Nationalism Triumphs Tonight; Quo Vadis Conservatism?

I was always taught that philosophy follows cultural shifts.  Descartes’ cogito embodied the Enlightenment.  Kantian idealism presaged the modern industrial era.  Nietzschean postmodernism and the triumph of the will presaging the rise of political religions.

Heidegger and authenticity…

Tonight, the American people transitioned.  The endurance of human will and life, that one could bend reality to personal demands?  The Nietzschean emphasis on “hope and change” has now been replaced with a demand for authenticity — and that nemesis for the Obama era has arrived in the personality of Donald J. Trump.

Since July, I have been promoting a prediction matrix on social media, one that successfully predicted the path of the election:


(1) Hillary’s numbers will recover this week (July).
(2) Trump’s numbers will bounce about 5pts in the RNC convention afterglow.
(3) Trump’s numbers will settle out.
(4) DNC does their Roman triumph; Hillary sees a 5pt lift.
(5) Press declares the election over.
(6) Hillary’s numbers settle back out in September.
(7) Trump campaign will claim to be “closing the gap”
(8) By mid-October, Hillary will still have a 5-7pt lead.
(9) America loves an underdog…
(10) Trump will narrow the gap.
(11) Denouement.
(12) FIN.

On Monday, I made a prediction that Trump would indeed win the election with a margin of 270 to 268, musing on the idea that Trump might possibly win Pennsylvania before Michigan.  Certainly, no one saw Trump winning Wisconsin…

…and yet tonight, he is going to win all three with an electoral college lead of 306.

As of right this writing, John Podesta has refused to concede the election for Hillary Clinton.  That is perhaps the wrong move.  Just as Trump was pressured to accept the outcome of the election, so too should Clinton.

The concern here is twofold.

First, the conservative movement is perhaps at its lowest ebb since the Nixon era.  McCain’s 2008 effort generated a very similar number of votes as Hillary’s 2016 effort — and yet Hillary still won Virginia, suggesting a depressed GOP turnout in the Old Dominion and a failure of the logistical train within the party.  The populist/nationalist movement has effectively eclipsed the conservative movement in a manner very similar to the way the progressives eclipsed the liberals in 2008 — and for defenders of freedom, this is a concern that cannot be ignored.

Second, the nationalist realignment that has just occurred is something that will take months to sort out.  Rockefeller Republicans are back in a big way.  The Reagan Democrat is back in the GOP fold, having smashed through the “big blue wall” in places such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.  Nationalism is now a permanent feature of the American political framework.  These are features that cannot be ignored in an economy where creative destruction has proven to be far more destructive than creative.

Yet as of right now, Speaker Paul Ryan will remain firmly in charge of the House Republicans, and a Senate Republican leadership more firmly in place than before.  In fact, not only does Trump walk into the White House with a clear, unambiguous mandate — he walks into a Congress more firmly held by Republicans than what George W. Bush had in 2000.  What’s more, the Obama legacy is now in tatters… there is nothing left.  The brief moment of progressives in political power has ended (at least for the moment).

The opportunities to roll back Obamacare, enact pro-life legislation, offer a strong and serious replacement to the late Justice Scalia, a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, and rolling back the bevy of Obama-era executive orders are all on the table — should Trump keep his word.

Yet the qualities of the nationalist movement are also on demand: trade wars with China and Mexico, the immigration deportation force, a ban on the immigration of Muslims to America, a more protectionist economic stance and a more bellicose foreign policy stance — these too are all on the table.

What interests me here is this transition — and yes, the opportunities for realignment — away from this will to power and more towards the politics of authenticity.  Much of what predicated the rise of nationalism and Trump’s election to the White House was a rejection of the progressive effort to radically transform America.  If politics follows culture, and culture follows identity… then that tribal identity — a term that has gained currency in recent years — that turn to authenticity, is the turn away from the postmodern.

Whether Ryan can keep the flame of human freedom alive in such an environment remains to be seen.  Trump will have to work with Ryan in order to pass whatever overlaps between the conservative and nationalist wings of the Republican Party.  The Senate Republicans are poised to appoint conservative federal judges.  This new White House will be filled with true believers who know that the first 100 days will be critical — and the space where the most can be done to unwind the Obama/Bush era.

If someone wanted to reach for something simple yet profound here?  Authenticity triumphed over change.

