Skip to main content

Charles Kesler's half-baked case for Donald Trump

Charles Kesler is in the Washington Post this morning, making the case for Donald Trump to NeverTrump conservatives. It's a case made with some speculative leaps, some prayers for luck, and a bottom line suggestion that the devil you don't know — Trump — might be better than the devil you do know.

Here's Kesler on Trump's virtues:
Here Trump’s populism, or what Walter Russell Mead calls his Jacksonianism, comes to bear: He trusts the American people, not the special interests or the governing elite.
I'd say we're terribly short of evidence on that front. True, Trump's been pretty down on the special interests and governing elite — but his rhetoric isn't that "the American people are smarter than that." It's "I'm smarter than that." This glorification of self doesn't suggest a trust of Americans does it? It really only means that Trump thinks he's smarter than all the folks who already think they're the smartest people in a given room.

Kesler on the devil you know....
Liberalism’s century-old effort to turn the president into a “leader” who can rise above constitutional constraints such as federalism and the separation of powers might, under certain circumstances, be music to Trump’s populist ears. But what he might be tempted into is what Clinton is committed to on principle, as a self-described progressive. How could a vote for Clinton be defended as a vote for greater constitutional safety, much less integrity?
But where's the evidence a President Trump would acknowledge the restraints of the Constitution or the law? His promise to force the military to torture terror suspects in violation of the law? His attempts to strongarm news organizations into good coverage?  His encouragement of violence against protesters at his rallies? His illegal solicitation of campaign contributions from overseas? There's no indication Trump has any philosophy regarding the Constitution of governance. Yeah: I think it's more than possible that from a conservative standpoint that Hillary Clinton will hew more closely to Constitutional governance than trump.

Kelser also suggests that Trump's critics make two unresolvable charges against him: That he's a buffoon with control issues and that he's also a "monster, a racist, a wily demagogue, a proto-fascist or full-fledged fascist, a tyrant-in-waiting."
The two arguments are in some tension, insofar as the first implies that Trump doesn’t know what he is doing or is not serious about it, and the second that he knows precisely what he is doing and is deadly serious about it.
I don't know. Seems to me the first argument is that Trump is a fool and the second is that Trump might be an evil fool. There's nothing in conflict there, I don't think. History is full of such fellows.

Kesler's best argument is that conservatives shouldn't so lightly dismiss a candidate approved by millions of their fellow Republican voters. Maybe. But that makes popularity its own justification. Unfortunately, that's the best justification for Trump that Kesler offers.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…