That “Vision-Thing”

Trumpby Brad Nelson8/13/15
If Trump continues to do well in the polls, it will be interesting to see if he works the Obama phenomenon. And that’s not a put-down of Trump. Establishment Republicans are useless. If I put down Trump, it is not to defend those boobs.

But although Trump has made some broad pro-American statements regarding illegal aliens and the economy, he seems to me to be working well as the blank slate upon which we can project what we want to believe about him. And that’s, to a large extent, how Obama got elected. Trump’s website, for instance, is devoid of specific policy statements.

Reading a book on the emergence of Nazi Germany, the Nazis were also non-specific. And, no, I’m not saying Trump is Hitler. It’s just that in times of general outrage where you’ve had the technocrats trying to forever tweak and fix things — and generally only making things worse — what is often forgotten is the broad vision, the overall moral picture of a country. We need that. And right now the Republicans (perhaps with an exception or two) can’t give that vision. They are mere technocrats. And when they do talk in terms of the big picture, it tends to turn into broad banalities, a mere cover to show they have nothing more than a technocratic approach. We know it. They know it. But we play this game pretending it is otherwise.

I think one of Trump’s weaknesses is that, from what I can see, he doesn’t have an overall philosophical approach. Reagan was very good at the “vision-thing,” but it was also anchored in a very fine-tuned and specific political philosophy. That meant he could be consistent. He could compare and contrast. And, more importantly, he could tell you why the Left was wrong and why he was right, and do it without ranting or badgering.

It’s unclear yet if Trump’s broad, positive “vision-thing” appeal — which I agree is working for him now, especially in contrast to these dull GOP technocrats — will be enough. Can he in his own way say that he’s going to “heal the planet and lower the oceans,” even if the nouns and verbs are different? It worked for the America-hating Marxist, Obama, to hide behind nice-sounding generalities. Can it work for Trump?

The difference is, of course, Trump does not hate America and he has actually lived a dynamic American life compared to the affirmative-action, schooled-in-community-agitating, president we now have who rarely saw the outside of Leftist agitating circles.

But specific policy issues are probably over-rated, particularly in presidential politics. After having had this academic, Leftist, America-hating weenie in office for two terms, it may be enough that Americans take the measure of a man. Will Trump stand up to the bad guys or make endless excuses for them as Obama has done? A little moral clarity in regards to such things can go a long way. Who know what issues will turn up that a president must face? We just need to know that he’s not another weenie.

Of course, the Wizards of Smart, who are able to run policy through there levels of brainy grids, don’t like things such as “broad appeal” or “visions.” Such things are considered the domain of the low — especially those easily moved by demagogues. And Trump (as with all politicians) is going to be part that. But will he offer an overall vision of America that a majority can sign onto, to heck with the details? Can he stand up to the usual bullies and politically correct rent-a-mobs?

The Establishment Republicans version of “playing nice” means playing by their rules where you genuflect to their obvious and profound intellectual superiority. But these Wizards of Smart did not like Reagan. And I wouldn’t compare Trump to Reagan any more than I would to Hitler. Trump is Trump. And might that be enough in this age of corrupt parties who have congealed into a smothering and down-talking elitism?

Well, all I can say is, the more National Review and such types panic, the more I see the The Donald as a firm possibility. Against wobbly mush a fuzzy strength is appealing.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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11 Responses to That “Vision-Thing”

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I prefer an executive, but the most reliable fighter is probably Cruz. Fiorina has done well as a campaigner, but who knows what she really thinks any more than we know with Trump? Walker and Jindal have decent records as governors, but also problems. But then, who’s perfect? It’s clear that Kasich and Bush have both chosen to oppose grasroots conservatives, making them clearly unacceptable.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think Fiorina would have folded like a cheap tent in the face of a couple of protesters…just as Bernie Sanders is reported to have done recently. I think she’s full of this PC “sensitivity” thing — especially the Establishment Republican thing whereby every conceit and grievance is coddled instead of refuted. That’s my impression. I could turn out to be wrong. But I won’t remain fuzzy on the point, and that’s my prediction.

      Cruz had done a smack-down of the opposition a time or two. Unfortunately, he’s likely a little too hemmed in. He’s too much the thoughtful rhetorician. Can you imagine him doing a Reaganesque “I paid for this microphone”? Maybe so. Time will tell.

      I don’t trust Kasich more than I trust Huckabee. And on Carly’s website, just like Trump, I can find no policy specifics. But her website is Extrogen Central. It’s all about appealing to women. So much for a gender-blind politics. She wants you to know she’s a woman and cares greatly about women. So did Bill Clinton. I’m not impressed.

      Note the banalities bannering both Kasich’s and Carly’s website. They are both either “John Kasich for America” or “Carly for America.” Thank goodness. I thought they were running for president of Argentina.

