HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah: Understand Malaysia better through its History


February 14, 2017

HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah:  Understand Malaysia better through its History

COMMENT: HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah, the Oxford and Harvard-educated political economist, is to be congratulated for publishing a monumental book on Malaysia’s economic history.

One cannot dispute His Royal Highness’ view that understanding the country’s economic, political and socio-cultural history is important since it enables us to appreciate the progress we have achieved since Independence in 1957 due to the contributions of our diverse communities, and learn from our policy failures, and follies and frailties of our past leaders and administrators.

Our achievements have been spectacular by any measure  to earn the respect of the world. The developing world used to look up to us for our economic success. But in recent years, while we enjoy continued economic growth (in GDP terms), albeit modest by comparison with our past attainments, the management of our economy has been increasingly disappointing and depressing. The level of corruption is now the worst I have ever witnessed in my nearly 45 years of public, corporate, academic and civil society life.

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It is obvious to me at least that our present generation of UMNO-BN leaders have not learned the lessons of history especially why nations can and have failed because of corruption, abuse of power and sheer incompetence. HRH Sultan of Perak would, therefore, be well advised to remind Prime Minister Najib Razak of the consequences of poor governance. Preaching to the converted like me and others is inconsequential since we are not in power.

Finally, I must add my disappointment with this piece by Hanis Zainal. While publicizing HRH Sultan Nazrin’s book, she chose not acknowledge that scholars and academics like James Puthucheary, Agoes Salim, Lin See Yan, Rais Saniman, Junid Saham, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Edmund Terrence Gomez, Mohamed Ariff (formally with MIER),Kamal Salih (USM), Lim Teck Ghee, Johan  Saravanamuttu et.al have contributed immensely to our understanding of Malaysia’s political economy and history. They have, in fact, preceded HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah.–Din Merican

by Hanis Zainal@www.thestar.com.my

The key to understanding a country better is through its history, so it is logical to assume the key to studying a country’s economy is through studying its econo­mic history.

This was what Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah set out to achieve in Charting the Economy: Early 20th Century Malaya and Contemporary Malaysian Contrasts which was launched yesterday.

The book charts the country’s economic activities under colonial rule and contrasts it with the economic growth and development in contemporary Malaysia.

During the launch at a hotel here, Sultan Nazrin said that lessons learned from history carry “great relevance” for overcoming the economic challenges of modern-era Malaysia.

 “To better understand contemporary economic performance, it is necessary for us to go back into history to understand long-term trends,” he said.

In his book, Sultan Nazrin charts the changes – from an economy based largely on agriculture and mining in the past to one that is more diversified and broad today.

One of the most important lessons he learned in his study was of people’s contributions to the economy, said Sultan Nazrin.

“The truly remarkable economic and social transformation that Malaysia has experienced is due to the outstanding contributions made by all of our diverse communities working together.”

Quoting novelist Henri Fauconnier, who wrote the Soul of Malaya, Sultan Nazrin said the soul of Malaysia “is found in the country’s diverse people”.

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In his address, Harvard University’s Professor of Political Economy Prof Dwight Perkins noted the book’s importance to the economic literature of Malaysia.

Charting the Economy is published by Oxford University Press and retails at RM99 at all major bookshops in Malaysia.

 

Remembering Herman Kahn–A Pioneer in Future Studies–Thinking the Unthinkable


February 6, 2017

Remembering Herman Kahn–A Pioneer in Future Studies

In Defense of Thinking

by Herman Kahn

Social inhibitions which reinforce natural tendencies to avoid thinking about unpleasant subjects are hardly uncommon.–Herman Kahn

https://hudson.org/research/2211-in-defense-of-thinking

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Futurist Herman Kahn with President Gerald Ford and Donald Rumsfeld

Seventy-five years ago white slavery was rampant in England. Each year thousands of young girls were forced into brothels and kept there against their will. While some of the victims had been sold by their families, a large proportion were seized and held by force or fraud. The victims were not from the lower classes only; no level of English society was immune to having its daughters seized. Because this practice continued in England for years after it had been largely wiped out on the Continent, thousands of English girls were shipped across the Channel to supply the brothels of Europe. One reason why this lasted as long as it did was that it could not be talked about openly in Victorian England; moral standards as to subjects of discussion made it difficult to arouse the community to necessary action. Moreover, the extreme innocence considered appropriate for English girls made them easy victims, helpless to cope with the situations in which they were trapped. Victorian standards, besides perpetuating the white slave trade, intensified the damage to those involved. Social inhibitions which reinforce natural tendencies to avoid thinking about unpleasant subjects are hardly uncommon.

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A Message  for Donald J. Tump

The psychological factors involved in ostrich-like behavior have parallels in communities and nations. Nevertheless, during the sixty years of the twentieth century many problems have come increasingly into the realm of acceptable public discussion. Among various unmentionable diseases, tuberculosis has lost almost all taint of impropriety; and venereal disease statistics can now be reported by the press. Mental illness is more and more regarded as unfortunate instead of shameful. The word “cancer” has lost its stigma, although the horror of the disease has been only partially abated by medical progress.

Despite the progress in removing barriers in the way of discussing diseases formerly considered shameful, there are doubtless thousands going without vital medical treatment today because of their inhibitions against learning, thinking, or talking about certain diseases. Some will not get treatment because they do not know enough to recognize the symptoms, some because they are consciously ashamed to reveal illness, and some because they refuse to think about their condition it seems too horrible to think about. It may now be possible to condemn unequivocally the extremes of Victorian prudery, but less doctrinaire forms of ostrichism must be considered with more care; they are, after all, often based on healthy instincts.

Everyone is going to die, but surely it is a good thing that few of us spend much time dwelling on that fact. Life would be nearly impossible if we did. If thinking about something bad will not improve it, it is often better not to think about it. Perhaps some evils can be avoided or reduced if people do not think or talk about them. But when our reluctance to consider danger brings danger nearer, repression has gone too far.

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In 1960 I published a book (pic above) that attempted to direct attention to the possibility of a thermonuclear war, to ways of reducing the likelihood of such a war, and to methods for coping with the consequences should war occur despite our efforts to avoid it. The book was greeted by a large range of responses, some of them sharply critical. Some of this criticism was substantive, touching on greater or smaller questions of strategy, policy, or research techniques. But much of the criticism was not concerned with the correctness or incorrectness of the views I expressed.

It was concerned with whether any book should have been written on this subject at all. It is characteristic of our times that many intelligent and sincere people are willing to argue that it is immoral to think and even more immoral to write in detail about having to fight a thermonuclear war.

By and large this criticism was not personal; it simply reflected the fact that we Americans and many people throughout the world are not prepared to face reality, that we transfer our horror of thermonuclear war to reports about the realities of thermonuclear war. In a sense we are acting like those ancient kings who punished messengers who brought them bad news. This did not change the news; it simply slowed up its delivery. On occasion it meant that the kings were ill informed and, lacking truth, made serious errors in judgment and strategy. In our times, thermonuclear war may seem unthinkable, immoral, insane, hideous, or highly unlikely, but it is not impossible.

To act intelligently we must learn as much as we can about the risks. We may thereby be able better to avoid nuclear war. We may even be able to avoid the crises that bring us to the brink of war. But despite our efforts we may some day come face to face with a blunt choice between surrender or war. We may even have war thrust upon us without being given any kind of choice. We must appreciate these possibilities. We cannot wish them away. Nor should we overestimate and assume the worst is inevitable. This leads only to defeatism, inadequate preparations (because they seem useless), and pressures toward either preventive war or undue accommodation.

Many terrible questions are raised when one considers objectively and realistically the problems created by the cold war and the armaments race. For some years I have spent my time on exactly these questions both in thinking about ways to prevent war, and in thinking about how to fight, survive, and terminate a war, should it occur. My colleagues and I have sought answers to such questions as these: How likely is accidental war? How can one make it less likely? How dangerous is the arms race today? What will it be like in the future? What would conditions be if a nuclear attack leveled fifty of America’s largest cities? Would the survivors envy the dead? How many million American lives would an American President risk by standing firm in differing types of crises? By starting a nuclear war? By continuing a nuclear war with the hope of avoiding surrender? How many lives would he risk? How is it most likely to break down? If it does break down, what will be the consequence? Are we really risking an end to all human life with our current system? If true, are we willing to risk it? Do we then prefer some degree of unilateral disarmament? If we do, will we be relying on the Russians to protect us from the Chinese? Will the world be more or less stable? Should we attempt to disarm unilaterally? If the answers to these last questions depend on the degree of damage that is envisaged, are we willing to argue that it is all right to risk a half billion or a billion people but not three billion?

There seem to be three basic objections to asking these types of questions:

1. No one should attempt to think about these problems in a detailed and rational way. 2. What thinking there is on these problems should be done in secret by the military exclusively, or at least by the government. 3. Even if some of this thinking must be done outside the government, the results of any such thought should not be made available to the public.

It is argued that thinking about the indescribable horror of nuclear war breeds callousness and indifference to the future of civilization in our planners and decision makers. It is true that detailed and dispassionate discussion of such questions is likely to look incredibly hard-hearted. It should also be clear, at least to thoughtful readers, that such questions must be considered. The reality may be so unpleasant that decision makers would prefer not to face it; but to a great extent this reality has been forced on them, or has come uninvited.

Thanks to our ever-increasing technology, we are living in a terrible and dangerous world; but, unlike the lady in the cartoon we cannot say, “Stop the world, I want to get off. We cannot get off. Even the most utopian of today’s visionaries will have to concede that the mere existence of modern technology involves a risk to civilization that would have been unthinkable twenty-five years ago. While we are going to make major attempts to change the nature of this reality, accepting great risks if necessary, most of us are unwilling to choose either a pronounced degree of unilateral disarmament or a preventive war designed to “settle” our problems one way or another. We therefore must face the facts that thermonuclear bombs now exist [and that] unless we are willing to abdicate our responsibilities, we are pledged to the maintenance of terrifying weapon systems with known and unknown, calculable and incalculable risks, unless and until better arrangements can be made.

If we are to have an expensive and lethal defense establishment, we must weigh all the risks and benefits. We must at least ask ourselves what are the likely and unlikely results of an inadvertent war, the possibilities of accident, irresponsibility, or unauthorized behavior on the other side as well as on our own.

A variation of the objection to careful consideration of these problems focuses on the personality of the thinker. This argument goes: Better no thought than evil thought; and since only evil and callous people can think about this, better no thought. Alternatively, the thinker’s motives are analyzed: This man studies war; he must like war much like the suspicion that a surgeon is a repressed sadist. Even if the charge were true, which in general it is not, it is not relevant. Like the repressed sadist who can perform a socially useful function by sublimating his urges into surgery, the man who loves war or violence may be able to successfully sublimate his desires into a careful and valuable study of war. It does indeed take an iron will or an unpleasant degree of detachment to go about this task. Ideally it should be possible for the analyst to have a disciplined empathy. In fact, the mind recoils from simultaneously probing deeply and creatively into these problems and being conscious at all times of the human tragedy involved.

This is not new. We do not continually remind the surgeon while he is operating of the humanity of his patient. We do not flash pictures of his patient’s wife or children in front of him. We want him to be careful, and we want him to be aware of the importance and frailty of the patient; we do not want him to be distracted or fearful. We do not expect illustrations in a book on surgery to be captioned: “A particularly deplorable tumor,” or “Good health is preferable to this kind of cancer.” Excessive comments such as, “And now there’s a lot of blood,” or “This particular cut really hurts,” are out-of-place although these are important things for a surgeon to know. To mention such things may be important. To dwell on them is morbid, and gets in the way of the information. The same tolerance needs be extended to thought on national security.

Some feel that we should consider these problems but view them with such awe and horror that we should not discuss them in normal, neutral, professional everyday language. I tend to disagree, at least so far as technical discussions and research are concerned. One does not do research in a cathedral. Awe is fine for those who come to worship or admire, but for those who come to analyze, to tamper, to change, to criticize, a factual and dispassionate, and sometimes even colorful, approach is to be preferred. And if the use of everyday language jars, that is all the more reason for using it. Why would one expect a realistic discussion of thermonuclear war not to be disturbing?

The very complexity of the questions raised is another reason why many object to their consideration. There is no doubt that if we reject hard thinking about alternatives in favor of uncritical acceptance of an extreme position we make the argument simpler and most of us prefer simple arguments.

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To summarize: Many people believe that the current system must inevitably end in total annihilation. They reject, sometimes very emotionally, any attempts to analyze this notion. Either they are afraid of where the thinking will lead them or they are afraid of thinking at all. They want to make the choice, between a risk and the certainty of disaster, between sanity and insanity, between good and evil; therefore, as moral and sane men they need no longer hesitate. I hold that an intelligent and responsible person cannot pose the problem so simply.

The last objection to detailed thought on thermonuclear war rests on the view that the subject is not only unpleasant but difficult. Many people feel that it is useless to apply rationality and calculation in any area dominated by irrational decision makers. This is almost comparable to feeling that it would be impossible to design a safety system for an insane asylum by rational methods, since, after all, the inmates are irrational. Of course, no governor or superintendent would consider firing the trained engineer, and turning the design over to one of the lunatics. The engineer is expected to take the irrationality of the inmates into account by a rational approach. Rational discussions of war and peace can explicitly include the possibility of irrational behavior.

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The Danger for America Today–The Unthinkable is Thinkable under Donald J. Trump  45th  POTUS

Of course, analysts may be misled by oversimplified models or misleading assumptions, and their competence readily attacked. However, except for irrelevant references to game theory and computers, such attacks are rare, and are usually so half-hearted that it is clear that their main motivation is not to expose incompetency. Given the difficulty of the problems, one would expect the critics to work more effectively on the obvious methodological problems and other weaknesses of present-day analysts.

