Thankful for Trump

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Michael Novak, but m(mmmmeeeeEEE)y reaction to the election was similar to his in the sense that I dreaded four more years of progressivism at that center of American life and felt a sense of relief when news came that Hillary Clinton did not win.

But a better expression of my thoughts comes from Damon Linker who recognizes, as few do inside the bubble of progressivism, that the United States includes more than elite institutions and their unofficial establishment:

The urge toward exclusion is a perennial possibility of politics. That’s because politics takes place on two levels. On one level is the back and forth of partisan conflict, involving persuasion, argument, electoral battles, triumphs, and defeats. On this level, pretty much anything goes as long as it abides by the rules of the political game. But there’s also a second, more fundamental level of politics that involves a competition over who gets to set the rules, the boundaries of what is publicly acceptable, in the first place — and precisely where those boundaries will be positioned.

The most obvious example of second-order politics in the American system is the judiciary, and especially the Supreme Court. Until the Obergefell decision in 2015, for example, the American people were engaging in a free-flowing debate about same-sex marriage, with some people in favor of allowing it and others opposed, and public opinion shifting rapidly in the “pro” direction. That was politics conducted on the first level. But then the Supreme Court stepped in to declare gay marriage a constitutional right. That was second-order politics in action: Suddenly the rules were changed, with the “pro” side summarily declared the winner throughout the nation and the “anti” side driven — and permanently excluded — from the political battlefield going forward.

But second-order politics isn’t only found in the formal strictures of a Supreme Court ruling. It comes into play when prominent institutions in civil society (such as mainstream media outlets, universities, corporations, movie studios, and other arms of the entertainment industry) informally unite in deciding that an issue, or a specific position on an issue, is simply unacceptable because it crosses a moral line that leading members of these institutions consider inviolable. Over the past several decades, a range of positions on immigration, crime, gender, and the costs and benefits of some forms of diversity have been relegated to the categories of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “white supremacy,” or “white nationalism,” and therefore excluded from first-order political debate.

I’m not going to cry for progressives. They still have elite journalism, Hollywood, the most exclusive colleges and universities, and lots of agencies related directly and indirectly to the federal government. They just don’t have the White House for the next four years. Let’s see Aaron Sorkin make a television show about that.

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46 thoughts on “Thankful for Trump

  1. Thinking of her having that fit for 6 hours when she was told it was over…

    is there footage of this? Please???? Only eclipsed by what it must have been to sit there and hear how Bobby Knight was tired of losing to Purdue.

    Hee hee hee…

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  2. C-dubs, stop diminishing the newly marginalized(as of Nov 8). Learn to speak peace into their fears and anxieties so that they can know you’re not the homophobic, sexist, misogynist, xenophobic, racist, ignorant, lout that your vote revealed you to be. Or maybe that was my vote that revealed all that about me. Whatever, just repent already and do penance.

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  3. “I’m not going to cry for progressives. They still have elite journalism, Hollywood, the most exclusive colleges and universities, and lots of agencies related directly and indirectly to the federal government.”

    The also have many seminaries and churches – even Evangelical and Reformed ones. Fuller Seminary, Russell Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Christianity Today, and Tim Keller are each in their own way trying to meet the standards set by progressives on Race, Sex, and Culture.

    The Gospel Coalition is as outraged as Slate and HuffPo about the Evangelical support Trump received. White Evangelicals had one shining moment to display their “maturity” and “racial sensitivity” but they blew it. Big time.

    Hillary’s cadre of Progressive Evangelicals tried this long con on Evangelicals. Russell Moore was suddenly allowed to write for publications that previously (and now post-election) couldn’t care less for anything he had to say. Jen Hatmaker and Beth Moore went from being Christian weirdos into the new vanguard for Evangelical women against Trump.

    The con failed but progressives still get to determine who’s respectable (Tim Keller, Russell Moore) and who isn’t (Jerry Falwell, James Dobson).