      Of the three, only Trump has a far less banal heading: “Make America Great Again!”


        My thinking, going back to February, is that Fiorina has been angling for the V.P. slot all along, although she might have believed when entering the race that she would do better against Hillary than against a male Democratic nominee, and I have to agree – Hillary’s negatives are high and Fiorina might well pull a lot of female voters from her.

        But there is some sign that Fiorina does not understand the threat posed by militant Islam, and she also shares with the Establishment the strange notion that America needs a lot of alien laborers just now. In fact, I observed on ST not long ago that business people make bad Republicans (usually Establishment-men, or women in this case) because they have a superficially practical but fatally un-intellectual approach to politics.

        Still, Fiorina has poise and will do well in the remaining debates if she qualifies for them. It seems likely she will at least be considered for Veep by the eventual nominee, whoever that is.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Whatever her political flaws, she would be a good choice for her ability to mitigate the First Woman President meme and her ability to campaign. Politics is the art of the possible, and you do have to win before you can do anything.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    For all those who decry presidential politics becoming little more than a reality show or cult of personality because of Trump — devoid mostly of specific issues — they should note that I can’t find much about the issues at Ted Cruz’s site either…but lots of requests for money. In fact, my email inbox is filled with these request for money from Cruz and scant little is said about the issues.

    You’d think a prominent button or link on the home page such as “What I believe” or “My take on the issues” would be prominent. Nope. Let’s check out Jeb’s site.

    Oh, brother. One is treated with a treacly “#AllInForJeb.” And if there’s a statement of position of various important issues our country faces, I can’t find them. Lots of narcissistic videos (as they all do) showing their candidate giving speeches and such. The impression you get visiting these sites is that, first and foremost, they need your money. Let’s check out Scott Walker’s site.

    Well, again, at the top of the home page is a prominent “contribute” button. But nothing prominent about what Walker believes about the issues we face as a nation.

    Yes, you get the videos. And most of these sites look like a news site (like The Blaze). They’re full of pseudo-stories about the candidate. Okay, let’s check out Fat Boy’s site.

    Geez, did the same web/political consultant create this same bland crap for all the candidates? Again, prominent is a hat-in-hand for donations. I’m not sure I can even see more of the site without registering an account. Screw it. I’m out of there, Fat Boy.

    Not a single site so far that doesn’t beg for money first and then try to present itself as a news site where the top news story, of course, is the candidate. Let’s check out Bobby Jindal. That’s the last I’ll try for now and he’s my last hope. (“Help me Obi-Jindal, you’re my only hope.”)

    Well, again, begging for money is front and center. But at least there is a common-sense heading of “Bobby Jindal for President.” I take that as a positive sign. He’s correctly framed the question, no small thing these days.

    And — behold! — if you scroll down a little (web guys..fix those graphics, they’re fuzzy) — there is a “Jindal Policy Plans” link. I’ll click read now and see what happens. Okay, admittedly I may have missed something on the other sites. But Jindal has indeed offered his positions on at least four things: Repealing Obamacare, Education, Energy, Defense. I’ll choose to read “Education” to see if this is more PC blather or if he gets to root causes.

    Okay, a nice blurb on doubling the number of charter schools (but not all charter schools are created equal…some are so watered down that they are actually promoted, or at least endorsed, by teacher’s unions). But it is an explicit nod that getting *around* the present education system and providing competition is unavoidable, as at least one of the solutions.

    He takes a shot at teacher’s unions. Good. No namby-pamby there. Should be local, not Federal. Good. Yes. (Although they all say that, even while continue to support Common Core and such malarky.)

    Okay, I won’t read the rest of that. But your political crusader with the refined ear for baloney has stated that at least Jindal has given us some details and political philosophy. None of the others that I could find did so.

    Is this a sign that Jindal, more than all the others, might actually do something if elected? Yes, it is indeed.

    • Linden says:

      Please note that ALL the candidate websites have the ability to sell your information to affiliated political entities, AND third parties. There is NO OPT OUT option available. THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T GET AWAY FROM ALL THE SNAIL MAIL, PHONE CALLS, AND EMAILS for all the campaign months.

      Therefore, the first candidate that will allow me to donate online and pledge NOT to use my information for anything but that ONE DONATION will get my vote.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That’s interesting to know, Linden.

        Here’s the blurb from Bobby Jindal’s website. And I’m not singling him out. I just started there. I imagine this is completely typical:

        We may share your Personal Information with our service providers and affiliates, as well as other organizations that share our views. We may make this information available to other third parties. We will disclose Personal Information if required by law, and may share it in order to protect the legal rights, property or safety of us or third parties. We also will disclose Personal Information to any new or successor entity, should Jindal For President be reorganized, acquired or merged with another entity, in whole or part.