Where that leads America?  I don’t know.

Conservatism’s rise and fall has been predicated before.  Previously the challenge had come from the pragmatic center; rarely has it come from the right.  What I fear — and I will say this clearly as someone who did not support Trump’s candidacy and still holds tremendous and very serious reservations about the future of the movement he represents — is that the 2018 midterms will prove to be a clarifying effort… one that sees a resurgent progressive wing of the Democratic Party take out conservative leaders much in the same way as Republicans began knocking off conservative Democrats in the Clinton era, thus pushing the political parties further and further away and making conversation — and politics — less possible, more imposing, more radical (radix) in its approach.

…but the conservative movement has some soul searching to do.  The party of Ronald Reagan is gone; the party of Donald Trump is the Republican Party today.  One still believes that conservatism has something unique and optimistic to offer, one that defend human freedom and believes in the principles of free minds, free speech, and a free society.  Whether those gifts will be well received by the nationalist movement (or even recognized as gifts) remains to be seen.

  • Stephen Spiker

    I think you’re far too optimistic. I don’t think Trump’s base or impulsiveness will allow for a Speaker Ryan come 2017, and I don’t see why or how Republicans in Congress would oppose God-Trump’s will.

    • Peacemaker

      They only need a few Senators to cross over…that’s doable.

  • Susan Sili

    This was a great piece! None of us has a clear crystal ball on the future of this one but you nailed the dynamics pre-election with the simple word “authenticity” and what the movement could be going forward now that we have a President Trump. Nothing wrong with a little prognostication called hope. I will have to borrow that “authenticity” word for my next post!

  • Peacemaker

    While I am surprised by the outcome, I think it’s possible that many of those believers will be surprised when they realize Trump is not conservative. I also don’t think there is much “authenticity” within him either, but time will tell.
    Just as telling is a quick look at the differences in voting patterns. I think “Republicans” didn’t win last night…”Trumpikins” might be a possible new party. And I feel sorry for those true believers, as I think they’ll be in for a rude awakening by 2018.
    On the brighter side, I also think these people will be quicker to impeach his behind if they realize his entire campaign was nothing but a show.

    That said…He would be wise to leave my healthcare alone. I pay for it. It covers over 20 million people now, and open enrollment for 2017 will be over well before January 20. Oh, and just a little FYI…My premiums are going down, not up.

  • JayD

    “If politics follows culture, and culture follows identity… then that tribal identity — a term that has gained currency in recent years — that turn to authenticity, is the turn away from the postmodern.”

    What are you saying?
    Tribal identity = authenticity?
    That’s messed up.

    • That’s exactly how the alt-right interprets it. You can see the turn… it’s dangerous, isn’t it?

      • JayD

        Fer sure.

  • Shoe Drop

    I think every person who thought Trump would win deserves an “I told you so” moment, and this one is mine.

    Urban people just didn’t see it.

    They didn’t see that they were in a bubble, they did not understand what has been happening out in rural Virginia, and rural America. The leaders of the Republican establishment are urban people. The leaders of the Democratic establishment are urban people. The MSM is run by urban people, hell, all small town newspapers are essentially urban now because they are owned by large conglomerates in the cities. The movie industry is urban. The television stations. The radio stations. Urban people telling other urban people about what urban people think, and hoping urban people get what urban people want.

    In the midst of it all, you have rural people who have been misused by the establishment, who have been stereotyped, called names, and used as props in their political strategies for years. And these people have been sending signals for years that they were getting fed up with being mistreated and talked down to, but nobody has been listening.

    Signs of arrogance abound, watch any political show in the MSM and they were constantly lecturing people about how they should live, berating people who didn’t agree with them, talking down to people who live outside the cities in fly-over country.

    Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction.

    For at least two presidential cycles rural people have been living in a strange dream world where what was said about them was not what they were experiencing. They have been called racists, misogynists, backwards, uneducated, stupid, and evil, and they look around and see the same world they’ve always been a part of, one in which people care for one another, has unique problems that were not being discussed, etc. They’ve had to watch the political talking heads say things about them that they were powerless to argue against because they had no voice, even establishment Republicans have ignored them and lost touch.

    This election is about them. A realigning of the stars so that the Universe makes sense for them again, a world where the so-called elites who have misused them so much as political objects of scorn and disgust have to wake up and realize that there’s more going on in this country than what is happening at the water cooler in CNN’s break room in Atlanta, or in a cubicle at a desk in downtown Richmond.