Critics frequently refer to the icy rationality of the Hudson Institute, the Rand Corporation, and other such organizations. I’m always tempted to ask in reply, “Would you prefer a warm, human error? Do you feel better with a nice emotional mistake?” We cannot expect good discussion of security problems if we are going to label every attempt at detachment as callous, every attempt at objectivity as immoral. Such attitudes not only block discussion of the immediate issues, they lead to a disunity and fragmentation of the intellectual community that can be disastrous to the democratic dialogue between specialist and layman. The former tends to withdraw to secret and private discussions; the latter becomes more and more innocent, or naive, and more likely to be outraged if he is ever exposed to a professional discussion.

Finally, there is the objection that thermonuclear war should not, at least in detail, be discussed publicly. Even some who admit the usefulness of asking unpleasant questions have advocated raising them only in secret. One objector pointed out to me that if a parent in a burning building is faced with the problem of having to save one of two children, but not both, he will make a decision on the spur of the moment; it wouldn’t have made any difference if the parent had agonized over the problem ahead of time, and it would have been particularly bad to agonize in the presence of the children. This may be true, but other considerations dominate our nation’s choices; our capabilities for action and the risks we are assuming for ourselves and thrusting on others will be strongly influenced by our preparations both intellectual and physical.

Other reasons for this objection to public discussion range all the way from concern about telling the Soviets too much, and a fear of weakening the resolve of our own people, through a feeling that public discussion of death and destruction is distastefully comparable to a drugstore display of the tools, methods, and products of the mortician. Perhaps some or all of these objections to public discussion are well taken. I do not know for sure, but I think they are wrong.

They are wrong if we expect our people to participate rationally in the decision-making process in matters that are vital to their existence as individuals and as a nation. As one author has put it: “In a democracy, when experts disagree, laymen must resolve the disagreement.” One issue is whether it is better that the lay public, which will directly or indirectly decide policy, be more or less informed. A second issue is whether the discussion itself may not be significantly improved by eliciting ideas from people outside of official policy-making channels.

There are in any case at least two significant obstacles to full public debate of national security matters. The first, of course, is the constantly increasing problem of communication between the technologist and the layman, because of the specialization (one might almost say fragmentation) of knowledge. The other lies in the serious and paramount need to maintain security. Technical details of weapons’ capabilities and weaknesses must remain classified to some degree. Nonetheless, technical details may be of vital importance in resolving much broader problems. (For instance, who can presume to say whether the military advantages of atomic weapons testing outweigh the obvious political and physical disadvantages unless he knows what the military advantages are.) Moreover, those who feel that in some areas “security” has been unnecessarily extended must concede that in certain areas it has its place. To that extent the functioning of the democratic processes must be compromised with the requirements of the cold war and modem technology. Fortunately, non-classified sources often give reasonable approximations to the classified data. I would say that many of the agonizing problems facing us today can be debated and understood just about as easily without classified material as with provided one carefully considers the facts that are available.

It is quite clear that technical details are not the only important operative facts. Human and moral factors must always be considered. They must never be missing from policies and from public discussion. But emotionalism and sentimentality, as opposed to morality and concern, only confuse debates. Nor can experts be expected to repeat, “If, heaven forbid. ….,” before every sentence. Responsible decision makers and researchers cannot afford the luxury of denying the existence of agonizing questions. The public, whose lives and freedom are at stake, expects them to face such questions squarely and, where necessary, the expert should expect little less of the public.

*Herman Kahn, Founder, Hudson Institute

January 1st, 1962 Adapted from Thinking About the Unthinkable (Horizon Press), © Hudson Institute

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Why As A Philosopher I Voted For Trump


January 29, 2017

Why As A Philosopher I Voted For Trump

 Trumpism And The Future Of The American Republic
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 Make America Great Again

by Professor Daniel Bonevac (University of Texas, Austin)

 http://www.thecritique.com/articles/why-i-voted-for-trump/

This article is part of The Critique’s January/February 2017 Issue “Stick It To The Man: A Year Of Anglo-American Populist Revolt Against A Changing Culture And An Obtuse Political Establishment.”

I. “We are patronized by our inferiors”

In the heat of the Presidential election campaign, Peggy Noonan wrote about the Wikileaks revelations and thereby captured a central theme of the election:

“Here’s what you see in the emails: the writers are the worst kind of snobs, snobs with nothing to recommend them. In their expression and thoughts they are common, banal, dumb, uninformed, parochial….It’s the big fact of American life now, isn’t it? That we are patronized by our inferiors”[1]

That’s exactly how I see it: We are patronized by our inferiors. During the campaign Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did not just reveal themselves as elitists who are out of touch with the circumstances of many of their compatriots [2], and proud of it; who have contempt for half the country [3], and are willing to say so publicly; and who are willing, in fact, to say anything to gain and keep power.[4] They revealed themselves as fools.

That’s exactly how I see it: We are patronized by our inferiors. During the campaign Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did not just reveal themselves as elitists who are out of touch with the circumstances of many of their compatriots [2], and proud of it; who have contempt for half the country [3], and are willing to say so publicly; and who are willing, in fact, to say anything to gain and keep power.[4] They revealed themselves as fools.

To be clear, I do not mean to say that they are unintelligent. They are often quite clever. In many cases, they are highly educated, or at least, to borrow Glenn Reynolds’s phrase, “credentialed but not educated.”[5] But intelligence and education do not entail wisdom. Indeed, there is a kind of intelligence, and a kind of education, that seems to stand in the way of getting wisdom. Trump supporters often react to the opinions of the anointed, the elites from academia and the media, as George Orwell reacted to outlandish claims in “On Nationalism”: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”[6] The conventional wisdom, too often, is not wisdom at all.

II. “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?”

Sixty-five years ago, Swarthmore psychologist Solomon Asch conducted his famous experiments, gathering groups of students together for what he said was research into visual perception. In fact, he wanted to study “a disagreement between a group and one individual member about a clear and simple issue of fact.”[7] He brought students together in groups, all but one of whom were his confederates. He showed the group a card with a line on it, and then a card with three lines—one the same length as the original, the others clearly shorter or longer. He asked the students, in sequence, which line matched the original in length. He started with his confederates, who agreed with one another. For the first few trials, their answers were correct. But then the confederates began agreeing on incorrect answers. In more than a third of the subsequent trials, the subject, who answered last, conformed to the rest of the group, giving a plainly wrong answer. “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?” Seventy-five percent of the subjects went with the majority on at least some trials. Only twenty-five percent resisted the pull of erroneous agreement completely.

Trump supporters, over the past eight years, have felt like subjects in Asch’s experiments. They have been struck by the discrepancies between informed opinion, as represented in the pages of the elite newspapers in the country, as well as the scholarly journals of academic societies, and their own perceptions on a wide variety of topics. Such discrepancies are not necessarily signs of unwisdom, of course; they may reflect differences in experiences and world views that lead people to base their opinions on different sets of facts or to interpret the same facts in different ways. In Asch’s experiments, however, there was little room for such differences; only one line on the second card was a plausible candidate for being the same length as the line on the first card. Statements that were incorrect were obviously incorrect. That is just how it has seemed to Trump supporters.

How often have we encountered statements like these over the past eight years? “Islam is a religion of peace.” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” “Obamacare will bring down the cost of health insurance.” “The economy is in great shape.” “Raising the minimum wage doesn’t cost jobs; it creates them.” “Iran can be trusted not to develop nuclear weapons.” “America is stronger and more respected today than it was eight years ago.” These are not only false, but obviously false. The Quran repeatedly calls for violence against unbelievers.[8] Since December 2015, 68 Americans have died from terror attacks on U.S. soil.[9] More than 200 have been wounded. Obamacare has increased costs while decreasing patient choice, exactly as its critics predicted[10]; no system that increases demand for services while doing nothing to increase supply can lower costs. Obama has overseen the weakest economic recovery in decades.[11] The percentage of working-age Americans employed is at its lowest rate since the late 1970s.[12] Minimum wage increases raise the cost of employing people, which leads to fewer jobs.[13] Finally, Iran is already violating the nuclear agreement, according to German intelligence, and Russia, China, Iran, and other adversaries treat America with contempt.[14]

The Democratic Party and its allies in the media and academia have pushed a narrative for decades that portrays free enterprise as cruel, corrupt, and unfair, and government as caring, altruistic, and just. Freedom creates problems; government solves them. Sometimes, that narrative is accurate. Often, however, it is not. The gap between the narrative and reality has been growing as government grows beyond the problems it knows how to solve. And those upholding the narrative seem increasingly incapable of recognizing the divergence. They seem incapable of conceiving of a simple question: Even if there is a better solution than the equilibrium achieved by the free market—by free people freely making their own decisions—why should we have confidence that government can find it? Still less do they seem capable of answering it. I am not saying that thinkers on the left do not propose solutions—of course they do—but that they do not even try to establish the optimality of their preferred policies. Consider Thomas Piketty, who advocates a global capital tax as a solution to rising inequality without establishing what an ideal level of inequality would be or whether his proposed tax would achieve it.[15] For another example, consider George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, who argue that manipulation and weakness of will lead people to make economic decisions that are bad for them. Why these factors do not equally lead people to make political decisions that are bad for them, and lead political actors to make decisions that are bad for all of us, remains unexplored.[16] Unlike Asch’s confederates, Democratic Party elites seem to believe the narrative.[17] Their decision process, infused with bad information, looks to others to be increasingly irrational. Votes for Trump were votes for rationality. They were votes for truth.

III. The end of “phone and a pen” policy making  

The election’s similarity to the Asch experience was no accident. It stemmed from a deep philosophical divide. This election presented Americans with a clear choice: someone who agrees with the political philosophy of the nation’s founders, or someone who utterly rejects it. The United States was founded on the political philosophy of John Locke, adapted by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other founders.[18] According to that “bottom-up” political theory, people have natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Government gets its power from the people; it is legitimate only with the consent of the governed. Its mission is to promote the general welfare by providing a framework for ordered liberty, a framework within which people can exercise their freedoms and pursue happiness. That is Donald Trump’s vision of government.[19] There is considerable flexibility, of course, in the concept of a framework for ordered liberty. Trump’s enthusiasm for building an infrastructure for liberty places him on the Henry Clay–Dwight Eisenhower end of a continuum the other side of which is Robert Nozick’s minimal state.[20]

Hillary Clinton’s “top-down” progressive vision, stemming ultimately from Rousseau, is incompatible with that Lockean foundation.[21] It envisions a very different role for government. In her view, it is up to the government—in practice, the Supreme Court—to determine what rights people have. There are no natural rights, rights independent of government, inherent in us as human beings in Rousseau’s vision. Rights are creatures of government.

As such, rights can be limited or rejected if they conflict with government goals. Clinton’s platform sought to restrict freedom of speech, for example, by making it illegal to criticize political candidates during election campaigns.[22] That is what the Citizens United decision was about: whether the government could prevent Hillary, the Movie from being shown.[23]

She also wanted to extend the Obama administration’s assaults on freedom of religion, supporting its attempts to make a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, provide funding for abortions.[24] Prominent Democrats called for churches who opposed Democratic policies on abortion, homosexuality, transgender rights, and other matters to lose property-tax exemptions [25], insisting that religious organizations, colleges, and clubs should not be allowed to discriminate even on the basis of religious belief.[26]

She wanted to overturn Supreme Court decisions upholding the right to keep and bear arms, including one allowing a police officer to have a gun in his own home while off-duty, and spoke favorably of Australia’s confiscation of firearms.[27]

She advocated policies on college campuses that have led to tenured professors being fired for cursing, telling jokes, or singing Beach Boys songs, and have provoked investigations of other professors for criticizing those very policies.[28] Political correctness, already out of control on college campuses, has begun spreading to the workplace and other areas of society.[29] She also backed the Obama administration’s insistence that the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt be abandoned, especially as it applies to college students dealing with accusations of sexual assault.[30]

All of these stances have something in common: they advocate restricting or eliminating rights for the sake of expanding government power: making officials immune from criticism; allowing officials to impose their moral views on religious organizations; allowing officials to have a monopoly on violence, even in self-defense; and enabling officials to impose their own visions of proper conduct, including private sexual conduct.

Allowing government officials to impose their own visions on society, even with respect to the most private matters, is central to liberal progressivism. Progressives begin with the worry that the economy and, more generally, patterns of social interaction lead naturally to greater and greater inequality, centralizing power in the hands of a few.[31] Like Rousseau, they imagine a future in which a few gorge themselves on luxuries while the multitude lack necessities.[32] Their solution, inspired by Rousseau, is an expansive conception of the social contract in which people commit everything to the State, and receive in return a fair share of the fruits of their social cooperation.[33] In practice, this becomes whatever the State is willing to let them retain. The State should make this decision according to the general will, that is, the common good. But there is no mechanism within progressivism to ensure that the government acts for the common good rather than the private good of the officials making it up.

To put it another way, the progressive answer to excessive centralization of power is more centralization. Power concentrated in the hands of government is supposed to limit and channel power concentrated in private hands. This, of course, places government officials in a position superior to those they lead, entrusted with the authority to impose their own conception of the good on the rest of society. We have seen this in the Obama administration’s willingness to have key issues decided by unaccountable regulators in the alphabet agencies that now occupy much of Washington. No one voted to destroy the coal industry.[34] No one voted to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant.[35] No one voted to stop enforcing immigration law.[36] No one voted to abandon the “innocent until proven guilty” standard.[37] Clinton promised to continue Obama’s “phone and a pen” policy making, bypassing Congress and thereby the representatives of the people.[38]

Trump stands on the other side of all these issues. He favors freedom of speech; his flouting of political correctness and, sometimes, outright incivility underscores that.[39] He respects freedom of religion.[40] He believes in the right to self-defense.[41] He rejects the culture of perpetual offense that makes life on campus and, increasingly, off campus a minefield of arbitrary and often ridiculous rules. His positions on these issues are in accordance with common sense. They also accord with the Lockean vision that constituted the common ground of American political life until Woodrow Wilson.

Perhaps the central issue of Trump’s campaign was something also found in the campaign for Brexit, to return decision-making authority to the people and their elected representatives.[42] He described the administrative state and the regulatory burden it imposes as “the anchor dragging us down,” pointing out that its growth since 1980 has cost us as much as one-fourth of our Gross National Product.[43] He pledged to issue a moratorium on new regulations and, in the longer term, to insist that any proposed regulation accompany a proposal to eliminate two existing regulations.[44]

In a nutshell, Clinton trusts her own vision and those of people like her. She insists that everyone else conform to that vision, whether they like it or not. Trump respects the vision of the people.

