The conservatism before Donald Trump was neoliberal and neoconservative. The New Right forged under Reagan fell away very quickly (and was really ever only strategic and largely cosmetic). Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are subservient to corporate governance and transnationalism. This explains the remarkable continuity from George H.W. Bush through Barack Obama—privatization, regime change and endless wars, the trade deals, enabling CCP imperialism, the woke progressive takeover of the culture industry and administrative state apparatus, mass immigration. The two-party system has operated during this people via the social logic of globalist-corporatism.
In opposition to the politics and policies of establishment Republicans, Trump—and one sees this, as well, in Great Britain with Brexit and the recent blowout of Labor by Conservatives—represents a return to nationalist populism, reflecting the yearning of working people in the US and the UK to get the keys to their country back. Populism has the potential to bring working people of all stripes together to blunt the effects of globalization. It has already achieved quite a bit.
Its success is why we see an unprecedented effort, facilitated by neoconservatives in the Republican establishment, for example John Bolton, whose philosophy roots in Cold War progressivism, to delegitimize a sitting president. Trump represents a real problem to the denationalizing project that progressives and globalists have been pushing for decades. If Trump is turned out of office, the establishment believes, it will be able to get the project back on track. As I have blogged about, this explains Russiagate and the impeachment over the Ukraine affair.
Biden and the return of the neoliberal/neoconservative establishment to full power would be very bad news for working people and the future of liberal democracy across the trans-Atlantic system. On the other hand, it would be very good news for the Party of Davos and the Chinese Communist Party. These are the forces that are feeding Antifa and Black Lives Matter with both money and ideas. Western civilization is at a crossroads. The establishment project to do in Trump and populism should deeply concern rank-and-file conservatives. But really it should concern all of us who care about liberty and democracy.
There is a rhetoric advanced by establishment Republicans and their rank-and-file supporters that attempts to isolate Trump, painting as a demagogue who stands alone against reason. This rhetoric is profoundly elitist. We see it in the claims that Trump makes policy with an eye towards reelection, as if doing what the people would deem worthy of casting a vote for a sitting president is somehow contrary to the national interest. In fact, it is contrary to the interests of the globalists who can’t wait to get back in the drivers seat. The elite are attempting to disappear tens of millions of people. The “deplorables” Clinton dismissively called them. That’s what they elite think of workers in the heartland.
Those of us on the left shouldn’t speak that way about working people not because it’s condescending (it is), but because it denies reality. The states Trump took from the Democrat column were blue collar states. Voters knew what they were doing: they were rejecting the neoliberalism and neoconservatism that degraded their communities and undermined their livelihoods and squandered and spilled treasure and blood. Workers in Great Britain knew what they were doing when they voted in the Conservatives.
Workers and small business owners knew what they were doing when they rejected all those many establishment Republicans who tried to take down Trump during the primaries. There was a reason he blew away the entire field: he made an argument that resonated with the people. He didn’t regurgitate establishment talking points or hesitate before fear of media framing. He spoke frankly about the decline of America and, in unapologetic terms, about its greatness.
For those who say Trump stands for nothing but himself, I have followed Trump’s career for decades and he definitely stands for something other than himself. He has been remarkably consistent in what he stands for, in fact. He and those around him present a coherent set of policies and offer a clear direction for America to move in. They mean to—and already have on many fronts—re-shore industry, end regime change and endless wars, restore public order and economic security to working class communities, and marginalize the People’s Republic of China. Trump’s personal interests and his vision of the national interests coincide. He doesn’t stand up there alone. This is a movement. And it’s trans-Atlantic in character. We see populism on the rise throughout the Western hemisphere. It’s catching fire in China, as well. All of this has the globalists terrified.
People are distracted by the tweeting. I get it. Trump says outlandish things. He trolls people. I don’t pay attention to all that, frankly. One has to look for the signal in the noise, as Steven Bannon is fond of saying.
In the final analysis, you don’t judge persons, policies, or nations by what they think or say of themselves. You judge them by what they do and what they accomplish. The neoliberal/neoconservative consensus had its chance. We saw what the managed decline of the American republic and Western civilization has wrought for the people. The people won’t long survive more of that.
I am not a Trump supporter. I am a supporter of the populist mood that has swept hundreds of millions of people across the world into an emerging resistance movement against the transnational project to denationalize the West and replace Enlightenment values of liberty and democracy with those of bureaucracy and technocracy. Trump did not start the resistance movement. He is a manifestation of it. It will survive his presidency. At the same time, his administration has become something of a bulwark against the forces of globalization. I do not, therefore, dread his reelection.