Book Review: The Case for Trump

“The case for Trump” by Victor Davis HansonThe election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in November 2016 was a singular event in the history of the country. Never before had anybody been elected to that office without any prior experience in either public office or the military. Trump, although running as a Republican, had no long-term affiliation with the party and had cultivated no support within its establishment, elected officials, or the traditional donors who support its candidates. He turned his back on the insider consultants and “experts” who had advised GOP candidate after candidate in their “defeat with dignity” at the hands of a ruthless Democrat party willing to burn any bridge to win. From well before he declared his candidacy he established a direct channel to a mass audience, bypassing media gatekeepers via Twitter and frequent appearances in all forms of media, who found him a reliable boost to their audience and clicks. He was willing to jettison the mumbling points of the cultured Beltway club and grab “third rail” issues of which they dared not speak such as mass immigration, predatory trade practices, futile foreign wars, and the exporting of jobs from the U.S. heartland to low-wage sweatshops overseas.

He entered a free-for-all primary campaign as one of seventeen major candidates, including present and former governors, senators, and other well-spoken and distinguished rivals and, one by one, knocked them out, despite resolute and sometimes dishonest bias by the media hosting debates, often through “verbal kill shots” which made his opponents the target of mockery and pinned sobriquets on them (“low energy Jeb”, “little Marco”, “lyin’ Ted”) they couldn’t shake. His campaign organisation, if one can dignify it with the term, was completely chaotic and his fund raising nothing like the finely-honed machines of establishment favourites like Jeb Bush, and yet his antics resulted in his getting billions of dollars worth of free media coverage even on outlets who detested and mocked him.

One by one, he picked off his primary opponents and handily won the Republican presidential nomination. This unleashed a phenomenon the likes of which had not been seen since the Goldwater insurgency of 1964, but far more virulent. Pillars of the Republican establishment and Conservatism, Inc. were on the verge of cardiac arrest, advancing fantasy scenarios to deny the nomination to its winner, publishing issues of their money-losing and subscription-shedding little magazines dedicated to opposing the choice of the party’s voters, and promoting insurgencies such as the candidacy of Egg McMuffin, whose bona fides as a man of the people were evidenced by his earlier stints with the CIA and Goldman Sachs.

Predictions that post-nomination, Trump would become “more presidential” were quickly falsified as the chaos compounded, the tweets came faster and funnier, and the mass rallies became ever more frequent and raucous. One thing that was obvious to anybody looking dispassionately at what was going on, without the boiling blood of hatred and disdain of the New York-Washington establishment, was that the candidate was having the time of his life and so were the people who attended the rallies. But still, all of the wise men of the coastal corridor knew what must happen. On the eve of the general election, polls put the probability of a Trump victory somewhere between 1 and 15 percent. The outlier was Nate Silver, who went out on a limb and went all the way up to 29% chance of Trump’s winning to the scorn of his fellow “progressives” and pollsters.

And yet, Trump won, and handily. Yes, he lost the popular vote, but that was simply due to the urban coastal vote for which he could not contend and wisely made no attempt to attract, knowing such an effort would be futile and a waste of his scarce resources (estimates are his campaign spent around half that of Clinton’s). This book by classicist, military historian, professor, and fifth-generation California farmer Victor Davis Hanson is an in-depth examination of, in the words of the defeated candidate, “what happened”. There is a great deal of wisdom here.

First of all, a warning to the prospective reader. If you read Dr Hanson’s columns regularly, you probably won’t find a lot here that’s new. This book is not one of those that’s obviously Frankenstitched together from previously published columns, but in assembling their content into chapters focussing on various themes, there’s been a lot of cut and paste, if not literally at the level of words, at least in terms of ideas. There is value in seeing it all presented in one package, but be prepared to say, from time to time, “Haven’t I’ve read this before?”

That caveat lector aside, this is a brilliant analysis of the Trump phenomenon. Hanson argues persuasively that it is very unlikely any of the other Republican contenders for the nomination could have won the general election. None of them were talking about the issues which resonated with the erstwhile “Reagan Democrat” voters who put Trump over the top in the so-called “blue wall” states, and it is doubtful any of them would have ignored their Beltway consultants and campaigned vigorously in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania which were key to Trump’s victory. Given that the Republican defeat which would likely have been the result of a Bush (again?), Rubio, or Cruz candidacy would have put the Clinton crime family back in power and likely tipped the Supreme Court toward the slaver agenda for a generation, that alone should give pause to “never Trump” Republicans.