IV. Donald Trump: the supporting partner

The Asch experiments point to a key and under-appreciated reason for Trump’s success. Only twenty-five percent of Asch’s subjects resisted peer pressure consistently throughout the experiment. Seventy-five percent were at least sometimes willing to betray their lying eyes. But the rate of such betrayal fell dramatically if even one other person answered correctly. As Asch put it, “The presence of a supporting partner depleted the majority of much of its power” (1955, 34). My thesis is simple: Throughout 2016, Donald Trump played the role of that supporting partner. He freed people to articulate and act on their own beliefs, rejecting the consensus of the media. He thereby generated considerable affection and allegiance among his followers.

[Asch, Solomon 2007 (Psychologist) (Photo by Jan Rieckhoff/ullstein bild via Getty Images)]

 [Solomon Asch by Jan Rieckhoff/ullstein bild via Getty Images]

“The Asch experiments point to a key and under-appreciated reason for Trump’s success (…) Donald Trump played the role of that supporting partner. He freed people to articulate and act on their own beliefs, rejecting the consensus of the media. He thereby generated considerable affection and allegiance among his followers.”

Asch’s subjects with a truth-telling partner developed a strong bond with that partner. “Generally the feeling toward him was one of warmth and closeness; he was credited with inspiring confidence” (1955, 34). Having someone else who sees things as you do and is willing to say so produces a sense of relief, eliminating for most the sense of self-doubt that disagreement with the rest produces. It generates a strong attachment to that person. It also generates a sense of admiration for the partner who is confident and courageous enough to tell the truth.

This, I suggest, was the source of the enthusiasm Trump’s supporters showed for his candidacy. On the last weekend of the campaign, Trump held a rally in Moon Township, southwest of Pittsburgh. Twelve thousand people, more than the venue could hold, braved a terrible traffic jam to attend.[45] Those who could not get inside—including some of my relatives—did not leave, but remained outside to listen on loudspeakers. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton had trouble filling high school gymnasiums.[46] Many noted the enthusiasm gap between the candidates, but most focused on the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton.[47] Fewer noted the extraordinary enthusiasm for Trump.

The results of the experiment do not depend, however, on whether the majority or the subject is, in the end, correct. The point is the disagreement. Having a partner who sees things as you do, right or wrong, despite the opinion of the majority is what generates the attachment.

In any event, it is far from clear that Trump was not telling the truth. The Obama recovery is the slowest since 1949.[48] Young African-Americans face an unemployment rate of over 20 percent.[49] The national debt has almost doubled; an American born today already owes more than $60,000 in debt.[50] Business profits and durable goods orders are down.[51] So are incomes.[52] Productivity growth is slow.[53] The “new normal,” at most two-percent economic growth, is disappointing by traditional measures. Obama’s policies, driven by a concern for economic inequality, have in fact increased inequality.[54]

The President’s signature “accomplishment,” Obamacare, is in a death spiral of falling enrollments and soaring costs.[55] Racial tensions are leading to riots and attacks on police officers. Violent crime is up sharply.[56] Life expectancy is falling, especially for white males.[57] The IRS, the FBI and the Justice Department are protecting political allies, punishing opponents, and defying court orders, all without anyone being held accountable.[58] The State of the Union is not particularly good. And that is in addition to the international situation, where the United States appears weak, tyrants appear to be emboldened, and the Middle East is in flames.[59] The resulting humanitarian disaster is producing a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions that threatens the stability of Europe. The list could go on and on.[60]

That is not to say that everything Trump said in the campaign is true. Even many of Trump’s supporters do not fully agree with his more extreme statements. As Salena Zito observed, they take him seriously, but not literally, while his media detractors tend to take him literally but not seriously.[61] But such disagreement does not weaken the liberating effect of having another dissenter in the group; it strengthens it.

Another less-noted feature of the Asch experiments is that introducing someone into the setup who disagreed with both the majority and the subject reduced pressure to conform. But a moderate dissenter, who chose a line between the majority’s choice and the correct line in length, reduced it only moderately. A dissenter who chose a line further from the truth than the majority’s reduced pressure to conform by more than ninety percent—more than someone in full agreement with the subject. “The extremist dissenter produced a remarkable freeing of the subjects; their errors dropped to only 9 per cent. Furthermore, all the errors were of the moderate variety” (1955, 34). If Trump has on occasion deviated from the opinions of his followers by being more extreme, that has only added to the liberating effect of his candidacy. The other Republican contenders for the nomination played the role of moderate dissenters; Trump was the extreme dissenter. No wonder he defeated them. His persuasive strategy was akin to his negotiating strategy: start out with a more extreme position and negotiate toward what you want. Taking the extreme position does not weaken your hand; it strengthens it. His followers understood that.

V. “A Basket Of Deplorables”

As imagining yourself in one of Asch’s experiments might lead you to expect, the research situation produced intense feelings toward other participants. Subjects without a truth-telling partner often doubted themselves, thinking they must be abnormal in some way. Some thought the other participants must be subject to some illusion but didn’t want to cause trouble. Some considered others sheep but declined to go against the herd.

Asch did not study what happens if the confederates mock the subject or the subject’s partner, if there is one. But it is not difficult to hypothesize the result. The emotional reactions the experiment generates would probably be intensified. Those afflicted with self-doubt would likely experience even greater self-doubt. Those with negative feelings toward the herd would likely have even more negative feelings toward them. Affection toward a partner would likely be intensified as well.

That, I maintain, is precisely what the Clinton campaign and the media did during the 2016 campaign. Hillary herself attacked half of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables,” as “irredeemable.”[62] The other half she seemed to consider pathetic. The insult quickly became a badge of honor among Trump supporters, who began posting “Deplorable Me” and “Les Deplorables” memes on social media. It drove some who had been lukewarm about Trump’s candidacy to become eager supporters, and seemed to quiet objections from so-called “NeverTrumpers”.

Attacks on the candidate himself had much the same effect. Trump’s supporters saw the incessant accusations of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc., as Asch’s subjects might have seen insults hurled at a truth-telling partner. The accusations did not push Trump’s supporters away from him; for the most part, they pushed them further toward him.

There are two key components to understanding the mechanism by which accusations of this sort strengthened the Trump campaign. The first is that most of the accusations themselves were unjustified. Pushing them made Clinton and her surrogates appear to be both knaves and fools. The second is that Trump’s supporters saw that what was generating the attacks was not Trump’s deviation from their opinions but his agreement with them. In short, they saw the accusations as essentially leveled at them. As the Democrats now know first hand, or at least should know, calling someone names is not generally an effective way of getting them to vote for you.

Consider the first point. What was the evidence that Trump was a racist? On examination, it was surprisingly thin and easily refuted. This is the comment that Democrats twisted into the claim that all Mexicans are criminals:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”[63]

The context for these comments is his critique of Obama’s immigration policy, and, in particular, Obama’s announcement that his administration would stop enforcing immigration law.[64] Trump said that, as a result, people crossing the border are bringing drugs and crime into the United States. All of them? No—he explicitly denied that: “some, I assume, are good people.” ‘Mexicans are bringing crime’ has the same logical form as ‘People are taking pictures’, which means that some people are taking pictures. It does not imply that all people are taking pictures, or that most people are taking pictures. ‘Squirrels are building nests in the attic’ does not mean (fortunately!) that all squirrels, or most squirrels, are doing so. Just so, Trump’s comment means that some Mexicans are bringing crime into the country. That is plainly true. It does not imply that all or most Mexicans are bringing crime into the country. So, where’s the racism? Trump went on to say that the same is true of people from other parts of the world. He not only said something uncontroversial about Mexicans, but denied that it was true only of Mexicans. The racism charge rests on a misreading of his remarks.

In 1980, Fidel Castro said that he released political prisoners in what became known as the Mariel boatlift. It turned out that many of those released were ordinary criminals.[65] Many said at the time that Castro was sending us criminals.[66] No one accused anyone of racism for that assertion, and for obvious reasons. It was not racist. It did not imply that all Cubans are criminals. It did not imply that most Cubans are criminals. It did not imply that Cubans are more likely to be criminals than anyone else. Just so, Trump’s comment did not imply that all, or most, or even many Mexicans are criminals. It did not imply that Mexicans are more likely to be criminals than anyone else. It implied nothing at all about Mexican immigrants who came to this country, legally or illegally, before the Obama administration stopped enforcing the law in November 2014. In fact, it is little more than common sense. Stop enforcing the law, and you get more lawbreakers.[67]

Why, then, call Trump’s remark racist? His supporters initially interpreted it as dishonest, as an attempt to smear an opponent by misreading his statements. As the campaign continued, however, it became clear that many people believed that the comments were racist. They appeared to be incapable of distinguishing some from all, of understanding simple sentences with bare plurals and the progressive aspect—something particularly disappointing to me as a logic professor, since distinguishing some from all is crucial to symbolizing sentences in logical notation.[68] In short, it made them look foolish.

It also made them look hypocritical. The campaign was racially divisive, but the racial division came from the other side. Clinton spoke of “systemic racism,” of “implicit bias,” which “is a problem for all of us.”[69] In effect, she called every American a racist. She apologized for saying early in the campaign that all lives matter,[70] and afterward said ‘Black lives matter,’ which, in her view, evidently expresses an ideal of equality.[71] On the Supreme Court, she said she wanted justices who would decide cases, not on the Constitution or the law, but on the race, gender, wealth, and sexual orientation of the parties.[72] Hearing her say this in the last Trump-Clinton debate, I immediately thought of the words of M. T. Latsis: “To what class does he belong? That’s the essence of the red terror.”[73] Clinton’s stated judicial philosophy is essentially that of the Cheka, dividing people in the law by race, class, sex, and various other categories, with their rights depending on their membership in such groups. I am not saying, of course, that she wished to liquidate those of the wrong group. But she championed a form of identity politics that divides people by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and treats them differently under the law.[74] She never made a clear case for her own candidacy—“Stronger Together” was vacuous, and was undercut by her reliance on identity politics, as revealed in the otherwise also-vacuous “I’m with Her,” not to mention her dismissal of Trump supporters as irredeemable. She and her supporters relied heavily on the appeal of electing the first female President and attacked women who did not support her as traitors.[75]

Attacks on Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,”[76] were equally unjustified. President Obama interpreted this as a call to discrimination, and said, “It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose.”[77] To Trump’s supporters, however, the President’s reaction (echoed by all of Trump’s competitors for the Republican nomination except one, not coincidentally his chief rival for the nomination, Ted Cruz) seemed shockingly removed from reality.[78] They looked at Europe’s experience with large-scale Muslim immigration—widespread rapes and sexual assaults,[79] no-go zones,[80] and terror attacks (in the year preceding the election, Paris, Brussels, and Nice, and dozens of other smaller attacks, for a total of 263 dead and 847 wounded)[81]—saw something similar starting to happen in the United States,[82] and said no thanks. They worried that the Democrats wanted to take the United States down the road that Angela Merkel had paved for Germany, noted the growing recognition in Europe that those policies were unwise, and declined to follow Germany’s example.[83] In short, they saw where Obama’s road led, and decided that Trump’s road was safer.

We are now in a position to consider the second point: Trump’s supporters realized that he was being called a racist, Islamophobe, etc., because he agreed with them. Leftists have sometimes insisted that Trump’s supporters are bigots. The “basket of deplorables” remark seemed to indicate that Hillary herself was among them. But viewed from a Trump supporter’s perspective, the charge is absurd.

Why was Trump being called a racist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe? In the end, it came down to this: he wants to slow the rate of immigration and to enforce immigration law. He wants to keep criminals and terrorists out of the country. So do most of his supporters—not because they hate foreigners, Mexicans, Muslims, or some other collection of groups, but for a variety of perfectly legitimate reasons:

[1] They dislike crime. They are unhappy about drug gangs crossing the border with impunity.[84] They are not willing to put up with increased rates of theft, murder, and sexual offenses for the sake of greater diversity.

[2] They dislike acts of terror. They recognize that we have no way to screen newcomers to prevent terrorists from entering the country.[85] They realize that many terrorists are homegrown in the sense that they are second- or third-generation Americans but become radicalized in Muslim communities. They see events in Europe and the United States and conclude that terror attacks are likely to become more common and more deadly if rates of Muslim immigration are not reduced.

[3] They worry about the availability of jobs. They recognize that immigrants compete with Americans already here for jobs at various skill levels, driving down rates of employment and wages for the native-born.[86] They see that the consequences are worst for those who are most vulnerable.

[4] They worry about the social costs of immigration. Their ancestors generally came to this country at times when there was no welfare system; newcomers had to make it on their own. Now, a large majority of immigrants rely on social services of one kind or another. And dealing with large numbers of immigrants imposes burdens on schools, health care facilities, and other institutions. Only the most skilled are likely to contribute as much as they cost. As Milton Friedman once said, “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”[87] The costs are potentially infinite.

[5] They worry about the effects of high levels of immigration on social capital. Robert Putnam’s research shows that areas with high degrees of ethnic diversity have reduced social capital; diversity damages the networks of trust and cooperation on which productive social interaction depends.[88] There are huge costs to being a low-trust society, and huge benefits to being a high-trust one. The reduction in trust is moreover quite general. People not only trust people in other groups less; they trust people in their own group less. They become less willing to participate in various kinds of activities and associations, preferring to “turtle” in their own homes. The life and vibrancy of the community suffers.

[6] They worry about our political culture. They sense that the Democrats are eager to increase immigration from certain areas of the world not to benefit the United States but to benefit the Democratic Party by importing large numbers of voters without much exposure to the political culture of the United States or other English-speaking countries.[89] The Democrats want voters with no attachment to the Magna Carta, the doctrine of natural rights, an ideal of individual liberty, or representative government.[90] Trump supporters see little reason why Americans should assist in the destruction of their own political system and thus their own rights and liberties.

