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Does Trump’s Demagogic Pandering Turn the U.S. Against Itself?


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! (The Hollow Men, T.S. Elliot)

When it comes to the issue of border security and immigration, Americans are understandably angry.

Because he has boisterously exploited this anger, Donald Trump has been pushed to the forefront of the gaggle of “hollow men” (and a woman) competing in the GOP’s sham primary process. Yet, as I pointed out in a recent article, until lately Trump “has been one of the “made men” in the elitist faction’s cohort of entrepreneurs and financiers, a darling of its media propagandists.”

So in the last several weeks people started to react to the fact that some of his recent statements about amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegals reflect the pattern of his statements and actions for many years, a pattern that belies the impression created by the strident tone of the political punch lines he has recently deployed against illegal immigrants.

Over the weekend I read a report about how Trump is striving to deal with this outbreak of truth. In an interview on “Meet the Press” he appears to reject any approach that allows illegals to regularize their status without being deported. During Trump’s combative interview that aired on “Meet the Press” Sunday, he was uncompromising in his belief that illegal immigrants have got to be deported…. “We going to keep the families together, but they have to go…. We either have a country or we don’t have a country.”

Trump’s expedient move reminds me of an elastic band caught on a nail. For the time being he stretches the truth. But will he hold on to the position he has been forced to assume? The pattern of GOP quislings, for electoral purposes, is to ply conservatives with what they want to hear. Once elected they break their word in some “compromise” with the Democrats, on the plea that it’s necessary in order “to govern.”

With his present words Trump purports to be in opposition to the quislings’ Mike Pence/Gang of Eight approach to amnesty, even though his past actions suggests that he agrees with them. But the pattern of his whole deal-making life suggests that, when the crunch comes, he’ll make a deal, however compromising, just as the quislings have always done. In this respect, it makes no more sense to take Trump’s words at face value than it now does to do so with the words of the GOP’s platform or candidates. When people are willing to say whatever they must to win, their words are written in water.

The problem with Trump and the quisling GOP has to do with political character. It has to do with the tenor of Trump’s entire life as an unprincipled materialist, doing whatever it takes, giving money to whomever he has to, to serve his selfish interests, with no thought for the common good of our nation, and no commitment to it. The problem is his utter failure to speak to the moral purpose, not just of our immigration policy, but of our very existence as a nation. He is a man who says nothing that doesn’t serve some selfish interest, whether it is true (e.g., the facts about the damaging impact of elitist sponsored illegal immigration) or a corrupting lie (e.g., single payer health care is ideal). Now he is inviting the American people to debase itself to the same level.

In response to Trump’s abruptly hard line stance against amnesty, Anne Coulter tweeted her rapture: “I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper.” Coulter’s tweet is an apt illustration of the way Trump’s candidacy is intended to contribute to America’s self-destruction. Coulter brays for joy as Donald Trump panders to our anger. Her words suggest that what he does is so vital to our survival that we should be willing to let him represent us, even if doing so means sacrificing our respect for God’s endowment of unalienable right.

But that endowment is the primordial basis for our identity as a nation. If we follow the example Coulter gives in her tweet, we will let our outrage against illegal aliens lead us to acquiesce in actions that alienate us from ourselves. We will thus consume ourselves with anger. In doing so we will prove to the world that we have become a people of straw, easily set afire by a straw man, a firebrand thrust into our midst to kindle us toward self-destruction.

In Trump’s immigration reform policy statement he listed three core principles:

  1. A nation without borders is not a nation.
  2. A nation without laws is not a nation.
  3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.

These statements are true of nations in general. But in a profoundly telling and dangerous way they are not particularly true of the United States. Indeed, this is precisely what has made our nation exceptional. As you read this I will be completing the article in which I think this through.

If you wish to join me as I do so, the article should be available by late Thursday afternoon as the most recent column in this archive.


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