Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

I have recently encountered folks, including friends, who, upon having vigorously supported Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, now claim to have become disenchanted with him.

Whether it is because President Trump lobbed cruise missiles into Syria; continues to permit Third World refugees into the United States; advocates on behalf of Obamacare Lite; still hasn’t so much as proceeded to “build the wall,” or any number of other things—these one-time Trump supporters now purport to be off the Trump train, so to speak.

For a few simple reasons, I find this attitude to be, at the very least, misplaced.  It is appropriate only in the case of those who, in backing Trump, believed that they were voting for a messiah, “our last chance” to turn this ship of state around “make America great again.”

It is appropriate to be jaded or shattered by Trump’s failure to meet one’s expectations, and just six months into his presidency to boot, only under one or more of the following conditions:

(1)One expected for Trump to keep every promise that he so much as hinted at while on the campaign stump;

(2)One forgot Trump’s personal history as a New York City billionaire/celebrity who not only never lifted a finger to advance any conservative and/or libertarian causes, but who frustrated the advancement of such causes by donating the lion’s share of his tremendous resources to Democrats and, beginning just five years prior to running for the presidency, Big Government, neoconservative Republicans.

(3) One forgot that Trump derided such honorable conservatives and libertarians as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul.

(4)One forgot that, to Trump’s credit, he never pretended to be a “limited government” Constitutionalist. Trump made campaign promises, like repealing and replacing Obamacare, “destroying” ISIS (which means more American military involvement in the Middle East and beyond), and growing the military even larger than it already is.  These pledges underscored for all with eyes to see Trump’s affection for a large, centralized, administrative state.

(5) Perhaps more importantly than all else, one thinks of a society’s politics narrowly, in terms of the policies or legislation enacted by politicians.

For certain, President Trump must be held accountable for his mistakes.  His supporters must be as vigilant in criticizing him as they are in defending him against his increasingly unhinged enemies.  There is, however, all of the difference in the world between reasonable and unreasonable criticism.

In point of fact, within a remarkably short span of time, President Trump has achieved an impressive array of feats:

Whether it is fighting for and, for practical purposes, winning his “travel ban;” presiding over a nearly 70 percent reduction in illegal border crossings; deterring illegal immigration from some sources; drastically reducing a massive amount of Obama-era regulation; or leaning on companies that would have otherwise relocated to other lands to remain within the United States—these are just some of the achievements that Trump can claim credit for despite having served in office for such a short period of time.

Ultimately, though, those of us who self-regard as classical conservatives and libertarians have always valued Trump’s presidential candidacy for other reasons.

In other words, as the paleo-libertarian Ilana Mercer argued in her book, The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed, it is not Trump the man or even the candidate that is of primary importance. It is, rather, the “Trump Process,” as Mercer puts it.

Mercer is not alone among those of us who support Trump because of what he represents. The Trump Process transcends Trump.  The Process transcends politics, conceived narrowly in terms of the machinery of the government.

The Trump Process, we hope, will indelibly impact the culture, for as conservatives in particular have always realized, a society’s “politics” are “downstream” from its culture.

Trump’s rise and the spread of the Trump Process signify two extremely powerful cultural shifts.  They symbolize a resounding repudiation of the current Zeitgeist, “Political Correctness,” with all that this entails, and an equally resounding repudiation of the nation-denying and liberty-threatening “globalism” that Trump’s army of elitist enemies in the Regime have been relentlessly pushing for decades.

That Trump is indeed perceived by his enemies to be perilous to their whole way of life is gotten easily enough from the mercilessness with which they pursue every opportunity to stall his agenda.

This, however, brings us to the second virtue of the Trump Process.

If not for Trump, tens of millions of Americans who would have otherwise remained oblivious to it all would not have awakened to the sinister, manipulative machinations of what I have elsewhere called “the Regime.” The latter is a sprawling Government-Media complex whose members consist as much of Republicans as it does of Democrats.

Trump, whether or not he intended it, unveiled the moral rot of the GOP, the Party of the Jack Ass, the Fake News media (of both leftist and neoconservative varieties), and the Deep State—all while revealing that, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, they constitute but different facets of a single unitary Regime.