Trump supporters realize that there are many benefits to immigration, at certain levels, of certain types of people, under certain circumstances. They recoil from Hillary Clinton’s vision of open borders, but are not hostile to immigration as such. The issue, in their view, is the kind, extent, and pace of immigration, a topic they think deserves careful consideration and debate. The Democrats and the media do not respond to any of the above concerns. They instead retort by calling anyone raising them deplorable. That sounds intemperate, even desperate. To Trump supporters, it also sounds foolish.

VI. Why I Voted For Trump

I voted for Donald Trump partly because I share his political philosophy (which I view as akin to that of the British Whigs); partly because I share his view of the current state of American society and the international order; and partly because I see the American political system as teetering on the edge of a cliff. A Clinton victory, I believe, would have ended the American republic.[91] Obama set out to transform the United States of America. He has done so by transferring power away from the people, and away from Congress, to the courts and to the executive branch. He won a few legislative victories, but has mostly ruled by decree, by executive order and especially by the rule-making of executive branch agencies. Clinton promised to continue the trend. She would have ruled more or less as a monarch with little Congressional limit to her power. The Constitution would have been a dead letter. She would have been able to impose her own moral vision on the entire country. That vision, moreover, rests on a narrative with limited correspondence to reality. And she would have removed the checks and balances of the American system designed to keep narratives and reality in line with each other.

Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because he understood that and pledged to do something about it. He is described as a populist, and for the best of reasons: he wants to return power to the people. He treats ordinary people with dignity and respect. He treats their situations as worthy of concern and their attitudes as worth taking seriously. He values the Constitution. His cabinet appointments have emphasized his commitment to return American government to Constitutional principles. And, just as important, he punctured the narrative. He showed that he understands which of Solomon Asch’s lines is a match.

“How, and to what extent, do social forces constrain people’s opinions and attitudes?” Asch wrote. “This question is especially pertinent in our day. The same epoch that has witnessed the unprecedented technical extension of communication has also brought into existence the deliberate manipulation of opinion and the ‘engineering of consent.’”[92] Trump supporters are tired of being manipulated. They realize how extensively people who consider themselves superior to them have been engineering their consent. And they’ve had enough. They’re tired of being told that they must live a lie.[93]

In an environment where the media, the Democrats, those in high positions in academia, government, and corporations, and most of the Republican candidates agreed on a story that conflicted with what people were observing with their own eyes, Trump was the only person to tell the truth—to say what he thought, no matter what others said, and, in doing so, to depict things as his followers saw them. When he deviated, he went to an extreme, which only strengthened the independence of his fans, making them more immune to manipulation. He thereby undercut the engineering of consent. He earned the affection and loyalty of those who saw a conflict between the narrative and reality. He made those who clung to the narrative look like fools. He gave his followers not only self-confidence but self-respect. And he thereby embarked on the mission to return the United States to the system of government its founders created for it—to make America great again by returning its government to the people.

VII. Objections

In my final section let me address some objections. Before I turn to specifics, however, let me make three more general points.

First, we must evaluate political candidates in relation to alternative candidates, not in relation to some abstract ideal. Is Donald Trump the perfect candidate? Will he make a perfect President? No, of course not. No one could fulfill such an expectation.

Second, there is always little data about how candidates will perform in office as President. No other position is comparable, and there is no way to predict how events will frame the decisions they face.

Third, there is a consistent pattern to many objections being raised against Trump: people on the left tend to accuse the right of what they themselves do. I do not know whether this is psychological projection, a conscious strategy, or the result of a mindset that interprets opponents’ actions in terms of familiar models. But it is pervasive.

Now, to the objections. I omit here ordinary policy disagreements concerning tax policy, foreign policy, trade agreements, minimum wage laws, anti-terrorism strategies, and so on. Each is a legitimate issue, an adequate treatment of which would take an essay in itself.

Objection 1: Trump is simply not qualified to be president—he has no government experience.[94] He is the first President never to serve in government or the military.

Presidents of the United States have generally had experience as governors, generals, or U.S. Senators. The first two are analogous to the Presidency in the sense that they involve management of large enterprises with political dimensions. In the contemporary world, however, CEOs of sizable corporations also manage large enterprises with political dimensions. Experience as such a CEO seems at least as relevant to the Presidency as service as Senator. Indeed, I would find it hard to defend the proposition that Trump is less qualified than Barack Obama was in 2008.

Objection 2: Trump does not take expert advice from the military or from intelligence officials.[95] He has threatened to fire generals and has declined daily intelligence briefings.

This complaint against Trump drips with irony, since President Obama did fire generals and skip most daily intelligence briefings. Obama purged the military of Generals McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Ham, Flynn, and Mattis, Admirals Gaouette and Giardina, and almost 200 other officers who objected to highly restrictive rules of engagement or were unwilling to subjugate military objectives to social priorities.[96] He attended only about 40% of his intelligence briefings.[97] Trump will have to shake up military leadership if he wishes to return the military to its main tasks—defending the nation and winning wars. As Aristotle properly noted, the goal of the military art is victory.[98] He will also have to shake up intelligence agencies, who have been wrong on virtually every important question over the past several decades and are now at war with Trump before he even takes office.[99]

There is a larger moral here: President Obama filled with federal government with politically radical “experts” whose advice President Trump should reject. In fact, he should do his best to root them out, get rid of them, and abolish the commissions and agencies they inhabit.

Objection 3: Trump has totalitarian tendencies. He does not accept the democratic process, and believes that he alone can fix America’s problems.

I find it hard to take this objection seriously, and not only because Trump campaigned on limiting the reach of executive action and the administrative state, while Obama expanded it and Clinton campaigned on expanding it even further. Ruth Marcus called Trump’s worry that the election was rigged “dangerous,” “irresponsible,” “unsupported,” and “set[ting] the stage for an explosive outcome the likes of which this country has never seen…. further inflaming an already toxic political climate in Washington.”[100] But now Democrats are claiming that Russia rigged the election—supposedly by releasing accurate information via Wikileaks—and even calling Trump “illegitimate,” comparing him to the Nazis and the KKK, rejecting reconciliation, and exclaiming, “Now we fight.”[101] In short, Democrats criticized Trump for talking about the possibility of something they now claim is actual, because his words might have brought about something the Democrats are now, themselves, intentionally bringing about.[102] This is not only wildly hypocritical; it reveals real totalitarian tendencies on the left, tendencies already evident in the use of violence as a political weapon against Trump during the campaign.[103]

I would like to address the arguments of those who consider Trump a fascist. I would like to, I really would. But I can’t find any arguments in the over-the-top editorials making that claim. Consider Robert Kagan, whose “argument” amounts to this: Trump exhibits “an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture,” and engages in “attacking or ridiculing a wide range of ‘others’.”[104] As far as I can see, these qualities might make Trump a bully, but they hardly make him a fascist. Indira Lakshmanan quoted Trump on world affairs, saying “I alone can fix it,” and heard echoes of “strongmen” Castro, Chavez, and Musharraf.[105] I heard in his speech a more mundane claim: that Obama’s policy of leading from behind had created a power vacuum that led to violence and anarchy in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere; that Hillary Clinton, by helping to craft that policy as Secretary of State and vowing to continue it, had no hope of repairing the resulting damage; and thus that he alone among the Presidential candidates could do so, by rejecting the Obama-Clinton policy and acting in America’s best interests.

Objection 4: Trump admires Putin, invited Russia to hack Clinton, and now dismisses attempts to sanction Russia for allegedly doing so.[106]

Much has been said and written about the Trump-Putin connection, but so far no one has produced any actual evidence of any inappropriate relationship or of Russian involvement in the election. Trump’s remark that maybe the Russians could locate Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails was sarcasm—a joke, not an invitation.[107] Obama did nothing when Russia invaded the Ukraine.[108] He did nothing when the Russians hacked into the White House computer system.[109] His response to supposed Russian involvement in the election was token. Calls for Trump to advocate sanctions before taking office, in that context, sound absurd, and, if taken as sincere, imply that Democrats care more about the interests of their own party than those of the United States. The sense of absurdity grows stronger in contrast with Clinton’s involvement with Russia, specifically, her approval of Uranium One’s acquisition of twenty percent of America’s uranium supply, which ended up in the hands of Rosatom, a Russian company.[110] Why Russia would have preferred Trump to Clinton is unclear; Clinton appears to have been bought and paid for.

Objection 5: Trump has promoted conspiracy theories, particularly Obama’s foreign birth, without any evidence: “Mr. Obama’s citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.”[111]

Trump was one of many people to question Obama’s citizenship, and hardly the first; he raised the issue in March 2011, saying that he was “a little skeptical,” and announced the issue settled a month later when Obama released his long-form birth certificate.[112] It is moreover not true that there was no evidence that Obama was born outside the United States; his literary agency had described him as “born in Kenya” and articles by National Public Radio and the Associated Press had identified him as Kenyan-born.[113]

Objection 6: Trump’s anti-scientific denial of climate change will set back hard-fought bipartisan progress on this front.[114]

No one denies climate change—the earth has unquestionably warmed since the Little Ice Age—but satellite and surface data sets do not agree about how much it has warmed. Nor is there any consensus about the proportion of warming due to human activity, the effect that even drastic cutbacks in carbon dioxide emissions might have on climate, or the viability of geoengineered solutions. There is in short nothing unscientific about Trump’s position. There is also nothing bipartisan about Obama’s climate policies; the “bipartisan” group that filed an amicus brief in support of Obama’s Clean Power Plan included exactly two Republicans, both former members of Congress.[115]

Objection 7: Trump does not respect the Constitution: he recommends a return to stop-and-frisk policing; he is open to censorship; his policies toward Muslims would violate freedom of religion and equal protection.

The policies advocated by Trump do not violate the Constitution. He does advocate Giuliani policies that proved effective in New York City, including stop-and-frisk. The Supreme Court approved that policy in Terry v. Ohio: “Where a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest that individual for crime or the absolute certainty that the individual is armed.”[116]

Trump’s alleged openness to internet censorship is in the context of fighting a war, protecting national security secrets and impeding enemy communications: “it seems that he wants to knock out the infrastructure that provides Internet access in areas of Syria and Iraq that are controlled by ISIS.”[117] Jamming enemy communications is not censorship. After the Obama administration’s decision to cede authority over the internet to ICANN, which Attorneys General of four states sought to halt with a lawsuit; after news of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google engaging in censorship; after the Democrats’ war on “fake news”; it is hard to take seriously the contention that Trump’s willingness to disrupt communications in Syria is a significant threat to freedom of speech.[118]

Finally, registering, restricting or even banning Muslim immigration into the United States would not be unconstitutional.[119] United States law specifically includes religion as a criterion for immigration; “religious persecution” is a basis for granting refugee status. Under the plenary powers doctrine, constitutional protections do not apply to potential immigrants.[120] If they did—if the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to anyone anywhere—then any immigration restriction would be unconstitutional.

In conclusion, let me summarize the case for Trump in three simple propositions:

[1] He says what he thinks.

[2] He’s on our side.

[3] He fights.

The first includes Trump’s resistance to the narrative and his refusal to live the lie. If he sometimes says extreme things, that only increases his supporters’ resolve. The second proposition includes Trump’s concern for ordinary people—people who do not talk and write for a living—and for the nation as a whole. Obama’s last-minute pardons of spies and terrorists fits a pattern of actions that appear to be anti-American, hostile to the United States and its inhabitants.[121] Clinton’s vision seemed internationalist. Trump sees that a government’s primary obligation is to its citizens. The third proposition gives his supporters hope that he will finally do what they have been sending people to Washington to do for decades: shrink the unelected, unaccountable deep state, return control of their country and their lives to them, and thereby make America great again.

Footnotes & References

[1] “America’s Decadent Leadership Class,” Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2016.

[2] Michael Sainato, “Obama Blames Clinton and Her Out-of-Touch Campaign for Losing Election,” The Observer, November 15, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/11/obama-blames-clinton-and-her-out-of-touch-campaign-for-losing-election/.

[3] Aaron Blake, “Voters strongly reject Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ approach,” Washington Post, September 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/26/voters-strongly-reject-hillary-clintons-basket-of-deplorables-approach/?utm_term=.c672f7a2b627.

[4] This was Barack Obama’s charge against Clinton in the 2008 primaries; see Michael James, “Obama: Hillary Will ‘Say Anything and Change Nothing’,” ABC News, http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/01/obama-hillary-w.html. It resurfaced in 2016. See, e.g., Lisa Lerer, “Leaked emails show what Clinton told executives in private,” October 8, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/emails-clinton-wall-street-private/.

[5] He uses this phrase repeatedly; see https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/?s=%22credentialed%2C+not+educated%22. Compare Malcolm Muggeridge on moderns being “educated into imbecility,” https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/01/03/malcom-muggeridge-on-the-self-destruction-of-20th-century-western-man/, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s talk of “intellectuals yet idiots” (“The Intellectual Yet Idiot,” Incerto, September 16, 2016, https://medium.com/incerto/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577#.dcvx4hgho).

[6] “Notes on Nationalism,” Polemic, May 1945; reprinted in England, Your England and Other Essays, London: Secker and Warburg, 1953.

[7] “Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority.” Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, Vol. 70 (9), 1956, 1–70.

[8] “What Does Islam Teach about Violence?” The Religion of Peace, http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx.

[9] “List of Islamist Terrorist Attacks,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks.

[10] Tom Howell Jr., “Obamacare premiums to rise by double-digit percentages for millions,” Washington Times, October 24, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/oct/24/obamacare-premiums-rise-sharply-choices-dwindle-ad/.

[11] Eric Morath, “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/07/29/seven-years-later-recovery-remains-the-weakest-of-the-post-world-war-ii-era/.

[12] Megan Woolhouse, “Percentage of those in labor pool at 38-year low,” Boston Globe, July 3, 2015, https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/07/02/percentage-workers-labor-pool-falls-year-low/zfLQrKjCyhra95v8PJxWcI/story.html.