    It’s time for urban people to reflect, to start to wonder aloud “I wonder what all those people out in America are thinking ?”, and then to actually listen when those people say what they are thinking instead of just casting them aside as idiots and hate mongers.

    To the Republican establishment, wake up. It’s about more than your corporate donors, it’s about more than just saying the right things to win elections. It’s about principles. Trump may not have them, but his supporters do, and they deserve better.

    To the MSM, get out of your urban echo chamber and go out to rural America to see what the hell is going on in the world. The real world doesn’t come to you via the Internet. Hell, 40% of rural Americans don’t even have access to high speed Internet, most don’t have access to cable television, or a cell phone tower close enough to get a signal, and many couldn’t afford it if it was available with household median incomes in the 30k range, facts that would probably surprise your typical urban journalist because they have become so disassociated with the very people they claim to write for.

    Personally I’m not a fan of Trump, but I am happy that the people who are supporters have a chance to be heard. They have been mocked, ridiculed, and scorned for far too long, and it’s time they had a voice again.

    • JayD

      The part about this outcome that bothers me most is the very people you describe – white, rural America – have been set up. Coal isn’t coming back; manufacturing output is up 20% since the recession, but newer factories are heavily automated. Barely a fraction of previous generation’s workers are needed to produce more product.

      The America in which a white hard-working kid could graduate high school, get steady hometown mill/factory work, live a solidly middle-class life, and retire reasonably comfortable at 55 or 60 (with a boat in the driveway and kids sent to college) is gone. Trump promised millions we can go back; we can’t.

      I’m almost 60, come from good hearty coal-miner stock, and rural America has been my home for almost 30 years (the first 30 in predominantly urban communities). I will tell you the only significant difference between urban and rural America lies in the amounts of density & diversity – not just in people & culture, but in the economic engines that drive communities. When bad times come, cities have that cushion of diversity (including ‘safe’ state and federal jobs); small towns do not. When a factory closes – or a Walmart opens – the impact is community-wide and can be devastating.

      So I get it – rural America is angry and feeling disrespected, shut-out, and ignored.

      What will Trump do that’s going to make life better or change reality?

      • Shoe Drop

        What will Trump do that’s going to make life better or change reality ?

        He could always try out some ideas that haven’t been put into use by Republicans in a generation, things such as reducing the size of government, lowering the corporate tax rate to compete with other countries, doing something in reality to lower health care costs so people aren’t spending every last dime on medical bills, etc.

        He has a Senate and House full of Republicans who can sit down and write whatever law they want, and he can sign it. It shouldn’t be that damn difficult.

        Conservative apologists have spent so many decades trying to figure out how to scrap up a few crumbs for their constituents that it might take a while for it to sink in that they’re actually in a position to do what they’ve always promised they would, but it will eventually sink in, maybe after they pass their first law and get it signed. Maybe start small, like, oh, I don’t know, something everyone agrees on, then write the bill, move it though Congress, sign it, and then look around and realize that nobody could stop it. Then choose something bigger, and do that.

        • John Harvie

          Wow, SD… What a refreshing piece to counteract the “Oh dear me” mentality that has overcome what was formerly such an uplifting, positive blog.

          If Trump doesn’t offer anything other than a positive outlook, isn’t that at least something from which much good can spring? Have we forgotten RWR so soon?

          Self flagellation isn’t the answer.

        • JayD

          I didn’t ask for information on how a bill becomes law. My question was related to the very specific constituency you champion.
          Reducing size of government, lowering corporate tax rates …blah blah… isn’t going to reopen the coal mines, mills or factories.

          • Shoe Drop

            How do you know it won’t ? I’m a conservative, a classical liberal, I believe in the power of the free market. It isn’t just words to me. I believe in low taxes, efficiency, and the power of the American business person to create a better world. Call me crazy, but that’s what got America this far. That’s the secret sauce, it’s all the stuff conservatives have been talking about since the time of John Locke, all the “blah blah” is what can turn this country around.

