Virgil: The Age of the Lion: Donald Trump Puts America First

First of Two Parts…

A lion isn’t always beloved, but it is always respected, even feared.  In his inaugural address today at the Capitol, President Donald Trump roared, and decades’ worth of vapid orthodoxy melted away.   

As Trump said, his inaugural ceremony was more than a transfer of power from one administration to another, or from one party to another.  Instead, it was something much more profound: “We are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people.”

It’s a safe bet that everyone in Powertown heard those words and realized, full well, that the were directed against them, their lifestyle, their business-as-usual, and their overall worldview.  

Yet Trump was just getting warmed up:

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.  The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

As the headline atop The Drudge Report blared, “Trump eviscerates Washington.”  And Trump means to move fast, starting with executive orders.  As he said, “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

And it was the voice of the lion that added, “When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear.” 

Unfortunately, some Americans will be fearful, even if they have no true reason to be afraid.  As Trump said, extending his open hand to all Americans:

It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.  We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.

And yet a few, those among the DC elite, have good reason to be afraid—very afraid.  On the campaign trail, Trump always said, “Drain the swamp!” And today he proved that he meant it.  

Of course, Powertown won’t give up its power easily.  So yes, it will be a fight.  But then, every lion knows that, from birth, it is destined to fight; what Trump said of America is also true of himself: “A nation is only living as long as it is striving.”

Then he closed on a deeply leonine note:

Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again.  And, yes, together we will make America great again.

Virgil believes that Trump’s speech marks a watershed in American history.   That is, in recent decades, it had been possible for a president to natter on about America’s duties to the world as a whole, and yet it was seen as gauche to talk about America’s duties to itself, and to her people.  But that all changed today.  It was Trump who spoke of “carnage” in our cities (and what other word could one use to describe, for example, the nearly 800 murders in Chicago last year, part of an overall 14 percent rise?).  It was Trump who spoke also of “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.”

Yet now, in the post-Trump-inaugural era, both his political opponents today and his wannabe successors in the future will have to embrace at least the thought behind Trump’s stark imagery and tough thinking.   

That is, now that 45th president has set the 2017 baseline as being one of bloodshed and despair, it won’t be possible, in the years to come, for Democrat challengers to emphasize, instead, climate change and co-ed bathrooms.  Moreover, now that Trump has invoked the lost-but-soon-to-be-reclaimed power of the American people, the Democrats will not be well advised to resume their effort to weaponize the federal government and the judiciary against the values of the middle class.  As the Democrats discovered in 2016, that’s the way to lose elections. 

And at the same time, Republicans are on notice to cool it with the libertarian  jargon of “job creators” and “makers vs. takers.”  As Trump has said many times, people on Social Security, Medicare, and VA benefits have already given their fair share; they don’t deserve to be lumped in with welfare recipients.  In particular, the GOP should note Trump’s use today of the old labor-union word, “solidarity.”  That’s what the American people voted for in November, and that’s what the Republican rank-and-file wants as well. 

Meanwhile, heedless to the tectonic changes Trump is forcing, the MSM and the culture still trashes him at every opportunity, even at the risk of descending into total self-parody.  To cite just two of thousands of possible examples, The New Republic headlined one piece on the 20th, “Welcome to the Trump Dark Age.” And The Wrap, an entertainment publication, offered this hopeful-for-liberals headline, “Women’s March May Outshine Trump Inauguration.”  Yes, that’s the ticket.  Except for one thing: Trump will be the 45th president when the marchers have all gone home. 

In fact, the MSM and the cultureplex have joined together to establish a “meme” about which they are quite proud—namely, that Trump is the least popular new president in a long time, maybe ever.  Even pop culture blogger Perez Hilton is saying it, as he cites Seth Meyers, the sage of NBC’s late night. 

Yet here’s something that the chattering classes might not have thought about: The idea of Donald Trump is more popular, and powerful, than the man himself.  Yes, he’s an alpha male of the highest order, and yet he has always been careful to situate himself within the larger populist-nationalist current.  As Trump told Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle back in July, “I’m the messenger to the movement.”

Yes, the movement: the deep forces that propelled Trump to victory last year, no matter what was thrown at him.  This movement is populist-nationalism, as has been argued many times here at BreitbartPopulist-nationalism, as seen also so vividly with the Brexit vote, is the story of the year—and, indeed, the story of our era.  As has been said, nothing can stop the power of an idea whose time has come.

