Why Trump Won

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By Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, November 11, 2016

Throughout the course of the 2016 election, the conventional groupthink was that the renegade Donald Trump had irrevocably torn apart the Republican Party. His base populism supposedly sandbagged more experienced and electable Republican candidates, who were bewildered that a “conservative” would dare to pander to hoi polloi by promising deportations of illegal aliens, renegotiation of trade agreements that “ripped off” working people, and a messy attack on the reigning political correctness.

It was also a common complaint that Trump had neither political nor military experience. He trash-talked his way into the nomination, critics said, which led to defections among the outraged Republican elite. By August, a #NeverTrump movement had taken root among many conservatives, including some at National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal. Many neoconservatives who formerly supported President George W. Bush flipped parties, openly supporting the Clinton candidacy.

Trump’s Republican critics variously disparaged him as, at best, a Huey Long or Ross Perot, whose populist message was antithetical to conservative principles of unrestricted trade, open-border immigration, and proper personal comportment. At worse, a few Republican elites wrote Trump off as a dangerous fascist akin to Mussolini, Stalin, or Hitler.

For his part, Trump often sounded bombastic and vulgar. By October, after the Access Hollywood video went viral, many in the party were openly calling for him to step down. Former primary rivals like Jeb Bush and John Kasich reneged on their past oaths to support the eventual Republican nominee and turned on Trump with a vengeance.

By the end of the third debate, it seemed as if Trump had carjacked the Republican limousine and driven it off a cliff. His campaign seemed indifferent to the usual stuff of an election run—high-paid handlers, a ground game, polling, oppositional research, fundraising, social media, establishment endorsements, and celebrity guest appearances at campaign rallies. Pundits ridiculed his supposedly “shallow bench” of advisors, a liability that would necessitate him crawling back to the Republican elite for guidance at some point.

What was forgotten in all this hysteria was that Trump had brought to the race unique advantages, some of his own making, some from finessing naturally occurring phenomena. His advocacy for fair rather than free trade, his insistence on enforcement of federal immigration law, and promises to bring back jobs to the United States brought back formerly disaffected Reagan Democrats, white working-class union members, and blue-dog Democrats—the “missing Romney voters”—into the party. Because of that, the formidable wall of rich electoral blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina crumbled.

Beyond that, even Trump’s admitted crudity was seen by many as evidence of a street-fighting spirit sorely lacking in Republican candidates that had lost too magnanimously in 1992, 2008, and 2016 to vicious Democratic hit machines. Whatever Trump was, he would not lose nobly, but perhaps pull down the rotten walls of the Philistines with him. That Hillary Clinton never got beyond her email scandals, the pay-for-play Clinton Foundation wrongdoing, and the Wikileaks and Guccifer hackings reminded the electorate that whatever Trump was or had done, he at least had not brazenly broken federal law as a public servant, or colluded with the media and the Republican National Committee to undermine the integrity of the primaries and sabotage his Republican rivals.

Finally, the more Clinton Inc. talked about the Latino vote, the black vote, the gay vote, the woman vote, the more Americans tired of the same old identity politics pandering. What if minority bloc voters who had turned out for Obama might not be as sympathetic to a middle-aged, multimillionaire white woman? And what if the working white classes might flock to the politically incorrect populist Trump in a way that they would not to a leftist elitist like Hillary Clinton? In other words, the more Clinton played the identity politics card, the more she earned fewer returns for herself and more voters for Trump.

In the end, the #NeverTrump movement fizzled, and most of the party rightly saw, after putting aside the matter of his character, that Trump’s agenda was conservative in almost every area—immigration, energy, gun rights, taxes and regulation, abortion, health care, and military spending. In areas of doubt—foreign policy and entitlements—voters reasoned that sober and judicious Republican advisors would surround and enlighten Trump.

