Beyond Trump to Trumpism
In a recent Tweet, John Robb states that Trump thought, mistakenly, that his candidacy was about him. No, rather it was about his insurgency and the ideas justifying it. Justin Raimondo has recognized this in his own way in a new column (plus others) where he makes the case that Trump the man is much less important than Trumpism, and that is now time to acknowledge and take new actions based on this recognition. Trump’s greatest feat of all has been to educate large numbers of people about how the world really works, and he has done so even by his very betrayal of the principles, in the Syrian US bombing, that he has been “trumpeting” for months now. Maybe “Trumpists” need to start thinking beyond the person of Trump at this point, and focus instead on building a Trumpist movement, especially if he is, as I think likely, going to undertake new and fresh betrayals of Trumpist priorities and ideals. Perhaps paradoxically, revolting against Trump the Betrayer is a Trumpist action. It is also a recovery of Trumpist ideals. This article is well worth reading entirely, but here is the key take-away:
“There is a bright and shining silver lining. The millions of voters who voted for Trump based, at least in part, on his “America First” foreign policy views had to experience – and embrace – what might be called “Trumpism” before they could be react in bewilderment and disgust as he turned on a dime. Trumpism, in this sense, was a bridge they had to cross before coming to a full understanding of just what “America First” means. Trump’s many denunciations of our regime change policy in Syria, Libya, and throughout the world brought them halfway across that bridge – and his betrayal is bringing many thousands of them all the way over … to us. This is what sectarians of all stripes refuse to understand. With their static one-dimensional view of how political change comes about, they simply see Them and Us – and never the twain shall meet. How, they asked during the presidential election campaign, can those Trumpian troglodytes possibly be opposed to our foreign policy of perpetual war? What they didn’t get – and still don’t get – is that it took a catalytic figure like Trump to explode the phony left/right paradigm and imbue his supporters with some understanding of why the Empire exploits and impoverishes them. With this sudden reversal, the President is increasing their understanding of why this is so – because they aren’t going along with it.
And they aren’t going along with it because to even consider voting for Trump, while the media was hammering away at him and the Washington Establishment was sliming him as a dangerous “isolationist,” took a not inconsiderable independence of mind. Whether Trump was sincere in making his various anti-interventionist pronouncements, particularly when it came to the Syria issue, is beside the point: the point is that millions of voters took him at his word. The idea that his supporters were “fooled” by his rhetoric is similarly irrelevant. I, for one, foresaw that he would contradict himself while in office, as I wrote back in January of this year:
“That Trump is inconsistent, and an imperfect vessel, hardly needs to be said. That the danger of war still looms over us is also a fact that none can deny. Yet all this is irrelevant in the face of the conceptual victory his winning the White House represents. Here is a candidate who campaigned against GOP foreign policy orthodoxy, explicitly rejecting the legacy of the Iraq war and even going so far as to call out the Bush administration for lying us into that war….Yes, the Trump administration will take many actions that contradict the promise of their victory: that is already occurring. And we are covering that in these pages, without regard for partisan considerations: and yet it is necessary to step back and see the larger picture, looking past the journalistic details of the day-to-day news cycle. In short, it is necessary to take the long view and try to see what the ideological victory that was won this past November augurs for the future.”
Well, we’re living in that future right now: I have to admit it came a little sooner than I imagined, and a bit more abruptly than I thought possible. Yet that abruptness is a good thing: it dramatically underscores the contradiction between what Trump said and what he is now doing, and his most vocal supporters – particularly among the conservative opinion-making class – aren’t taking it lying down. They are in open revolt. Taking advantage of that revolt, encouraging it and highlighting the contradictions, is the task we have before us.
As I said in my January column cited above, we have to take the long view: that is, we have to understand that we’re building a movement. And the way to build that movement is not to stand aside and denounce those who are only halfway to understanding why the Empire is an albatross around our necks, but to patiently explain and let them learn why and how their leaders have betrayed them. Betrayal is a painful experience: it is also a useful one. Physical pain is the body telling us that there’s something in the environment that must be avoided: psychic pain plays the same instructive role. As Trump’s supporters process what is undoubtedly a painful experience for them, they will realize how and why it happened.”