Bernie Sanders. He knows that he has little or no chance of receiving the Democrat nomination, but he fights on in large part because he really believes in his cause. His campaign is primarily about the socialist idea, not about him.

Bernie is principled -- it is just that he has the wrong principles.

Paolo, I like your final paragraph as well. Many of the members of the 'bow tie brigade' are more interested in preserving their posh lifestyles and in preserving the country.

Thank you, you've been really kind answering my simple comment. I will keep your dear country in my prayers.

Thanks, Paolo, we need prayers. These are dark times -- but then, in this world, have there been times that were not dark?

Typo in my last sentence above. Should read: Many of the members of the 'bow tie brigade' are more interested in preserving their posh lifestyles THAN in preserving their country.

Jacques,

>>What is the relevant fact I'm overlooking here?<< One such fact is that the man displays bad judgment. Not good for someone potentially in control of the nuclear triad -- even if he doesn't know what it is. Some of his vicious attacks on people (e.g., Carly Fiorian, Megyn Kelly) are wholly unnecessary and only hurt him. Foolish of him to alienate women voters when they represent half of the electorate. He could have made trenchant statements about illegal immigration and the advisability of a moratorium on Muslim immigration without doing it in the unnecessary incendiary way he did it.

I could go on, but I doubt it would make much impression on you.

The right view, I think, is this: conservatives ought to unite behind him. He's awful, but Hillary is worse, and he's all we've got. It is a calculated risk entrusting the nation to him, but one worth taking. I just hope he picks wise advisors who can rein him in.

Is there evidence that Trump 'alienated' half of the electorate'? He seems to be doing just fine with women. But in any case the issue here is not whether he is flawed; as you keep saying, it's about how he compares with other realistically possible candidates. Every other 'conservative' judges that open borders and pointless wars are just fine. This has been a disaster for the nation and, as we are now seeing, it doesn't even help them to win votes. Others are silent on the issues that matter most or else they side with the left. So how can it be that all things considered his judgement is worse than Romney's or Lieberman's -- let alone so much worse that he is 'awful' but they aren't? The only real differences are that (a) he is often more rude and vulgar, and (b) he raises vitally important points that they suppress (though, yes, he could often be more clear and careful in his statements). In the circumstances I just don't see how this makes him awful. On the contrary, it makes him great -- all things considered, relative to the truly miserable, ineffective and basically treasonous character of the other 'conservatives'. This is not blind support. I don't like some of his statements on bombing ISIS, for example. But I'm very pleased that someone is saying what needs saying; any other realistically possible candidate would say nothing at all.

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