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  4. Does the revelation that “It’s a hard knock life” keeps repeating in my mind get me back any credibility with the LGBTQ++++ community? It should. ……instead of treated we get tricked………..

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  5. No complications to see:

    With the arguable and partial exception of the period of Reconstruction (roughly and generously 1865-1877), between 1787 and 1964, the very basis of our nation’s unity was a bargain with white supremacy.

    That began to change in a major way with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And while we have not come close to banishing racism, the history of the last half century or so has been a struggle over how this country might continue on another, more racially egalitarian basis. And the hope has been alive that we might actually achieve a measure of racial justice in the United States.

    So when a candidate gets elected to the presidency running on a white supremacist platform and begins appointing white supremacists to major positions of power, the reason so many of us are so insistent on not compromising whatsoever with him or his administration is not that such a compromise is impossible, but rather that, judging from American history, it is all too possible.

    It is entirely possible that the experiment of the last fifty years could be brought to an end, and that the United States might, once again, return entirely to being a Herrenvolk democracy. For centuries, non-white-supremacist Americans of European descent compromised with, and built our nation on a partnership with, white supremacists.

    To borrow a line from Walter Sobchak, at least it’s a w-w.

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  6. DGH, from the piece you linked:
    “Millions of Americans from all walks of life have been filled with fear and dread by the election of Donald Trump. But American historians have been, I think, among the most upset.”
    Send in the therapy dogs!

    #growapair

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  7. Historians fight tooth and nail? Folks need to be careful about the ill-suited labels they want to throw around to poison the well. They might engender sympathy and empathy from a place deep down in the ancestral belly and stir up groups who know something about fighting tooth and nail. Free the Seven.

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  8. Which means the evangetrumpers still have plenty to fuel the hand-wringing martyr complex. At least Trump takes the edge of that. Maybe there is an upside to his winning a rigged election.

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  9. As a Leftist, I wanted neither Clinton nor Trump to win. So I looked at the election as barometer reading and this is what seems to have been measured: racism is ok as long as one is only using the racism of others, sexism in speech and conduct is ok, mocking the handicapped is ok, denying what has been captured on tape is ok, and calling oneself Christian while denying the need for forgiveness is ok for Christians as long as the candidate belongs to the not-them party. In other words, the two-party system allows us to count fewer and fewer very unacceptable positions, behaviors, and words as deal breakers.

    What we saw in Trump vs Clinton was two candidates who favored neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policies. Of course, such does not imply that they were identical. For we had Trump’s domestic brand of neoliberal economics vs. Hillary’s globalism and we had Trump’s pay for protection brand of neoconservatism vs Clinton’s eager to intervene interventionism brand of neoconservatism. But with both candidates, we still had both neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

    As for Obergefell, why brag about the back and forth democratic talk of SSM and equality for the LGBT community? Such thinking would also celebrate the “open” dialog that existed before the Jim Crow era and laws for forcibly dismantled by Court decisions and federal legislation–the latter of which forced its will on local and state legislators in ways that could not be justified by the 10th Amendment.

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  10. “So I looked at the election as barometer reading”

    This is the problem. You are approaching politics the same way the Christian Right does, as a barometer of spiritual commitments. The Christian Right assumes any Christian who votes for a pro-choice Dem. for whatever reason is compromising his faith, actually supporting abortion, and you assume any Christian who voted for Trump is okay with racism, etc. A little (large) dose of 2k would help greatly. I recently got surgery on my throat. I sought out the physician who would be the most skilled. If that physician cheats on his wife, while the less skilled physician was a good family man, choosing the more skilled physician did not mean I approve of adultery. People vote for a multitude of reasons, many practical, without approving of every policy or personal characteristic of the one voted for, whether for local dog catcher or POTUS. In other words, politics is not religion. And speaking of, whatever happened to the days when how one voted was nobody else’s business?

