Culture, Politics

The Dreher Option: Misunderstanding the Trump Phenomenon

The Dreher Option - Misunderstanding the Trump PhenomenonIn my first two installments examining the Dreher option, I highlighted Rod Dreher’s inability to practice what he preaches, and I also identified his inability to fully understand the enemy we are up against. In this installment I will focus on his total misunderstanding of the Trump phenomenon.

The reasons people voted for Donald Trump are diverse. Many selected him because they recognized in his Democratic adversary a level of evil and corruption never witnessed in American political history. The thought of another President Clinton being accompanied in the White House by their equally repulsive spouse was simply too much to stomach. This reason alone motivated a lot of people to partake in the democratic process.

Others voted for Donald Trump because the policies he articulated during the campaign trail were objectively better than those of Hillary Clinton. When delicate sensibilities are ignored, the foreign and domestic policies of an America first approach resonate with the citizens of this country far more than progressive liberal internationalism. Protectionism and the reversal of a belligerent, non-sensical interventionist foreign policy run contrary to the ideological desires of the elitist political establishment, but they align quite nicely with the working people of the American nation. Bush republicanism and Clinton internationalism are the mirror images of each other, and both major parties have successfully marketed these two political creeds as being rival options. Donald Trump cut through the illusion of choice and exposed this lie by speaking to the people who were being harmed by the deception.

The accomplishment of Trump to expose this mendacity is entirely ignored by Dreher. I made a similar argument when addressing one of his articles prior to the election,

“The reasoning in this piece by Rod Dreher, as well as the article he is highlighting by Ross Douthat, is as unoriginal as it is naive. In fact, the arguments offered are nothing new. They are the same whiney talking points veiled under the persona of prestige “conservatives” have been making against Trump from the beginning of his campaign. According to Dreher, there has not been an anti-Trump conservative argument articulated as well as Douthat’s. Not only does such an assertion exhibit magnificent cluelessness, it is yet another demonstration of the confused intellectual weakness of Dreher’s political opportunism. Apparently, leftist revolutionaries causing civil unrest if they don’t win an election is a consequence we should not be willing to live with, but the potential for nuclear war with Russia is worth the risk.”

I continued with these remarks,

“These voices attempting to influence public opinion are so frustratingly incoherent that the lack of argumentative self-awareness is as transparent as it is infuriating. When so-called conservatives parrot the arguments of their alleged progressive rivals, something other than an election is motivating these opinions. This mysterious “something” stirring up the mirrored triteness of progressive sensibilities among the “conservative” elite is the dreaded loss of meaningful influence peddling.

Simply stated, reputations are at stake.

At least one thing has become very clear in this election season, journalistically minded “conservatives” prefer the fuzzy feelings of well-articulated speeches coupled with disastrous neo-Jacobin foreign and domestic policies to a vulgarian attempting to forge a new America first priority in these same policy avenues. As long as you speak in a way that is acceptable, policies don’t really matter; they some how magically become conservative if the words sound right.

Now, if someone has an argument against Trump’s policies, then make the argument. If, however, the argument is couched in the notion suggested by Douthat and Dreher, that Trump tramples on the “traditions” conservatives extoll, such an argument not only misses the point, but it ignores the fact that conservatism has roots going back further than George W. Bush.

I am starting to understand why these men are labeled ‘cuckservatives.’”

This argument still applies to our current situation.

To be sure, Trump’s presidency has been neoconned, and he has left so many of his most important campaign promises unfulfilled that even his greatest supporters are becoming exceedingly worried about the direction he is heading. But the unfortunate turn in foreign and domestic policy made by the Trump administration does not negate the lessons that should have been learned during the campaign, nor does it justify ignoring the political and cultural revelations that exploded before and after his inauguration.

What did we learn following the election of Donald Trump?

  1. First, the progressive left can no longer hide behind their tired slogans while pretending to have climbed the peak of moral enlightenment. The unhinged rioting following the electoral process demonstrates that democracy is not something these progressive radicals care much about unless the results land in their favor.
  2. Second, the neoconservatives dominating the G.O.P. since Bush II have now openly expressed their loyalties to the empire, totalitarian bureaucracy, and the deep state. William Kristol has stated that if he must choose the deep state or Trump, he prefers the shadow government to an elected executive.
  3. Third, is the total unreliability and corruption of the media. Their commitment to delegitimizing the Trump presidency and undermining a potential transition to sane, America first policies is an important reminder of the control corporations and special interests have over the political narrative.
  4. Fourth, is the power wielded by lobbying interests over the decisions concerning American foreign and domestic affairs. Most notably is the unrelenting influence the Israel Lobby has over our foreign policy. Within a matter of 100 days, President Trump transitioned from a committed non-interventionist to bombing Syria under the flimsiest of false flag pretenses. Intervention in Syria is primarily in the interest of the Jewish state, whose interests are fueled by AIPAC propaganda. Let’s be totally clear that intervention in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with America’s national security. Conducting air strikes against a country that is fighting a common enemy in the War on Terror weakens our security objectives. Moreover, it is also worth noting the profit attained by the Military Industrial Complex due to this operation. The maneuver made to allegedly punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people is an attempt to shift President Trump’s foreign policy back towards unilateral global military hegemony.

