Clyde Wilson: WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
(We’ve only begun)
Before the risin’ sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
(And yes, we’ve just begun)
---The Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun”
Making America great again is not something to be looked forward to. In fact, although America has had some great people and some great moments, it has never really been Great. And spare me and my descendants from living in a “great country.” Rather a good and comfortable one is to be preferred. To be fair, the candidate and most of the people who voted for Making American Great Again were not thinking of imperial or cultural greatness. They were thinking of the reasonably just and free, moral and prosperous America of not too long ago. At least as they remember it---a country as good as it can get for common folks.
The narrow election of Trump would seem to indicate that a substantial portion of the American public still has a workable common sense and decency.
In 2014, discussing the treacherous leaders of the Republican party, I wrote:
“A maverick candidate, who is wise, brave, and somehow able to communicate with the people over massive jamming by the media, could perhaps get a message across about the real dangers to the commonwealth (debt, imperial over-extension, the ongoing proletarianisation of the middle class, to mention just a few). We can be certain that the two parties will never touch a real issue, which might upset their cozy relations with each other and with the media. For such an outsider to succeed would require extraordinary circumstances indeed. However, he might accomplish the wrecking of the Republican Elite, which would be a great service to the restoration of good government.”
Trump has amazingly fulfilled my hope . The improbable winner, I think, has grown morally and intellectually during the campaign, as is likely to happen when someone actually listens to us plain folks and really cares about his people rather than treating them as pigeons to be conned. For those of us who want to tame the overgrown and arrogant beast in Washington, “we’ve only just begun.” Can Trump tame Leviathan? What knowledge and weapons does he have for the battle? Winning the war was easy compared to winning the peace. The Republican party itself is a very poor resource for what needs to be done.
Let us exercise the virtues of hopefulness and good faith. We might reasonably expect cleansing the country of alien criminals, perhaps even some recovery of the morale and numbers of the historic American people with a less hostile government. We might also expect, I think, some peel back of the truly insane bipartisan bellicosity and foreign meddling that have characterized the government since Bush minor. (Or perhaps, truth to tell, since Reagan.) We can look forward to efforts toward the recovery of a substantive economy and widespread prosperity.
Personnel is policy. We will know much more when we see the President-elect’s appointments. Reagan’s betrayal of his supporters and promises was obvious very early on. The appointing process was seized by seasoned and unscrupulous operators looking to control patronage. Trump and his true friends will be very hard pressed to prevent the same. Victory brings the temptation to be moderate and inclusive, to reach out for a wider consensus. Not only is the Left institutionalized in every power in American life, but “respectable” Republicans are waiting in the wings to assume their usual places. This will mean nothing less than allowing the Establishment to control the agenda. In my most recent book, Annals of the Stupid Party: Republicans Before Trump, I trace the evil record of the Republican party and its uninterrupted history of betraying conservatism and defrauding its supporters.
The Establishment is discredited. It must now be crushed. It may die if its weaknesses are kept under attack, but it will not go easy into the night. Trump must reach out to talented and determined people who are not in, of, or for the evil status quo. Does he have the determination and the close advisers who will be able to do this? Does anybody know?
American general discussion has not, I think, ever fully assessed the true meaning and accomplishment of the Great Society, now a half-century old. It really had little to do with helping poor folks. It had to do with the massive subsidy and institutionalization of a new class of “educators,” therapeutic administrators and workers, and minority “leaders.” There are now hundreds of thousands, perhaps several million of these people. They have made American education into a tragic farce from top to bottom. As we have seen by their hysterical reactions to Trump’s candidacy, they have radically poisoned public discourse, like the learned lady professor who declared herself personally fearful of Trump. A lot of these people receive very good salaries and have an aggressive sense of entitlement without any talents or services. In fact, most of them have literally never done a real day’s work and have lived always in a dream world.
What is to be done to make them face reality? The government cannot solve the cultural and spiritual decay of our time, but it can help by getting rid of the Great Society, defunding its destructive institutions and personnel. But it is hard to see how this might be accomplished with the present Congress without a line-item veto, which very reasonably ought to be an executive power.
Trump is a New Yorker and a nationalist, the best of the lot. But I doubt if he has the instinct or the knowledge to pursue what some of us decided long ago was the only solution---genuine federalism and constitutionalism--devolution, dismembering Leviathan. He might show himself a real revolutionary if he chose this time to come out for the secession of California. That would really be Making America Great Again!