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  11. Todd, all true. But isn’t the problem for the whitey-righties in how all of a sudden politics were no longer religion and those distinctions were (at least ostensibly) made? Where was this 2k twenty years ago? But given their inability to even spell “two kingdoms,” maybe it’s not so much 2k as it is plain old-fashioned pharisism at play.

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  12. Zrim,

    For sure. The anti-Bill Clinton “character matters” Christian Trump voters do look a bit ridiculous at this point. But that may be a small percentage of total Trump voters.

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  13. Curt, I didn’t say they had no bearing, I said one cannot assume religious commitments based on the character of the politician voted for over another.

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  14. Todd,
    Here you need to be more precise with what you mean by saying one cannot assume religious commitments based on support for the character of the politician they supported. I am not saying that one can use someone’s presidential choice to determine that person’s religion. But I did mention that one’s voting shows what is no longer counted as deal breakers. In addition, I also talked about Trump himself and how he saw no need for asking for the forgiveness of sins. That last item is a direct contradiction with Christianity but that also is only a reflection on Trump, not those who supported him.

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  15. Curt, you made an unwarranted, and uncharitable, assumption about all Christians who voted for Trump, saying they are okay with racism, etc. And you wrote “calling oneself Christian while denying the need for forgiveness is ok for Christians.” I am simply challenging these assumptions you made. Voting for a candidate does not mean whatever the candidate says and does is “ok for Christians.” To assume that means you are elevating politics to the level of religion. If you see politics along the lines of physicians and plumbers more than religion you would not fall into the same trap the religious right falls into, which is assuming the worst of a person’s religious and moral stances solely based on who they vote for in an election. There are so many reasons a person votes for a particular candidate you cannot assume agreement with everything a candidate says or does because of a single vote. I don’t know how to be more precise than that.

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  16. Todd,
    You misstated my position on those Christians who voted for Trump. For one thing, they are not a monolith. Second, there is a difference between saying something is not a deal breaker from saying that someone is ok with something. For example, I voted for Jill Stein who is pro-choice. Now abortion is not a deal breaker for candidates on the left for me but that does not mean I am ok with it. I am not ok with it but right now I consider it a moot issue. My point has always been that the two party system continually lowers the bar of the candidates for which vote.

    So before you challenge the assumptions i’ve made, perhaps you need to correctly identify the assumptions I’ve made.

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  17. Curt, go back and read your original post. You did not say racism, sexism, etc., though not okay for Christians who voted Trump, but not a deal breaker. You said they were okay for Christians. If you had said the former then I understand your point, and agree with it, but you said the latter. If you meant the former than I take back my challenge. I know it can be difficult to be precise in blog posts.

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  18. Todd,
    I see your point in my first note and so I will revise it. The racism of others, sexism in speech and conduct, and mocking the handicapped are not deal breakers for those who voted for Trump. And this shows the problem. The two party system continues to lower the bar as to what makes an candidate acceptable. While certain actions of the candidate may not be counted as acceptable to the voters, the candidate who practices these unacceptable actions remains acceptable in order to vote for the not-them candidate.

    But one has to ask if voting for a candidate with unacceptable actions makes one complicit with the practice of those actions? The true answer to that question is ‘no.’ But the principle on which one casts their vote becomes a bit more complex here. For in refusing to vote for candidates who support abortion rights, many conservatives could not vote for such a candidate because they believe that their vote would condone abortion rights. But when they voted for Trump, wouldn’t the same principle state that their vote for him would condone the racism that his campaign fed off of, the sexism of his behavior and speech, and his mocking of the handicapped?

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  19. I continue to be befuddled by the principled/unprincipled distinction being made as regards this election. Apparently, you can be principled in choosing to vote contrary to an avowed pro-life candidate for one(another candidate) who is not and this be defended as ‘principled’ because you’re experienced enough to know that straight up and down votes aren’t how most political fights are waged and won, but, as regards Trump, such opportunity for nuanced selection is not available. In some form or fashion your vote for Trump is both unprincipled AND lands you somewhere on the continuum of racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, authoritarian, anti-intellectual, lout. Some folks need to check and see if they’re as consistently principled as they imagine.

