Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Peggy Noonan on Gun Control: Americans Want to Go Down Fighting.

Peggy Noonan on Gun Control: Americans Want to Go Down Fighting. Video. Morning Joe. MSNBC, October 2, 2017. YouTube. Also at Real Clear Politics.

Video starting at transcript excerpt:

Transcript excerpt at Axios:

There is a sense that society is collapsing — the culture is collapsing. We’re collapsing in crime. The world is collapsing. Crazy people with bad haircuts have nukes. Everything is going bad — terrorism, etc. They want to be fully armed on their hill, at home. . . . They’re Americans, and they want to go down fighting.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ben Shapiro Speaks at UC Berkeley.

Hurricane Shapiro Takes Berkeley By Storm. Video. The Daily Wire, September 15, 2017. YouTube. Also here.

5 Things I Learned at Berkeley Last Night. By Ben Shapiro. The Daily Wire, September 15, 2017.

Ben in Berkeley Scolds the Poor. By Titus Techera. American Greatness, September 17, 2017.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Liberal Crackup. By Mark Lilla.

The Liberal Crackup. By Mark Lilla. Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2017.


Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.

But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.

What’s more, nothing those presidents did while in office did much to reverse the rightward drift of American public opinion. Even when they vote for Democrats or support some of their policies, most Americans—including young people, women and minorities—reject the term “liberal.” And it isn’t hard to see why. They see us as aloof, elitist, out of touch.

It is time to admit that American liberalism is in deep crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public. The question is, why? Why would those who claim to speak for and defend the great American demos be so indifferent to stirring its feelings and gaining its trust? Why, in the contest for the American imagination, have liberals simply abdicated?

Ronald Reagan almost single-handedly destroyed the New Deal vision of America that used to guide us. Franklin Roosevelt had pictured a place where citizens were joined in a collective enterprise to build a strong nation and protect each other. The watchwords of that effort were solidarity, opportunity and public duty. Reagan pictured a more individualistic America where everyone would flourish once freed from the shackles of the state, and so the watchwords became self-reliance and small government.

To meet the Reagan challenge, we liberals needed to develop an ambitious new vision of America and its future that would again inspire people of every walk of life and in every region of the country to come together as citizens. Instead we got tangled up in the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation. What went missing in the Reagan years was the great liberal-democratic We. Little wonder that so few now wish to join us.

There is a mystery at the core of every suicide, and the story of how a once-successful liberal politics of solidarity became a failed liberal politics of “difference” is not a simple one. Perhaps the best place to begin it is with a slogan: The personal is the political.

This phrase was coined by feminists in the 1960s and captured perfectly the mind-set of the New Left at the time. Originally, it was interpreted to mean that everything that seems strictly private—sexuality, the family, the workplace—is in fact political and that there are no spheres of life exempt from the struggle for power. That is what made it so radical, electrifying sympathizers and disturbing everyone else.

But the phrase could also be taken in a more romantic sense: that what we think of as political action is in fact nothing but personal activity, an expression of me and how I define myself. As we would put it today, my political life is a reflection of my identity.

Over time, the romantic view won out over the radical one, and the idea got rooted on the left that, to reverse the formula, the political is the personal. Liberals and progressives continued to fight for social justice out in the world. But now they also wanted there to be no space between what they felt inside and what they did in that world. They wanted their political engagements to mirror how they understood and defined themselves as individuals. And they wanted their self-definition to be recognized.

This was an innovation on the left. Socialism had no time for individual recognition. Rushing toward the revolution, it divided the world into exploiting capitalists and exploited workers of every background. New Deal liberals were just as indifferent to individual identity; they thought and spoke in terms of equal rights and equal social protections for all. Even the early movements of the 1950s and ’60s to secure the rights of African-Americans, women and gays appealed to our shared humanity and citizenship, not our differences. They drew people together rather than setting them against each other.

All that began to change when the New Left shattered in the 1970s, in no small part due to identity issues. Blacks complained that white movement leaders were racist, feminists complained that they were sexist, and lesbians complained that straight feminists were homophobic. The main enemies were no longer capitalism and the military-industrial complex; they were fellow movement members who were not, as we would say today, sufficiently “woke.”