        That sounds a lot like what you’re saying, Linden. That’s not much of a hearty “thanks” for donating to these candidates.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        By law, every personal political donation to any candidate must be disclosed to the public. No politician could promise to keep a contributor’s name confidential.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Oh…I really should check out Ben Carson’s web site.

    I think they’re all using the same WordPress template or something. All the same. And the “Donate” button is the most prominent link you see.

    But it does have a nice photo of him, not the usual glib baloney. And it’s “Ben Carson for President.” Again, another man who knows how to define the issue. I’m not all that enamored with the “Heal, Inspire, Revive” slogan. It’s too much.

    But…and this is nice…at the top, and fairly prominent, is a link for “Ben on the Issues”. I object to this ridiculous trend these days to familiarize people. I don’t know “Ben.” All I know is Mr. Carson or perhaps Dr. Carson. Did “Ronald” ever ask us to vote for him? Not a point in Carson’s favor. Small, but it shows he may not be as old-school as we are led to believe.

    His issue categories are:

    + Pro-Life. I see nothing offhand about prohibiting abortion. As my brother told me, it’s easy to be “pro-life.” It’s another thing again to be “pro-abolition.” Still, Mr. Carson may have spoke further elsewhere on this issue.

    + Balanced Budget Amendment — okay, it’s good that he has this as an issue, and the second one…not buried at the bottom

    + Education — unfortunately, somewhat like the abortion info, this is very noncommittal, non-specific stuff meant to show that this issue has a checkmark next to it. I’m not impressed.

    + Keep Gitmo Open — okay…sure. I agree. But if that’s all he has to say on Islamism, it’s pretty weak.

    + Healthcare. The subhead is “Obamacare is a looming disaster.” Contrast that with Jindal’s forthright and clear “Repealing Obamacare.” More pretty bland stuff.

    + Keep Faith in Our Society — okay. I agree.

    The rest are pretty much check-off conservative bullet points. Support Israel. Support the second amendment. Overall, well, at least there is this section. I’ll give him that. But I’m not impressed. Jindal is by far the best I’ve seen so far. This stuff by Carson seems to have the air of Establishment Republicanism. I see him checking things off on a checklist. It feels like just rhetoric, not conviction.

    But, again, at least he listed something for review. You can’t criticize non-positions, a strategy all of the other web sites I viewed so far follow.


    NRO has been going bonkers because of Trump. I suppose to many over there he threatens their cherished hopes of a Republican victory in 2016, when of course the concern should be for a Conservative victory. In any case, they have seriously misunderstood the Trump phenomenon from the beginning. If I may be excused for reprinting part of a comment I made over there (it’s late and I’m too tired to write something new right now), here is my take on it:

    It is not merely that Trump has brought the immigration issue to the fore, it is that the Republican Establishment has so repeatedly and so foully betrayed the base of the Party that a fierce internecine struggle was already taking place long before Trump’s opportunistic entry into the race. And those 15 or 16 candidates all had strong characteristics of that hated Establishment, even the more Conservative ones (I can’t make that case in full here because of space limitations, but consider Walker’s flip-flop on immigration and Cruz’s statement that he wanted to double the legal levels). This left many Conservatives feeling that yet another betrayal was in the offing, and that the Republican candidates, if elected, would continue to refuse to listen to their most vital concerns. There now existed an enormous gap between the candidates (and certainly the Party as a whole) and these Conservatives, one big enough, as I have put it elsewhere, to drive a truck through.

    Along came the opportunistic Trump and drove a truck through it.

    That is why it is very nearly pointless for all these writers and editors at NRO to keep repeating “Trump is no Conservative” over and over again. Don’t you think the “Trumpkins” know that? (And by the way, Trump-foes, you won’t win people over by calling them insulting names). The rest of the Republican field for the most part isn’t all that Conservative either, although several have much better records than Trump (e.g. Walker, Jindal, and maybe even Perry) and certainly more coherence in developing something like a political philosophy (e.g. Cruz) which is essential.

    Instead of lambasting the “Trumpkins,” what you Trump-foes should be doing is pounding on the rest of the candidates (excluding Jeb! and Christie who are a complete waste of time) until they understand the immigration issue as seen by the voting base they hope to attract, and perhaps even begin to talk to these people instead of simply palling around with the Chamber of Commerce and various wealthy donors representing large business interests. When enough other candidates show they understand the concerns of ordinary people, Trump will fade, but probably not before.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This is the point I’ve been making, too (when I’ve bothered to read them and respond at all). Trump’s supporters are Republicans totally disaffected from the party leadership, and rightly so. They should learn from this, not simply insult the voters (which is persuasive only to those already hostile to Trump, as I said in response to a Cooke hit-piece).

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