The Trump Process has also disclosed that this Regime relies upon, in addition to trillions of taxpayer dollars, an ideology, a neo-liberal/neoconservative internationalist or “globalist” ideology that is and has always been antithetical to the interests of Americans for whom patriotism is loyalty to and love for their country—not the abstract “proposition” or concept with which both Republican and Democrat Regimists have identified America.

If Trump’s nomination to the presidency didn’t raze the GOP to the ground, it was the equivalent of a bomb that did its fair share of damage.  Millions will never again see yesteryear’s GOP superstars, its politicians and media propagandists, in the same light. The Trump Process was the light that sent the rats scattering.

Now that he is POTUS, disgruntled leftist politicians at local, state, and federal levels in every branch are engaged in acts of defiance—little acts of secession—and, in some instances, as in California, threatening all-out secession. Trump’s presidency, the Trump Process, is a disruptive force.  It is starting to look like “creative destruction,” as if it could be the first step toward a less centralized, more liberty-affirming, kind of social order—precisely that state of affairs for which Mercer and many of us hope.

Trump or, more specifically and in keeping with Ilana Mercer’s term of choice, the Trump Process, has been a wrecking ball vis-à-vis the Regime, the Republican-Democrat/Deep State/Fake News media Axis.

As the paleo-libertarian Mercer was at pains to clarify in her book against those libertarians who, incapable of seeing the forest for the trees, refused to so much as consider voting for him, it is for these reasons, for the sake of the creative destruction of the Trump Process that liberty-lovers could and should support Trump.

And it is for these reasons that lovers of liberty should continue to support him.

 

 

That the Democrat Party holds fewer political offices now than at any time since the 1920s does not mean that the left is losing.  Conversely, just because Republicans have been winning elections does not mean that the right is winning.

As I show in my book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism, the GOP is not now, nor has it ever been, a right-wing or conservative party.  Its rhetoric to the contrary aside, the GOP is every bit as much in favor of a centralized, administrative state as is its Democrat counterpart.

Nor is it for the sake of a right-wing agenda that neoconservative Republicans exploit this state power.

However, it is not my point here to revisit the multiple respects in which the neoconservatism of the GOP reveals itself to be a species of leftism. The point, rather, is to caution conservatives, libertarians, and others on the right against allowing themselves to be deceived into thinking that as long as the Republican Party continues winning elections that the right is winning.

In fact, culturally speaking, the left has been crucifying the right for decades.  Donald Trump’s presidency notwithstanding, it is still winning.

Tragically, I recently realized that leftists will continue to win the cultural war—at least as long as leftist and non-leftist Americans remain citizens of one and the same country.

My reason for this verdict is basic enough:

Those on the “the right,” or at least those on “the right” who are in positions to make the kinds of changes that need to be made in order to defeat the left, simply don’t have it in them to do so.  For as difficult as it is to reckon with this ugly truth, face it we must.

First, “conservative” publications and pundits are constantly, and correctly, informing us that the massive leftist, anti-Trump demonstrations and rallies that have unfolded around the country over the last six months or so are financed by such millionaires and billionaires as George Soros.

Though they don’t expressly say it, these spokespersons for “the conservative movement” treat this fact as if its immorality is axiomatic.  Yet not only is its wrongness not self-evident; I fail to see how it is wrong at all.

There are “conservative” millionaires and billionaires, some of whom speak for several hours a day every week day on the radio and on television. Within no time, they could raise exponentially more than what would be required to subsidize and organize rallies and protests that would be at least as large as those that Soros and his comrades have been funding.

As I type this, at the grassroots level, some folks on the internet are trying to assemble “MOAR”—“Mother Of All Rallies.”  The latter is supposed to be held in Washington D.C. on September 16. It is a pro-Trump, pro-America rally to which the organizers hope to attract over one million attendees.

This One Million Deplorable march is something that our “conservative” millionaires and billionaires could help along.

But there is no indication that the mere thought of undertaking such a venture has ever even entered their minds.