As a result, Republican voters, along with working class Democrats and Independents voted into power a Republican President, Republican Congress, and, in essence, a Republican judiciary. Trump’s cunning and energy, and his unique appeal to the disaffected white working class, did not destroy the Republican down ballot, but more likely saved it. Senators and Representatives followed in Trump’s wake, as did state legislatures and executive officers. Any Republican senatorial candidate who voted for him won election; any who did not, lost. Trump got a greater percentage of Latinos, blacks, and non-minority women than did Romney, and proved to be medicine rather than poison for Republican candidates. With hindsight, it is hard to fathom how any other Republican candidate might have defeated Clinton Inc.—or how, again with hindsight, the Party could be in a stronger, more unified position.

In contrast, the Democratic Party is torn and rent. Barack Obama entered office in 2009 with both houses of Congress, two likely Supreme Court picks, and the good will of the nation. By 2010 he had lost the House; by 2012, the Senate. And by 2016, Obama had ensured that his would-be successor could not win by running on his platform.

A failed health care law, non-existent economic growth, serial zero interest rates, near record labor non-participation rates, $20 trillion in national debt, a Middle East in ruins, failed reset and redlines, and the Iran deal were albatrosses around the Democratic Party’s neck. Obama divided the country with the apology tour, the Cairo Speech, the beer summit, the rhetoric of disparagement (“you didn’t build that,” “punish our enemies,” etc.), the encouragement of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a series of anti-Constitutional executive orders.

In other words, even as Obama left the Democrats with ideological and political detritus, he also had established an electoral calculus built on his own transformative identity that neither had coattails nor was transferrable to other candidates. Indeed, his hard-left positions on redistribution, social issues, sanctuary cities, amnesty, foreign policy, and spending would likely doom candidates other than himself who embraced them.

The Bernie Sanders candidacy was the natural response, on the left, to Obama’s ideological presidency. But the cranky socialist septuagenarian mesmerized primary voters on platitudes that would have proven disastrous in a general election—before meekly whining about Clinton sabotage and then endorsing the ticket. What then has the Democratic Party become other than a hard left and elite progressive force, which without Obama’s personal appeal to bloc-voting minorities, resonates with only about 40 percent of the country?

The Democratic Party is now neither a centrist nor a coalition party. Instead, it finds itself at a dead-end: had Hillary Clinton emulated her husband’s pragmatic politics of the 1990s, she would have never won the nomination—even though she would have had a far better chance of winning the general election.

Wikileaks reminded us that the party is run by rich, snobbish, and often ethically bankrupt grandees. In John Podesta’s world, it’s normal and acceptable for Democratic apparatchiks to talk about their stock portfolios and name-drop the Hamptons, while making cruel asides about “needy” Latinos, medieval Catholics, and African-Americans with silly names—who are nonetheless expected to keep them in power. Such paradoxes are not sustainable. Nor is the liberal nexus of colluding journalists, compromised lobbyists, narcissistic Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, family dynasties, and Clintonian get-rich ethics.

The old blue-collar middle class was bewildered by the leftwing social agenda in which gay marriage, women in combat units, and transgendered restrooms went from possible to mandatory party positions in an eye blink. In a party in which “white privilege” was pro forma disparagement, those who were both white and without it grew furious that the elites with such privilege massaged the allegation to provide cover for their own entitlement.

In the aftermath of defeat, where goes the Democratic Party?

It is now a municipal party. It has no real power over the federal government or state houses. Its once feared cudgel of race/class/gender invective has become a false wolf call heard one too many times. The Sanders-Warren branch of the party, along with the now discredited Clinton strays, will hover over the party’s carcass. Meanwhile, President Obama will likely ride off into the sunset to a lucrative globe-trotting ex-presidency. His executive orders will systematically be dismantled by Donald Trump, leaving as his legacy a polarizing electoral formula that had a shelf life of just two terms.

 

Political Correctness or Speech Suppression?

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The following was contributed by WRTC Member, Kathy Lynch.

The founding document that codifies our free country is the Constitution of the United States of America.  It is what all of our elected government officials take an oath to protect.  The first ten Amendments to the Constitution (i.e., Bill of Rights), confirm the fundamental rights of American citizens.  Amendment 1 reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I’ll focus on the emphasized text above regarding speech and press.

