America’s current situation has been called a ‘cold civil war’, ‘mass derangement’, ‘an unprecedented attack on freedom’, a populist revolt, a Deep-State coup, a ‘resistance’ motivated by a ‘higher calling’, and many other things. Traditionally, socio-economic class, race, and ethnicity have determined allegiances in America. Lately, new fault lines projected by sex, lifestyle, mindset, attitudes toward authority, education, and self-esteem, are throwing expectations based only on demographics into disarray. America’s 2016 election upset expectations because the standard demographics failed to capture hidden dynamics that became public that year. With these new fault lines in mind, we ask First, what happened? Second, why? And Third, what next?
1. What Happened? Many in America and around the world were surprised that the American people bestowed their highest office on a brash, politically inexperienced, egocentric billionaire – Donald Trump. That they did so, though fully aware of his flaws from a relentless negative media campaign, was even more shocking. Popular loathing of the Clintons, Obama, and the politically-correct dictates they represented had existed for some time, but had been suppressed and silenced. Donald Trump’s candidacy resonated with a large bloc of voters who had been abandoned, ignored, and contemptuously dismissed by leaders of both political parties as hopelessly ignorant, technologically backward, bigoted, addicted to guns and folk-religion, in constant need of instruction by their betters. Clinton called them ‘a basket of deplorables‘. From their own experience of a decade of stagnation, however, they learned that credentialed experts in the higher echelons of government and elected officials had failed in their most important duties – advancing the national interest. And the public statements of these officials confirmed that the political class did not really have the best interests of anyone but themselves at heart. Donald Trump’s appeal to American national interest and common sense gained a decisive electoral victory, 304 to 227.
The American Founders deliberately required presidents to secure broad political backing from geographically dispersed urban and rural districts, rather than by popular vote. In 2016, Clinton received 65 million votes, Trump 63 million, though without California it would have been 58 million for Trump, 56 million for Clinton. San Francisco, San Jose (Silicon Valley), and Los Angeles gave Clinton majorities of 76.7%, 72.9%, and 66.6% respectively; Washington DC 92%, a proportion that Leonid Brezhnev might have envied. After these totals were recorded, California removed 1.5 million inactive names (people who had moved, died, or were otherwise ineligible) in June 2019 from its Los Angeles registered list, in response to a lawsuit by Judicial Watch showing there were 12 percent more registered voters than adult citizens in Los Angeles (Judicial Watch v Dean C Logan, citing violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 52 U.S.C. § 20507-8). Trump won popular majorities in Sunbelt and Rustbelt cities like Birmingham Alabama, Oklahoma City, and Jacksonville Florida, neutralizing Clinton’s big-city advantage by attracting voters in smaller cities, suburbs, and rural areas. His margin of victory in several crucial Midwest states was only an accumulated hundred thousand or so votes.
Thus it fell to Donald Trump, a crude street-smart outer-borough real-estate developer, to articulate a new version of traditional American values, in opposition to the political class and related elites. These elites had already disqualified themselves for power through a long series of mistakes, though questioning their wisdom was a kind of dissent that dare not speak its name – until Trump arrived. The very crudity of his speech served as evidence of his sincerity. He unleashed in many a long-suppressed resentment of political-correctness, legitimating a sense that the country had lost its way. His rallies attracted large enthusiastic crowds, in marked contrast with Clinton’s low-turnout teach-ins. Repeated media exposure of Trump’s escapades had no effect but to further outrage those who were already outraged. Rich, famous, well-married to his third wife, radiating self-confidence, Trump assembled a winning electoral coalition for an unapologetic program of economic and political reform determined by national interest, rather than by globalist or other ideology.
Contrary to his impulsive demeanor, Trump’s economic program was based on careful calculation. His June 2016 speech to the Detroit Economic Club put forth a plan to cut Government regulations and taxes to promote new-business formation, re-negotiate trade agreements to encourage more domestic manufacturing, have European allies pay more for their own defense, enable additional oil drilling and pipelines for energy independence, and improve transport infrastructure. Trump’s non-ideological approach rejected the free-trade mantra which had driven manufacturing offshore, destroyed American jobs, and depressed the wages of those jobs that remained. He proposed to change economic incentives to align business decisions with U.S. national interest. Although this plan received scant attention in the media, which was much more interested in scandal-mongering, it formed the core of what since brought U.S. economic growth to levels deemed impossible by his predecessor.
