On the 365th day

I was not surprised when Mr Donald Trump won the Natted States presidential election last year. I didn’t want him to win — I didn’t want anyone to win — but it seemed to me from the start of the campaign that he had the formula. That is, lots of people liked him. Whereas, nobody really liked Mrs Clinton. Compounding this, the “mood” in America was, to my mind, not so much angry as bewildered. All the good things that were supposed to come from an Obama administration didn’t come. The country was believed to be in economic decline. Mrs Clinton promised more of the same. Americans like to “do something.” It bugs me today that I declined several $100 bets, on the reasoning, “What if I’m wrong?”

This is a question which, I have noticed, the progressive types don’t ask themselves. It was very apparent in the media coverage the night of the election itself. Disbelief, horror, sullen outrage, was written on the faces. This helped me finally take a stand. Towards two in the morning, alone with my laptop, I found myself almost involuntarily chanting, “Call Michigan! Call Michigan!” Next morning I was mildly disappointed that Trump hadn’t taken California, too.

But it was just an election. One cannot know what will come of such things. The winner will have little control over events in his coming term. He has a character that may or may not show well in the circumstances. Trump has many personal flaws, but his innate, very American, candour and optimism are showing well so far. I suspect many who remain formally appalled by his existence are secretly rooting for him; and those genuinely appalled are afflicted with incomprehension. A year has passed, and they still can’t believe it. They still think his victory can be reversed, forgetting perhaps that he has a large and very powerful Right “base” who wouldn’t take that quietly. (And who are better armed.) They are insulated from this base in the big cities, and within the liberal media warp, where what is not compatible with their prejudices is simply not reported. Verily, Trump’s “fake media” trolling resonates with his supporters, and some of his less urbane opponents, because they believe it to be true. Also, one might add, it is true.

He is a surprisingly easy character to read, if one is reading. As all politicians, he indulges hyperbole, yet as few, he sincerely believes most of what he is saying. Journalists tend to be incurious people, but to any who did their homework, his views on all the major issues have been available for many years. Some of these have “evolved,” slightly. For instance he has become pro-life, and developed some respect for religion. This was hardly a concession to public opinion; he puts his neck out when called. His luck, since he became a politician, is to have views quite similar to those of most Americans. He is no libertarian, nor any kind of “racist” or “fascist” as the Left base continue to allege. The allegation that he was in bed with the Russkies is likewise insane.

Americans want to keep their Nanny State, but they want it to work. Trump looked like the right guy to deliver. The system of “entitlements” is bankrupt, however, and must eventually crash. At most Trump might delay the day of reckoning.

Indeed, there is no major Trump view or policy with which I entirely agree, and much of what he stands for I detest. I am not a nationalist, not a populist. I think the vast mechanism of contemporary government and regulated monster capitalism should be not fixed, but dismantled. I think we’re too rich and spoilt for our own good; that most of what we have is ugly; that we live in a moral, spiritual, intellectual and material septic tank, and might start by downsizing.

Secular government is in its nature a protection racket, and I think it should focus on our real needs: law, order, sane diplomacy and military might; on the defence whenever possible of received, conventional morality, and mundane human freedoms. It should recognize that bureaucracy is evil, and make government agents accountable for their acts. It should be aligned with mom and apple pie, and generally try to avoid excitement. In fact, it should be boring. (That was the best argument I could find for Hillary, last year: that she was predictable and boring; personally irritating, and profoundly corrupt; thus, unlikely to do as much damage as Obama.)

The politicians put ideas in people’s heads that aren’t good for them; ideas like, “You can have stuff for free.” Trump does this, too. Yet he does not appear to be an agent of the Devil, as so many of his adversaries; and I am already willing to pronounce him better than the average Roman Emperor, in their period of decadence.