Are you concerned that what you say may not be considered “politically correct”?  Will what you say be deemed “racist”, “homophobic”, sexist”, “Islamophobic”?  If you answered “yes” then you are experiencing speech suppression — exactly what the First Amendment was written to protect you from.  Essentially, political correctness squelches freedom.  It is a weapon of oppression used by those in power who wish to control the narrative.  Political correctness promotes what author, George Orwell, called “groupthink.”  As long as you go along with what the majority thinks, you are “right” and safe from persecution.

Controlling speech by name-calling, or otherwise persecuting the minority, discourages diversity of thought — a hallmark of our culture that has contributed to a free citizenry.  Controlling speech shuts down attempts at rational discourse.  Let’s hold firm to the First Amendment.  What’s more, let us elect a candidate in November who understands the principles of the First Amendment as essential to a free and exceptional country.

Just Say “No” To Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In Massachusetts

The Westford Republican Town Committee opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana as proposed in the “Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, known as Question 4 on the November 8, 2016, ballot in Massachusetts as an indirect initiated state statute.” The statute, if passed, would go to the legislature for final action.  A “yes” vote supports this proposal to legalize marijuana, but regulate it similar to alcoholic beverages. A “no” vote opposes this proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, keeping only medical marijuana legal.

The WRTC views this proposal negatively based on the potential for wide-spread marijuana use leading to proven brain impairment and development in our youth, the lack of proven means or standards for impaired vehicle operation, the potential as a gateway to more serious addictive drugs, and the blatant contradiction to the Federal laws that prohibit the sale and use of marijuana.

 Vote “NO” on State Ballot Question 4 – NO to Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

 

Charter School Expansion: Vote “Yes” For The Future Of Massachusetts Students

The Westford Republican Town Committee supports Ballot Question 2, Charter School Expansion. Westford has one of the highest-quality and lowest-per-pupil-cost public school systems in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but it is not so in other systems statewide.

Education is of the utmost importance to the success of our children. School choice – whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits – is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools. Getting students into decent learning environments and helping them to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time. Public charter schools offer parents a choice to provide the best education for their children.

By virtue of their charter, these public charter schools are a covenant between educators, parents and students in which all are accountable for performance. Charter schools are a public education system based on personal responsibility. A student’s educational opportunities depend on their talent and motivation as a student, and not where they live or their income level. When traditional school systems fail, charter schools give children a chance to succeed.

Students educated in charter schools do not cost taxpayers one penny more than the traditional public school system. Taxpayers still have a say in how much they wish to spend on education and student enrollment in charter schools does not result in an additional tax burden. What’s more, it doesn’t require additional state funding.

Vote “YES” on State Ballot Question 2 – YES to Charter School Expansion.

 

As Summer Slips Away, We Remember the WRTC’s Annual Summertime Picnic

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Happy Labor Day from the Westford Republican Town Committee (WRTC)!  Did you know that the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882?  It is now a nationwide holiday that recognizes the social and economic contributions of the American worker (oh, and Canada celebrates its own version of “Labour Day”, too).   Labor Day weekend is the last holiday weekend of the summer.  When the weather cooperates, it’s a great time for family gatherings, trips to ocean or lakeside beaches, lounging by backyard swimming pools and enjoying BBQs and picnics.  Today, the WRTC is reflecting on our own summertime picnic that took place on August 7.

Food, fun and patriotism were on the menu when folks gathered for the picnic at the home of Buzz and Dawn Gillogly in Westford.  Adults and children were welcomed to this special event which carried the “Keep Cool with Coolidge” theme, in recognition of the 30th President of the United States, Republican Calvin Coolidge.  The event was open, not just to those from the town of Westford, but from neighboring communities, as well.  We were pleased to be joined by some students from the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Republican Club (which got us thinking – shouldn’t there be a similar Republican Club at Westford Academy?).

The weather could not have been nicer for this late-day gathering which was kicked off by WRTC Chairman, Wade Fox, with inspiring remarks about America’s Founding Fathers.  He introduced notable guests which included:  Westford Selectman, Scott Hazelton, and local candidates, Ann Wofford (running for Congress), Kamara Kay (running for State Representative), and Rich Baker (running for Governor’s Council).  Before making a mad dash for the food, picnic attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer was offered.

