What we think of as good is often a relative thing. A piece of moldy bread, for example, would be considered “good” if you’re starving. But if you’re not? Well, then it’s “good riddance to bad garbage.” On the other hand, a piece of fresh bread is always “good,” whether you’re starving or not. This could perhaps demonstrate one difference between the absolute and relative scales concerning what is and is not considered “good.”
Yes, it is often tricky to tell them apart. But you know what’s even trickier? Telling apart the relative and absolute scales for what is great. That can take a lifetime of discussion. Just as tricky is telling the good from the great with their respective relative and absolute scales thrown in. Talk about a Gordian Knot! I’m sure many philosophers and critics have dedicated their entire careers to teasing out such distinctions and never really scratched the surface of such an exasperating and unceasing topic.
I, on the other hand, try to keep it simple. Something is good by virtue of not being bad. Something is great by virtue of being better than good. That’s it. This is what I live by.
Based on this fundamental rubric, I would say that President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 was good, but not quite great.
Of course, it was good. Compared to the eight years of bad which preceded it, I’m sure even a Jeb Bush address to Congress would have been an improvement. Not saying much, I know. But relatively speaking, in the wake of two terms of creeping socialism, incessant third-worldification, and looming white dispossession at the hands of Barack Obama, the proclamations and directives issued by Donald Trump are impossible to impugn.
So what was good about the speech? Many things. For one, Trump stated, perhaps for the thousandth time, that “America must put its own citizens first.” A no-brainer, actually, but something still worth saying. This should be one of the top goals of any nation, yet for the past twenty-five years or more, America has lost sight of it. We have allowed our wealth, good intentions, and guilty consciences to make us forget human nature and attempt impossible and stupid things across the globe. Spending eight hundred thousand dollars in 2009 on a study which taught African men to wash their members after sex is one such enterprise. Another is George W. Bush’s fifteen billion dollar attempt to rid the African continent of AIDS in 2004 – as if the projected four billion Africans by the end of this century weren’t enough. “My job is not to represent the world,” President Trump announced. “My job is to represent the United States of America.”
“In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king,” indeed.
Another good thing about Trump’s speech was his promise to take care of America’s veterans. “My budget will also increase funding for our veterans,” he said. “Our veterans have delivered for this nation – and now we must deliver for them.” Regardless of one’s politics, this is quality stuff – again, a no-brainer, but still, it is refreshing for a world leader to pursue noble causes like this and really mean it. And Trump undoubtedly means it. I have never seen a politician pay so much homage to our veterans while still respecting the causes for which they served and sacrificed. Furthermore, the moment when he introduced Carryn Owens, the widow of US Navy Special Operator William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an anti-terror raid in Yemen, made for unforgettable television.
Good, old-fashioned common sense made up a lot of what was good about President Trump’s speech. Making sure members of NATO pay their fair share of the organization’s budget? Check. Replacing America’s “crumbling infrastructure” with “new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways”? Check. Encouraging large companies to stay in America and not employ foreign labor? Check. Deregulating free enterprise to the point of “imposing a new rule which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated?” Check. Draining the “swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials, and a lifetime ban . . . on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government?” Checkmate. Can I get a witness?
Make no mistake, this is all good stuff. And there’s more of it, too. We should all be thankful that we have a President who is bringing such clear-minded sanity back into American politics. But if the speech was so good, why wasn’t it great?
For the same reason why a husband who promises his wife he won’t cheat on her – or quit his job or beat their kids or gamble away their savings or get hooked on drugs – is not a great husband. He is merely a good husband because he is doing what he is supposed to do as stated in his vows. He’s being good by virtue of not being bad.
Nearly all of the promises President Trump made last Tuesday – the ones that made Vice President Pence, Speaker of the House Ryan, and everyone on the GOP side of the aisle stand and clap over ninety times – were good for not being bad. These are all things a President should be doing. It’s actually quite sad that today, a President who promises to look after his country’s best interests merits deafening rounds of applause. This is the listless minimum of what all presidents should be doing; they certainly don’t deserve special applause for it.
Specifically, Trump’s agenda will initiate a rightward shift in American politics that goes beyond what was previously understood as the Left-Right divide. Before Trump, no serious GOP politician dared cross that line. George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and many others may have called themselves Republicans and may have exhibited some heartfelt conservatism from time to time, but they always danced to the rhythm set by the politically correct Left. Trump is the first GOP leader in a very long time to step away from the Left and dance to another rhythm. Trump is like the honey badger in this regard: he doesn’t care what his enemies think or say. He is going to do what he said he was going to do. Democrats gasped when he promised to drain the swamp. Trump didn’t care. Democrats hissed when he said he’d repeal Obamacare. Trump didn’t care. Democrats remained seated for most of his speech like petulant children, and there was a marvelous, x-rated, wing-sprouting, flying F-bomb that President Donald Trump just did not give about any of it.