It was then that less radical liberal and progressive activists also began redirecting their energies away from party politics and toward a wide range of single-issue social movements. The forces at work in healthy party politics are centripetal; they encourage factions and interests to come together to work out common goals and strategies. They oblige everyone to think, or at least to speak, about the common good.

In movement politics, the forces are all centrifugal, encouraging splits into smaller and smaller factions obsessed with single issues and practicing rituals of ideological one-upmanship. Symbols take on outsize significance, especially in identity-based movements.

The results of this shift are now plain to see. The classic Democratic goal of bringing people from different backgrounds together for a single common project has given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow and exclusionary self-definition. And what keeps this approach to politics alive is that it is cultivated in the colleges and universities where liberal elites are formed. Here again, we must look to the history of the New Left to understand how this happened.

After Reagan’s election in 1980, conservative activists hit the road to spread the new individualist gospel of small government and free markets and poured their energies into winning out-of-the-way county, state and congressional elections. Also on the road, though taking a different exit on the interstate, were former New Left activists heading for college towns all over America.

Conservatives concentrated on attracting working people once attached to the Democratic Party—a populist, bottom-up strategy. The left concentrated on transforming the outlook of professional and party elites—a top-down strategy. Both groups were successful, and both left their mark on the country.

Up until the 1960s, those active in the Democratic Party were largely drawn from the working class or farm communities and were formed in local political clubs or on union-dominated shop floors. That world is gone. Today they are formed primarily in our colleges and universities, as are members of the overwhelmingly liberal-dominated professions of law, journalism and education.

Liberal political education, such as it is, now takes place on campuses that are far removed, socially and geographically, from the rest of the country—and particularly from the sorts of people who once were the foundation of the Democratic Party. And the political catechism that is taught is a historical artifact, reflecting more the idiosyncratic experience of the ’60s generation than the realities of power politics today.

The experience of that era taught the New Left two lessons. The first was that movement politics was the only mode of engagement that actually changes things; the second was that political activity must have some authentic meaning for the self, making compromise seem like a self-betrayal.

These lessons, though, have little bearing on liberalism’s present crisis, which is that of being defeated time and again by a well-organized Republican Party that keeps tightening its grip on our institutions. Where those lessons do resonate is with young people in our highly individualistic bourgeois society—a society that keeps them focused on themselves and teaches them that personal choice, individual rights and self-definition are all that is sacred.

It is little wonder that students of the Facebook age are drawn to courses focused on their identities and movements related to them. Nor is it surprising that many join campus groups that engage in identity movement work. But the costs need to be tallied.

For those students who will soon become liberal and progressive elites, the line between self-discovery and political action has become blurred. Their political commitments are genuine but are circumscribed by the confines of their self-definitions. Issues that penetrate those confines take on looming importance, and since politics for them is personal, their positions tend to be absolutist and nonnegotiable. Those issues that don’t touch on their identities or affect people like themselves are hardly perceived. And classic liberal ideas like citizenship, solidarity and the common good have little meaning for them.

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X…This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions.

Conservatives complain loudest about today’s campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early ’60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it—especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.

Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.

And that is citizenship. We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals for solidarity—including ones to benefit particular groups—in terms of principles that everyone can affirm.

Black Lives Matter is a textbook example of how not to build solidarity. By publicizing and protesting police mistreatment of African-Americans, the movement delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. But its decision to use this mistreatment to build a general indictment of American society and demand a confession of white sins and public penitence only played into the hands of the Republican right.

I am not a black male motorist and will never know what it is like to be one. If I am going to be affected by his experience, I need some way to identify with him, and citizenship is the only thing I know that we share. The more the differences between us are emphasized, the less likely I will be to feel outrage at his mistreatment.

The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all. Never has the country needed it more.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fareed Zakaria: Why Trump Won.

Why Trump Won. By Fareed Zakaria. CNN, July 31, 2017.

Fareed Zakaria: Trump’s Victory Was “A Class Rebellion Against People Like Us.” Video. Mediaite, July 31, 2017. YouTube. Full CNN New Day segment here, here.

Donald Trump and the endgame of “The End of History”: The latest news from World War IV. By Andrew O’Hehir. Salon, August 5, 2017.

Francis Fukuyama On Why Liberal Democracy Is In Trouble. Interviewed by Steve Inskeep. NPR, April 4, 2017.

