by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL characteristics of the U.S. is its capacity to reinvent itself while remaining true to its essentials: freedom, individualism, love of justice and equality of opportunity.
Never despair over America. Just when you think it’s making an unholy mess of its role as the world’s greatest superpower, it’s preparing for a great leap forward into the future. America’s most recent nadir was in the 1970s, when, during the gloomy aftermath of Richard Nixon’s resignation, the general opinion was that the country’s glory days were over and that its power status would quickly sink to second class.
I vividly recall the sneers that greeted Ronald Reagan’s election as President. After all, he was just a B-movie actor–and a poor one at that. But Reagan quickly established his mastery and turned out to be one of America’s greatest Presidents. He gave the nation back its self-confidence, reasserted its status as a superpower and won the Cold War. Reagan ended his eight years in office in a blaze of glory. And it was Russia, shorn of half its empire and satellites, that took on the role of a second-class power as the 21st century began. …
… Like Reagan, Trump began as a joke. But as he’s continued to score popular successes across the country, many Americans have come to see him as the answer to all their hostile feelings about government, i.e., that it’s unresponsive, bureaucratic and run by elite groups of professionals, and is, in the broadest sense, un-American.
The media–predominantly a part of this elite–has from the start denounced Trump as vulgar, boorish, uncouth, redneckish, unsophisticated, racist and ignorant. But the media is slowly coming to admit that America itself is all these things and that attempting to suppress this truth will no longer work. The electoral system is unrepresentative of the people and a denial of democracy.
By refusing to be discouraged and demoralized by criticism, Trump has, in a sense, reinvented American democracy. He’s a billionaire who has used his money sensibly to make this reinvention possible. Against all the odds and all the rigging–a salient feature of political conventions–Trump is on the brink of winning the Republican nomination.