The Strength of Our Values Lies Not In Their Being Popular, But Being RIGHT

Perhaps the most inspiring thing I read today was this passage from my friend Ken White at Popehat:

Our values do not die just because you might interpret an election as rejecting them (more on that later). You don’t hold on to your values because they’re popular, you hold onto them because they’re right and just and they make you who you are. America’s history is full of popular fidelity to our stated values ebbing and flowing, and of Americans stubbornly holding on to those ideas in the dark times.


The values of which Ken speaks are not identical to my values in every respect; he is less of a fan of law enforcement than I, for example. But we share several core beliefs, among them being “[t]he rule of law, the equality of all people (feeble or powerful) before that law, freedom of thought and speech and worship, [and] strict limits on the power of the state over the individual.”

Talking heads have already started lecturing us about the death of conservatism. Populism wins the day, we are told again and again. Fans of limited government, the free market, liberty, the rule of law, and the Constitution might as well hang it up and go home, because this is Donald Trump’s world now. I don’t think so. This feels like a low point for classical liberal principles, to be sure . . . but we should let that inspire us further, not beat us down. Defeatism is for losers. These principles are true American principles, and they always have been; they are the principles that truly could make America great again.

I won’t give up on them. The members of my group The Constitutional Vanguard won’t give up either. If you support liberty, the free market, and the Constitution, join us.

There is another thing I want to discuss: how should the losers in this election be treated — especially those worried about the bigotry of the worst of the Trumpers? Yuval Levin has some thoughts on that:


In a similar spirit, and even more important, we should also recognize that for many Americans, regardless of their politics, this turn of events cannot help but be somewhat frightening. They have been witness in recent months not only to talk of Donald Trump’s obvious proclivities to viciousness but also to evidence of the depravity of some—a few, to be sure, but some—among his supporters. I have myself experienced a torrent of anti-Semitism that I had pleasantly imagined might not exist in America, and others have experienced and witnessed far worse.

To acknowledge that some among our fellow citizens have this concern is not to say that Trump’s support is rooted in racism, which it is not. It is not to say that his concerns about immigration are fundamentally xenophobic, which they are not. It is only to say that as good neighbors and good citizens we ought to be sensitive to the fears and concerns of those with whom we share this wonderful country. We must see that their worries, even if ultimately not well founded in the reality of the election, are nonetheless rooted in some realities of American life that have been both made clearer and exacerbated by this election season. And it is incumbent upon us on the Right, perhaps especially among those who championed Trump but also among those who didn’t, to offer some respectful, even loving, reassurance. It is above all incumbent upon Trump himself to offer reassurance that such worries, experienced by some as genuinely existential worries, are unfounded with regard to him, and to be clear that whatever his past he will not govern as a bully. His remarks last night certainly gestured toward such reassurance, which was very good to see.


And Ken White has further thoughts about how this might be scary for some people:

This result is genuinely horrifying to many people, and reasonably so. We can hope that Trump does not pursue policies overtly hostile to minorities of all sorts, and we can fight like hell if he tries. But whether you think Trump is racist or not, whether you think the result was an endorsement of racism or not, Trump’s campaign was accompanied by a groundswell of explicitly bigoted sentiment, one that I maintain he courted and did not effectively reject. Across the country, ethnic and religious and sexual minorities are afraid of what will happen to them. My daughter, like many, has heard talk about which classmates would no longer be allowed to stay in America. I know people who are genuinely afraid, and I don’t blame them — I think Trump’s rhetoric invited the fear, some segments of his supporters made it a realistic fear, and that there will likely be an upsurge in bigotry and violence. As a well-off white guy in the suburbs I’m lucky — my kids, not white, are somewhat less lucky. My friends and neighbors, of various ethnicities and religious and identities, are even less.

Now. I laugh at the clowns at Vox who claim: “Trump’s win is a reminder of the incredible, unbeatable power of racism.” They should be mocked for that. But part of our spirit of graciousness should be reserved for understanding the feelings of people who see some of the ugly bigoted sentiments of the worst of Trump’s supporters, and worry that this attitude will become more prevalent. Many people have witnessed Trump’s vindictive and cruel streak, and worry that he will use the levers of government to satisfy that thirst for vengeance. Showing triumphalism towards such people is not only wrong, it also ignores the fact that this was hardly a trouncing. Hillary may yet prove to have won the popular vote, so it was close. And the day will come when Democrats are back on top.


Laughing at the actual jerks who scream racisms!! at every turn is both justified and therapeutic. But assuming that anyone distressed about this result is being melodramatic ignores the evidence of Donald Trump’s entire life and the way he ran his campaign. I said this morning that I want to concentrate on the positive, and I do — at least today. But I won’t pretend he is someone he is not, and when people see the reality of who he is, and say he frightens them, I will not mock them.

Finally, as I said this morning: to the extent that Donald Trump wants to promote liberty, the free market, and the Constitution, I stand with him. But to the extent that he tries to ignore the separation of powers, impose ruinous tariffs or regulations, pass giant “jobs” bills or “infrastructure” bills that we can’t afford, raise the minimum wage, increase the government’s role in health care, and the like . . . well, as to that stuff: I hope he fails.

There, I said it.




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