Friday, March 18, 2016

Nobody Likes the Other Guys' Strongman

Everybody hates strongmen and men on a white horse. Why? Because it represents a breakdown of democracy, of the peaceable back-and-forth of civilized politics.

Wait. What they are really saying is this.

We are the ruling class and we like being the rulers and we really like our role as the middlemen between the contending factions of people that want something from government. Naturally, we don't like the idea that some yahoo might come along and bewitch the people with his honeyed -- or angry -- rhetoric and push us to the side. In fact we think that such a thing would be totally sick and wrong, and a violation of the Constitution and all accepted values. In fact it would be the end of civilization as we know it.

In other words, the ruling class -- any ruling class -- believes in one thing. They believe in themselves as the ruling class. Anything else is oblivion.

Of course, any ruling class operates according to my catchphrase about the nature of government.
A government is an armed minority occupying some territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
In our world, the "supporters" include almost everyone. We all get something from the government. The overwhelming majority of Americans get to partake of a smorgasbord of goodies, from Social Security to Medicare to free education to student loans. The one thing we cannot endure is that our favorite smorgasbord goodie should run out.

Our ruling class therefore has a little problem. Everyone is demanding more and better dishes on the smorgasbord and complaining about the quality of the dishes as they get a little stale; a good smorgasbord should always be fresh. But one thing really sets us off: if someone should remove our favorite dish. Ever.

So, as Mona Charen writes today, politicians run around lying, and we demand that they lie. They cater to the outrage that everyone feels about "Them". For Democratic voters "Them" is the 1% and the insurance company lobby and the banksters and the racist, sexist bigots. For Republican voters "Them" is the Establishment or Ted Cruz's Washington cabal.

Of course, when politicians run around lying about all the wonderful things they will do for us with the sweet use of force, they are going to promise more than we are willing to pay for. So eventually the government runs out of other peoples' money.

When that happens, it is time for a strongman to appear and command the squabbling factions to silence.

And really, it is only the strongmen that ever get anything done. George Washington, the rebel general during the Revolutionary War. He got to be the first president of the new nation. Abraham Lincoln, the president that wasted the South. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president that pushed through the transition to a welfare state. Ronald Reagan, the man that stopped the follies of the 1970s and engineered a 20-year boom.

The hit on Barack Obama is that he has been a strongman that failed. He pushed a stupid "stimulus;" he pushed a stupid Obamacare; he pushed a stupid green crony capitalism; he meddled weakly in the Middle East. There is nothing worse than a failed strongman.

When people talk about a strongman or a demagogue we immediately think of Adolf Hitler. We do that because Hitler is the bad dream of our liberal ruling class. He came to power because the previous ruling class had failed. The problem is that Hitler was a failure worse than the ruling class he replaced. He ruined Germany in twelve short years.

But the truth is that we all like strongmen: we are humans, after all. It's just that we only like our kind of strongman, the guy that will come in and put things right our way. Liberals loved Barack Obama; they swooned over him as a Lightworker. They thought that he would preside over a liberal golden age. Conservatives loved Ronald Reagan (although not at the time, because we were primed by the MSM to think Reagan was a lightweight). Reagan got things done; he fixed the economy and won the cold war.

Since Republicans and the white working class are totally pissed off because the political system hasn't been catering to our whims in the Obama era, we are ready for a strongman. There is nothing remarkable or scandalous in this. It is the natural human instinct for getting out of a jam.

Donald Trump bids fair to become the next all-American strongman. This is neither good or bad. It is just an indication that a lot of Americans think things are in a bit of a pickle in the good old US and A.

If Donald Trump gets elected three things could happen. Things could get better, things could get worse, or things could stay the same. If things get better, conservative Americans will nominate Trump for the pantheon of good conservative strongmen, er, heroes. If they don't then conservatives will push Trump down the memory hole.

Liberals, of course, will ever after consider Trump a disaster. If he fixes things, they will hate him for showing up the Lightworker. If he fails they will say I told you so. And how.

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