[13] David Neumark, “The Evidence Is Piling Up That Higher Minimum Wages Kill Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-evidence-is-piling-up-that-higher-minimum-wages-kill-jobs-1450220824.

[14] Benjamin Weinthal and Lahav Harkov, “German Intelligence: Iran Seeks Illegal Nuclear Technology,” Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Germanys-Merkel-says-Iran-violating-UN-missile-regulations-459766.

[15] Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer

(Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2014). For a critique of Piketty’s thesis, see Matthew Rognlie, “Deciphering the Fall and Rise in the Net Capital Share: Accumulation or Scarcity?” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2015, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015a_rognlie.pdf.

[16] Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).

[17] This is a theme of Richard Fernandez’s recent columns. See “History’s Unexpected Guest,” Belmont Club, November 8, 2016, https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/11/08/historys-unexpected-guest/, and “Situational Unawareness,” Belmont Club, December 10, 2016, https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/12/10/situational-unawareness/.

[18] See Thomas L. Pangle, The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

[19] The most important speech for understanding that vision is probably his economic speech in Detroit: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaignc/290777-transcript-of-donald-trumps-economic-policy-speech-to-detroit. Newt Gingrich has elaborated the philosophy of government underlying Trump’s policy proposals: http://www.heritage.org/events/2016/12/gingrich; https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4637292/newt-gingrich-heritage-foundation.

[20] On Clay’s political philosophy, see Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), chapter 6. Robert Nozick lays out his libertarian view in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974).

[21] The connection between Rousseau, progressives such as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and contemporary progressives such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is complex and difficult to trace, not least because politicians find it advantageous to obscure their philosophical views (if they have them!) behind bland nostrums. But early progressives were overt fans of Rousseau. Randolph Bourne, for example, described his reaction to reading The Social Contract: “Yes, that is what I would have felt, done, said! …It was a sort of moral bath; it cleared up for me a whole new democratic morality, and put the last touch upon the old English way of looking at the world in which I was brought up and which I had such a struggle to get rid of.” (Quoted by Fred Siegel, The Revolt against the Masses (New York: Encounter Books, 2013), 18.) That makes clear not only Bourne’s acceptance of Rousseau but his rejection of the English tradition stretching from Hobbes and Locke through John Stuart Mill. Whether Hillary Clinton shares the original progressive rejection of natural rights is unclear—her religious background hints that she may not—but she certainly thinks that concern for individual rights, whatever their source, needs to be balanced against and frequently overridden by concern for the general welfare. See, for example, Hillary Clinton, “Children Are Citizens Too,” It Takes a Village (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), where she speaks about changing conceptions of individual rights; see also Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995); Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (New York: Crown, 2008).

[22] See Theodore Kupfer, “Repeal the First Amendment, Clinton Insists to Applause,” National Review, July 29, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438519/citizens-united-hillary-clinton-overturning-means-repealing-first-amendment; Steve Simpson, “Overturning Citizens United would be a disaster for free speech,” The Hill, September 6, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaign/294665-overturning-citizens-united-would-be-a-disaster-for-free-speech.

[23] Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (550 U.S. 2010), https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf. Justice Kennedy’s majority decision affirms that “Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people…. The right of citizens to inquire, to hear, to speak, and to use information to reach consensus is a precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it…. When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.” Chief Justice Roberts concurs: “The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are.” That kind of censorship is precisely what Hillary Clinton was advocating.

[24] See Emma Green, “The Little Sisters of the Poor Are Headed to the Supreme Court,” The Atlantic, November 6, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-little-sisters-of-the-poor-are-headed-to-the-supreme-court/414729/. The decision in the case, Zubik v. Burwell (578 U.S. 2016), is at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-1418_8758.pdf. Hillary Clinton tweeted her opposition to the Little Sisters: “Every woman, no matter where she works, deserves birth control coverage. This shouldn’t be a question. #SCOTUS -H” See Derek Hunter, “Hillary Comes Out against Religious Freedom,” The Daily Caller, May 16, 2016, http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/16/hillary-comes-out-against-religious-freedom/.

[25] Those publicly advocating this are media personalities rather than elected officials. See, for example, Mark Oppenheimer, “Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions,” Time, June 28, 2015, http://time.com/3939143/nows-the-time-to-end-tax-exemptions-for-religious-institutions/; Lee Moran, “Bill Maher Breaks Down Why All Religious Institutions Should Be Properly Taxed,” Huffington Post, April 16, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-maher-church-tax-religion_us_5711dd19e4b0018f9cba30a7.

[26] Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies, Free to Serve: Protecting the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations (Brazos, 2015); “Keeping the faith on campus,” World, April 9, 2016, https://world.wng.org/2016/04/keeping_the_faith_on_campus.

[27] Clinton supported overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (554 U. S. 2008), https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf; see the transcript of the final Trump-Clinton debate: “I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in [Heller], because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them.” The case concerned a 66-year-old police officer who wanted to store a gun at his house—“Respondent Heller, a D. C. special policeman, applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home”—and had nothing to do with toddlers. The key holding: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” On her favorable mention of Australia’s program, see Bradford Richardson, “Hillary: Australia-style gun control ‘worth looking at’,” The Hill, October 16, 2015, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/dem-primaries/257172-hillary-australia-style-gun-control-worth-looking-at: “I don’t know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work, but certainly the Australia example is worth looking at,” she said.

[28] See Catherine Sevcenko, “Faculty Senate Censures LSU President for Firing Tenured Professor,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, October 8, 2015, https://www.thefire.org/faculty-senate-censures-lsu-president-for-firing-tenured-professor/; Kristine Guerra, “A Kentucky professor says singing a Beach Boys song got him in trouble for sexual misconduct allegations,” Washington Post, December 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/12/19/a-kentucky-professor-says-singing-a-beach-boys-song-got-him-in-trouble-for-sexual-misconduct-allegations/?utm_term=.c0ccd78916b6; Eric Wemple, “Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis details Title IX investigation over essay,” Washington Post, May 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/?utm_term=.40740b7f1a16.

[29] See, e.g., Jonathan Haidt, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” The Atlantic, September 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/; “The Unwisest Idea on Campus: Commentary on Lilienfeld,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 2017, Vol. 12(1) 176–177; Conor Friedersdorf, “How Politically Correct Should the Workplace Be?,” The Atlantic, April 13, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/how-politically-correct-should-the-workplace-be/477636/.

[30] The “Dear Colleague” letter that announced this policy, without any public discussion or opportunity to comment, is at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.pdf. See George F. Will, “Due process is still being kicked off campus,” Washington Post, May 13, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/due-process-is-still-being-kicked-off-campus/2016/05/13/cbf3ee6e-1860-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html?utm_term=.658a0b5b56ad. See also “Department of Justice: Title IX Requires Violating First Amendment,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, April 25, 2016, https://www.thefire.org/department-of-justice-title-ix-requires-violating-first-amendment/. On Clinton’s support for that policy, see Jake New, “Trump, Clinton and Sex Assault,” Inside Higher Education, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/10/11/approaches-campus-sexual-assault-would-differ-under-trump-clinton.

[31] See, for example, Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People (New York: Doubleday, Page, and Company, 1913), http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14811/14811-h/14811-h.htm, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Commonwealth Club Address,” September 23, 1932, http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrcommonwealth.htm.

[32] This is how he ends the Discourse on Inequality, 1754, http://www.constitution.org/jjr/ineq.htm.

[33] See Rousseau, The Social Contract, https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/rousseau/jean_jacques/r864s/, http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/rousseau1762.pdf.

[34] See Matt Egan, “Coal companies have been scorched under Obama,” CNN Money, August 3, 2015, http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/03/investing/coal-obama-climate-change/; Robinson Meyer, “Obama’s Big New Move on Coal,” The Atlantic, January 15, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/coal-obama-federal-land/424422/; Ben Wolfgang, “Obama rushes out 11th-hour regulations targeting beleaguered coal industry,” Washington Times, December 19, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/19/obama-rushes-out-11th-hour-regulations-targeting-c/; Andrew Follett, “The Stunning Effects of Obama’s War on Coal, in One Chart,” The Daily Caller, April 28, 2016, http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/28/the-stunning-effects-of-obamas-war-on-coal-in-one-chart/. The EPA has tended not to follow the law once it has issued regulations: see John Hinderaker, “Federal Judge Denounces EPA as Rogue Agency,” Power Line, January 12, 2016, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/01/federal-judge-denounces-epa-as-rogue-agency.php.

[35] Keith Johnson, “How Carbon Dioxide Became a ‘Pollutant’,” Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124001537515830975; Nicolas Loris, “EPA Formally Declares CO2 a Dangerous Pollutant,” The Daily Signal, December 7, 2009, http://dailysignal.com/2009/12/07/epa-formally-declares-co2-a-dangerous-pollutant/.

[36] The Obama administration’s executive actions in November 2014 effectively ended enforcement of much immigration law. It had been declining even before that: see Jessica Vaughan, “Immigration Enforcement in Sharp Decline, Despite Obama Administration’s Claims,” Center for Immigration Studies, January 2014, http://cis.org/node/5082. The Attorney’s General of twenty-five states subsequently sued the federal government over this action: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/ImmigrationStatesFirstAmendedLawsuit12092014.pdf.

[37] “Law School Profs Condemn New Sexual Harassment Policy,” The Harvard Crimson, October 15, 2014, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/10/15/law-profs-criticize-new-policy/; Alan Dershowitz, “Innocent until proven guilty? Not under ‘yes means yes.’,” Washington Post, October 15, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2015/10/14/how-affirmative-consent-rules-put-principles-of-fairness-at-risk/?utm_term=.207dc17410c6; Stephen Henrick, “A Hostile Environment for Student Defendants: Title IX and Sexual Assault on College Campuses,” Northern Kentucky Law Review 40:1 (2013), 49–92, http://chaselaw.nku.edu/content/dam/chaselaw/docs/academics/lawreview/v40/nklr_v40n1_pp049-092.pdf.

[38] Todd Beamon, “Turley: Obama Amnesty ‘Unprecedented’ Threat to Constitution,” Newsmax, November 14, 2014, http://www.newsmax.com/US/executive-orders-amnesty-constitution/2014/11/14/id/607521/; Karl Rove, “Clinton Is Already Vowing to Overreach,” Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/clinton-is-already-vowing-to-overreach-1450307191.

[39] See Nick Gass, “”I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,”,” Politico, September 23, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/donald-trump-politically-correct-crap-213988; Conor Friedersdorf, “A Dialogue With a 22-Year-Old Donald Trump Supporter,”, The Atlantic, May 27, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/a-dialogue-with-a-22-year-old-donald-trump-supporter/484232/; James Taranto, “Trump vs. Political Correctness,” Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-vs-political-correctness-1479233123; Philipp Oehmke, “Has Political Correctness Gone off the Rails in America?” Der Spiegel, January 5, 2017, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/overwrought-political-correctness-helped-trump-win-a-1125725.html.

[40] See https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/issues-of-importance-to-catholics; Alexandra DeSanctis, “Senator Lee Introduces a Bill to Protect Religious Liberty,” National Review, September 28, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440502/trump-supports-bill-protecting-religious-liberty-introduced-mike-lee,” http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440502/trump-supports-bill-protecting-religious-liberty-introduced-mike-lee.

[41] See https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/Second_Amendment_Rights.pdf.

[42] See F. H. Buckley, “Trump’s threat to the Liberal ‘Deep State’,” New York Post, January 19, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/01/17/trumps-threat-to-the-liberal-deep-state/.

[43] Economic speech in Detroit: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaignc/290777-transcript-of-donald-trumps-economic-policy-speech-to-detroit.

[44] Ckyde Wayne Crews, Jr., “Donald Trump Promises To Eliminate Two Regulations For Every One Enacted,” Forbes, November 22, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/waynecrews/2016/11/22/donald-trump-promises-to-eliminate-two-regulations-for-every-one-enacted/#368002832b87.

[45] “Donald Trump campaigns at rally in Moon Township, says ‘We have to win Pennsylvania’,” WPXI, November 7, 2016, http://www.wpxi.com/news/donald-trump-to-campaign-at-rally-in-moon-township/464156588.

[46] There were many such stories during the campaign, e.g., “Hillary Can’t Fill High School Gym in Iowa – Trump Sells Out Huge Arenas Twice Today,” Investment Watch Blog, August 11, 2016, http://investmentwatchblog.com/hillary-cant-fill-high-school-gym-in-iowa-trump-sells-out-huge-arenas-twice-today/; Jim Hoft, “Wow! Hillary Struggles to Fill High School Gym in City of 776,000 Democrats,” Gateway Pundit, August 16, 2016, http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/08/wow-hillary-struggles-fill-high-school-gym-city-776000-democrats/; John Binder, “Hillary can’t fill gym in battleground Ohio, packs crowd with high school students,” The American Mirror, August 17, 2016, http://www.theamericanmirror.com/hillary-cant-fill-gym-battleground-ohio-fills-crowd-high-school-students/.

[47] See Jake Gibson, “Enthusiasm Gap? Clinton addressing modest crowds, as Trump rallies big halls,” Fox News, September 23, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/23/enthusiasm-gap-clinton-addressing-modest-crowds-as-trump-rallies-big-halls.html; Tim Hains, “Dem Strategist: Clinton Should Be In “Panic Mode” Over Enthusiasm Gap With Black Voters, “Nothing She Can Do,” “It’s Over”,” Real Clear Politics, November 1, 2016, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/11/01/dem_strategist_clinton_should_be_in_panic_mode_over_enthusiasm_gap_with_black_voters_nothing_she_can_do_now.html.

[48] Eric Morath, “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/07/29/seven-years-later-recovery-remains-the-weakest-of-the-post-world-war-ii-era/.

[49] “Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 17, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/youth.nr0.htm.

[50] “The Daily History of the Debt Results: Historical returns from 01/20/2009 through 10/04/2016,” https://treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/search?startMonth=01&startDay=20&startYear=2009&endMonth=10&endDay=04&endYear=2016.