See also Rush Limbaugh, Real Clear Politics.


The real question of the 2016 presidential election isn’t so much why did Donald Trump win, as why did he even get close?

After all, Trump was a totally unconventional candidate who broke all the rules and did things that would have destroyed anyone else running for president. So why did he break through?

Here’s the answer: America is now divided along four lines, each one reinforcing the others. Call them the four Cs.

The first is capitalism. There was a time when the American economy moved in tandem with its middle class. As the economy grew, so did middle class employment and wages. But over the last few decades that link has been broken. The economy has been humming along, but it now enriches mostly those with education, training, and capital. The other Americans have been left behind.

The second divide is about culture. In recent decades, we’ve seen large scale immigration; African-Americans and Hispanics rising to a more central place in society; and gays being accorded equal rights. All of this has meant new cultures and narratives have received national attention. And it’s worried a segment of the older, white population, which fears that the national culture they grew up with is fading. One comprehensive study found that after party loyalty, the second strongest predictor of a Trump voter was “fears of cultural displacement.”

The third divide in America today is about class. The Trump vote is in large part an act of class rebellion, a working class revolt against know-it-all elites who run the country. These voters will stick with Donald Trump even as he flails, rather than vindicate the elite, urban view of him.

The final C in this story is communication. We have gone from an America where people watched three networks that provided a uniform view of the world to one where everyone can pick their own channel, message, and now even their own facts.

All these forces have been at work for decades, but in recent years, the Republican Party has been better able to exploit them and identify with those Americans who feel frustrated, anxious, angry – even desperate about the direction that the country is headed in. Donald Trump capitalized on these trends even more thoroughly, speaking openly to people's economic anxieties, cultural fears, and class rebellion. He promised simple solutions, mostly aimed at others – Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese people and, of course, the elites and the media.

It worked. He won. Whether his solutions are even enacted is another matter. But the real victory will come for this country when someone looks at these deep forces that are dividing it and tries to construct a politics that will bridge them. Rather than accept that America must remain a country split between two tribes – each uncomprehending of the other, both bitter and hostile – he or she would speak in a language that unites them.

That kind of leadership would win not just elections -- but a place of honor in American history.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

David Brooks on Conservatism in the Trump Era.

David Brooks on Conservatism in the Trump Era. CNN Fareed Zakaria GPS. Video. Breaking News Channel, June 25, 2017. YouTube. Also here.

Donald Trump’s Populism Decoded: How a Billionaire Became the Voice of the “Little People.” By Leonard Steinhorn. Moyers and Company, July 3, 2017.

Brooks, GPS Transcript:

ZAKARIA: Ronald Reagan: In the minds of many on the right, he will forever be the king of conservatism, his presidency the high point of that movement.

So what does Donald Trump’s presidency represent? Where does conservatism go from here? Where does the Republican Party go from here?

Early in the week, I had the opportunity to talk to a man who thinks a lot about these issues, the New York Times columnist David Brooks.


ZAKARIA: David Brooks, pleasure to have you on.

BROOKS: Good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: When you look at Trump and the way he’s been governing, the things he’s passed, it’s, kind of, a hodgepodge of some things that seem hardcore Republican economic agenda, the repeal of Obamacare. Some of it is the trade protectionism he’s always promised. Is there a new conservatism developing?

BROOKS: No, I don’t think so, not – not in this administration. I think we saw glimmers of it in the campaign. And what Trump understood but a lot of us didn’t understand, what debate we were having. We grew up in the debate of big government versus small government, whether you wanted to use government to enhance equality, as Democrats did, or reduce government to enhance freedom, as Republicans did. But in the campaign, Trump said “That’s not our debate.” As many people, including you, have said, it’s open-closed. It’s between those who feel the headwinds of globalization blasting in their faces and they want closed borders, closed trade, security, and those who feel it’s pushing at their backs, and they want open trade, open opportunity and open social mores.

And he identified that we’re having a new debate now. And what's central to his administration is he hasn't delivered on that.

And that’s because there are not a lot of Trumpians in the world of policy. And so he hasn’t exactly helped the people who got him into office. He’s staffed his administration, to the extent it is staffed, with people who basically believed in the Reagan bargain of 1984, which is, you know, cut tax rates, reduce government regulation. And so I think he opened the door for a new kind of conservatism but has not fulfilled it. That’s for somebody in the future.