This may sound great, but when that flying F-bomb finally landed, we realize that Trump had taken one step beyond the Left-Right divide, set up camp in Alt Lite/civic nationalist territory, and stayed put. He’s promising strong, conservative, patriotic leadership which turns a deaf ear to most, but not all, of the more strident calls from the Left. He is, in effect, promising to bring us back to the days of Ronald Reagan. While Reagan was a fine President in many regards, we are not the same people we were under Reagan. Our country’s demographics, and hence our national character, have changed. What worked well in the 1980s – that is, race-blind, center-Right libertarianism, and hawkish anti-Communism – won’t work so well today, even if you replace “Communism” with “militant Islam.” The reason, of course, is that white America, that portion of the country which cares most about fighting our enemies and protecting the freedoms brought about by libertarianism, is slowly shrinking into minority status. Furthermore, many thousands of people who actively wish white people harm are entering our country as “immigrants” and putting down roots. It is not enough to retard or even halt these trends. They must be reversed, or else we face the prospect of what many on the Internet these days are calling Civil War II.
Clearly, the United States has new challenges to face when compared to the 1980s, but President Trump and other civic nationalists are pretending that we don’t. “We want all Americans to succeed, but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos,” President Trump announced. “We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders. For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.”
See? The wall is there to prevent “lawless chaos” and allow “all Americans to succeed.” White, black, Hispanic, Muslim . . . doesn’t matter. This is objectively good because lawless chaos and lack of success are objectively bad. Their prevention is therefore good. Seen another way, it would be great to build the wall in order to preserve America’s white majority – the very people who founded this country and made it great to begin with. This improves upon the merely tolerable status quo to which President Trump wishes to return us, and would indeed make America great again. And a great America would be great for everyone.
Unfortunately, one of the only occasions when President Trump explicitly mentioned race was when he called for an education bill which would fund “school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.” This is nothing more than Leftist blather, not to mention a stupid idea, given that “school choice” cannot turn low-IQ students into high-IQ students. Nor can it turn “lazy, abusive, and disrespectful” students into productive citizens. Granted, the very idea of “school choice” is less stupid (and certainly less expensive) than the public school fiasco we have going on in the inner cities right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s plan did make some modest gains, if given enough time. But, truly, the best thing we can do for these “disadvantaged” youths is to make sure they grow up among their own kind, in their own countries, where the laws and customs can meet their own unique needs. This would also be better for the forgotten white students that no one, especially not President Trump, wishes to talk about.
Another moment of Leftist pandering occurred early in the speech, when Trump paid homage to the odious Black History Month. “As we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month,” President Trump said, “we are reminded of our nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains to be done.” Work that remains to be done? That’s the kind of talk one would expect from Barack Obama, not a resplendent man of the Right. What kind of “work” are we talking about here, anyway? More welfare? More affirmative action? More free stuff and services from the government? More freedom to riot and loot in major cities when things don’t go their way with law enforcement? Black people make up thirteen percent of our population and commit over half of our murders, and are over-represented in nearly all categories of crime. Furthermore, they are the least academically gifted of all the races, according to their standardized test scores and academic records. They are the last people we need to be celebrating or working to appease. One hundred percent of the “work” should be coming from them.
I know, I know . . . speeches like these must contain large dollops of flattery and demonstrate beatific piety for the norms and conventions of mainstream society, and so on and so forth. Trump did include a lot of that in his speech, and I don’t exactly blame him for it. But Black History Month? It’s hard to take any American leader seriously when they extol the virtues of such a sham event. We all might as well all celebrate Kwanzaa.
Therefore, despite President Trump’s shrewd intelligence, combative nature, and all the good he promises to do for America, he’s still dancing to the tune of our Cultural Marxist masters on the other side of that Left-Right divide. It’s subtle and, to his credit, he’s not doing much of it. But it’s still happening.
Earlier, I wrote that Trump’s address to Congress was “not quite great.” The implication here is that, despite its flaws, it did achieve greatness at certain points. And in dealing with our enemies, Donald Trump certainly was great. As expected, he used the word “Islamic” when calling out our enemies, but it was these two sentences that really did it for me:
As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS, a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians and men and women and children of all faiths and all beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.
I have very little to add to that. This, indeed, is a great sentiment, and I hope to God President Trump is successful. If any group deserves to be extinguished from the planet, it’s ISIS.
Without a doubt, President Trump’s speech represents a welcome shift to the Right in American politics. This shift may not be as far to the Right as many of us had wanted, but it has given hope to millions of white Americans who were beginning to think that their country no longer belonged to them. While this is undoubtedly good, it will fall upon us in the coming years to make it into something great.