Candidate Trump declared that if elected, he would steer U.S. foreign policy toward ‘getting along better with Russia’. Russia’s cooperation could help check China’s ambitions, fight Islamist terror, and perhaps resolve various regional problems. Yet President Obama, three weeks before leaving office, on December 29, 2016, applied additional sanctions to Russia, whose purpose was revealed in the later entrapment of Trump campaign official Michael Flynn. Flynn asked Russian Ambassador Kisyliak, in a conversation recorded by the FBI, to not respond to the last-minute sanctions because they would soon be revoked. A purportedly ‘informal’ interview of Flynn by FBI Deputy Director McCabe, without counsel, resulted in a perjury trap and Flynn’s removal from the post of National Security Adviser.
Mrs Clinton while Secretary of State had approved the transfer of 20 percent of the North American Uranium supply to a Russian company, in exchange for a $150 million donation to the Clinton Foundation. In an email published by Wikileaks, a message from Clinton campaign manager Podesta to the candidate identified this as her most prominent weakness, and suggested she find something worse concerning Trump and Russia. In July 2016 FBI officials launched a counterintelligence investigation of Trump, soon joined by the CIA, into ‘collusion’ between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Not finding any evidence, they set out to create some by arranging meetings between Trump campaign staff and people purporting to act as Russian agents in possession of ‘dirt’ on Clinton.
Soon after this, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) commissioned British ex-spy Christopher Steele to find kompromat on Donald Trump. Steele complied, producing from third-hand paid sources in Russia, wild stories about Trump colluding with Russian leaders and prostitutes. Bob Woodward and many other independent observers called the Steele dossier ‘garbage’, due to obvious errors such as its references to a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami, meetings in Prague that never occurred, and its complete lack of factual evidence. Instead of paying Steele his $160,000 directly, the DNC routed the payment through a law firm and recorded it as ‘legal expenses’, a violation of campaign finance law (52 USC § 30104b). The law firm paid Fusion GPS (a firm specializing in such literature), and Fusion GPS paid Steele.
The FBI/CIA counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump was already in progress before Steele’s opus was fabricated, but in their haste the heads of those agencies neglected to specify exactly why their investigation was necessary for national security. Seeking authority for additional investigations into the Trump campaign they submitted the dossier as evidence to a special court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) to hear requests from law enforcement agencies in secret. Judges granted the requested warrants based on the FBI’s assertions that it had found sufficient merit in the dossier’s allegations. In fact they had not analyzed the dossier at all. Then, in August 2016, the Steele dossier’s real purpose was revealed. According to emails between FBI officials Page and Strozk the dossier was to serve as an ‘insurance policy’ to assure a quick end to the Trump presidency in the event the unthinkable – his election victory – were to happen.
FBI Director Comey presented President-Elect Trump with the Steele dossier on January 6, 2017, two weeks before Inauguration Day, without, however, informing him that it had come from the DNC. Comey also denied that Trump himself was a subject of investigation. Comey then circulated the Steele dossier, without analysis, to other government agencies and to the New York Times. Investigations continued for two years, culminating in a report by former FBI Director Mueller that found no evidence of Russian Government ‘interference’, ‘collusion’, or ‘meddling’ in the 2016 U.S. election. Having failed to find anything relating to Russia, or any ‘meddling’ in the U.S. election, in September 2019 Trump’s political opponents in Congress next accused him of misusing his presidential power by asking the Ukrainian government to look into questionable payments to former Vice-President Biden and his son. This they deem an impeachable offense. If referred to the Senate, a vote of two-thirds of the Senators is required for conviction, considered nearly impossible by everyone concerned.
2. Why. Top officials of the CIA, FBI, and Departments of Justice and State could not conceive of the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president. In their minds it was both unacceptable and incredible. Not in their most dreaded prospect could it ever come to pass that such a person, ignorant of the ways of government, would obtain dominion over them; nor that the electorate would fail to heed the officials’ own superior wisdom. Seeing in the accession of Donald Trump a threat to their own power, prestige and position, they were driven to the conclusion that this would do irreparable harm to the nation. In logical sequence, their duty to prevent it appeared before them as a near-sacred responsibility, as was their duty to undo the election if it did not go their way. Each step determined the next one. After the election, these top officials had much more to fear than being cast into the political wilderness: Discovery of their use of Government agencies to conduct political espionage (5 USC §7323), false representations of warrant requests to the FISA court (50 USC §1805), unauthorized disclosure of communications intelligence, such as leaks of classified information, ‘unmaskings’ of innocent people swept up in the NSA surveillance dragnet, in response to indiscriminate ‘about’ queries (18 USC §798), and sedition to overthrow his Administration (18 USC §2384). By violating espionage, judicial procedure, disclosure, and sedition laws, these officials risked not only their positions of power, they also face even more severe consequences.
