Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Two thoughts on Donald Trump

One on political poetry and one on power. More below.

First, while I understand that it's considered acceptable in polite company to sneer at Sarah Palin, it's surely worth noting that her endorsement of Trump contained something akin to poetry.

She said this: "[H]e’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issue until he brought 'em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest". And this: "Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. They need to get used to it." (Read more here.)

"Wearing political correctness like a suicide vest" - what a succinct and memorable image! A suicide vest is a horrible weapon employed by our enemies (especially by fifth-columnists), a weapon that is a threat to the user as well as to innocent bystanders, a weapon that can be hidden from view or revealed and used, like a hostage, as a bargaining tool. Can political correctness be thought of in this way? Maybe not. But could you describe political correctness in this way, with this level of opprobrium, more succinctly or powerfully? I doubt it.

"We are mad and we've been had" - perhaps logic suggests swapping that around, but it sounds so good the way Palin said it. Does it stand with "We want eight and we won't wait", "Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day" or even "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?"?

In my view, subjecting this kind of direct rhetoric to minute analysis is missing the point, rather like saying that Churchill's bit about fighting them on the beaches and the landing grounds and fields and streets sounds like an ill-thought military strategy and perhaps a number of heavily defended redoubts would be more sensible, or checking the Washington DC phone book to confirm that JFK was not in fact a Berliner.

Second, if this guy is right (and he makes some good points), America's allies need Trump to lose. "The meaning of Trumpism is that Americans want to rid themselves of the burden of empire", he says. That burden includes keeping Europe safe.

Mark Steyn has suggested that the best kind of monarchy is the kind Australia and Canada have got - the absentee kind:

"Working for the Free French in London during the war, Simone Weil found herself pondering why, among the European powers, only England had maintained 'a centuries-old tradition of liberty'. She was struck by the paradox of the Westminster system — that ultimate power is vested in one who cannot wield it in any practical sense. Endowing the sovereignty of the nation in an absentee monarch — as Australia does — is an even more exquisite refinement of the Weil theory: vesting power in its literal rather than merely political absence.

What Malcolm Turnbull objects to most — she doesn't live here! — is what I find most appealing. A minimalist monarchy is perhaps the most benign form of government one could devise — except that no hyper-rationalist would ever 'devise' such a thing at all.

In a similar vein, perhaps the best experience of American power is the kind those of us in Britain experience: under the American umbrella, but not too close either to the people wielding that power at the extremities or controlling it from the centre. Those of us not bearing the burden do not want the American Atlas to shrug.

No comments:

Post a Comment