ZAKARIA: So where do Republicans go?

When you look at Republican congressmen, politicians, have they looked at that campaign and said, “We need to become more populist conservatives?” Is that where the party is heading?

BROOKS: Yeah, there was a book that was really useful to read, a short book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. And he said what happens in science – but it’s also true in politics – is you get a paradigm; you get a way of looking at the world, Reaganism. That was a paradigm. It works for a little while and then slowly it detaches from reality and it’s hollow, but nobody knows it. Somebody comes along, punctures it and it collapses.

And that’s what Trump did to Reaganism. But then you get this period of chaos, where people really haven’t released the old paradigm but they haven’t – don’t know what the new one is. And then you get a period of competition of paradigms.

And so, in the Republican Party, you’re going to get a libertarian paradigm; you’re going to get a paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan paradigm. You’re going to get a whole bunch of different ones and they will fight it out.

And if I had to bet, I would like an Alexander Hamilton, open trade, a lot of immigration, a lot of economic dynamism. But frankly, when I look at the polls, there are not a lot of people who want what I want. The Steve Bannons of the world – that’s where a lot of the people are. If you – they’re older; they’re economically disadvantaged, and they want a national conservatism that will protect them.

ZAKARIA: And if that is what they want, the party, you think, will – will fold. Because, to me, what’s been really interesting to watch is conservative intellectuals have, by and large, particularly the more prominent ones like you, have stuck true to their ideas and ideals and, you know, been very critical of Trump. I think somebody like George Will essentially got fired from Fox for that reason.

BROOKS: Yeah, right.

ZAKARIA: But the Republican politicians have not. They have all caved and, in some way or the other, have accommodated themselves to Trump?

BROOKS: Yeah. And either those of us in the intellectual class are hidebound and rigid and we’re stuck with our ideas and we’re not reflecting reality, or the politicians are craven and they just don’t want to lose their jobs, so they’ll go wherever the people are. And that’s basically where they are.

I think one of the things we’ve learned and Trump has demonstrated is that parties are not that ideological. Trump ran against a lot of Republican positions and Republicans signed on.

What parties are these days are cultural signifiers, social identity markers and just teams. And people think, “What team has people like me on it? What fits my social identity?”

A lot of people looked around; a lot of suburban women in Missouri looked around and said “Sarah Palin, she’s, kind of, like me.” And whether Sarah Palin believed in high tax rates or low tax rates or health insurance markets or some other health care policy, that’s not what they were thinking about. They were thinking about, “Who’s like me?”

And for a lot of people in the Republican Party, which is older, whiter and less educated at the core, Trump was like that.

ZAKARIA: Does that tell you that they will be loyal to him to the end, if there – if these investigations go – go badly for the president?

BROOKS: Yeah, pretty much. One of the things I think we’ve learned in spades over the last 20 years is that we in the political class get super-excited about scandal, and we think, “Oh, it’s about to tear that person down.” But, time and time again, when you actually go out to districts where people are voting, it’s, sort of, just a noise in the background, and they’re voting the things that they care about, their economics, their health care, their education, or they like the person.

And so, in my conversations with Trump voters, the scandals just don’t come up. They think – always, he’s kind of a buffoon or whatever, but at least he’s still basically trying to say the right things. And so I don’t think it will have any difference.

ZAKARIA: And is part of Trump's support that that – you know, that core 35 percent or so of the country strengthened every time the media criticizes him?

BROOKS: Yeah...

ZAKARIA: Because the last thing they want to do is to give you the satisfaction...


BROOKS: Correct.

ZAKARIA: ... of having been right about Donald Trump?

BROOKS: Correct. Yeah, one of the things we learned about the class structure in this country is that people in the lower middle class or people in the working class or people who voted for Trump don’t mind billionaires; they do not mind rich people. What they mind are bossy professionals, teachers, lawyers, journalists who seem to want to tell them what to do or seem to want to tell them how to act.

And if you had to pick the classic epitome of that person who most offends them, that would be Hillary Clinton. And so she was exactly the wrong person.

And so I find them remarkably stable in their support. There’s been some seepage around the edge for Donald Trump, but so far it’s just seepage.