When appetites were sated with hamburgers, hotdogs, and additional customary picnic fare, MA Republican State Committeeman, Dennis Galvin, enthusiastically introduced special guest speaker, MA State Representative (Republican), Jim Lyons (Andover, MA). Representative Lyons delivered a well-received speech that spoke of the need for Republicans to boldly stand up for their beliefs.  Additionally, he encouraged everyone to get involved with the citizen’s petition to repeal the Bathroom Bill.

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MA State Representative (Republican) Jim Lyons (Andover, MA); background:  MA Republican State Committeeman, Dennis Galvin

There were lawn games and a Calvin Coolidge trivia game featuring prizes for trivia experts.  Attendees also enjoyed an impromptu demonstration of Tai Chi offered by Jay Villagomez, Groton-Dunstable Regional High School teacher (AP Government, World and US History, International Business and Economics), and students from the school’s Republican Club.  During the demonstration, Villagomez explained how he teaches the principles of the Declaration of Independence through this Chinese martial art.

Many members of the WRTC worked hard to coordinate the picnic and were so pleased that this year’s event attracted the largest number of attendees in the picnic’s three year history.  We’re already looking ahead to next year when we hope to welcome back those that attended this year, as well as many new friends from Westford and surrounding towns.  If you were able to attend this year’s picnic, we hope you had a great time.  Perhaps you might consider becoming a WRTC member yourself.  If interested, contact Wade Fox, WRTC Chairman at:  wadefoxjr@aol.com.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day!

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”  — Calvin Coolidge

Cal Thomas commentary: Moral weakness at heart of nation’s descent

In 1926, speaking about the Declaration of Independence on its 150th anniversary, President Calvin Coolidge noted the unique philosophy behind the creation of the United States: “We cannot continue to enjoy the result, if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

Speaking at a news conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following the murder of three police officers and the wounding of three others, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said, “…this is not so much about gun control as it is about what’s in men’s hearts. And until we come together as a nation, as a people, to heal as a people, if we don’t do that and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people.” Considering the anti-police rhetoric coming from so many groups and individuals, he is right. The question is how do we heal men’s hearts? Isn’t that the primary calling of the clergy?

Since the 1960s when one of the popular slogans of that rebellious generation was “question authority,” the United States has plunged into an era of licentiousness, looking out for No. 1 (a popular book title in the ’70s) and the pursuit of prosperity, ignoring higher things like tradition and history, which have proved better for individuals and nations.

The divisions have become so strained that some are at war against law enforcement, which, if it doesn’t cease, will end in anarchy.

Donald Trump has positioned himself as “the law and order” candidate. The left may be playing into his hands, as did those in 1968 who rioted in the streets and at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, sealing the election for Richard Nixon.

When it comes to national defense and domestic unrest, Republicans have been the preferred party to strengthen the country and restore domestic tranquility. But people looking for guidance on how to restore a sense of personal peace and order need look no further than the Bible, the guidebook found in many homes and in most hotel rooms.

One doesn’t have to endure a sermon — if that is unfamiliar territory — to be struck by the power of ancient truths. Start with Psalm 9:17, “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.”

How about this one: “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” (Proverbs 29:18)

One more to confirm the point: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

The nation is groaning. One doesn’t have to be religious to understand the principle of cause and effect. If you jump off a tall building the cause of your rapid descent — gravity — will produce the effect of your death when you hit the ground.

In our post-modern, post-Christian era, we have ignored the moral gravity that once kept us grounded, the boundaries that kept us safe. And now we are suffering the consequences.

We are suffering as a people because we have neglected and abandoned the cause of our strength, peace, order and prosperity. There is a way back, but the road is not through the next election and it certainly is not through Washington, which is part of the problem.

In “The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, wrote: “If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

It doesn’t have to be destroyed. It can be renewed, but that is up to our individual will and a higher power which politicians do not possess.

Cal Thomas writes for Tribune Content Agency.

tcaeditors@tribpub.com