Trump’s chal­lenge to of­fi­cial Washington

The smug es­tab­lish­ment still doesn’t get what’s hap­pen­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Pete Hoek­stra

The bi­par­ti­san Washington elite still can­not grasp the Don­ald Trump phe­nom­e­non. How can some­one pos­si­bly suc­ceed in pol­i­tics by telling grass­roots Amer­ica that he un­der­stands their anx­i­eties and in­tends to do some­thing about them? The Belt­way crowd has for years con­di­tioned the coun­try to ex­pect lofty plat­i­tudes fol­lowed by failure and in­ac­tion.

When the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent speaks, large con­stituen­cies hear a straight­for­ward mes­sage. Then of­fi­cial Washington — in all of its con­tempt for vot­ers — anat­o­mizes and reads be­tween the lines un­til they have grossly dis­torted his words.

For ex­am­ple, Mr. Trump’s pol­icy of “Amer­ica First” says that he will place U.S. in­ter­ests at the top of the agenda when he ne­go­ti­ates with his con­tem­po­raries on the world stage. The D.C. es­tab­lish­ment runs to the his­tory books and find sim­i­lar­i­ties with the iso­la­tion­ists of the 1930s. So, Mr. Trump must be an iso­la­tion­ist, right?

Wrong. Mr. Trump is telling hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans that he will fight for their jobs and pros­per­ity in trade deals and other in­ter­na­tional agree­ments. He ap­pre­ci­ates their frus­tra­tion with po­lit­i­cal fig­ures who ap­pear more con­cerned about ac­com­mo­dat­ing multi­na­tional grievances than the fu­ture of their own coun­try­men.

For years, free-trade deals have been any­thing but free. They are com­plex doc­u­ments that run thou­sands of pages long and pick win­ners and losers. The U.S. cit­i­zenry be­lieves that they are too of­ten the losers. They feel that they are the pat­sies in global eco­nomic af­fairs that re­quire the United States to open its mar­kets to for­eign com­peti­tors while for­eign mar­kets re­main largely sealed.

As a busi­ness­man, Mr. Trump rec­og­nizes that ev­ery­one in­volved must ben­e­fit un­der such ac­cords. Amer­i­cans be­come ex­cited by the prospect of a leader who will ac­tu­ally rep­re­sent their con­cerns and needs.

He talks about build­ing a wall at the bor­der with Mex­ico, which en­rages the D.C. aris­toc­racy. It’s im­prac­ti­cal, cruel and out­ra­geous, they say. Mean­while, they have only blown hot air about fix­ing im­mi­gra­tion for 20 years and have al­lowed the prob­lem to fes­ter into nearly un­con­trol­lable pro­por­tions.

The grass­roots in­tu­itively know that a na­tion gov­erned by laws can­not ex­ist with an open south­ern bor­der where il­le­gal work­ers, drug run­ners and ter­ror­ists walk across with rel­a­tive ease. They know that a na­tion of laws must en­force all of its laws with­out prej­u­dice if it is to sur­vive.

Mr. Trump talks about the trou­bles as­so­ci­ated with rad­i­cal Is­lam, in­clud­ing Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion. They wit­ness the mas­sacres in Paris, Brus­sels and now Or­lando. They see nearly un­reg­u­lated Euro­pean borders and the mass sex­ual as­saults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Amer­i­cans sense that some­thing is wrong, and that their lead­ers don’t con­front it. Amer­ica is look­ing like Europe.

Im­mi­gra­tion is a very sen­si­tive and del­i­cate topic in the United States be­cause it re­quires bal­anc­ing core Amer­i­can hu­man­i­tar­ian con­cerns with very real ex­is­ten­tial dan­gers. Mr. Trump has clearly touched a nerve with vot­ers.

Amer­i­cans don’t hate Mus­lims. They rec­og­nize that they have noth­ing to fear from much of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

Nei­ther are they blind. They’ve seen the be­head­ings and the geno­cide of re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in the Mid­dle East and Africa, as well as the sav­agery in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Paris, Brus­sels, Lon­don, San Bernardino and Fort Hood.

The cur­rent com­man­der in chief re­sponds by re­fus­ing to ac­knowl­edge that Is­lam plays any role in the threat from Is­lamic ter­ror. The White House has pro­hib­ited talk of rad­i­cal ji­had, even go­ing so far as to edit of­fi­cial tran­scripts and record­ings. It has in­stead be­come “work­place vi­o­lence” and “man-caused dis­as­ters.” Or­lando is “ter­ror” and “hate,” but not ji­hadist or Is­lamic ter­ror.

“What ex­actly would us­ing this la­bel ac­com­plish?” he asks.

Amer­i­cans know that the ap­proach isn’t hon­est and it’s not work­ing. Or­lando proves it, again.

Mr. Trump will, at a min­i­mum, en­gen­der a dis­cus­sion about the most press­ing na­tional se­cu­rity mat­ter of our time. Or­lando makes it more ur­gent.

Some­times he stum­bles into ar­eas he shouldn’t, as with his crit­i­cism of a judge pre­sid­ing over a law­suit against Trump Uni­ver­sity.

Mr. Trump speaks bluntly and of­ten abra­sively when he ad­dresses the is­sues, but he hears the grass­roots when they say they are sick and tired of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and the in­abil­ity to ac­com­plish any­thing.

Congress can’t even pass a bud­get. Does any­one hon­estly be­lieve that Washington’s con­tin­ued “kick the can down the road” ap­proach will re­turn the repub­lic to great­ness any­time soon?

The smug cul­ture of po­lite talk and in­ef­fec­tive­ness has not solved many of the prob­lems that plague the United States. The vot­ers have con­cluded that an hon­est bro­ker and ag­gres­sive per­son­al­ity might fi­nally get some­thing done in Washington.

Pres­i­dent Obama and the left built the foun­da­tion for the Trump cam­paign by their in­tol­er­ance. By trash­ing ev­ery Repub­li­can as an in­tol­er­ant, racist war­mon­ger, they re­moved all op­por­tu­nity for a thought­ful dis­cus­sion on na­tional se­cu­rity. Does any­one doubt that Hil­lary Clin­ton would not have de­ployed the same at­tacks if any of the other can­di­dates had won the nom­i­na­tion?

The po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment should not feign so much in­dig­na­tion over the rise of Don­ald Trump, es­pe­cially when it cre­ated the con­di­tions nec­es­sary for his suc­cess. Pete Hoek­stra is a for­mer chair­man of the U.S. House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

ILLUSTRATION BY GREG GROESCH/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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