[51] Theo Francis and Kate Linebaugh, “U.S. Corporate Profits on Pace for Third Straight Decline,” Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-corporate-profits-on-pace-for-third-straight-decline-1461872242; Lee Adler, “Chart of The Day – Real Durable Goods Orders Still Down 11% From Pre-Crisis Average,” Contra Corner, March 25, 2015, http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/chart-of-the-day-real-durable-goods-orders-still-down-11-from-pre-crisis-average/.

[52] “Household income in the United States,” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States.

[53] David Stockman, “Chart Of The Day: The Great Productivity Bust,” Contra Corner, September 15, 2016, http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/chart-of-the-day-the-great-productivity-bust/.

[54] Lawrence B. Lindsay, “How Progressives Drive Income Inequality,” Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-progressives-drive-income-inequality-1457132837.

[55] Luke Hilgemann, “ObamaCare’s Death Spiral Has Begun,” Investors Business Daily, September 23, 2016, http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/obamacares-death-spiral-has-begun/.

[56] Sean Kennedy and Parker Abt, “Trump is right about violent crime: It’s on the rise in major cities,” Washington Post, August 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-right-about-violent-crime-its-on-the-rise-in-major-cities/2016/08/05/3cf6b55e-5b11-11e6-9aee-8075993d73a2_story.html?utm_term=.bbd03b8f92a0; Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Latest Crime Statistics Released: Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime,” September 26, 2016, https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/latest-crime-statistics-released.

[57] Betsy McKay, “Life Expectancy for White Americans Declines,” Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/life-expectancy-for-white-americans-declines-1461124861.

[58] On the IRS scandal, see “Judicial Watch: FBI Investigation Documents of IRS Scandal,” Judicial Watch, July 27, 2016, http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-fbi-investigation-documents-irs-scandal/. On questions about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case, see “James Comey’s Clinton Immunity,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/james-comeys-clinton-immunity-1475017121, and Andrew C. McCarthy, “Please Tell Me These FBI/DOJ ‘Side Deals’ with Clinton E-Mail Suspects Didn’t Happen,” National Review, October 4, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440697/hillary-clinton-email-scandal-side-deals-fbi-department-justice-politicized. On defying court orders, see David French, “Federal Judge Issues ‘Extraordinary’ Order Sanctioning the DOJ for Misconduct in Executive Amnesty Litigation,” National Review, May 19, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/435630/federal-judge-issues-extraordinary-order-sanctioning-doj-misconduct-executive-amnesty.

[59] On Libya, see Dominic Tierney, “The Legacy of Obama’s ‘Worst Mistake’,” The Atlantic, April 15, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/obamas-worst-mistake-libya/478461/; on Afghanistan, see Andrew Shaver and Joshua Madrigal, “Losing in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, September 22, 2016, https://games.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2016-09-22/losing-afghanistan; on Iran, see Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, “U.S. Signed Secret Document to Lift U.N. Sanctions on Iranian Banks,” Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-signed-secret-document-to-lift-u-n-sanctions-on-iranian-banks-1475193723; Center for Security Policy, “More U.S. Ransom Payments to Iran Revealed,” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2016/09/07/more-u-s-ransom-payments-to-iran-revealed/; Mark Dubowitz, “The Iran Nuclear Agreement: One Year Later,” http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/071416_Dubowitz_Testimony_Summary.pdf; “Iran seeking illegal nuke, missile technology: German intelligence,” The Times of Israel, July 8, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-seeking-illegal-nuke-missile-technology-says-german-intel-report/.

[60] For an excellent summary, see Quin Hillyer, “Saul Alinsky Leaves the White House,” American Spectator, January 19, 2017, https://spectator.org/saul-alinsky-leaves-the-white-house/.

[61] Salena Zito, “Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally,” The Atlantic, September 23, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/trump-makes-his-case-in-pittsburgh/501335/.

[62] Reena Flores, “Hillary Clinton: Half of Donald Trump supporters in “basket of deplorables”,” CBS News, September 10, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hillary-clinton-half-donald-trump-supporters-basket-of-deplorables/. A video clip of her speech is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZHp4JLWjNw.

[63] “Full text: Donald Trump announces a presidential bid,” Washington Post, June 16, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/06/16/full-text-donald-trump-announces-a-presidential-bid/?utm_term=.ef13f118a008.

[64] For a timeline that establishes the context of Trump’s remarks, see the Federation for American Immigration Reform, President Obamas Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement 20092015, Fair Horizon Press, 2016, http://www.fairus.org/DocServer/ObamaTimeline_2016.pdf. In January, President Obama announced that he would veto a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that cancelled funding for executive amnesty programs he had announced the previous November. In February, DHS set up an amnesty hotline for immigrants in the country illegally and allowed beneficiaries to bring in relatives from Central America. A federal judge issued an injunction to stop the President’s executive amnesty, and the Department of Justice requested a stay. In March, the administration admitted it approved more than 100,000 applications despite the injunction; Judge Hanen considered imposing sanctions on DHS for refusing to obey his orders. A second wave of unaccompanied minors streaming across the border from Central America commenced. In April, Judge Hanen denied the request for a stay of injunction; Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted that they had released more than 30,000 criminal aliens, 3,700 of whom had been declared “Threat Level 1,” including 86 murderers, 186 kidnappers, and 373 people convicted of sexual assault. In May, the Department of Justice admitted that it had violated the injunction, granting more than 2,000 amnesty applications in direct violation of the judge’s order; 113 Republican Congressmen filed a brief in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the injunction, which the Court proceeded to uphold. In June, Border Patrol agents complained that the Obama administration was keeping them from performing enforcement duties. Documents released by Senator Ted Cruz showed that the Obama administration had predicted that more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors would come to the United States from Central America that year as a result of his executive amnesty program. Judge Hanen once again reprimanded the Department of Justice for defying his injunction, and, in early July, threatened Secretary Johnson with contempt of court.

[65] Katie Springer, “Five Years Later, Overriding Crime Is Mariel Legacy,” Sun-Sentinel, September 26, 1985, http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1985-09-26/news/8502100720_1_mariel-boatlift-criminals.

[66] Alfonso Chary, “How Fidel Castro and the Mariel boatlift changed lives and changed Miami,” Miami Herald, November 26, 2016, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/fidel-castro-en/article117206643.html: “”It was an example of what Fidel Castro was sending us, ” Odio said. “Criminals and crazies, who had no families here. I began to worry.”

[67] See Tom Morgan, “How to stop lawbreakers? Enforce the law,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, November 23, 2015, http://www.uticaod.com/article/20151123/OPINION/151129985.

[68] The distinction is central to Aristotle’s theory of the syllogism, and to contemporary first-order logic, which has two quantifiers, corresponding to some and all.

[69] “Transcript of the First Debate,” New York Times, September 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/us/politics/transcript-debate.html?_r=1. The concept of implicit bias stems from Anthony G. Greenwald, Debbie E. McGhee, and Jordan L. K. Schwartz, “Measuring Individual Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association Test,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74, 6 (1998), 1464–1480. Though the concept of implicit bias is coming under increasing criticism in academic circles—see, e.g., Oswald, F., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., and Tetlock, P., “Predicting ethnic and racial discrimination: a meta-analysis of IAT criterion studies,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Studies, 105(2), 2013, 171–192;

Oswald, F., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., & Tetlock, P. , “Using the IAT to predict ethnic and racial discrimination: small effect sizes of unknown societal significance,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Studies, 108(4), 2015, 562–571; Blanton, H., and Jaccard, J., “Not so fast: ten challenges to importing implicit attitude measures to media psychology,” Media Psychology, 2015, 1–32; Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., and Burrows, C. N., “Implications of the implicit association test D-transformation for psychological assessment,” Assessment, 22(4), 2015, 429–440—it has most often been seen as an indication of hidden racism. See, for example, Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007), chapter 3, and President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report: Presidents Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2015.

[70] “Hillary Clinton’s ‘All Lives Matter’ Remark Stirs Backlash,” New York Times, June 24, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/06/24/hillary-clintons-all-lives-matter-remark-stirs-backlash/.

[71] “Hillary Clinton said it. Black lives matter. No hedge.” Washington Post, July 20, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/20/hillary-clinton-said-it-black-lives-matter-no-hedge/?utm_term=.ee334f27a074.

[72] “And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community….” “The final Trump-Clinton debate transcript, annotated,” Washington Post, October 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/19/the-final-trump-clinton-debate-transcript-annotated/?utm_term=.e55b48ea684b.

[73] M. T. Latsis, Red Terror, quoted in Harrison Salisbury, Black Night, White Snow: Russia’s Revolutions, 1905-1917 (London, 1978), 565, and in Paul Johnson, Modern Times (New York: HarperCollins, 1983, 1991), 71.

[74] See Mark Lilla, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” New York Times, November 18, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html?_r=1: “National politics in healthy periods is not about ‘difference,’ it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny.”

[75] Ella Whelan, “Stop Vote-shaming Trump’s Female Supporters,” Spiked, 15 November, 2016, http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/stop-vote-shaming-trumps-female-supporters/18975#.WHvdyTuEfKx.

[76] “Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration,” December 7, 2015, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-statement-on-preventing-muslim-immigration.

[77] “Address to the Nation by the President,” December 6, 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/06/address-nation-president.

[78] Marco Rubio and John Kasich were the most vocal in criticizing Trump’s stance; see, for example, “The CNN Miami Republican debate transcript, annotated,” Washington Post, March 10, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/10/the-cnn-miami-republican-debate-transcript-annotated/?utm_term=.273c513232de. Polls showed that 50% of the American people, and 71% of Republicans, supported Trump’s proposal; see Kristina Wong, “Half of American Voters Back Trump’s Muslim Ban,” The Hill, March 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/274521-poll-half-of-american-voters-back-trumps-muslim-ban.

[79] The best known are the Rotherham scandal, which involved the exploitation of 1,400 children, and the Cologne New Year’s Eve attacks, which involved almost 1,200 sexual assaults in that city as well as hundreds in other German cities; see “Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploitation_scandal, and “New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Germany,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Eve_sexual_assaults_in_Germany. But the problem is much more widespread. See “Europe’s Muslim rape epidemic: ‘Cologne is every day’,” Muslim Statistics, July 11, 2016, https://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/europes-muslim-rape-epidemic-cologne-is-every-day/; “Sweden and Denmark have highest number of sexual assaults in Europe,” The Independent, January 7, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-and-denmark-have-highest-number-of-sexual-assaults-in-europe-a6800901.html. For a list of sexual assaults by migrants in Germany covering just the first two months of 2016, see Soeren Kern, “Germany: Migrant Rape Crisis Worsens,” Gatestone Institute, March 5, 2016, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7557/germany-rape-migrants-crisis; a similar list for July is at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8663/germany-migrants-rape.

[80] The existence of “no-go zones,” zones in which non-Muslims are likely to be attacked, is controversial and not officially acknowledged, but widely asserted by police and those living in neighboring areas. See Soeren Kern, “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France,” Gatestone Institute, January 20, 2015, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5128/france-no-go-zones, and “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 2: Britain,” Gatestone Institute, February 3, 2015, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5177/no-go-zones-britain; “Police Admit: No-Go Zones in France,” New Observer, October 11, 2016, http://newobserveronline.com/police-admit-no-go-zones-france/. For an argument that there are no no-go zones, see David A. Graham, “Why the Muslim ‘No-Go-Zone’ Myth Won’t Die,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/paris-mayor-to-sue-fox-over-no-go-zone-comments/384656/. Skeptical filmmakers who have ventured into these areas to investigate have tended to be attacked; see, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8bqWbJkTf8. The dispute turns largely on definitions; no one thinks there are areas officially acknowledged as outside government authority, and everyone admits that there are areas that are dangerous for outsiders, even for police.

[81] “List of Islamist terrorist attacks,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks; “Islamic Terror in Europe (Since 2001),” https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/attacks/europe-attacks.aspx.

[82] The United States, in the year preceding the election, suffered terror attacks in San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Burlington, Washington, for a total of 68 dead and more than 200 wounded. See “Everything we know about the San Bernardino terror attack investigation so far,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-san-bernardino-shooting-terror-investigation-htmlstory.html; “Orlando shooting: 49 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance,” CNN, June 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-nightclub-shooting/; “ISIS wing claims responsibility for Minnesota mall attack,” CNN, September 18, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/18/us/minnesota-mall-stabbing/; and “Mall shooting suspect had blog with picture of ISIS leader,” Fox News, September 26, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/26/mall-shooting-suspect-had-blog-with-picture-isis-leader.html.

[83] See Christiane Hoffmann, “Merkel’s Humane Refugee Policies Have Failed,” Der Spiegel, February 26, 2016, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-limits-of-humanity-merkel-refugee-policies-have-failed-a-1079455.html.

[84] See “DEA: Most Illegal Drugs Enter via Mexico, Cartels Greatest Criminal Threat to U.S.,” Judicial Watch, November 1o, 2015, http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2015/11/dea-most-illegal-drugs-enter-via-mexico-cartels-greatest-criminal-threat-to-u-s/. The DEA report itself is at https://www.dea.gov/docs/2015%20NDTA%20Report.pdf.

[85] An outline of the screening process is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states. The difficulty, however, is that there are many falsified documents and little data on which to base decisions. See Leo Hohmann, “FBI: No Way to Screen ‘Refugees’ Coming to U.S.,” World Net Daily, October 22, 2015, http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/fbi-no-way-to-screen-refugees-coming-to-u-s/.

[86] George J. Borjas, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999) and We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016); Bob Davis, “Immigrants Push Down Wages for Low-Income Workers—But How Much?,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/02/09/immigrants-push-down-wages-for-low-income-workers-but-how-much/.

[87] Interview with Milton Friedman, Forbes, December 29, 1997. For discussion, see Robert Rector, “Look to Milton: Open borders and the welfare state,” http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2007/06/look-to-milton-open-borders-and-the-welfare-state.

[88] Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000); “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century”. Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2), June 2007, 137–174, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9477.2007.00176.x.