Dreher’s analysis of the Trump phenomenon has very little to say about any of this, which contributes to the deflation of his proposed counter-cultural, Christian revival.

Dreher argues,

“Today the culture war as we knew it is over. The so-called values voters – social and religious conservatives – have been defeated and are being swept to the political margins. Moral issues may not be as central to our politics as they once were, but the American people remain fragmented, often bitterly, by these concerns. Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to the problem of America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.”[1]

The only thing that seems delusional is Dreher’s reasoning. Consider for a moment that he completely contradicts himself when stating that social and religious conservatives have been swept to the margins, but these same social and religious conservatives found within the Catholic Church and Evangelical circles are a primary reason for Donald Trump winning the election. People who have been swept to the margins don’t usually hold sway over a national election. Moreover, I have yet to see anyone of serious intellectual merit argue that Donald Trump is not only the exemplification of Christian morality, but will also be the sole reason for the restoration of Christian ethics in the culture. Dreher’s analysis is based on constructing a robust straw man and then mercilessly beating it to death all while reality conveniently escapes his perspective.

Dreher says,

“Our big issues – abortion and religious liberty – were not part of the GOP primary campaign. Donald Trump captured the party’s nomination without having to court religious conservatives. In his convention acceptance speech, he ignored us. During the general election campaign, some prominent Evangelicals and a handful of leading Catholics climbed aboard the Trump train out of naked fear of a Hillary Clinton administration. In his upset victory, Trump captured 52 percent of the Catholic vote and a stunning 81 percent of the Evangelical vote.”[2]

This paragraph also contains glaring problems. It is ludicrous to argue that 52% of the Catholic vote and 81% of the Evangelical vote amounts to “some prominent Evangelicals” and a “handful of Catholics.” Those numbers indicate an overwhelming desire to elect a man for a diverse range of reasons, and only one of them might be “naked fear.” It is also entirely disingenuous to argue that “big issues” such as abortion played no role in the election. Abortion may not have played a role in the G.O.P. primary campaign because it is taken for granted that those in the Republican Party would articulate a pro-life position. The issue of abortion, however, did play a significant role in the general election due to the reality of Justice Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court. This is what Trump said about Hillary Clinton’s radically abhorrent views on late term abortion during the third presidential debate,

““Well, I think it’s terrible”…“If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day, and that’s not acceptable.”

To the contrary of Dreher’s political examination, the big issue of abortion played a significant role in the mind of the potential voter, especially the “politically homeless” conservative Christian.

As confused and double-minded as Dreher is on these issues, these remarks may be the most telling,

“For another, the church is not merely politically conservative white people at prayer. Many Hispanics and other Christians of color, as well as all who, for whatever reason, did not vote for the divisive Trump, do not thereby cease to be Christians. Holding the church together during the Trump years will pose a strong challenge to us all.

Besides, fair or not, conservative Christianity will be associated with Trump for the next few years, and no doubt beyond. If conservative Church leaders aren’t extraordinarily careful in how they manage their public relationship to the Trump administration, anti-Trump blowback will do sever damage to the church’s reputation. Trump’s election solves some problems for the church, but given the man’s character, it creates others. Political power is not a moral disinfectant.

And this brings us to the more subtle but potentially more devastating effects of this unexpected GOP election victory. There is first the temptation to worship power, and to compromise one’s soul to maintain access to it. There are many ways to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, and some prominent pro-Trump Christians arguably crossed that line during the campaign season. Again, political victory does not vitiate the vice of hypocrisy.”[3]

These paragraphs uncover Dreher’s real concern – image. Remember, it was also image that deeply concerned Dreher during the Kim Davis situation. His obsession about how the “church” might look to the culture is one of the most glaring weaknesses in almost everything he writes concerning culture and political activism. It demonstrates, once again, that he does not understand the enemy Christians are up against. Pretending that President Trump might reflect badly on the “church” because he is “vulgar” ignores the fact that the progressive left always casts Christians in a negative light no matter who is the potential, or actual Republican president. President Trump isn’t the first person to be labeled a fascist by progressives, and his supporters are not the first ones to be smeared by leftists as bigots, homophobes, xenophobes, Islamophobes, racist, sexist etc. No matter how well polished and politically correct a person might be, if they oppose the progressive social, cultural, economic, and political agenda in even the slightest of detail, they are painted with a pejorative brush.