Beyond this, these wealthy, influential “conservatives” never so much as draw attention to those grassroots patriots who have been taking to the streets, at considerable risk and financial cost to themselves, organizing their own pro-America, pro-Trump, pro-“Free Speech” rallies.  These rallies the patriots have held in liberal bastions throughout the nation.  They have often been outnumbered and threatened, but they persevere.

Big-named “conservatives” say…nothing.

Second, when Sean Hannity was in the crosshairs of the left, a couple of lesser known, former radio hosts decided to “fight fire with fire” by establishing Media Equalizer, a site that regularly releases the contact information of all of those companies that sponsor left-leaning media figures. Hannity expressed his appreciation, but insisted that he still opposed “boycotts.”

This stated opposition to boycotts is typical among “conservatives,” particularly those who, like Hannity, depend upon sponsors for their living.  However, what, we must ask, is morally objectionable about a boycott?  How is it impermissible to unite with like-minded consumers in issuing companies that sponsor offensive programming an ultimatum to either drop their sponsorship or risk going out of business?  People are free to either participate in the boycott or not.

Hannity brought some attention to the founders of Media Equalizer initially.  Since then, though, neither he nor any of his colleagues have sought to remind their vast audiences of this invaluable site.

As long as our well-positioned “conservatives” refuse to “fight fire with fire,” the left will persist.

Third, Trump supporters and those merely suspected of being Trump supporters have routinely been violently attacked for well over a year.  Fortunately, they have learned to fight back and, in some instances, they have turned the tables on their attackers and beaten them.  Still, the hostility toward Trump-supporters by the ever-proliferating “Antifa” (“antifascists”) and others remains toxic to the body politic.

The giants of “the conservative movement” say little to nothing about it.  Much less do they offer to help assemble a network of Constitution-loving lawyers, say, attorneys that will be on the spot in the event that conservative street activists need them, or who can file lawsuits against the politicians of those cities that order the police to stand down as leftist terrorists destroy property and attack those with whom they disagree.

This network of lawyers could also sue the police departments of these “progressive” oases for failing to uphold their oath to “protect and serve.”

If, though, our big league “conservatives” helped to finance and promote pro-American rallies, much of this violence against Trump supporters wouldn’t exist, for their influence would insure astronomical turnouts that would render this violence futile—if not suicidal for those who tried to perpetrate it.

This list of recommendations is not meant to be exhaustive.  It is meant to show that the most prominent representatives of “the conservative movement” aren’t doing nearly as much as they could and should do to insure victory over the left.

While it is undoubtedly important to draw attention, as these “conservatives” do, to the left’s outrages, unless this service is supplemented with other measures, with action, it begins to sound like whining and nagging.

The whole, “the left applies double standards when judging us” line, though true, becomes old. 

Unless the standard operating procedure of the official “right” changes and they begin to truly fight fire with fire, the left will continue moving along.

 

 

 

In previous articles, I wrote about the difference between Fake News and fake journalism. The two, I showed, are inseparable in practice. However, they are indeed separate concepts.

Fake News is the final product, the end or outcome produced by fake journalists. The latter derive their identity as fake journalists from the considerations that motivate them to produce Fake News.

That a story contains assertions that are false does not suffice to render it Fake News.  Honest mistakes, after all, are a part of life.  Those false statements that constitute Fake News are those whose falsity could have been discerned had their producers and disseminators performed their due diligence.  These are false statements that the manufacturers of Fake News either wanted to believe themselves or wanted for others to belief.

Nor, for that matter, does Fake News necessarily preclude the inclusion of assertions that are true.  However, for deceptive purposes, the proverbial “half-truth” is far more effective than the blatant lie.  When, for instance, those in the media reported that a “white-Hispanic” man by the name of George Zimmerman shot and killed an “unarmed” black “youth” named Trayvon Martin while the latter was on his way to buy Skittles, they told the truth—sort of.

Zimmerman’s father is white, his mother Hispanic.  He certainly looks more like a Hispanic than anything else.  But the descriptor “white Hispanic” was designed to fit into the media’s favorite template, the narrative of White-on-Black Oppression.

