We have in American political media two competing memes. One holds that Trump’s election is a ridiculous one-off, an accident of history America will come to regret (I am of that belief). The other is that his election is some kind of game-changer akin to FDR’s or Reagan’s. The “game-changing” commentary is seldom heard in Democratic circles and only slightly more in Republican circles; establishment Republicans are not enamored of this incoming President, although they’re not allowed to say so. Only on the far-out fringes of the Republican Party do you hear prognostications that Trump is historically significant. Of this extremist view, the oddest is this piece, in the weekend’s Wall Street Journal, headlined, “Trump May Herald a New Political Order.”
It’s a bit premature to talk about “new political orders,” don’t you think? After all, Trump hasn’t even been sworn in. He lost the popular vote by a record (and embarrassing) three million. He’s also the least popular or respected incoming POTUS in recent American history (as I pointed out the other day, citing Quinnipiac and Gallup polls). He faces an unprecedented Resistance from tens of millions of Americans who view him as dangerous, mendacious, unstable and illegitimate. He has broken virtually every campaign promise he made and will likely break the rest of them eventually. And yet, here we have a writer with the imposingly royalist name of John Steele Gordon telling us, a week before the inauguration, that “a New Political Order” is on its way—and is being “Heralded” at that, as if borne on the wings of trumpeting angels.
Gordon rambles through U.S. Presidents trying to determine who “heralded new orders” and discovers, mirabile dictu, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan. And Trump? He won a “stunning election.” He “was elected explicitly to change the self-serving ways of Washington.” He “signal[s] profound change.” “He has a gift…for cutting out the oblivious media” to “communicate directly with the people.” Gordon clearly is a fan—an allegiance made all the more obvious by his unproven allegation that “The Obama years showed liberalism to be exhausted.”
I don’t believe that, do you? Liberalism is protecting the environment. Liberalism is believing in science. Liberalism is narrowing the destructive gap between the rich and the 99%. Liberalism is trying to get along with each other no matter what color or race or gender or sexual orientation. Liberalism is keeping religious ideology out of civil discourse, and walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes. Liberals believe in sensible gun control, and that government plays a role in managing the nation’s affairs, from keeping air and water clean to making sure kids have free public school and healthcare. Liberals believe in investing in America. Liberals believe in limiting nuclear proliferation. Liberals believe in having good relations with other nations, especially our neighbors. Most Americans believe in these values, including Republicans. That they elected Trump doesn’t mean they have stopped believing in these values.
So who is this John Steele Gordon? He is a tool of Big Finance, born to Wall Street wealth, who makes his living, in part, by ghost-writing books for billionaires, including the ultra-rightwing plutocrat, Steve Forbes. He advocates doing away with corporate income taxes. He fundamentally blamed the 2008 Great Recession on Democrats and Bill Clinton (!!!), while offering the fantastic assertion that “the Bush administration tried…to change the [economic] system…but got nowhere” due (according to him) to Democrats like Chris Dodd. He has called for a “new contract with America,” Newt Gingrich-style, so that Republicans can “position themselves credibly as the party of real reform.” Most recently he dredged up Bill Ayers—remember him from Clinton’s time?—to slam Trump resisters, whom he accused of plotting a “coup d’état”; he actually called the new era of Trump “a glorious light unto the world.”
I mean, this is a man so giddy at the prospect of his candidate “heralding a new political order” that he resorts to end-times eschatology (herald, unto, glorious light), as if Trump were Elijah or, perhaps, Jesus. Mr. Gordon, I don’t think Trump is going to “herald” anything, except—if he continues to be dilatory—the breakdown of civil order in America. And you know what? I firmly believe a majority of Americans are going to agree with me. By this summer, watch the polls. Quinnipiac and Gallup are only the start.