To understand why Donald Trump prevailed against the combined forces of the intelligence agencies, Justice and State Departments, the Democratic Party and half the Republican Party, the major media, and the oft-expressed opinions of former top officials and foreign leaders, we must understand why Americans so thoroughly rejected elite authority in all its forms. The astonishing transformation of popular deference to elite authority into distrust and disbelief occurred gradually over time extending back to the very origins of this elite. Throughout most of the 20th century, a foreign policy elite composed almost entirely of New York bankers and lawyers shaped American finance, the postwar recovery of Europe and Japan, and the postwar Bretton Woods global system. American banks lent money, American exports went to war-destroyed regions, the American empire reigned supreme except where challenged by the Soviet Union. After the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 – of which the Warren Commission’s single-bullet theory elicited widespread disbelief – the conduct of U.S. foreign policy fell into the hands of academics who ran the fatally flawed war in Vietnam. The 1970s saw the precipitous decline of the U.S. Dollar, the Arab oil embargo and quadrupling of oil prices, and confirmation of the American defeat in Vietnam.
Academia during the same blasted decade was hollowed-out by post-moderns claiming truth was relative, whose nihilist program installed vacuous counter-cultural authority in place of Western civilization. In the graphic arts (a leading indicator of cultural shifts), gratuitously offensive and repulsive cartoons displaced craftsmanship, composition, and beauty. Classroom theatrics supplanted learning, professors became entertainers seeking audience ratings and research funding conditioned by U.S. or foreign government biases. In every domain of knowledge, shrill arguments for progressively more absurd premises discredited expertise in general.
Just as ‘nature abhors a vacuum’, so too does culture. Bereft of religious and secular authority, unable to think for themselves, and uncertain of their identities and prospects, Americans, especially the young, turn to utopian-socialist fantasies and to doomsday cults. Predictions of the end of the world vary – some say ten years, others 12 years, still others grant our lease on life as much as 20 or 30 years. Islamic death-cults bring their own version of hell on earth through spectacular atrocities, while silencing critics with cries of ‘Islamophobia’. Promoters of cosmetic sex-surgery fabricate yet another victim-group, while upending the most fundamental qualities of human identity. Academics and journalists now instruct readers and viewers in what to think and feel, advancing the cult of victimology with their endless screeds on injustice. All these ‘victims’ have well-organized groups demanding preferences, reparations, vast new government expenditures, or all three, from everyone else. Should anyone question whether this is worthwhile, that person is called a racist, misogynist, bigot, climate-denier, or nationalist, in order to silence him.
This diverse cast of characters supplies their advocates with opportunities for virtue-signaling, the conspicuous display of moral superiority to their fellow-citizens. Like Renaissance princes who purchased indulgences from the Church, modern grandees seek assurance of their own moral salvation. But unlike those who financed their own self-esteem centuries ago, our current celebrities use other people’s money to prop themselves up.
With the financial collapse of 2007 – 2008, it became clear that experts understood neither its causes, its likely consequences, nor what to do. Americans watched in horror as their own incomes and wealth shrank while more than $150 billion was funneled into each of four financial organizations: AIG, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. This was equivalent to the cost of all hospital care in the U.S. in 2005. Each $150 billion tranche could have paid for all the aircraft the Air Force sought, or all the aircraft carriers the Navy sought. Instead, what America got from the largest taxpayer-funded transfer of wealth in the history of the world was a decade of stagnation, hollowed-out manufacturing, a weakened military, neutered alliances, and a much-reduced geopolitical position. It took about a decade for the full scope of this debacle to crystallize in public perception amid the self-congratulatory noise of those responsible. By 2016, experts of all stripes could no longer command automatic respect for their views. Emergence of a charismatic figure who personified rejection of those who had ruled America for two generations was in fact long overdue.