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  20. Curt, The alleged principle that to cast a vote for a candidate who has a particular view means the voter endorses that particular view is just wrong. It just doesn’t work that way because no one person perfectly aligns with another tick for tack, even within similar parties. So to carry forward to DJT and say that to vote for him is to condone his particular philistinism doesn’t work very well either for the same reason. At the same time, a Trump-a-teer by virtue of casting a vote seems to have less issue with his philistinism by giving him a material boost. Seems to me Trump-a-teers should put on their big boy pants, take it in the chin and admit they can tolerate his philistinism and be prepared for getting slotted as philistines. Seems to me they think it’s worth it, just like their boy does when he race baits–baiters may not necessarily be racists but only manipulators, but can you really blame others for thinking you one when you bait? If so, then either revise your mouth or quit whining about the charges.

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  21. Sean, no, “unprincipled” doesn’t necessarily imply “racist, etc.” There were repubs opposed to DJT who say they “came home” on or before November 8 and got behind him. That’s a euphemsim for “my party, right or wrong,” which hardly seems principled. Some might even go so far as to characterize it as “selling out.” Is that too meanie-head? Boo-hoo, maybe the overly sensitive PC culture is rubbing off in ironic ways. But when those who say they want a constitutional republic go in for a big government authoritarian with zero governance experience, sure seems more pragmatic than principled.

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  22. Zrim, I think it depends who you ask as regards the racist,(fill in the blank) card. But pragmatism sure does seem to be a principle that both sides play when it comes to politics. I don’t find that to be a fault. Save me from the ardent ideologues in politics, please. I don’t pretend to know how the ‘came home’ crowd feels about being labeled. But if they’re sore about it, they should toughen up too.

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  23. Zrim,
    I believe that you oversimplified my position. My position simply applies the most stated reason, at least from what I’ve heard, as to why some conservatives refuse to vote for pro-choice candidates to how they vote for candidates like Trump. Understandably, abortion is a deal breaker for them. But the practices by and attitudes of Donald Trump are not. So what does that imply?

    One possible answer is that though not acceptable, what is objectionable is still tolerable and if tolerable, by the standards applied to why these voters refuse to vote for any pro choice candidate, then there is a degree acceptability of what was objectionable. Of course stating that the answer is possible means that nothing is implied by their votes for Trump.

    Another possible answer is that their votes against pro-choice candidates are far more complex than what they give themselves credit for or are possibly aware of.

    My point is not to target the conservatives who voted for Trump; it is to make us realize how standards are easily and more drastically compromised by our two-party system. That our two-party system is lowering the bar of what makes an acceptable presidential candidate. And that lowering of the bar has an effect on all of us, not just conservatives. One has to realize that this lowering of the bar sheds light on why some nonconservative candidates voted for Hillary. Because a substantial number of both Trump and Hillary voters were votes against their not-them candidate.

    And btw, without democratic reform in both the private and public sector, you will end up with an ever growing authoritarianism. One of the differences between conservatives and leftists is that leftists see the major threat of authoritarianism coming from the private sector. Conservatives see the source of a growing authoritarianism coming from the public sector. The latest evidence shows that business has the gov’t’s ear more than people all of which would provide support for the leftist assessment

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  24. Sean, anything can be labelled a principle. But when I say pragmatic, I don’t mean non-ideologue or the art of compromise (both good things). I mean going along with the bandwagon claiming you have no choice, which is hardly conservative. Grow a damn backbone.

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  25. Zrim, I honestly haven’t met this group who claimed they had no choice. I know plenty who weren’t happy with either choice and held their nose but that’s a far cry from lack of choice. One could’ve always abstained or wrote in a candidate if they felt that strongly about it. As for me, I’m riddled with character defects so the choice was obvious. And she still lost.