That this is true is borne out easily enough by the consideration that Zimmerman was no more, and no less, white than Barack Obama, yet the media never characterized Obama as a “white-black.”  The reason for this should be clear. Beside the fact that no one describes or self-identifies as a “white-black” (or a “black-white”), in stressing Obama’s Caucasian background, in reminding people that “the first black President” is no more black than he is white, Obama’s fans in the media feared that they would potentially detract from what they wanted for everyone to regard as the “historic” nature of his presidency.

Martin was a “youth,” yes, but he was 17 years-old; he wasn’t the 12 year-old smiley-faced boy whose picture the media circulated in the days immediately following the breaking of this story. Zimmerman was 11 years older and several inches shorter than Martin.  As both physical appearances and subsequent events showed, Zimmerman was not nearly in as good as shape as the latter.

Martin was “unarmed,” true. But as anyone who has ever been in a street fight knows all too well—and one shouldn’t need to have been in a fight to know this—punches and kicks can be lethal.

And Martin aggressed against Zimmerman.  He proceeded to pound his head into the pavement until Zimmerman shot him dead in self-defense.

Martin, it’s supposedly true, purchased a bag of Skittles.  It was eventually said that he did so along with some other products that he could use to get high.  But whether this is true or not, it is irrelevant to the fact that he physically attacked a man who posed no imminent danger to him.

Examples of this kind are without limit.  It’s probably the case that more often than not Fake News contains truth.  This, though, is exactly what has made it as effective as it’s been. The truth in Fake News is distorted for the purposes of advancing the political agenda of the fake journalists that produce it.

Now, commentators are not, and can never be, guilty of producing Fake News—even though commentators frequently espouse bogus ideas, make false and unwarranted assertions, and even tell outright lies in order to promote their own partisan purposes. Yet commentators, everyone recognizes, do not exist to convey the news.  Commentators fulfill a distinct social function fundamentally different than that assigned to “journalists.”

Journalists are expected to report the news.  Journalists render themselves fake journalists and produce Fake News when they betray their vocation, betray the very citizenry from which they derive the whole point and purpose of their being when they indulge the all too human impulse to inject their own biases and prejudices into their construction of “the news.”

It is again worth repeating: Even when it consists of true claims, which is usually the case, “news” that has been edited in such a way as to promote the partisan political and economic machinations of its distributors is, necessarily, Fake News.  And it is produced and disseminated by fake journalists.

In stark contrast, however wrong and even dishonest they may be, commentators who place their biases on the table, so to speak, can never be guilty of fake journalism or Fake News.  Since only journalists are expected to produce—or “cover”—the news, it is a serious category error to say of commentators like, say, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh that they are guilty of promoting Fake News.

Fake journalists had conniptions when the Trump administration characterized them, collectively, as “the Enemy of the People.”  The President’s intentions in selecting this description for them aside, there is a very real sense in which the purveyors of Fake News are indeed enemies of the citizenry.

The rights that journalists enjoy are not timeless abstractions. They are culturally and historically-specific liberties that, as such, derive their meaning from the whole system of rights and obligations to which they belong.  In a self-governing Republic like the United States—what leftists call “Democracy”—the media, more specifically, the press, exists solely for the sake of supplying citizens with the knowledge that they need in order to make informed decisions regarding the fate of society.  This raison d’etre of journalists presupposes their obligation to aspire to an ideal of “objectivity,” a trans-partisan stance.

To the extent that journalists have betrayed their reason for being, they have betrayed “the People.” To the extent that, for the sake of their own profits and fellow political partisans, they have gone so far as to create a Big Lie regarding “collusion” between a duly elected president and the second most heavily nuclear-armed country on the planet, they have not only betrayed the citizens and the Republic whose interests they are expected to serve.

They have, in effect, declared themselves an Enemy of the People.    

 

There is a difference between Fake News, on the one hand, and fake journalists, on the other.

Fake New refers to the end product.  What make a fake journalist a fake journalist are the motives that drive the latter.  Ultimately, in practice, the two are inseparable. Conceptually, however, the ideas of “Fake News” and “fake journalists” are distinct.

