If there’s anyone out there pirouetting in ecstasy over the ejection of Univision’s Jorge Ramos from Trump’s media even on Tuesday, I have yet to see it. High-fiving is not the vibe here.
I suppose everyone knows by now that Ramos tried to insist on asking a question out of turn, and Trump had him removed. If you haven’t seen the exchange, the video is below.
The video has gone viral, and given the number of Trump supporters out there, that’s clearly because a lot of people appreciate what happened, as opposed to being indignant about it.
But it’s important for worried old-consensus Republicans to understand what’s going on here. Old-consensus Republicans (I’ll call them OCRs) are badly mistaken to think that the GOP voters refreshed by Donald Trump are knuckle-dragging rubes hoping to gape at name-calling and punch-throwing spectacles, like a Jerry Springer audience.
The point of the Trump-Ramos confrontation isn’t that a member of the media took it in the shorts. To put it in those crude terms is to miss the boat entirely. It’s to assume that voters don’t understand power plays when they see them: power plays, used over and over by the political left, that exploit the weaknesses of confidence and will too often found on the right.
The truth is more nearly that conservative voters do understand these power plays – understand them perfectly – and wonder in intense frustration why their political leaders don’t, and seem to be satisfied with the pattern of being confounded and silenced by them.
What Jorge Ramos was trying to do yesterday was something the left gets away with incessantly, in many forums and in multiple ways – and has been getting away with for decades. He was trying to exercise a heckler’s veto over Trump’s media moment.
Although he spoke in moderate tones, Ramos behaved, in principle, exactly like any rude, shrill heckler. He wouldn’t shut up and wait his turn when he was asked to. He assumed a missionary attitude and tried to override Trump’s management of the Q&A session, as if he, Ramos, had a moral right to dictate its terms.
This is the kind of socially ambiguous situation in which Republicans and conservatives have been getting their clocks cleaned, throughout the entire lives of most of the people walking the earth today. There’s no police-power law or rule of human interaction that automatically kicks in, in such instances. Two people decide on the spot how they’re going to settle it between them. And Trump, instead of visibly backing down and looking kind of peevish or foolish – regardless of the outcome – evinced aggression under control, and decisiveness.
He didn’t look like a nice guy. He did look like someone who was in control of himself, and had no intention of being heckled into submission.
I reiterate, once again, that I’m not a Trump fan. So I don’t say these things as someone who can envision voting for Trump. I think he’s wrong for politics and statesmanship, in part because he’s by nature a salesmanship and profits guy – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but politics is about priorities other than profits. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t need government.
But it’s quite fascinating, actually, that many of our OCRs can see clearly the dynamics of power plays when they’re enacted between the Obama administration and foreign governments, but seem to miss the power plays they themselves – the OCRs – are regularly subject to from the left.
The people see the power plays. They see them very clearly, and they see how the power plays, in various guises, keep conservative voices from ever being heard on their own terms. Here’s a short-answer test for OCRs:
1. Can most people articulate, pretty accurately, what Donald Trump’s stated position is on securing the U.S. border with Mexico and cutting off the inflow of illegals? What do you think, yes or no?
2. Now: can most people articulate, pretty accurately, the stated position of the other GOP candidates on securing the U.S. border with Mexico and cutting off the inflow of illegals? Yes or no?
I submit that even the most trenchant of the other candidates – Ted Cruz comes to mind – haven’t communicated positions so clear and pointed that most people could articulate them accurately. Trump has.
And please get this, if you get nothing else. The people understand something the OCRs apparently don’t. I’ll put it in bold here so no one will miss it.
Trump gets his message across by defeating the power plays of the media.
Watch him in every interaction with the media: they’re trying to make him back down by framing each point in the ambiguous or prejudicial terms that work to the left’s advantage. They won’t shut up and let him frame it his way, any more than they’ll shut up for Walker or Rubio or Cruz.
But Trump isn’t afraid to confront their “gotcha” premises head-on. It doesn’t bother him if, say, the implication of his policy is that families may have to be rounded up by the police and deported.
He doesn’t fear to let that implication be out there. What the people see is that lack of fear.
It’s actually obvious, from his words and body language, that Trump has no bloodthirsty desire to see young families frog-marched across the border. Nor are the people united in such a vision. Most of Trump’s fans would envision, I think, some combination of a few instances of arrest and deportation, along with a genuine increase in security at the border and in work places – which is perfectly feasible – and a much broader natural attrition as other illegals take note, and decide to leave, or not come, on their own. The people, in general, expect that true, honest enforcement of the laws we already have would act as a deterrent and incentive, causing the great majority of illegals to self-select out of their illegal condition.
My point here isn’t to argue policy, but to highlight that what voters are seeing from Trump is not necessarily perfect agreement with the exact policies each voter favors; it’s a fearless attitude about taking on the deceptive policy patterns that hide behind ambiguity and the heckler’s veto of the left.
Finally, consider this. The last Republican candidate to communicate so effectively, right across the heckler noise from the left, was Ronald Reagan.
It is tiresome — frankly, stupid — to react to this statement with some version of the mindless point that “Trump is no Reagan!” Of course Trump is no Reagan: not in terms of philosophical maturity about politics, man, and the state. And certainly not in terms of personal leadership habits: statesmanship, breadth of political vision, consensus-building (which is different from consensus-sniffing; although for the record, I don’t accuse Trump of the latter. I do accuse many Republicans of it, however, as well as most Democrats).
No one is saying Trump is Reagan reincarnate. But Trump has one key Reaganesque element: he has the same effective communication that Reagan achieved – communication on his own terms – in spite of that heckler’s veto the left has felt entitled to for so long.
Don’t doubt the people on this. They’re right. No one who fails to understand that can possibly lead America into a revival of the habits of liberty, limited government, prosperity, goodwill, and wisdom.