Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

How to Make America Great Again in 3 Easy Steps

December 02nd, 2016 by MC

Image result for maga hat trump camo

To my mind, the most distinctive feature of the recent presidential election was the way in which it scrambled previously-stable political coalitions. Even Mormon voters, who are perhaps more similar to one another in mindset and political views than any other religious group, found themselves opposed in ways they never thought possible: Mommy-blogger was divided against mommy-blogger, and church-baller against church-baller.

Mormon Trump voters and McMullin voters differed less in political or moral views than in the meaning they impute to the act of voting. McMullin voters (like my in-laws) seemed to think of their vote as an affirmation of their values. By withholding a vote from Trump, they were making a statement about what they consider to be acceptable behavior in a president.

Although I voted for Trump, I have no quarrel with the “endorsement” view of voting. Not one person in the whole country can say, or likely ever will be able to say, that his vote changed the result of the election. Thus, the “meaning” which we attribute to our individual vote is essentially metaphysical, and not really subject to rational argument. Does voting for a sinner make a voter complicit in the sin by assenting to it? If we refuse to vote for the least worst candidate for reasons of moral purity, are we accountable for the consequences when the most worst candidate wins? I am not qualified to answer these questions, and part of me thinks that Heaven itself would greet these moral questions with a shrug of indifference.

Eventually the vast majority of the 80% or so of Mormons who are Republican voted for Trump, despite a strong aversion to his crassness, sexual licentiousness, overt pridefulness and unkindness, etc. And it shouldn’t be hard to see why. As Megan McArdle tweeted on election night, “One thing liberals consistently failed to understand is how events of the last eight years have convinced Christians they’re under existential threat.” Indeed. Even if you voted for McMullin, I hope you can admit that you’d much rather see Justice Scalia (Praise Be Upon Him) replaced by someone from Trump’s list than by whichever Yale Scholar of Marxist Queer Legal Theory was behind Door Number 2.

I suspect that most Mormons voted for Trump out of such grim necessity, as elucidated in the Flight 93 essay. Yet, while I hold no brief for Trump as a man, I do think his election has more than a trivial chance of beneficially changing the direction of the country to an extent not seen since Reagan. I don’t know that that this is particularly likely, but it is also not implausible. Seemingly intractable political problems occasionally are solved in such a way that small victories snowball into somewhat larger victories, which snowball into massive change. By small and simple means are great things brought to pass.

A couple of examples:

First, the massive drop in NYC crime rates from the election of Rudy Giuliani in 1993 onwards, partly as a result of “broken windows” policing. Massive violent crime was once considered to be a completely inevitable aspect of urban life. Rather than simply promising to arrest all of the murderers, Giuliani’s solution was to change the entire social atmosphere of the city.

We only achieved the drastic reductions in crime then because we focused not only on murder… not only on rapes and shootings… but on so-called “petty offenses.” We realized that it is essential to create a social culture in which we always reinforce our shared commitment to the city. […]

Indeed, the criticism of the cynics ignores the reality that quality of life, from the beginning, was not an isolated campaign but an intrinsic part of our overall strategy to increase public safety, revive the City, and create a common social culture. And it is working. […]

The more people who drop a cigarette box or gum wrapper on the street today, the more people will tend to litter tomorrow. And conversely, the more people who pick up trash today and instill a feeling of pride in their neighborhood, the fewer people will litter tomorrow.

Enforcing seemingly minor municipal ordinances had a number of beneficial effects besides fostering civic pride and decency. It got police out of the doughnut shops and onto the streets, where they could stop law-breaking before it started, and befriend the good citizens who would become their tipsters. It got bad apples into jail before they could do something worse. It deterred crime for the smarter sort of criminal who could see the police weren’t messing around.

And then these effects compounded. When murder goes down by 30%, you have 43% more time to investigate the remaining murders, or to track down fugitives, which causes the rate to go down even further. When decreasing crime boosts property values, you get more tax dollars to hire more cops, etc. The result is a city murder rate about one-seventh of what it was 25 years ago.

Another example of massive problems getting better due to the Snowball Effect is Peak Oil. Back in the mid-2000s it looked like $100+ oil was going to be a fact of life in perpetuity. It wasn’t a silver bullet that caused production to skyrocket, it was each beneficial development compounding in effect. The massive prices spurred investment, which facilitated new discoveries and improved fracking technology. The increase in wells made fracking more affordable through economies of scale. By 2013, the poor fellows at The Oil Drum had to shut down their blog of doom due to lack of interest.