In fact, Dreher gives a hat tip to the progressive narrative by saying that the church isn’t “merely politically conservative white people at prayer,” and that not voting for the “divisive Trump” doesn’t amount to relinquishing one’s Christian status. Who on earth is making this argument? Which serious thinker has ever argued that Christianity in America can be demographically identified on a one-to-one basis with “politically conservative white people at prayer”? Which conservative argued that by not voting for the “divisive” Donald Trump, “Christians of color” would cease being Christians? Who on earth is Dreher arguing with at this point? Who is he trying to reach with this argument? Who is he trying to impress by borrowing from the progressive guide to smearing Christians?

By suggestively associating Christianity with racial distinctions such as this concedes even more ground to the progressive left who eagerly link Trump’s victory to white Christian backlash against the first black president. Giving a wink to the left as he is offering advice to the “church” reveals the lack of seriousness in his phony option.

President Trump is not the new Moses leading Christians to the political Promised Land. However, he did show Christians a thing or two about how to break through establishment narratives that are constructed to protect the ruling class from taking responsibility for the disastrous effects of their policies. No matter what was done to try and destroy his campaign, he went after the internationalist trade deals and foreign policy of the establishment elite. Whenever a Republican candidate tried to tame Trump’s approach, he increased the intensity of his message. The best example of this is how he completely decimated Bush republicanism with an unrelenting attack on the failure of protecting America on 9/11. As I have argued before, the President doesn’t get to ignore the catastrophic events of 9/11 by saying, “Okay….starting now,” when keeping tally on the security of the nation.

Most importantly is that Donald Trump was able to identify with the working class men of America. These are the men who view themselves as the patriarchs of their families, communities, and country. They saw in Trump a person who was unafraid of the progressive onslaught looking to diminish his own patriarchal identity. The primal nature of the masculine protector was reignited by the nationalist message of the anti-feminist Trump. How many Republican candidates would have had the resolute commitment to protecting our country from a Hillary Clinton presidency by saying, in her presence, that she is a “nasty woman?” How many of the “greatest Republican candidates” in the history of the party would have said that if they were in charge, Hillary Clinton would be in jail? How many of them would have brought the past victims of Bill Clinton’s exploits to a presidential debate?

The answer – none of them would have gone after Clinton in this way because they have buried deep in their cerebellum the cultural feminist implant. They would have been afraid to speak the truth about Hillary Clinton for fear of being labeled a sexist. The nationalist patriarch Donald Trump, having purged himself of the 3rd wave “mother-may-I”[4] cultural mentality, possessed no such fear. The masculine protector doesn’t tremble when hearing the criticisms of weaklings who proudly proclaim themselves to be feminists.

What Donald Trump showed Christians is that you don’t have to surrender an inch to the progressives in order to defeat them. The same things that were said about Trump would have been said about Jeb Bush or Governor Kasich if they had won the primary. By all accounts of political decency and respectable decorum, Mitt Romney should have been the perfect candidate to run against President Obama, but the left attacked and destroyed him the same way they went after Trump. The difference being that the masculinity of the Trump persona intensified rather than yielding to the pressure. The Christians and workingmen naturally drifted toward the message of family, community, and the nation for a reason. The psychological character of patriarchal fraternity and the moral virtue of the masculine protector is imbued in the very fiber of what it means to be a male. And because Christian men are called to these duties, they gravitate toward the message of Donald Trump rather than the “crunchy cons” like Rod Dreher, or the country club conservatives who look down their noses while viciously attacking the blue-collar laborer.

Dreher misses all of this because he too is attempting to pacify the radically vitriolic nature of the progressive leftist enemy Christianity is facing in the culture war. This brand of pseudo-traditionalism the Dreher option is pushing will accomplish nothing more than losing even more ground to the progressives gearing up for the next battle. And until Dreher can begin to understand the deleterious consequences progressive feminism has had on our culture, he will inexorably miscalculate the vital importance of Christian patriarchal fraternity working in united fashion to baptize the nations.

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] Pg. 79

[2] Pg. 80

[3] Pg. 81

[4] This phrase is taken from a Jack Donovan essay titled, “Mother May I” Masculinity

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2 thoughts on “The Dreher Option: Misunderstanding the Trump Phenomenon

  1. Pingback: Socratic Catholic Archive | Defense for the Hope

  2. Pingback: The Dreher Option Roundup | The Socratic Catholic

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