          • JayD

            The secret American sauce isn’t efficiency – it’s innovation, which is impossible looking backwards, holding onto safe, blaming others, resisting change, or denying reality.
            – Coal isn’t coming back because natural gas is cheap, abundant, and clean. It makes zero economic sense to reopen bankrupt, closed mines if supply exceeds demand and demand is falling.
            – The type of manufacturing that needs large numbers of pluckers, pickers, packers, movers, staplers, stuffers, stampers etc. isn’t coming back. US output is up, but newer factories are more automated. IOW, more US goods produced by far fewer (and higher skilled) workers than in past generations.
            – And if we don’t return democracy to the market, a free market isn’t coming back, either.

            Rural America will recover when it reinvents itself and can offer industry a steady and reliable pool of highly educated, highly skilled workers. FWIW, Silicon Valley was pretty much orange groves when a few companies (in a new industry heavily subsidized with federal funds) set up shop near the local brain trust.

            At the end of the day … education drives innovation; innovation drives progress; and progress drives prosperity. Lower taxes are nice, too! ?

          • Shoe Drop

            Spoken like every silicon valley liberal and stock market investor in America today.

            The engine that drives rural America is not innovation. That is what drives research and development, that’s what drives tech stocks, that’s what drives engineers, but that is NOT what drives rural America.

            In rural America, all day long, there are people putting roofs on houses, cutting hay for cows, growing corn, laying sewer lines, delivering pizza, taking care of the elderly, cleaning homes and taking care of children, teaching, fixing the gate at the church cemetery, weed eating along sidewalks, painting fences, fixing hamburgers, waiting tables, laying cinder block for house foundations, wiring electrical panels, fighting fires, mending clothes, hunting deer and elk, changing the oil in work trucks, laying pavement, cleaning septic tanks, delivering packages, driving tractor trailers, building bridges, and thousands of other things that people do every day. Rural people are also creating most of the things city people use, everything from the lumber to build their houses, wood pump for their paper, gravel for their roads, concrete and steel for their skyscrapers, food for their table, delivering water for their faucets, etc.

            Progressives and their endless focus on “progress” is exactly the problem I’m talking about, you can’t eat apps, you can’t drink software, or drive on bandwidth, sleep under content, or use bluetooth to keep warm at night. This is stuff urban people worry about, while mindlessly consuming the items that rural people deliver to them daily, and using silicon valleys toys to endlessly malign the very people that make their lives possible.

            Apps might make San Francisco rich, but that isn’t what drives business in Buck Creek Indiana. Progressives may think that their progress makes rural people obsolete, but as this election shows, rural people are more than a little tired of being talked down to by people who consider themselves their betters. For all Trump’s failures, at least for one day he gave people who have been ignored the chance to say Kiss My Ass to the urban elite, and the establishment in both parties.

          • David Obermark

            And I guess all the less intelligent members of our society, who can not “get ahead” should just be left in the dust? I am not in favor of welfare, but I am also not in favor of an economy where those who are willing to work must live in poverty.

          • JayD

            No, they should not.
            K-12 education is outdated and provides inadequate preparation for the workforce of today – and tomorrow. I’m absolutely in favor of extending free education beyond HS. ALSO in favor of clipping automatic work visas to foreign student diplomas.

  • Robert11110

    Conservatism has failed because it doesn’t conserve anything anymore. Nowadays it is nothing more than controlled opposition from the likes of people like Glenn Beck or Ted Cruz, a conservatism that doesn’t seal the borders or end “free trade”. There is nothing wrong with a collective people preserving their national identity, culture and religion, the world had always been that way up until few generations ago. Now it’s coming back and the natural order of things will be restored.

    • JayD

      So Trump will make America white and Anglican again?

    • Stephen Spiker

      Nativist populism isn’t compatible with conservativism.

      • Robert11110

        It used to be. Conservative used to mean “to conserve” not blow with the wind. I don’t want to live in a future with conservative Muslims or conservative homosexuals or anything else that could be labeled conservative. If conservatism has become a sham, then it needs to be tossed out the window. Indeed, I suspect it already has.

  • mezurak

    Ah yes, BD. Bitter dicks to the end.

    Global stocks seem to approve of Trump. Politicians dancing in their Parliaments in celebration. The world is happy this morning. Even here in Malaysia.

    Then there is Virginia’s “conservative voice” having a hissy fit because Hillary Clinton lost.

    • Shoe Drop

      Weird, right ?

      Still, it isn’t like BD contributors started voting for Clinton or something. Oh, wait … I guess one did.

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