Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump: “Win-Win”, “Morning in America”. Things like that.

You all didn’t hear much from me this election cycle. Other than a few (somewhat heated) email conversations – not many – with my co-bloggers here, and some ongoing interactions with my kids, I didn’t participate in the political discussions of the season.

Not that I didn’t watch intently. I watched many a Trump speech live or on YouTube, and I paid close attention to what Limbaugh and Hannity and a few other of his supporters were saying.

While I concede, with all of you, that Donald Trump was not the ideal candidate, there is no question in my mind that he was the candidate appointed for this season. I’d urge you to watch his acceptance speech. (Sorry, other than the full event on YouTube, this NYTimes condensed video was all I could find at this early hour).

In this speech, he was kind and gracious and not at all the hateful and bigoted (and worse) candidate that many have portrayed him as, especially as the mainstream media almost universally described him.

While I know that many of you are disappointed with the way things turned out, and in fact have been disappointed with this whole election season, I’d like to encourage you to consider all the good things that will come out of this election:

First, the Trump movement was not about race, or bigotry, or hatred, or Nazism, as we’ve seen it described. Race is the furthest thing from his mind. For all his flaws, and despite his somewhat coarse way of saying things, Trump is a person who cares about the way things have been going in the country. He’s seen all the things that we’ve seen, from the rise of the PC thought police, executive orders about who can use which bathroom, and all of that. And he’s rebelled against that.

William F. Buckley once described conservatism as “standing athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so or to have much patience with those who so urge it”. I rather think of conservative as something less combative – a sense that we want to be careful with what’s been handed on, so as not to break things.

I think that’s what the next four years will be like – things will not be broken, and in the process, there will be some time for healing. The economy, the racial divide. Good sense in the country.

I’m sure that Trump’s loud and boisterous demeanor will have the Buckley effect vs “Political Correctness” (PC). We will be able to speak freely during a Trump administration because Trump himself refuses to toe the PC line.

He is not, assuredly, a “detail person”. He is not a policy wonk. But what he is, is a CEO in the mold of other CEOs I’ve seen and known personally and worked for: he envisions a grand vision, and he sets outlandish goals, and he delegates the hard work to others, while challenging them to be better than they’ve ever been before. And yes, they make the most money. But things get done, and there is definite movement toward the vision. You don’t always get there, but there is definite movement. If you’ve not ever worked in such an environment, I suppose the “grand vision” does not always translate into a vision that everyone else can buy into. But many, many common people (“the forgotten man and woman”) could buy into and internalize. That was how he ultimately won.

And in the process, many Americans will be working with the understanding that we are pulling together to “Make America Great Again”. That’s a win for us, and a win for the losers of this election as well. In business jargon, it’s a “win-win”.

There will be, of course, the conservative appointments to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. We’ll like that, but there will be contention, and nothing will come easily.

In the end, Trump did speak extensively about corruption – not just the corruption of the Clintons, but corruption in government everywhere. Steve has a category here called “Banana Republic”. I expect that a Trump presidency will work to challenge those kinds of tendencies.

At the end of the campaign, Trump published a “Contract with the American Voter”. I don’t doubt it was crafted with the 1994 Republican “Contract with America” in mind – and in consultation with Newt Gingrich. There are a number of things outlined to which he can be held:

* Clean up corruption in Washington
* Protect American workers
* Cancel unlawful “executive orders” of Obama
* “Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur”
* … and there is a list of legislation that includes tax cuts, energy investment, “repeal and replace Obamacare”, building the wall (“with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost” of it – a frequent campaign promise of his)

These are good things, by and large – subjected to approval by the Republican Congress, one way or another. That Republican Congress, by the way, is a function of the checks and balances built into the U.S. Constitution.

One campaign promise I’m afraid he’s not going to keep will be to appoint a special prosecutor vs. Hillary Clinton. I’m sure that most of us who lived through the 1990’s have an extremely sour taste in our mouths from the Clintons. We can be glad that they’re gone from the public purview. I don’t doubt that FBI investigations into the Clinton Foundation will be ongoing, and we’ll hear more about the corruption, etc., as time goes on.

But in reality, this election was the final stroke of the broom, knocking the Clintons (finally) into the ash heap of history. May they be judged by the Lord and their deeds be remembered only as bad history which we dare not let ourselves repeat.

I’m an old guy (56), and I know that several of my co-bloggers here have been extremely pessimistic, in many ways, about the possibility of a Trump presidency. I’ve been a great deal more optimistic, for reasons that I’ve outlined here, and in fact I have great hope for the future. That’s not so much for the reasons I’ve given here – anything can happen – but because I know the Lord of history.

Martin Luther’s “theologian of the cross” is one who is not afraid to “call a thing what it is”. At a minimum, we have been granted four years of freedom – religious freedom, freedom to worship, free speech. In this regard, we might even call it another “morning in America”. The media have received as sharp a rebuke as I can imagine. Maybe some in the media will see it for what it is. (And I don’t doubt, many will not).

Trump is certainly not a Washington, or a Lincoln, or a Reagan. But he is extremely capable – of running a business, of running a campaign, of standing toe-to-toe with as corrupt a regime as we can imagine in the US, punching it out, taking the hard punches, and yes, of “winning”.

We can’t have everything (as Steven Wright quipped, “where would you put it?”). But we can look forward, I’m sure, to a season of hope and optimism in a sinful world where many things will still go wrong, but where many things as well can and will work out for the better.


  1. "In this speech, he was kind and gracious and not at all the hateful and bigoted (and worse) candidate that many have portrayed him as, especially as the mainstream media almost universally described him."

    He was the same way when he lost Iowa in the primaries. That doesn't speak on behalf of or overturn all of his vindictiveness and mean-spiritedness.

    "the Trump movement was not about race, or bigotry, or hatred, or Nazism, as we’ve seen it described. Race is the furthest thing from his mind."

    Even if race is the furthest thing from Trump's mind, that doesn't entail that the Trump *movement* is not about race. And even if the Trump movement isn't about raciSM it's still clearly racially charged from the racial consciousness in our culture (regarding things like Black Lives Matter, etc.).

    "...executive orders about who can use which bathroom, and all of that. And he’s rebelled against that. "

    Trump never rebelled against bathroom bills, except those which NC enacted which allowed businesses to decide for themselves.

    I hope you're right in your optimism, but Republicans will have to do what they have thus far shown little inclination towards: refuse to white-wash Trump's faults morally and policy wise. Speaking of which, you mention Trump as a great CEO, but we don't know just how exaggerated he is here because he refused to release his taxes, which will set a bad precedent for the future. Too often Republicans have been partisan for Trump in the same way that Democrats were partisan for Hillary. If Trump identified as a Democrat and took his same policy positions that he currently has many Republicans would suddenly see his failures and risks with much more clarity. That's one reason why I don't share you're optimism.

  2. Major parallels with the 'Brexit' campaign here in the UK, John, regarding the liberal-left media, celebrities, and average voters labelling Farage, other 'Leave' campaigners, and voters as 'racists,' 'bigots,' 'Nazis,' et cetera, et cetera. Both campaigns have been misrepresented and grossly caricatured by the Left on both sides of the drink, with unrivalled hatred towards Trump and Farage personally. In unsurprising irony, the bigotry and prejudice has come from the side screaming 'bigotry!' Leave it to the unthinking Left to fall over itself.

    Now I'm no fan of Trump, bit I thought I would point out the similarities.