With that lengthy prologue, let me give three ways in which a change of direction from Donald Trump might, just might, compound into a noticeably better America.

  1. Reversing Illegal Immigration

Besides building a big, beautiful wall and refusing to release illegal aliens until they are deported, the third action item for Trump is to “Move criminal aliens out day one.” Trump cites the Center for Immigration Studies’ estimate that there are 2 million criminal aliens roaming free in the USA.

Now of course, most immigrants are not criminals, unless you count the crime of illegal immigration itself. But still, deporting 2 million non-citizens who have a criminal record is the proverbial $100 bill laying on the ground. Criminals not only inflict horrible costs on their victims, they drag down entire neighborhoods and cities, and gobble up government financial resources. Remember the effect that enforcing vandalism laws, etc. had in NYC, and imagine the effect that deporting 2 million criminals would have on the USA.

That’s before you even get to the effects of a tighter labor market. All net employment growth since the year 2000 has gone to immigrants. “Well, they work harder!” Probably. But Trump is not the president of “Hard Workers of the World.” He’s president of the USA, and our lax immigration policies have resulted in no real increase in wages for working class American men in four decades.

What if American workers got a raise? Would they have more reason to hope for the future, just enough hope to keep them from falling into heroin use? Would teenagers decide that summer jobs are worth it after all, instead of staying home and playing Call of Duty? When they then learn how to really, truly work, could the experience change these young men at a spiritual level, so that they become the pillars of our future communities?

I don’t want to get carried away here, but our national malaise is more spiritual than it is economic. In purely material terms, we have never been richer. But if a man knows that he’ll never be as respected as his grandfather was, for largely economic reasons, that’s a soul-killer. Keynes wasn’t all wrong about animal spirits.

And then there’s the minor fact that if we don’t stop massive third-world immigration in the very near future, we will quickly arrive at the scenario where conservative governance is entirely impossible.

  1. Re-Evaluating Trade Policy

Before you start throwing Milton Friedman books at me, please hear me out. I understand that most opposition to free trade is foolishly simplistic. Yes, there are gains from trade, losses of employment in one sector can be made up by an increase in the consumer surplus which frees up consumer spending and create new jobs, fine, fine.

I’m just a little more skeptical than I used to be. I’m sure the world as a whole is richer with a pure free trade regime. But again, Trump is not president of the “World as a Whole.” It is far from obvious that rich countries benefit from free trade as much as poor countries. And within a “rich” country, the costs of free trade fall almost entirely on the least among us.

It’s good that we can sell our products around the world. But would it kill us to have somewhat higher tariffs to protect domestic industries a bit? The Founders didn’t think so. You can’t save all the jobs that way, but you could save the ones on the knife’s edge of domestic profitability. Again, a small marginal effect on employment can compound itself in remarkable ways.

  1. Ending the Media’s Grip on Reality

If he does this, he’ll be one of the greatest presidents in history.

I’ve written before on how the taboos of political correctness cause massive distortions to public policy, and of course I’m not the first to say so. At this point, it’s pretty clear that we will never, ever stop digging deeper holes for our country until the mass media no longer has the power to shape our concept of reality.

Trump has the media scared, I think. First, the mere fact of his election is a blow to the credibility of all of the media know-it-alls who assured us that it can’t happen, won’t happen, don’t be such a moron and a rube for thinking that this could happen. Well, it happened. What else don’t they know?

Second, Trump has made the media truly embarrass itself in its Pravda-like effort to Stop Trump. As one of Steve Sailer’s commenters said, “Liberal journalists can forgive Trump for the stupid things he said. They cannot forgive him for the stupid things they’ve had to say.” Having completely eliminated the margin of rationality that used to exist between left-wing blogs and the nightly news (Russian hackers tipped the election! Trump once thought Miss USA should be thin!), the media will never recover Walter Cronkite’s status as Vox Dei. Not that he even deserved it, but never mind that.

Finally, Trump has greatly weakened the boundaries of what one can say without fear of a pogrom. Not for all of us, mind you. But this election was distinctive in that it brought a lot of people out of the woodwork who thought not a single person of importance believed what they did about the world. And now the president says whatever he wants. Some of it isn’t true, but a lot of it is obviously true, yet hasn’t been said in decades. In our topsy-turvy world, it’s the Emperor who brazenly points out who’s wearing clothes and who isn’t.

