Trump’s total culture war
Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf.
As a result, not even former President George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of his time in office, Trump, his family, his friends and his businesses have been investigated, probed, dissected and constantly attacked.
In 2016 and early 2017, Barack Obama appointees in the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice tried to subvert the Trump campaign, interfere with his transition and, ultimately, abort his presidency. Now, congressional Democrats promise impeachment before the 2020 election.
The usual reason for such hatred is said to be Trump's unorthodox and combative take-no-prisoners style. Critics detest his crude and unfettered assertions, his lack of prior military or political experience, his attacks on the so-called bipartisan administrative state, and his intent to roll back the Obama-era effort of “fundamentally transforming” the country leftward.
Certainly, Trump's agenda of closing the border, using tariffs to overturn a half-century of Chinese mercantilism, and pulling back from optional overseas military interventions variously offends both Democrats and establishment Republicans.
Trump periodically and mercurially fires his top officials. He will soon appoint his fourth national security adviser within just three years.
Trump's economy is booming as never before in the 21st century: nearrecord-low unemployment, a record number of Americans working, increases in wages and family incomes, low interest rates, low inflation, steady GDP growth and a strong stock market.
Yet the real source of Trump derangement syndrome is his desire to wage a multifront pushback – politically, socially, economically and culturally – against what might be called the elite postmodern progressive world.
Contemporary elites increasingly see nationalism and patriotism as passe. Borders are 19thcentury holdovers. The European Union, not the U.S. Constitution, is seen as the preferable model to run a nation.
The media can no longer afford to be nonpartisan and impartial in its effort to rid America of a reactionary such as Trump, given his danger to the progressive future.
America's ancient sins can never really be forgiven. Thousands of buildings, monuments and statues dedicated to American sinners of the past must be destroyed, removed or renamed.
A new America supposedly is marching forward under the banner of ending fossil fuels, curbing the Second Amendment, redistributing income, promoting identity politics and open borders, and providing free college, free health care and abortion on demand.
An insomniac Trump fights all of the above nonstop and everywhere. In the past, Republican presidents sought to slow the progressive transformation of America but despaired of ever stopping it.
No slugfest is too trivial for Trump. Sometimes that means calling out former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for persuading NFL stars to kneel during the national anthem. Huge, monopolistic Silicon Valley companies are special Trump targets. Sometimes Trump enters cul-de-sac Twitter wars with Hollywood has-beens who have attacked him and his policies.
For all the acrimony and chaos – and prognostications of Trump's certain failure – a bloodied Trump wins more than he loses. NATO members may hate Trump, but more are finally paying their promised defense contributions. China was long due for a reckoning. Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation proved fruitless.
Some of the most prominent Trump haters – Michael Avenatti, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Antony Scaramucci and Rep. Adam Schiff – either have been discredited or have become increasingly irrelevant.
Trump has so enraged his Democratic adversaries that the candidates to replace him have moved farther to the left than any primary field in memory. In a way, the left-wing Democratic presidential candidates understand Trump best. If he wins his one-man crusade to stop the progressive project, they are finished, and their own party will make the necessary adjustments and then sheepishly drift back toward the center.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing au[email protected]