What is the greater significance to the fact that the same country that elected Barack Obama twice — the same country whose primary cultural institutions were, are and continue to be dominated by progressives — then elected Donald Trump?
It is conservative principles that can ensure a better America for all Americans rises out of the destruction President Trump is inflicting on the Left.
A hypothesis: Donald Trump’s election was not primarily a triumph of one ideology over another, but rather one culture over another. It represented an Earth-shattering, soul-crushing blow to the Left’s long march.
Overnight, Americans did not become overwhelmingly socially conservative, Kirkpatrickian, free marketeers. While it may have surprised many political observers, political philosophy was likely not the standard by which voters judged the candidates. Nor was Donald Trump running on a platform of ideological purity, adeptly intuiting that that was not what the public chiefly desired.
His positions cut across party lines because he was not concerned with hewing to a theoretical line, but rather answering some basic questions:
Do Americans believe in strength or weakness?
Do Americans believe in law and order or license and disorder?
Do Americans believe in brash politically incorrect candor or genteel political-speak?
Do Americans believe that their well-being is primary, or of secondary importance to the well-being of those of other nations?
Do Americans believe that America is the exceptional, indispensable nation, or conversely that it is the unique source of all that is ill in the world?
These questions in many ways speak to a fundamental cultural divide, more so than an ideological one. How one answers reflects a certain cultural zeitgeist. Conservatives and progressives may respond to these questions in opposition, but one’s responses do not necessarily make one a conservative or a progressive.
Trump’s populist vision, and more importantly the way in which he articulated it, grated on elites of both parties on a personal level.
Taking more extreme positions than other politicians caused the bipartisan political establishment to cringe. Mocking opponents with labels caused them to guffaw. Lobbing grenades at his political opposition and never apologizing — often in fact doubling and tripling down — made them apoplectic.
President Trump continues to troll the elite establishment on a daily basis by proxy in challenging the self-important, entitled media that so ably represents them.
For it is not so much the policies he promulgates, or the ideology that one ascribes to his agenda, as it is his manner that so irks his opponents.
He is an expert manipulator of the establishment, causing his opponents to grow increasingly irate and unhinged, betraying their profound hackery and haughtiness.
Illustrating his effectiveness, already President Trump has done something that no other Republican has been able to do in my admittedly short lifetime: Get Democrats to spend millions of dollars on his re-election effort.
That is the practical consequence of the violent riots and vitriolic women’s marches that followed President Trump’s inauguration. For such efforts discredit and marginalize the Left as radical, and rightfully so, given the radicalism of the groups organizing and supporting such efforts. The radicalism was then amplified by a media which in its Trump Derangement Syndrome myopia sees the astroturf radicalism as reflecting a deep groundswell of grassroots opposition to the president. Actually leftists, it is surprisingly easy to drum up marches opposing Trump in the very cities that overwhelmingly went for Hillary Clinton, especially with George Soros’ money backing the groups doing the organizing.
Newt Gingrich in a recent portion of his insightful lecture series at the Heritage Foundation described Trump’s overarching worldview as consisting of four legs: Anti-Left, Anti-Political Correctness, Anti-Stupidity and Pro-American.
Leftism, political correctness, stupidity (in the sense of imposing on the people policies doomed to fail), and anti-Americanism are the hallmarks of conservative opposition.
By beating his opponents — and the opponents of conservatism broadly — on their own terms, President Trump has created a safe space of sorts for conservatives.
With the conservative opposition being pummeled by a populist who knows how to exploit all of the Left’s weakest points, there is a unique opportunity for conservatives to seize upon Trump's tactical lessons and tailor an agenda which is already naturally oriented towards President Trump.
For conservative policies serve populist ends because conservative policies are about protecting the littlest of “little guys,” the individual: His life, his liberty and his pursuit of happiness. Conservatism is about treating everyone equally under the law, ensuring an even playing field for all rather than conferring on individuals, groups or enterprises special benefits and privileges. Conservatism is about what is doing best for all Americans by holding as preeminent individual liberty and private property rights, thereby fostering a vibrant and dynamic culture and economy, and protecting our fundamental rights by way of an impartial justice system and a dominant defense.
Donald Trump is the populist wrecking ball aimed at the leftism that has gripped our culture and our politics for decades. It is conservative principles that can ensure a better America for all Americans rises out of the destruction President Trump is inflicting on the Left.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a typographical error.
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Ben Weingarten is Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax and PJ Media on national security/defense, economics and politics. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.