I don't often use the words "brilliant" and "awesome," and maybe I can continue to restrain myself. But "A Country Is A Country, "by Peter Augustine Lawler in the May 16, 2016 issue of the Weekly Standard is the most thoughtful, insightful, balanced and honest analysis I've seen yet explaining the rise of Trumpism and Sandersim. (Subscription may be required.)
Well, this has been a most unexpected primary/caucus season. More than 45 percent of the voters are for either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. For many friends of liberty, this means about half the country has embraced one of the two worst presidential candidates in American history. They’ve chosen either a nationalist with fascist tendencies or a socialist not without Communist sympathies. They've chosen one or another of the two most prominent forms of tyrannical thuggism of the 20th century! And we've even seen the two kinds of thugs clashing violently at Trump rallies, as if this were the 1930s. What's going on?
There are, indeed, some truths to behold: The popularity of Trump is more than a reaction to political correctness. Trump and Sanders share some important perspectives that ought to be better understood and appreciated. The debate over the shrinking middle class is not only legitimate, but key to understand the rise of the two men of such divergent views. And what Trump has taught Republicans:
Every effort to theorize Trumpism, of course, abstracts from the fact that the actual Trump is the buffoon who got himself taken seriously. I would never vote for Trump, thinking him the most ill-prepared, the most unstable, the most shameless presidential candidate ever. Still, it's urgent that Republicans learn from him. And they have! To sum up what Republicans, including many libertarians, have learned: The Republican party has to purge itself of its recently acquired flirtation with (Ayn) Randism, and it has to separate itself from those individualists who think that citizenship is just another name for "rent seeking." Republicans have to become more civic and more republican (with a small "r"). They have to remember all that is implied in the fact that "a country is a country." A shared political life is an irreducible part of who we are as free and relational beings.
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