At the declaration by Donald Trump that he is a candidate for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, media elites of left and right reacted with amusement, anger and disgust.
Though he has been a hugely successful builder-businessman, far more successful than, say, Carly Fiorina, who has been received respectfully, our resident elites resolutely refuse to take Trump seriously.
They should. Not because he will be nominated, but because the Trump constituency will represent a vote of no confidence in the Beltway ruling class of politicians and press.
Votes for Trump will be votes to repudiate that class, whole and entire, and dump it onto the ash heap of history.
Votes for Trump will be votes to reject a regime run by Bushes and Clintons that plunged us into unnecessary wars, cannot secure our borders, and negotiates trade deals that produced the largest trade deficits known to man and gutted a manufacturing base that was once “the great arsenal of democracy” and envy of mankind.
A vote for Trump is a vote to say that both parties have failed America and none of the current crop of candidates offers real hope of a better future.
The first book in Arthur Schlesinger’s trilogy about FDR’s ascent to power was “The Crisis of the Old Order.” That title is relevant to our time. For there is today a crisis of the regime in America – a crisis of confidence, a crisis of competence, a crisis of legitimacy.
People are agitating for the overthrow of the old order and a new deal for America. For there is a palpable sense that the game is rigged against Middle America and for the benefit of insiders who grow rich and fat not by making things or building things, but by manipulating money.
Americans differentiate the wealth of a Henry Ford and a Bill Gates from that of the undeserving rich whose hedge fund fortunes can exceed the GDP of nations.
Trump says America is becoming a “dumping ground” for mass immigration from the failed states of the Third World, that Mexico is not “sending us her best and finest,” that China is stealing American jobs, that invading Iraq was a blunder.
Politically incorrect and socially insensitive certainly, but is he entirely wrong?
Was not the Iraq war a disaster for which our foreign-policy priesthood and journalist-acolytes never paid the price that would be exacted in other societies were thousands of soldiers to die and tens of thousands to be wounded and maimed in so predictable a blunder?
Is it not true that among the millions of illegal immigrants who have broken into our country the great majority has illegitimacy rates, delinquency rates, dropout rates, drug use rates, crime rates and incarceration rates far higher than those of native-born Americans?
Is Trump wrong on this, or simply wrong to bring it up?
Has not mass immigration brought to America old diseases we once stamped out and new diseases we had never heard of?
Do Americans not have the right to decide who shall come to our country, how many and whence they shall come?
Is there no correlation between a decrepit Maoist China rising to become the greatest manufacturing power Asia has ever seen – and the $3 trillion to $4 trillion in trade deficits we have run with Beijing – and the disappearance of a third of all American manufacturing jobs?
Who negotiated those deals? Who paid a price for the misery they brought to Rust Belt America?
There are precedents in U.S. history for outsiders – Norman Thomas and Henry Wallace on the left, George Wallace and Ross Perot on the right – to enter the presidential lists. And across the pond a similar crisis of the old order is calling forth new people and new parties.
As in America, dominant parties like the Tories and Labour in Britain are losing loyalists to the “a-plague-on-both-your-houses” dissident parties.
Millions in Europe now want out of the EU. Old nations are coming apart. Leftist parties like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain have arisen to defy Brussels and Berlin.
The Scottish National Party is of the left while the Independence Party in the U.K. is of the populist right. In Southeastern Europe, there have arisen parties of the extreme right.
This endless proliferation of parties, like the welcome being given to Trump, testifies to the new reality: Everywhere, including here, old parties are losing the people in whose name they presume to speak.
And the specter of Republicans, who just won an historic victory by promising to do battle against President Obama, colluding with Obama to surrender Congress’ right to amend trade treaties and sign on to a Trans-Pacific Partnership pact that looks like another transfer of jobs and factories to Asia, has re-enforced these sentiments.
If Trump wants to stake his claim as a different kind of Republican, he will go to Washington and pound the Boehner-McConnell Congress until it gives up on Obamatrade and fast track.