A fake journalist is someone whose reporting is undertaken for the sake of, not truth, fairness, or informing the public but, rather, his or her own political partisanship, profits, and/or fame and recognition.

Immanuel Kant was one of the Western world’s greatest philosophers. Kant distinguished “acting for the sake of duty” from merely “acting in accordance with duty.”  Kant’s moral philosophy was vastly more nuanced than this brief allusion would have the reader think, but his point was that if people fulfill their moral duties just because they are their duties—if they do their duties for the sake of their duties—then they deserve moral credit for doing so. If, on the other hand, they fulfill their moral duties from ulterior motives, then their acts are not right and they deserve no praise.

In other words, whether an act is morally right, whether it is authentically moral, depends upon the motive or intention of the actor.

In many contexts, Kant’s thesis resonates profoundly at an intuitive level.  Take the following scenario as an example.

Suppose that I witnessed a murder, say, that of a little old lady who was killed for her bingo money.  I had all of the information that the authorities needed in order to apprehend the killer. The only problem is that I am unwilling to come forward. Perhaps I am fearful that if I disclose my knowledge of the crime I will then make myself and my family vulnerable to reprisals by the murderer and his associates.  Or maybe I am unwilling to fulfill my moral duty because I know that I will then become part of a long, drawn out trial, and I don’t want to be inconvenienced.  Perhaps I have long known the killer and his family and I don’t want for them to have to suffer the pain that they will undoubtedly suffer in the event that he goes to jail for the remainder of his natural existence. Or possibly I just don’t feel like getting involved.

So, I have a duty to help, I know I have a duty to help, but I’m disinclined to do so.

But then it is brought to my attention that the family of the slain woman, the authorities, and other concerned members of the public are offering a handsome reward for anyone that can help them resolve this murder.  Without missing a beat, and obviously with an eye to collecting money, I go to the police station and reveal all that I know.

In this case, I would have indeed fulfilled my duty to help the police resolve a murder. But what was my motive?  Did I fulfill my duty for the sake of doing so? In other words, did I do the right thing simply and solely because it was the right thing? Or was I motivated by something other than respect for the duty itself?

The answer is obvious. I acted “in accordance with duty,” but certainly not for the sake of duty.

Few people would commend me for coming forward—as long as they knew my reason for doing so.

From Kant we can learn much regarding the difference between real journalists and fake journalists.  In a self-governing Republic, it is a good and necessary thing that the media have at least an adversarial-like relationship with politicians. Thus, in and of itself, that the President and many in the media mutually detest one another is far preferable to the love affair that transpired for the last eight years between President Obama and the very same media that is now hostile to President Trump.

But it is precisely the love-fest between Obama and the media that reveals that much of this journalism that we see on display is indeed fake journalism.  Fake journalists at CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere fulfill their duty insofar as they assume a skeptical or distrustful stance toward Trump and his party. Yet they deserve no moral credit, for while they act in accordance with duty, they surely are not fulfilling their duty for duty’s sake.

That this is so is borne out by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Trump’s media critics are Democrats. 

As such, they are driven by a desire to delegitimize Trump and the GOP, but the President especially.  And they are willing to pursue this goal at all costs, namely, the cost of telling lies—whether these are lies of commission, like the lie that Trump and his associates “colluded” with Russians, or lies of omission, like their unwillingness to talk about the President’s achievements.

Conversely, Obama was a fellow partisan, the first black president in American history. The very same people who are invested in bringing down Trump were equally invested in seeing to it that Obama succeeded.  Today, this pro-Obama sentiment continues to animate them as they seek to preserve 44’s legacy.

Any Democrats and leftists who doubt what I’m saying should ask themselves a simple question.  If there was a large and influential media organization whose self-styled “journalists” were Steve Bannon, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Franklin Graham, and whole lot of others who are known to be Republican, Christian, conservative, and, let’s say, Southern, would you trust that they could also be “objective” in their reporting?

Of course, no one really needs for left-wing Democrats to engage in a hypothetical thought experiment over this topic.  We already know how they have long reacted to the one and only network that wasn’t dominated by Democrats and that self-described as “fair and balanced.”