Trump’s to­tal cul­ture war

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY VIC­TOR DAVIS HAN­SON

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]

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