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December 09, 2015

David French: Trump and the Overton Window

A boorish and crude demagogue, but useful for smashing the walls of the leftist prison all political debate is had inside.

The leftward pressure on the Overton Window has been relentless, with conservatives reduced to applying herculean effort to simply maintain the cultural and political status quo. Yes, the Tea Party has nudged Republicans just a bit to the right, but itís a sign of the success of the Left that a relatively unchanged GOP can be labeled as ever more extreme and "reactionary." And few realities show this leftist success better than the fact that the Window now enables expressions of overt leftist hatred and bigotry -- against Christians, against conservatives, against whites, and often against Jews. Then along came Donald Trump.

On key issues, he didnít just move the Overton Window, he smashed it, scattered the shards, and rolled over them with a steamroller....

While many of Trumpís actual proposals are misguided, nonsensical, or untenable, by smashing the window, he's begun the process of freeing the American people from the artificial and destructive constraints of Left-defined discourse....

To be clear, this change is occurring both for good and for ill. The shattering of the window reflects the shattering of the American consensus, and the result will likely be deeper polarization, and even less civility, with further strains on the ties that bind our nation together. At the same time, however, the Left's very success at defining the terms of discourse meant that the price of civility and unity was all too often an acceptance of liberal norms and manners. It meant swallowing liberal pieties and confining your discourse to Left-approved terms. In other words, it often meant surrender.

It is interesting to note that one effect of this leftist-mediated "discourse" is that conservatives generally only argue in a single (permitted) mode: We can argue that our proposals achieve the priorities of the leftist socialist state better than the proposals of the left can achieve them.

We argue that our policies can better achieve the left's priorities -- but it's much rarer to hear the right object to the left's prioritization of wants. That only happens on certain touchstone issues (notably, cultural issues like guns, abortion, and gay marriage, where the difference between the left and right position cannot just be split in half).

By and large, we're forced to debate on the left's terms, and that means we're always proposing counter-proposals to achieve the left's priorities.

I can't express how unsuited Trump is for the presidency -- are we going to have a president so impulsive as to change his mind from "Let Putin handle ISIS, what has it got to do with us?" to "Let's bomb the shit out of ISIS" and "I'll handle terrorism so hard it'll make your head spin" based on a single thing he saw on TV (San Bernardino) which completely changed all of his thoughts?

But he is useful for plowing through the colossal, coralled-over shipwrecks and dead hulks of leftist thought that clog the trade-routes of political expression and debate.

Ben Sasse says the public is turning to "demagogues" like Trump, with all of his bullshit, because we're tired of the old demagogues of the establishment, and all of their bullshit.

I have bad news for people, and maybe the country: There is no way to stop Trump until "respectable" politicians begin to understand why he's winning and begin destroying the Legacy Failure of leftist mediated political thought themselves.

People keep talking about "When he loses." Listen to me: He is not going to lose. Not on the current trajectory, he won't.

Trump is setting loose passions -- some useful, some vital, and some demonic and destructive -- and people find it liberating to think freely for once in forever.

You can't beat that by offering rhetorical pablum like "I'm willing to say 'Radical Islamic Jihad.'" Well bully for you, and who the hell cares? The fetish with this phrase is a rhetorical stunt designed to convince the listener that the speaker has a Bold Apologetic Plan for Destroying Terrorism, while masking the fact that the ideas being proposed are basically Obama's, plus more bombing.

Trump is not going to "lose" -- passive voice. Someone will have to actually beat Trump, and no one's going to beat him by simply regurgitating the leftist-enforced Polite Company Conservative line.

Most of the candidates have been trying that; like Obama's "strategy" to "contain" ISIS, it's failing, and for the same reason: Because it fails, conceptually, to understand the problem and the nature of the enemy.


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posted by Ace at 02:29 PM

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