3. What Next. The campaign by unelected bureaucrats to change the course of a presidential election, and then overturn that election when the result was not to their liking, is unprecedented in American history. While the political turmoil has contributed to business uncertainty, the U.S. economy has resumed its economic growth, manufacturing is staging a comeback, median family income is up from about $61,000 to $65,976 since the beginning of 2017, wages are up, and unemployment is at a record low of 3.6 percent even with more sidelined people drawn into the labor force. The proportion of black Americans out-of-work, 5.6 percent, is the lowest ever since that statistic has been recorded. International trade is regaining balance, and the long-sought goal of U.S. energy-independence is finally a reality. A new North American trade pact will benefit farmers and ranchers. And the previous stampede of American firms into Chinese factories is reversing direction. America’s soaring national debt is, however, a hidden tax on future growth and income, as well as an invitation to creditor nations to exploit it to their own advantage. Small-business owners, independent contractors, cyclical industries like housing and construction, and entrepreneurs seeking startup capital are benefiting from low interest rates, while others are hurt by the excessive currency-printing that reduces the return on their savings to the vanishing point. People under 30 in America own nothing substantial such as real estate, and their chances of ever in their lifetimes owning property are small; so they seek redistributionist remedies under the banner of socialism.
Universally throughout all of human history, rites of passage mark the transformation of girls into women and boys into men. Solemn rituals guide them through the perilous journey into adulthood, at once confirming their natural identity and their new status as adults in the social order. Yet in American schools today confusion reigns in regard to sexual orientation. Casting aside millennia of human experience and the genetic endowment of nature, educators now offer young people faux-sex choices, forcing girls to share bathrooms and compete in sports with boys who have been cosmetically altered. The confusion this causes will surely cause a lifetime of spiritual and emotional scars, in addition to physical disfigurement.
The altered beings generated by this movement multiply opportunities for virtue-signaling, which thrives on outraging common decency. The preferences and quotas entrenched in university admissions, hiring, and government contracts are easily extended to favor new categories of victims, further inflaming inter-group hatreds. Similarly, infanticide has gained currency in America, precisely because it showcases the supposedly superior moral sensibilities of its advocates. Socialist, doomsday, and Islamist death-cults continue to attract the mis-educated. Since the 1970s when these trends emerged in cultural and educational institutions, migrating from those sanctuaries into America’s corporations and the military, America’s position as the sole superpower after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1989 deteriorated with astonishing speed. The coincidence of these internally self-destructive movements with a weakened U.S. position in the world is striking.
Instead of working with Russia and others to check China’s ambitions and to counter Islamist terror, America’s globalists blindly antagonized it with missile placements, assistance to Chechens, and regime-change provocations. An ‘apology tour’ of self-abasement, followed by foolish diplomacy and wars in hopeless pursuit of ‘democratization’, further eroded the crumbling structure of U.S. leadership.
President Trump’s initial intentions of working with Russia were complicated by repeated attempts to remove him from office. Working-level cooperation such as has occurred with airspace coordination in Syria may be a partially effective substitute. Europe is in chaos, with weak governments in the Mediterranean area exploited and bankrupted by Germany, no-go zones near many major cities, the harbors of Genoa and Trieste now owned by China, and the U.K. unable to execute its decision to leave the EU. In South and Central America, failed narco-states send refugees fleeing north, while U.S. pressure was unable to rid Venezuela of a deeply unpopular socialist regime. In Asia, Chinese control of the maritime region beyond its legal borders has caused both the Philippines and South Korea to act like non-aligned states hedging their bets. Japan as an island nation is reasonably safe from conventional invasion, and is America’s most reliable ally, but must also be prepared to defend itself.
Japan has always selectively adapted practices from other countries that fit the Japanese way of doing things, after carefully considering what works and what doesn’t work. So it was with family-style corporate management, designed to avert labor-management disputes seen in Europe and America; and statistical quality control and supply-line management, to bring manufacturing up to (and beyond) world standards.
What happens in America matters a great deal to the rest of the world, not only for the size of its economy and markets, but also for its embodiment of many people’s aspirations. The social experiments pursued by ideologists, and the free-trade policies inflicted by financial elites, have vastly added to human misery and inter-group conflict in America – Japan would be wise to avoid these. American initiatives toward restoring and re-inventing its manufacturing base, trimming government regulations, and a more equitable tax regime are, however, worthy of emulation. /////
— Peter Miller, November 2019