ZAKARIA: David Brooks, pleasure to have you on.

BROOKS: Thank you.

Steinhorn (excerpt):

But populism has always been about more than a loss of jobs, status and prestige. It’s also about who they blame for that loss. And typically they train their fire on those they view as elites.

Notwithstanding the threads of nativism and xenophobia woven into the early populist rhetoric, their targets were clear: monopolies, banks, industrialists and those who controlled the levers of capital in America. To them, they traced their loss of livelihood and status directly to the economic barons who constituted the elites of their time.

But today’s populists — with the notable exception of the Bernie Sanders wing — don’t rage against the capitalist elites and corporate boards and CEOs and financiers for outsourcing their jobs, closing their plants, squeezing their incomes and soaking up much of the nation’s wealth.

Rather, they aim their anger at those who they believe have deprived them of their cultural capital. To them, it’s the liberal, intellectual and media elites that have redefined who and what America values. On the cultural pedestal is now a rainbow flag, not the American flag. The masculinity of old is now declassé. We elevate diversity and multiculturalism, not the hard hat, cop and white picket fence.

In the white working-class worldview, these elites have hijacked what Sarah Palin once called the “real America” — through globalization that stole their jobs, dispensations and benefits for those that haven’t earned it, and a politically correct hierarchy that privileges gays, minorities, immigrants and now the transgendered, but not the white working class even though, to them, they’re the ones who built the country and deserve respect.

From their perspective, all these elites seem to hand them is disdain and condescension. So they see themselves, in the words of President Trump, as the “forgotten Americans.”

Trump understood all of that from the very beginning of his campaign. Sporting his trademark “Make America Great Again” red baseball cap signaling white working-class solidarity, he vowed to stomp on the elites that his supporters believed were putting them down.

A Tale of Two Political Systems. By Eric X. Li.

A Tale of Two Political Systems. By Eric X. Li. Video. TED, June 2013. YouTube. Transcript.

The Life of the Party: The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China. By Eric X. Li. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 92, No. 1 (January/February 2013).

Watching American Democracy in China: Liberals and Conservatives After Trump. By Eric X. Li. Foreign Affairs, April 19, 2016.

The End of Globalism: Where the United States and China Go From Here. By Eric X. Li. Foreign Affairs, December 9, 2016.

Why democracy still wins: A critique of Eric X. Li’s “A tale of two political systems.” By Yasheng Huang. TED Blog, July 1, 2013.

Why China May Never Democratize. By Tyler Cowen. Bloomberg, July 11, 2017.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“Nationalist” Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word. By Walter Russell Mead.

President Trump discusses an executive order on trade, March 31, in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who served 1829-37. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

“Nationalist” Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word. By Walter Russell Mead. Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2017. See also The American Interest.

Why the Donald Trump-Andrew Jackson bromance is bad for America: Our current President’s ignorance about the past is painful. By J.M. Opal. New York Daily News, May 1, 2017.

What Trump Gets Right—and Progressives Get Wrong—About Andrew Jackson. By Andrew Exum. The Atlantic, May 2, 2017.

Republicans Should Be the Party of Lincoln--and Jackson. By Jarrett Stepman. The National Interest, May 13, 2017.


Trump will be successful if he puts U.S. interests first—while still helping to maintain global order.

If Donald Trump were a liberal Democrat, some of the media’s descriptions of “chaos” and “disarray” in the White House probably would be replaced with stories about “creative tension” among a “team of rivals.” As it is, the struggle between “nationalists” like Steve Bannon and “globalists” like Gary Cohn is characterized in near-apocalyptic terms. Yet as Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal last week, “I’m a nationalist and a globalist.” That is good news: Mr. Trump and the Republican Party should be weaving nationalist and globalist themes together rather than picking them apart.

Nationalism—the sense that Americans are bound together into a single people with a common destiny—is a noble and necessary force without which American democracy would fail. A nationalist and patriotic elite produces leaders like George Washington, who aim to promote the well-being of the country they love. An unpatriotic and antinationalist elite produces people who feather their nests without regard to the common good.

Mr. Trump is president in large part because millions of Americans, rightly or wrongly, believed that large sections of their country’s elite were no longer nationalist. Flawed he may be, but the president bears an important message, and Trump-hating elites have only themselves to blame for his ascendancy. A cosmopolitan and technocratic political class that neither speaks the language nor feels the pull of nationalist solidarity cannot successfully lead a democratic society.