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  26. Sean, I know a fair share and thinking in alternate ways doesn’t register–you take what’s handed to you. This is the “anything else is a throw away” crowd. They saw no other choice than to hold their noses, which then turned into active support. They couldn’t hold their breath 20 years ago but sure learned expertly all of sudden. Maybe they should look into stunt doubling.

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  27. Zrim,
    It’s more than just system reform. To enable that you need the people to change as well. As for the election we had, i really like what Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs said:


    Right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s too early. I’m just sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all of the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.

    I live in that country where half of the people ignored all of that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me. It’s got nothing to do with the environment and Obamacare, and all of the other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all of those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump…

    One could go on and on, we didn’t make this stuff up. He’s angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. That’s ironic to me. It makes no sense. So that’s my real fear, and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group’s situations. I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is, my big fear is — we are Rome.

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  28. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a bigger Popovich fan than myself, but from the academy to the military to college and professional sports, one is afforded the luxury of living in an orchestrated black and white world where there are clear winners and losers and when things get grey you had the luxury of referring to higher ups to settle the score. And now when it doesn’t go your way, you’ve got a lot of money to cushion the blow and your ego. Popovich is better than most in that he understands he lives a charmed life, but charmed it is.

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  29. Curt, well there goes the over-realization tick again. Why isn’t system reform sufficient? You maintain that systems are sinful, so why wouldn’t their reform suffice (though until you can baptize and commune systems in a local church, I remain unconvinced of the premise)? Reforming actual people is beyond human power.

    As for Popovich, I get it but sorry, that’s the sort of outrage porn I don’t think helps much. Trump-a-teers should feel the measured (even visceral) sting of their crass political pragmatism but slut-shaming doesn’t usually help anyone but the shamer. Or put another way, if Trump is to civil office what Osteen is to church pulpit, when the duped buy his books and otherwise promote him does it really help to go ape or is it better to hold out a principled religion in contrast to a tacky and worldly one and simply hold them accountable to it?

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  30. Zrim,
    For any system reform to be sufficient, certain values must be supported by the majority of people. Otherwise, if those values clash with the new system, the system won’t last. This agreement between system reforms and values has been noted by both conservatives and even leftists. And you are creating a strawman of my views if you state that system reforms from a sinful system are adequate. For I made no such implication or connection.

    As for your reaction to Popovich, to use the porn is merely an attempt to discredit what he is saying rather than engaging with what he has said. Your label is merely an attempt to distract people from what was said. Plus, your description is an overreaction when we realize what porn really is. and what it involves.

    As for your belief that reforming people is beyond human power, you are implying that we never need to make any system reforms regardless of the system? System reforms do bring change. But before you say I have contradicted myself, change must come from more than just system reforms. However, some change does not come without system reform. In addition, system reform has other benefits than just bringing change. It provides a d degree of protection from those who do not want to change. It isn’t complete protection, but it does provide a degree of protection.

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  31. Curt, “We live in a country that ignored all of those values that we would hold our kids accountable for.”

    Obviously, Popovich does not send his kids to American universities.

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  32. Curt, I said I seconded the idea of system reform, so no I’m not “implying we never need to make system reforms regardless of the system.” And I don’t buy the idea that system reform needs human reform. My company changes the way they do things almost daily without needing any of us as human beings to change (except to keep up).

    I’m not trying to discredit Popovich. I said I get it, I understand his grievances. I just think it’s hitting too hard and overstating the case.

    I thought you were the guy who wanted everyone listened to closely? You’re not setting a great example.

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  33. Zrim,
    Then that is where we disagree. I don’t think his statement overstated. The office of President of the United States is a powerful one. And so one would hope that whoever holds that office is committed to fairness and has more self-restraint than the average bear. Such fairness and self-restraint was not seen in Trump’s campaign or in much of his personal life. That should give us reason for pause.

    And yes, I did read you closely. But perhaps there is a discrepancy between how you came across and how you think you came across.

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