Comments (15)
Filed under: We transcend your bourgeois categories | Tags: , , , ,
December 02nd, 2016 04:45:19
15 comments

MC
December 2, 2016

Going back over this, I realize that I used the word “massive” too many times. Should have gone with “yuuuge.”


Andrew
December 2, 2016

Conservatives have been trained by the media to stay quiet and be shunned. I think that is what all these made up Trump “hate crimes” are about. They want the deplorables to never forget their place at the back of thrnbus.


Bruce Charlton
December 2, 2016

Lucid piece.

“it brought a lot of people out of the woodwork who thought not a single person of importance believed what they did about the world.”

– I think *that* is the key good, which has already been done, and may have lasting benefits.

“Does voting for a sinner… “, well *all* the candidates are sinners (just like everyone else) – including McMullin (who – I know *nothing* about him personally – as a modern elected politician – must surely be a corrupt serial liar).

Perhaps the difference is that Trump seems to be an *unrepentant* sinner, even boastful about some of his sins.


John Mansfield
December 2, 2016

Another thing he can do, connected to your Giulliani prologue, is something he can discontinue the government doing. His Justice Department and other agencies can choose not to go after local jurisdictions and institutions about the way they police, educate, build, etc.

Trump could do and may do some needed things, but a nation that managed to put him into power is a very sick one. Depravity has taken another jump into the mainstream. The nation needs repentance, which is a very un-Trumpian (and un-Clintonian) act.


Agellius
December 2, 2016

Great post. Despite its length I enjoyed reading it.


G.
December 2, 2016

We have division of labor here at the JG.

Me: filler.
Other bloggers: content.

If it were up to me, MC would post more. Always valuable stuff.


Vader
December 2, 2016

Bruce,

McMullin has never held elected office.


Simon
December 2, 2016

I watched an interview on CNN that included an editor from Breitbart and McMullin, and McMullin lied repeatedly. I will provide a link if requested.


Leo
December 3, 2016

Well said. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of the candidates. Since my voter registration is in California, which was certain to go to Hillary, I didn’t have to agonize as to the effect of my vote or lack of it.

I wish the President-elect well. We should keep him in our prayers and keep the pressure on him regarding the Supreme Court, religious freedom, and other key elements of his campaign.


Bruce Charlton
December 4, 2016

Further thoughts – ‘Making America Great’ is not a worthy goal, but is indeed an evil goal; unless greatness has at its heart being a Christian nation. Many ‘great’ empires have been (and are) tyrannies.

‘Easy Steps’ – if the steps seem easy, they won’t work. Our problem (in The West, generally) is that we ive in a psychotic world of lies such that it seems that nothing more than common sense and sensibleness will make things much better – but this neglects to consider that we would not be in the state we are in unless forces of immense power were preventing the spontaneous emergence of common sense.

Such forces are not simply going to melt-away, or else they would not have prevailed for so many decades.

So the steps cannot really be ‘easy’ – and if they *seem* easy, then they are not real, our analysis is defective.


MC
December 4, 2016

BC,

None of this will be easy. My use of “3 easy steps” in the post title was a facetious reference to self-help book titles and infomercials, etc.


Zen
December 5, 2016

I didn’t vote for him, but between him and the Establishment, I would slightly prefer him. If getting secret combinations to fight amongst themselves will slow our decay a bit, then I am for it. It is a bit like having a heart attack and ebola fight. It can’t be good for the patient, but it might slow destruction down just a little.

I am reminded of a Jaredite king who was more or less a good monarch, but who was immoral and therefore, did not do justice to himself.

The Lord is playing the LONG game here. He is building the church and preparing it for the day when civilization completely crumbles and the saints can help preserve both civilization and freedom. I certainly don’t feel ready to do that, so a little more time before things collapse is good, in my book.


Bruce Charlton
December 5, 2016

“a little more time before things collapse is good, in my book.”

I hope you are right – but up until now and in most of The West, more time has just meant ever wider and deeper corruption/ inversion.

As always, it is a matter of choices.


Vader
December 5, 2016

I agree with Bruce. The delay in Christ’s coming is not to give us more time to prepare; it is to give the world more time to ripen in iniquity, so that its utter destruction will be unquestionably just when it comes.


Andrew
December 5, 2016

The media says #MAGA means the 50’s, but it appears Trump is thinking the 80’s.

I’m still happy that a good half of the population chose to reject overt evil.

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