The president symbolized his nationalist commitment by hanging a portrait of Andrew Jackson in a place of honor in the Oval Office. Now Mr. Trump must stay true to that commitment or he will lose his political base and American politics will spin even further off balance. But life is rarely simple. Jacksonian means will not always achieve Jacksonian goals. Sometimes, they even get in the way.

Jackson learned this when his populist fight against the Second Bank of the United States ultimately led to a depression that turned the country over to his hated Whig rivals. As Mr. Trump comes to grips with the tough international economic reality, he is realizing that not everything the Jacksonians think they want will actually help them. The president has already discovered that ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement won’t help the middle-class voters who put him in office.

Jacksonian voters don’t want North Korea to have the ability to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons. They also don’t want a second Korean War. Reaching the best outcome on Korea could mean giving China a better deal on trade than many Trump voters would desire. Populists like to rail against globalization and world order. Yet the security and prosperity of the American people depend on an intricate web of military, diplomatic, political and economic arrangements that an American president must manage and conserve.

Mr. Trump is learning that some of the core goals of his Jacksonian program can be realized only by judiciously employing the global military, diplomatic and economic statesmanship associated with Alexander Hamilton. Bringing those two visions into alignment isn’t easy. Up until the Civil War, the American party system revolved around the rivalry of the Jacksonian Democrats with the Hamiltonian Whigs. Abraham Lincoln fused Jacksonian unionism with Henry Clay’s Hamiltonian vision when he created the modern Republican Party. Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan revitalized the party of their times by returning to the Jacksonian-Hamiltonian coalition that made the old party grand.

The future of the Trump administration and the Republican Party largely depend on whether the president and his allies can return to these roots. The elements of fusion are there. While Jacksonians are skeptical of corporate power and international institutions, they like economic growth that benefits the middle class, and they strongly believe in an America that stands up for itself and its allies. They are less worried about budget deficits than they are about a strong economy. If the tide is lifting the rowboats, they do not care all that much that the yachts are rising too.

For the coalition to work, Hamiltonians need to realize that the health and cohesion of American society is fundamental to the world order that allows corporations and financial firms to operate so profitably in the global market. In other words, Peoria matters much more than Davos. It was American power and will that built the present world order and ultimately must sustain it. A divided society with an eviscerated middle class cannot provide the stable, coherent leadership that is required.

The U.S. must be simultaneously a nationalist power, focused on the prosperity and security of its own people, and a globalist power working to secure the foundations of international order that Americans need. Mr. Trump appears to understand this truth better than many of his most vituperative critics. The task now confronting the president and his team is to develop and execute a national strategy based on these insights. Nothing in today’s world is harder than this, and nothing is more essential.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Yuval Noah Harari on the Future of Humanity

The Future of Humanity with Yuval Noah Harari. Video. The Royal Institution, September 28, 2016. YouTube. Q&A.

Yuval Noah Harari: Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets.

Yuval Noah Harari: Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets | Talks at Google. Video. Talks at Google, February 8, 2015. YouTube.

Yuval Noah Harari on the Myths We Need to Survive.

Yuval Noah Harari on the Myths We Need to Survive. Video. Intelligence Squared, October 23, 2015. YouTube.

Tom Friedman on Thriving in the Age of Acceleration.

Thomas Friedman on Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. Video. Intelligence Squared, January 24, 2017. YouTube.

Radically open: Tom Friedman on jobs, learning, and the future of work. Interviewed by Cathy Engelbert and John Hagel. Deloitte Review, No. 21 (July 2017).

Thomas L. Friedman: Thank You for Being Late | Talks at Google. Video. Talks at Google, February 22, 2017. YouTube.

Thomas Friedman, Thank You for Being Late. Video. Politics and Prose, December 16, 2016. YouTube.

Thomas Friedman: A Field Guide to the 21st Century. Video. Commonwealth Club, December 8, 2016. YouTube.

Thomas L. Friedman: Thank You for Being Late. Video. Oxford Martin School, February 2, 2017. YouTube.

Thomas L. Friedman: Learning to Live in an Age of Acceleration. Video. TownHallSeattle, December 5, 2016. YouTube.