April 29, 2016

AMERICANS ARE SICK OF IDEOLOGY: Peggy Noonan explains why the Trump train is gaining speed, “Simple Patriotism Trumps Ideology.”

In my continuing quest to define aspects of Mr. Trump’s rise, to my own satisfaction, I offer what was said this week in a talk with a small group of political activists, all of whom back him. One was about to begin approaching various powerful and influential Republicans who did not support him, and make the case. I told her I’d been thinking that maybe Mr. Trump’s appeal is simple: What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him, is that he is on America’s side.

And that comes as a great relief to them, because they believe that for 16 years Presidents Bush and Obama were largely about ideologies. They seemed not so much on America’s side as on the side of abstract notions about justice and the needs of the world. Mr. Obama’s ideological notions are leftist, and indeed he is a hero of the international left. He is about international climate-change agreements, and leftist views of gender, race and income equality. Mr. Bush’s White House was driven by a different ideology—neoconservatism, democratizing, nation building, defeating evil in the world, privatizing Social Security.

But it was all ideology.

Then Mr. Trump comes and in his statements radiate the idea that he’s not at all interested in ideology, only in making America great again—through border security and tough trade policy, etc. He’s saying he’s on America’s side, period.

Exactly. The average American doesn’t give a damn about either political party. They vote for one party over another simply because one party comes closer to reflecting their views than another, or because one candidate seems more genuine, or less corrupt, than another.  They don’t place either political party above their own self-interest, or the nation’s interest.  The GOP (as well as the Democrats) has driven most of these independent-minded Americans away by elevating party and politics above country.

Trump’s appeal is grounded in an absence of a rigidly defined, party-centric ideology, and his elevation of country over party. In other words, Trump–the quintessential political outsider–is an average Joe (albeit a very wealthy one).

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