That’s what many of his critics have been saying: that President Trump has brought the deranged media/political assault against him on himself.
And he has. But not the way they mean.
Trump hasn’t brought it on himself by committing crimes. If there were any evidence of crimes, we would already know about it. When an army of snoops is urgently trying to come up with something, anything, real evidence doesn’t sit unfound.
Trump’s political opponents have been moving earth for over two years to find some. But they have yet to offer a shred of actual evidence. (As Ben Stein says, in a must-read post at the American Spectator, if merely expressing suspicion or making substanceless allegations about someone is enough to manufacture probable cause, then he expresses it right now about Barbara Boxer, and where she got the dough to swing that big auxiliary home in pricey Rancho Mirage.)
Trump also hasn’t brought it on himself by tweeting provocatively, calling people names, or doing other unconventional, unseemly things unbefitting his office.
If doing stuff like that justifies other people in trying to overthrow America’s constitutional system of government, in favor of mob demands and officials of the California Democratic Party waving their middle fingers and hollering “F**k Donald Trump! F**k Donald Trump!”, then somebody should have just offed the unpresentable Lyndon Johnson when we had the chance.
Andrew Jackson? A whack in the head in a dark alley. Warren Harding, what a buffoon. Law and order was way too good for his patoot. Come to think of it, Teddy Roosevelt got awful flamboyant there, with the firearms and the big-game hunting and the political incorrectness out the wazoo. What were they thinking back then, letting him be president without torches and pitchforks outside his door every morning?
What Trump’s unconventional ways have mainly exposed is how utterly without character too many of his opponents are.
They have also exposed how overly focused his critics tend to be on manner and device. It seems to me that there are quite a number of Republicans and right-wing pundits who would be content to see the republic and the rule of law go under, as long as everything was done “decently and in order.”
An “asymmetric” war is, in fact, being waged against our constitutional republic, and Trump’s critics are complaining about how he talks.
But the central reason Trump has brought the blowback on himself is that he is fighting back against our assailants in the war on the republic.
That’s why they are attacking him so hard. Because he represents a threat, not to law and order, but to its opposite: arbitrary, unaccountable government.
That arbitrary, unaccountable government is what the progressive left has been slowly instituting for decades, largely through the creation of agencies and commissions, which do exactly what the Declaration of Independence recounted of George III:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Too many Americans today don’t even know the difference between Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, or between their state courts and their state commissions on “equality in the workplace” or whatever. The whole project of progressivism is to obscure that difference, until people simply see “government” as a vague, indistinct source of Authority, against which it is sacrilege to oppose one’s opinions.
That is the complete opposite of the rule of law, and law and order.
Trump’s great offense has been declining to observe the ritual forms of the Washington executive, which have kept the public complacent about what’s going on with their government for years. Instead of acting like a standard-issue modern president, Trump has not acted like a standard-issue modern president.
There’s nothing illegal about that. Where there are actual laws to observe, Trump has observed them. But what he has done is unconventional. And in doing it, he shows up the paradigm of convention – which is what the war on our republic has depended on for decades, to run interference for it.
Trump hasn’t just dispensed with forms, either. He’s been getting things done: putting progressive-agenda-busters into the departments and agencies; rolling back regulation; shifting our military operations in Iraq and Syria to a posture of greater initiative and purpose; getting Neil Gorsuch added to the Supreme Court.
He is quite literally undoing some of the work done by the Obama executive over the previous eight years. In time, he may get to things that were done before Obama took office. There is a great deal still left to undo. A lot of it, like Obamacare, requires the cooperation of Congress.
Trump has brought the vicious assault on himself by undoing the iconic, unquestioned status of “government” in the public mind – which by itself is a catastrophe for progressivism – and beginning to dismantle the tools of arbitrary rule. Law and order have nothing to fear from Trump. But the progressive idea of undifferentiated “government” as a god-like authority does.
Ironically, this is not because Trump is a systematizer of political philosophy about limited government. I’m the first one to say that’s ironic. My choice all along was Ted Cruz , because he is such a systematizer, and a very fine one.
We don’t know what Cruz would have been able to accomplish in four months in office. I’m quite sure the jackals would have been baying around him as they are around Trump; but what Cruz wouldn’t have done so effectively is help Americans get over their government-worship. As long as our government is at least pretending to behave according to conventional expectations, too many of the people are too easily fooled about what it’s doing – and what’s healthy, in general, for government to be allowed to do.
Trump busts that paradigm. With Trump in office, we’re forced to think hard about what our government is supposed to be to us. No other candidate who has run in my lifetime could have had that effect. It is an effect progressives correctly perceive as an existential threat, to their construct of god-like “government.” If that construct doesn’t rule the people’s minds, progressives cannot rule the people.
Of course Trump has brought the assault on himself. By doing what he promised, as a candidate, he is conducting a deep strike on the progressives’ operational center of gravity. He’s doing what his voters want. In our political environment today, that’s what “bringing it on yourself” looks like.