 

[89] See Thomas M. Holbrook, “Here’s a close look at how immigrant voters could affect the 2016 U.S. election,” Washington Post, June 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/26/heres-a-close-look-at-how-immigrant-voters-could-affect-the-2016-election/?utm_term=.fcdc8cc57f12; also, Altered States: Changing Populations, Changing Parties, and the Transformation of the American Political Landscape (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[90] The “phone and a pen” political philosophy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton rejects limitations on executive power. That is precisely the point of the Magna Carta, the doctrine of natural rights, and representative government—to limit the executive’s power. Recent immigrants to the United States are from parts of the world where these traditions are weak, and the tradition of executive power is strong. See Luma Simms, “Why Immigrants Vote for Democrats,” The Federalist, July 27, 2015, http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/27/why-immigrants-vote-for-democrats/; James G. Gimple, “Immigration’s Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012,” Center for Immigration Studies, April 2014, http://cis.org/immigration-impacts-on-republican-prospects-1980-2012.

[91] Publius Decius Mus lays out the argument in his influential essay “The Flight 93 Election,” Claremont Review of Books, September 5, 2016, http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/: “A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire Progressive-left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the Social Justice Warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.”

[92] “Opinions and Social Pressure,” Scientific American 193, 5 (1955), 31–35, 31.

[93] See Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless,” in The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe, edited by John Keane, with an Introduction by Steven Lukes (London: Hutchinson, 1985).

[94] See the Clinton endorsements by The New Yorker, October 31, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/the-new-yorker-endorses-hillary-clinton, and The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/the-case-for-hillary-clinton-and-against-donald-trump/501161/.

[95] Dana Milbank, “Donald Trump’s war with the U.S. military,” Washington Post, September 9, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trumps-war-with-the-us-military/2016/09/09/a6701dae-7678-11e6-8149-b8d05321db62_story.html?utm_term=.3e2570a30bbd; Andy Greenberg, “Trump ignoring US intelligence agencies creates risks beyond Russia hacking,” Wired, December 12, 2016, https://www.wired.com/2016/12/trump-cia-national-intelligence-briefings/.

[96] F. Michael Maloof, “Top Generals: Obama is ‘Purging the Military,’” State of the Nation, July 19, 2016, http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=43853; Daniel John Sobieski, “Obama purged military of those who sought victory,” American Thinker, September 10, 2016, http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/09/obama_purged_military_of_those_who_sought_victory.html#ixzz4W399n6wF; “List Of Military Elite Purged And Fired Under Obama, Compiled By General Paul Vallely, 3-17-14,” https://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/list-of-military-elite-purged-and-fired-under-obama-compiled-by-general-paul-vallely-3-17-14/.

[97] Marc A. Thiessen, “Obama’s hypocrisy on intelligence briefings,” Washington Post, December 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-hypocrisy-on-intelligence-briefings/2016/12/19/8b1fbed0-c5f4-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.229941a01b00.

[98] Aristotle, Comanche Ethics I, 1.

[99] See John Hinderaker, “Dishonest CIA Director Rips Trump; Trump Should Rip Him Back,” Power Line, January 15, 2017, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/01/dishonest-cia-director-rips-trump-trump-should-rip-him-back.php: “So ‘intelligence officials’ think nothing of committing a felony if it will help serve the cause of the Democratic Party. The CIA is a sick agency. Heads need to roll.”

[100] “Donald Trump makes his most dangerous comments yet,” Washington Post, August 3, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-makes-his-most-dangerous-comments-yet/2016/08/03/ed5722ba-59b0-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.4ec29a8af454.

[101] John Lewis: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.” See Virginia Kruta, “Trump Lashes Out at Dem. Rep. Skipping Inauguration of ‘Illegitimate’ President,” Independent Journal Review, January 14, 2016, http://ijr.com/2017/01/778135-trump-lashes-out-at-dem-rep-skipping-inauguration-of-illegitimate-president/. Martin O’Malley tweeted, “Now is not the time for reconciliation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn’t reconcile with the Nazis. MLK didn’t reconcile with the KKK. Now we fight” https://twitter.com/MartinOMalley/status/820476452478939137/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.

[102] See Piers Morgan, “The people who are determined to delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency before he even takes the oath aren’t just undermining him, they are undermining democracy and undermining America,” Daily Mail, January 16, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4125390/PIERS-MORGAN-People-undermining-Trump-undermine-America.html#ixzz4W3QkNa8u.

[103] See Austin Bay, “Democratic Party Operative Robert Creamer Used Terror to Wage War on Honesty,” The Observer, October 25, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/10/democratic-party-operative-robert-creamer-used-terror-to-wage-war-on-honesty/. Creamer has not faced any legal consequences; he met with Obama in the White House 340 times, and sat in the front row at Obama’s farewell address. Note, too, the threats against Trump, including from a family friend of the Clintons: “EXCLUSIVE: Florida man charged with threatening to kill President-elect Trump at his inauguration on Twitter was a close family friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Daily Mail, January 19, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4133938/Florida-man-threatened-kill-Trump-Clinton-friend.html#ixzz4WFAzNPZd.

[104] “This is how fascism comes to America,” Washington Post, May 18, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america/2016/05/17/c4e32c58-1c47-11e6-8c7b-6931e66333e7_story.html?utm_term=.35ab03239faf.

[105] “‘I alone can fix it’ — the simple and dangerous appeal of Trump’s worldview,” Boston Globe, July 22, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/07/22/alone-can-fix-simple-and-dangerous-appeal-trump-worldview/yssdNUFFuNeng96N2Vxj1H/story.html.

[106] See Jennifer Rubin, “Republicans have a problem: Trump-Putin,” Washington Post, July 27, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/07/27/republicans-have-a-problem-trump-putin/?utm_term=.5d4fdb3805f4) and Garry Kasparov, “The U.S. doesn’t have a problem with Russia. It has a problem with Vladimir Putin.” Washington Post, January 3, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/03/the-u-s-doesnt-have-a-problem-with-russia-it-has-a-problem-with-vladimir-putin/?utm_term=.f016663a818a.

[107] You can listen for yourself: “Trump: ‘Russia, I hope you can find Hillary’s missing emails’ – video,” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/jul/27/donald-trump-russia-dnc-email-hack-video.

[108] See Jennifer Rubin, “Russia invades, Obama expresses ‘concern’,” Washington Post, August 28, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/08/28/russia-invades-obama-expresses-concern/?utm_term=.a639a82d27c6; Paul Roderick Gregory, “International Criminal Court: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine Is A ‘Crime,’ Not A Civil War,” Forbes, November 20, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2016/11/20/international-criminal-court-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-is-a-crime-not-a-civil-war/#1a654c8c7fec; Liz Peek, “Obama, not Trump, has built up Russian strongman Putin,” Fox News, August 15, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/08/15/obama-not-trump-has-built-up-russian-strongman-putin.html.

[109] See Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, “How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House,” CNN, April 8, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/07/politics/how-russians-hacked-the-wh/; John Hinderaker, “Remember When the Russians Hacked the White House Computers?” Power Line, December 11, 2016, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/12/remember-when-the-russians-hacked-the-white-houses-computers.php.

[110] See Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal,” New York Times, April 23, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html?_r=0: “…the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States…. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”

[111] Michael Barbaro, “Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years, and Still Isn’t Apologetic,” New York Times, September 16, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/us/politics/donald-trump-obama-birther.html.

[112] See “Donald Trump, Whoopi Goldberg, Spar Over Obama on ‘The View’” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2011; “Birtherism Is Dead, But the Birther Industry Continues,” Time, April 27, 2011.

[113] Trial and Triumph: Stories Out Of Africa, NPR, October 9, 2008; “Kenyan-born Obama all set for US Senate”. The Standard. Associated Press. June 27, 2004; Dylan Stableford, “‘Born in Kenya’: Obama’s Literary Agent Misidentified His Birthplace in 1991”, ABC News, May 16, 2012.

[114] See Nicholas Kristof, “As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die of It,” New York Times, January 6, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/opinion/sunday/as-donald-trump-denies-climate-change-these-kids-die-of-it.html; Brad Plummer, “Here’s what optimistic liberals get wrong about Trump and climate change,” Vox, January 4, 2017, http://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/1/4/14116592/trump-climate-change-optimism-meh.

[115] U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, “Bipartisan Group of Current & Former Senators & House Members Join to File Amicus Brief in Support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan,” http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/4/bipartisan-group-of-current-former-senators-house-members-join-to-file-amicus-brief-in-support-of-president-obama-s-clean-power-plan.

[116] 392 U.S. 1 (1968), http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/392/1.html. In the first Trump-Clinton debate, Lester Holt asserted that stop-and-frisk had been found unconstitutional in New York, and Trump denied it. So-called fact-checkers universally took Holt’s side, declaring Trump’s statement false, even though it is hard to locate anything incorrect in what he said. Even Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Trump’s false claim that stop and frisk in NYC wasn’t ruled unconstitutional,” Washington Post, September 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/09/28/trumps-false-claim-that-stop-and-frisk-was-not-ruled-unconstitutional/?utm_term=.9387780a1ab1, draws the relevant distinction, though she then proceeds to ignore it: “The important distinction here is that stop and frisk as a tactic is constitutional. The way it was applied in New York City, and as it was challenged in the lawsuit that Trump and Holt were referring to, was found unconstitutional.” So, Trump’s claim that stop-and-frisk itself had not been found unconstitutional was entirely correct.

[117] Nicholas Thompson, “Please Don’t Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump,” New Yorker, December 17, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/please-dont-shut-down-the-internet-donald-trump.

[118] See https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Net_Complaint_-_FILED.pdf; Sarah Perez, “Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube collaborate to remove ‘terrorist content’ from their services,” Tech Crunch, December 5, 2016, https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/05/facebook-microsoft-twitter-and-youtube-collaborate-to-remove-terrorist-content-from-their-services/; Alex Hurn, “Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft sign EU hate speech code,” The Guardian, May 31, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/31/facebook-youtube-twitter-microsoft-eu-hate-speech-code; Robert Epstein, “The New Censorship,” US News, June 22, 2016, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-22/google-is-the-worlds-biggest-censor-and-its-power-must-be-regulated; Liz Peek, “How the Focus on ‘Fake News’ Could Lead to Censorship,” Fiscal Times, December 14, 2016, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2016/12/14/How-Focus-Fake-News-Could-Lead-Censorship.

[119] Contra the claims of, for example, Corey Brettschneider, “Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide,” Politico, August 4, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139. See Louis Nelson, “Trump’s Muslim registry wouldn’t be illegal, constitutional law experts say,” Politico, November 17, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/donald-trump-muslim-registry-constitution-231527.

[120] See Eric Posner, “Is an Immigration Ban on Muslims Unconstitutional?” December 8, 2015, http://ericposner.com/is-an-immigration-ban-on-muslims-unconstitutional/; Hiroshi Motomura, “Immigration Law after a Century of Plenary Power: Phantom Constitutional Norms and Statutory Interpretation,” Yale Law Journal, 100, 3 (1990), 545–613.

[121] See Stephen F. Hayes, “Obama’s Shameful Legacy,” Weekly Standard, January 18, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/obamas-shameful-legacy/article/2006355; Bob McManus, “Why Liberals Just Love to Set Terrorists Free,” New York Post, January 18, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/01/18/why-liberals-just-love-to-set-terrorists-free/.

 

 

 

 

 

America– A Lost City Upon a Hill?


January 23, 2017

The America we lost, advantage Trump

by Kevin Baker

NO, I’m not over it.

On Election Day I felt as though I had awakened in America and gone to sleep in Ecuador, or maybe Belgium. Or Thailand, or Zambia, or any other perfectly nice country that endures the usual ups and downs of history as the years pass, headed toward no particular destiny.

It’s different here, or at least it was. America was always supposed to be something, as much a vision as a physical reality, from the moment that John Winthrop, evoking Jerusalem, urged the Massachusetts Bay Colony to “be as a city upon a hill.” To be an American writer meant being able to share that sense of purpose, those expectations, and to flatter yourself that you were helping to shape it. Nobody expects anything out of Belgium.

Image result for america city on a hill

America– A Lost City Upon a Hill?

More than any other country, I think, America has been a constant character in the work of its writers. Not only those writers who celebrate it ecstatically, like Walt Whitman, who made his life’s work one long ode to our young nation, or Nathaniel Hawthorne, or Toni Morrison, or E. L. Doctorow, who have picked more critically through its past. It applies as well to those who have scourged it, and exposed the worst of its contradictions and betrayals; a Richard Wright or a Ralph Ellison, or John Reed. It remained a vivid entity even in the work of those who have left it for one reason or another, Henry James or Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, or John Dos Passos.

Their love for it, and their disappointments, all have the same roots, which are those expectations and those dreams. Even at our lowest, we believe with Langston Hughes’s wish to “let America be America again/The land that never yet has been, and yet must be”; with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s overworked but ever more necessary claim that the moral arc of the universe may be long but that here, at least, it bends toward justice. Even its sternest critics agreed: America was going places!

I know that it may sound naïve, even childish, to think that any nation has a special destiny. It’s the kind of thing that dictators and demagogues like to tell their people. I doubt if many of the other writers I know would admit they believe in such a big, vague concept as “American exceptionalism.” But we do, most of us. It’s inescapable, considering what we are: the first republic of the modern age, a nation of immigrants, haven to so many peoples from around the world. We have, like no other country, for better and for ill, dominated the modern world through both our hard power and our soft, our weapons but also our ideas.

I can tell you all of the worst things we have done. The annihilation of the peoples who lived here before we did, and how much of America was built on the backs of enslaved Africans. The things we have done to other nations weaker than ours, the death squads and the C.I.A. schemes, and all the squalid little wars we’ve waged to grab land or save face. The exploitation and the bigotry, and the withering greed, and how we let the vastness of this continent fool us into believing that no matter how big a mistake we make, we can always start over — that we can endlessly root up and tear down, and move unmindfully through the world.

I have written about many of these things, but that was in a greater cause, too. The absolute conviction, in the end, that I, too, was caught up in the great work; that I was helping us to get to some higher place and fulfill our promise.