Some, of course, will dispute this.  They will argue, for example, that Trump won only a minority of the popular vote, even if, of course, he won a majority in the voting that mattered, in the electoral college. 

It’s also true that Trump has had some negative poll ratings.  On November 8, his personal disapproval ratings—if one takes the average of the last five polls before the election—were, according to RealClearPolitics, an underwater 39:57. 

And yet Trump won more than 46 percent of the nationwide vote.  So we can see, if the polls are to be believed, that a fair number of voters went to the polls with a negative opinion of Trump and . . . voted for Trump

So what happened? Here’s what happened: The country wanted a change, and so it was willing to put aside its hesitations about the Republican candidate.  Again according to RealClearPolitics, the average “right direction/wrong track” for the nation in the five polls closest to Election Day was 32:62.  So if Trump’s challenge was that a lot of voters didn’t like him, Hillary Clinton’s challenge was that by a 2:1 margin, voters didn’t like what was happening to them.  As Angelo Codevilla wrote during the campaign:

The overriding question of 2016 has been how eager the American people are to reject the bipartisan class that has ruled this country contrary to its majority’s convictions.

In other words, “Throw the bums out!”

We can see this point in finer detail thanks to a compilation of polling data from FiveThirtyEight.  The site tracked the polling on 32 issues during the Obama presidency, 2009 to 2017, from abortion to Guantanamo to unions.  On some issues, Obama scored well, but on the “gut” issues of the economy, immigration, race relations, and terrorism, the 44th president’s polling numbers were steadily below 50 percent. We can state the obvious: Big issues matter more to voters than little issues.  

So in her own campaign as Obama’s anointed successor, Hillary didn’t have firm ground to stand on—she had quicksand.

A few journalistic outlets have caught on to the point that Trumpism is even bigger than Trump.  The Wall Street Journal editorial page, normally critical of the the new president, wrote of Trump on January 19

He confronts the paradox of a country skeptical that he has the personal traits for the Presidency but still hopeful he can fulfill his promise to shake up a government that is increasingly powerful even as it fails to work.  . . . If voters are ambivalent about Mr. Trump personally, he has a policy opening to earn their support.

And other observers have echoed that point.  As Mike Allen of Axios put it on January 20, “Applying traditional metrics to Trump means we haven’t learned anything in the past 19 months.”  Allen continued by saying that while voters might have qualms about Trump himself, they are nevertheless “more bullish about his big themes.” 

To be sure, some reporters haven’t gotten the message.  And many of them are at CNN, notably CNN’s Brian Stelter, who continues to hoot over Trump’s alleged “poll denialism,” even as Trump enters the White House. And on Thursday night, another CNN talking head, David Gergen, called Trump “unhinged,” as others on the panel nodded in agreement.

Yet others in the MSM are starting to realize, however reluctantly, that, yes, Trump represents something bigger than they first realized.   In the grudging words of The New York TimesNate Cohn, “There’s something about Mr. Trump’s appeal that’s not captured in the traditional approval ratings or the character questions.” And that “something,” of course, is the hope of the American people for a better life—which they knew they wouldn’t get from four more years of Obama-ism under Hillary. 

Without a doubt, Trump is something different.  As the new president said on Friday: 

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow.  A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

We can note the happy absence of the usual litany of grievances against America and, also, the happy presence of a new Trumpian theme: curing disease

Yet of course, the big issue is the economy.  And as we know, even before taking office, Trump was changing the landscape.  As he said, with characteristic bravado, at his January 11 news conference, he will be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created,” and he aims to prove it.   As Breitbart’s Warner Todd Huston recounted on January 17, many companies and investors are rushing to respond.   

And once again, MSM hecklers are having to eat their words.  It must have pained CNN, for example, to print this January 19 headline about one of Trump’s pro-job interventions that some had disputed: “Trump was right about Mexican-made GM cars.”

Now ask yourself: In the future, is another US president, of either party, going to sit back and just watch passively while American jobs go across the border, or overseas?   Now that Trump has shown what’s possible, in terms of job-saving, is any American leader going to just ignore the job-hemorrhage?  Answer: Of course not.  The laissez-faire idea of letting jobs drift away, in the name of the free market, or of globalism, is over.  Good riddance! 

So we can see: Trump is barely in the White House, and already the country, and its corporations, are hearing his kingly roar.

Coming next: More on lions in politics.


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