Geoffrey Ward, the brilliant American historian and the writer of many of Ken Burns’s documentaries, told me with a sense of wonder, a few days after the election: “I just turned 76 and had naïvely assumed that issues I thought resolved when I was a young man — voting rights, abortion, the ongoing enrichment immigration provides our country — would remain resolved.”

Nothing is settled anymore in America, and it appears that so many of the gains we have fought so hard to win over the years are about to be rolled back by our new president and the party that has so cravenly backed him, even when it knows better. Obamacare, which millions of us — myself included — depend upon, is already under assault, and Medicare may not be far behind. Who knows what established rights the cadres of far-right justices who will now fill the federal benches for a generation may strike down?

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“I have lost the America I knew”–Kevin Baker

Yet when I say that I have lost the America I knew, I’m not talking about policy, or even fundamental rights, disorienting as their loss would be. I mean a greater, almost spiritual faith that I had in my fellow citizens and their better instincts, something that served as my north star in all I wrote and all I did.

When I watched the debates and the conventions this year, my thoughts kept going back to my parents, neither of whom lived to see this election. They would have been staggered by the sheer, pounding vulgarity of it all. They were both political moderates, who voted Republican as well as Democratic, and who like most of us never paid all that much attention to politics outside the few weeks before an election. But the phenomenon of Donald J. Trump — a man who says he has never asked God for forgiveness, who refers to the Eucharist with characteristic humility (“I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and have my little cracker”), who mocks our military heroes, who lumbers about a stage proclaiming, “I alone can fix it!,” who dismissed a working man after the election with a tweet that read in part, “Spend more time working — less talking” — would have been incomprehensible to them. They would have thought themselves transported to some other time and country, maybe another dimension. As do I.

I have listened to all the blame foisted on the Clinton campaign for doing this or that wrong, or the media for not exposing Mr. Trump, or for giving him too much airtime. I don’t buy it. Hillary Clinton’s campaign wasn’t that bad, and Mr. Trump was exposed enough for any thinking adult to see exactly what he is.

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That Self-Confidence comes from Business Success

From assorted commentators I have heard that it is unfair or condescending to say that all Trump voters were racists, or sexists, or that they hated foreigners. All right. But if they were not, they were willing to accept an awful lot of racism and sexism and xenophobia in the deal they made with their champion, and demanded precious few particulars in return. Lately Mr. Trump has endorsed the comparison of his personal populist movement with Andrew Jackson’s, and it is true that there was much that was racist and ignorant at the heart of Jacksonian democracy. For their love, the followers of Old Hickory demanded the destruction of Native American civilization in the South, and the furthering of slavery westward. This cruel bargain won Jackson voters land, and thus the vote. What have those who embraced “Mr. I Alone Can Fix It” obtained, save for the vague, grandiose promise, renewed in his inaugural, that they will soon “start winning again, winning like never before”? Or — worse — Mr. Trump’s vow to end “political correctness” and make this, at least rhetorically, the same white man’s America it was in Jackson’s time?

I know that Mr. Trump was elected, in part, because too many people were still hurting in this economy, from the terrible disruptions of their lives and their communities over the last 25 years. I have been poor and desperate myself, and I know what that feels like. In their giddy rush to globalization and the paper economy, too many liberal — and conservative — leaders have made the same mistake that they made in Vietnam, when they tried to palm that misbegotten conflict off on the poor and the working class. They have forgotten — again — that this great nation will endure and will prosper only if we all prosper together.

Yet that is no excuse for what we did last November.

Throughout our history, Americans have encountered economic shocks much worse than anything we know today, and with many fewer resources at their disposal. American working people have agency, they are plenty educated, and in past crises they rejected the extremism that other nations turned to. Even in the Great Depression they did not succumb to the ideologies of Fascism and Communism sweeping the world. When the system seemed broken in the past, when the elites and the major parties seemed irretrievably corrupt and deaf to their appeals, their response was to build true democratic movements from the ground up, and to push them on to victory even if that took decades.

The populists after the Civil War, faced with the collapse into peonage of American farmers — then about half the population — built nationwide lecture and correspondence networks, and eventually won the reforms they needed, even though it took them more than 60 years. The first wave of feminists fought for more than 70 years to win their biggest demand; Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were dead by the time women got the vote. African-Americans battled ceaselessly, in every way they could, against their enslavement and Jim Crow, training their own lawyers to take their cases to the Supreme Court. The struggles for labor rights, gay rights, Hispanic rights, civil liberties, religious toleration, women’s control over their own bodies — all these battles and more took decades to win. They are the glory of our civilization.

Today’s passive, unhappy Americans sat on their couches and chose a strutting TV clown to save us.

What they have done is a desecration, a foolish and vindictive act of vandalism, by which they betrayed all the best and most valiant labors of our ancestors. We don’t want to accept this, because we cannot accept that the people, at least in the long run of things, can be wrong in our American democracy. But they can be wrong, just like any people, anywhere. And until we do accept this abject failure of both our system and ourselves, there is no hope for our redemption.

A couple of days after the election I watched on CNN as red-faced Russian apparatchiks in Moscow toasted one another on their great success. “Hurrah!” I thought. “No more American exceptionalism! We have joined up with the drunken idiot of history!” Once Russians, too, and especially Russian writers, were certain that there was a special destiny for the Russian soul. But a century of disastrous choices and their consequences seems to have disillusioned them. They have so much to teach us.

 

Economic Crises and the Crisis of Economics


January 17, 2017

Economic Crises and the Crisis of Economics: Economists should learn to be humble and accept their own limitations

by Paola Subacchi@www.project-syndicate.org

Paola Subacchi is Research Director of International Economics at Chatham House and Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna. She is the author of The People’s Money: How China is Building an International Currency.

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Is the economics profession “in crisis”? Many policymakers, such as Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, believe that it is. Indeed, a decade ago, economists failed to see a massive storm on the horizon, until it culminated in the most destructive global financial crisis in nearly 80 years. More recently, they misjudged the immediate impact that the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote would have on its economy.

Of course, the post-Brexit forecasts may not be entirely wrong, but only if we look at the long-term impact of the Brexit vote. True, some economists expected the UK economy to collapse during the post-referendum panic, whereas economic activity proved to be rather resilient, with GDP growth reaching some 2.1% in 2016. But now that British Prime Minister Theresa May has implied that she prefers a “hard” Brexit, a gloomy long-term prognosis is probably correct.

Unfortunately, economists’ responsibility for the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent recession extends beyond forecasting mistakes. Many lent intellectual support to the excesses that precipitated it, and to the policy mistakes – particularly insistence on fiscal austerity and disregard for widening inequalities – that followed it.

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Some economists have been led astray by intellectual arrogance: the belief that they can always explain real-world complexity. Others have become entangled in methodological issues – “mistaking beauty for truth,” as Paul Krugman once observed – or have placed too much faith in human rationality and market efficiency.

Despite its aspiration to the certainty of the natural sciences, economics is, and will remain, a social science. Economists systematically study objects that are embedded in wider social and political structures. Their method is based on observations, from which they discern patterns and infer other patterns and behaviors; but they can never attain the predictive success of, say, chemistry or physics.

Human beings respond to new information in different ways, and adjust their behavior accordingly. Thus, economics cannot provide – nor should it claim to provide – definite insights into future trends and patterns. Economists can glimpse the future only by looking backwards, so their predictive power is limited to deducing probabilities on the basis of past events, not timeless laws.

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And because economics is a social science, it can readily be used to serve political and business interests. In the years leading up to the financial crisis, global economic growth and profits were so strong that everyone – from small investors to the largest banks – was blinded by the prospect of bigger gains.

Economists employed by banks, hedge funds, and other businesses were expected to provide a short-term “view” for their employers and clients; and to dispense their “wisdom” to the general public through interviews and media appearances. Meanwhile, the economics profession was adopting more complex mathematical tools and specialized jargon, which effectively widened the gap between economists and other social scientists.

Before the financial crisis, when so many private interests and profitable opportunities were at stake, many economists defended a growth model that was based more on “irrational exuberance” than on sound fundamentals. Similarly, with respect to Brexit, many economists confused the referendum’s long-term impact with its short-term effects, because they were rushing their predictions to fit the political debate.

Owing to these and other mistakes, economists – and economics – have suffered a spectacular fall from grace. Once seen as modern witch doctors with access to exclusive knowledge, economists are now the most despised of all “experts.”

Where do we go from here? While we should appreciate Haldane’s candid admission, apologizing for past mistakes is not enough. Economists, especially those involved in policy debates, need to be held explicitly accountable for their professional behavior. Toward that end, they should bind themselves with a voluntary code of conduct.

Above all, this code should recognize that economics is too complex to be reduced to sound bites and rushed conclusions. Economists should pay closer attention to when and where they offer their views, and to the possible implications of doing so. And they should always disclose their interests, so that proprietary analysis is not mistaken for an independent perspective.

Moreover, economic debates would benefit from more voices. Economics is a vast discipline that comprises researchers and practitioners whose work spans macro and micro perspectives and theoretical and applied approaches. Like any other intellectual discipline, it produces excellent, good, and mediocre output.

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But the bulk of this research does not filter into policymaking and decision-making circles, such as finance ministries, central banks, or international institutions. At the commanding heights, economic-policy debates remain dominated by a relatively small group of white men from American universities and think tanks, nearly all of them well-versed devotees of mainstream economics.

The views held by this coterie are disproportionately represented in the mass media, through commentaries and interviews. But fishing for ideas in such a small and shallow pond leads to a circular and complacent debate, and it may encourage lesser-known economists to tailor their research to fit in.

The public deserves – and needs – a marketplace of ideas in which mainstream and heterodox views are afforded equal attention and balanced discussion. To be sure, this will take courage, imagination, and dynamism – particularly on the part of journalists. But a fairer, more pluralistic discussion of economic ideas may be just what economists need as well.

Davos elites struggle for answers as Trump era dawns


January 16, 2017

Davos elites struggle for answers as Trump era dawns

By Noah Barkin

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-preview-idUSKBN14Z07V

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DAVOS, Switzerland – The global economy is in better shape than it’s been in years. Stock markets are booming, oil prices are on the rise again and the risks of a rapid economic slowdown in China, a major source of concern a year ago, have eased.

“The state of global politics is worse than it’s been in a long time.At a time when we need more coordination to tackle issues like climate change and other systemic risks, we are getting more and more insular.”–Ian Goldin, Oxford University

And yet, as political leaders, CEOs and top bankers make their annual trek up the Swiss Alps to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the mood is anything but celebratory.

Beneath the veneer of optimism over the economic outlook lurks acute anxiety about an increasingly toxic political climate and a deep sense of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on the final day of the forum.

Last year, the consensus here was that Trump had no chance of being elected. His victory, less than half a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, was a slap at the principles that elites in Davos have long held dear, from globalization and free trade to multilateralism.

Trump is the poster child for a new strain of populism that is spreading across the developed world and threatening the post-war liberal democratic order. With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy, this year, the nervousness among Davos attendees is palpable.

“Regardless of how you view Trump and his positions, his election has led to a deep, deep sense of uncertainty and that will cast a long shadow over Davos,” said Jean-Marie Guehenno, CEO of International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank.

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Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was even more blunt: “There is a consensus that something huge is going on, global and in many respects unprecedented. But we don’t know what the causes are, nor how to deal with it.”

The titles of the discussion panels at the WEF, which runs from January, 17-20, evoke the unsettling new landscape. Among them are “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis”, “Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?”, “Tolerance at the Tipping Point?” and “The Post-EU Era”.

The list of leaders attending this year is also telling. The star attraction will be Xi Jinping, the first Chinese President ever to attend Davos. His presence is being seen as a sign of Beijing’s growing weight in the world at a time when Trump is promising a more insular, “America first” approach and Europe is pre-occupied with its own troubles, from Brexit to terrorism.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the thorny task of taking her country out of the EU, will also be there. But Germany’s Angela Merkel, a Davos regular whose reputation for steady, principled leadership would have fit well with the WEF’s main theme of “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, will not.

‘Rejoicing in the Elevators’

Perhaps the central question in Davos, a four-day affair of panel discussions, lunches and cocktail parties that delve into subjects as diverse as terrorism, artificial intelligence and wellness, is whether leaders can agree on the root causes of public anger and begin to articulate a response.

A WEF report on global risks released before Davos highlighted “diminishing public trust in institutions” and noted that rebuilding faith in the political process and leaders would be a “difficult task”.

Guy Standing, the author of several books on the new “precariat”, a class of people who lack job security and reliable earnings, believes more people are coming around to the idea that free-market capitalism needs to be overhauled, including those that have benefited most from it.

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“The mainstream corporate types don’t want Trump and far-right authoritarians,” said Standing, who has been invited to Davos for the first time. “They want a sustainable global economy in which they can do business. More and more of them are sensible enough to realize that they have overreached.”

But Ian Bremmer, President of U.S.-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, is not so sure.

He recounted a recent trip to Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York where he saw bankers “rejoicing in the elevators” at the surge in stock markets and the prospect of tax cuts and deregulation under Trump. Both Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his JP Morgan counterpart Jamie Dimon will be in Davos.

“If you want to find people who are going to rally together and say capitalism is fundamentally broken, Davos is not the place to go,” Bremmer said.

Pace of Change

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Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), believes a “modern version of globalization” is possible but acknowledges it will take time to emerge.

“It is going to be a long haul in persuading a lot of people who there is a different approach. But you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he told Reuters.

Still, some attendees worry that the pace of technological change and the integrated, complex nature of the global economy have made it more difficult for leaders to shape and control events, let alone reconfigure the global system.

The global financial crisis of 2008/9 and the migrant crisis of 2015/16 exposed the impotence of politicians, deepening public disillusion and pushing people towards populists who offered simple explanations and solutions.

The problem, says Ian Goldin, an expert on globalization and development at the University of Oxford, is that on many of the most important issues, from climate change to financial regulation, only multilateral cooperation can deliver results. And this is precisely what the populists reject.

“The state of global politics is worse than it’s been in a long time,” said Goldin. “At a time when we need more coordination to tackle issues like climate change and other systemic risks, we are getting more and more insular.”

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Pravin Char)