How will it all end? Nobody knows, but Hanson provides a variety of perspectives drawn from everything from the Byzantine emperor Justinian’s battle against the deep state to the archetype of the rough-edged outsider brought in to do what the more civilised can’t or won’t—the tragic hero from Greek drama to Hollywood westerns. What is certain is that none of what Trump is attempting, whether it ends in success or failure, would be happening if any of his primary opponents or the Democrat in the general election had prevailed.

I believe that Victor Davis Hanson is one of those rare people who have what I call the “Orwell gift”. Like George Orwell, he has the ability to look at the facts, evaluate them, and draw conclusions without any preconceived notions or filtering through an ideology. What is certain is that with the election of Donald Trump in 2016 the U.S. dodged a bullet. Whether that election will be seen as a turning point which reversed the decades-long slide toward tyranny by the administrative state, destruction of the middle class, replacement of the electorate by imported voters dependent upon the state, erosion of political and economic sovereignty in favour of undemocratic global governance, and the eventual financial and moral bankruptcy which are the inevitable result of all of these, or just a pause before the deluge, is yet to be seen. Hanson’s book is an excellent, dispassionate, well-reasoned, and thoroughly documented view of where things stand today.

Hanson, Victor Davis. The Case for Trump. New York: Basic Books, 2019. ISBN 978-1-5416-7354-0.

Here is an Uncommon Knowledge interview with the author discussing the book.

17+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Case for Trump

  1. “and yet his antics resulted in his getting billions of dollars worth of free media coverage even especially on outlets who detested and mocked him.”

    FIFY

    6+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. RB49:
    “and yet his antics resulted in his getting billions of dollars worth of free media coverage even especially on outlets who detested and mocked him.”

    Or was it “covfefe”?

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. John Walker:

    RB49:
    “and yet his antics resulted in his getting billions of dollars worth of free media coverage even especially on outlets who detested and mocked him.”

    Or was it “covfefe”?

    I love the smell of fresh “covfefe” in the morning. Thanks.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. I once had a comment deleted at the other site for calling the NeverTrump stooge candidate “Egghead McMuffin.”

    10+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  5. Ray bought it.  I don’t need to be convinced of the case for Trump.  And we will see Mr. Hanson in October at the dedication of the new Hillsdale chapel on campus.  Along with Mark Steyn, Pat Sajak, and Justice Clarence Thomas.

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  6. VDH is a brave lone voice, but being an ‘outsider-insider’ is his specialty. Stanford faculty yet central valley farmer, he is a walking contradiction that describes many Trump supporters.

    I meet excavators who built a business with grit and risk, metal workers who defied the odds of Chinese economic warfare and survived, people who take risks to grow a business and support their family and the families of their employees.

    In the late Roman empire, such blue collar smart guys become the successful generals while the credentialed yet blind and short sighted played politics in Rome.

    Contrast Trump versus a Romney, or a Biden.  He offers more long term vision and planning than either of them ever did. He understands the multipolar game of China,   Global Money, The Global cartels like Big Ag, High Tech, and the phony tactics of control through trade, mass immigration and climate change.

    Romney and Biden can barely see the next turn in the game.

    6+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  7. TKC 1101:
    Romney and Biden can barely see the next turn in the game.

    That is because they are only looking at part of the board, and because they took some cards out of their own hand and placed them in the discards.

    An American president only has so many ways to achieve progress on his agenda.   Considering the forces arrayed against him, President Trump is overachieving.

    VDH has been one of the few clear-eyed commenters on our politics because he is one of the few who recognized the anti-American nature of the Left and the amazing lack of self-awareness of the QuislingCons.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  8. Hah! I’m not adding this one to my purchase/read queue….  because it is already there. (-:

    John Walker:
    I believe that Victor Davis Hanson is one of those rare people who have what I call the “Orwell gift”. Like George Orwell, he has the ability to look at the facts, evaluate them, and draw conclusions without any preconceived notions or filtering through an ideology.

    Indeed.  And the unflappable presence to convey those conclusions.

    RB49:
    And we will see Mr. Hanson in October at the dedication of the new Hillsdale chapel on campus. Along with Mark Steyn, Pat Sajak, and Justice Clarence Thomas.

    I am so jealous.

    3+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  9. Victor organizes a tour each spring with his colleague Bruce Thornton, to somewhere interesting in Europe. My wife, son and I went on one to Greece about 10 years ago. The entire event was first rate – best hotels, food, etc. There is at least one lecture every day, plus commentary while on buses. In addition, everyone has a chance to chat with Victor and Bruce, by virtue of rotating seating at their dinner tables. It was by far the best trip I have ever been on. Bruce Thornton has a couple of excellent books out. He publishes essays regularly on David Horowitz’ Frontpagemag.com. Although not as well known as Victor, Bruce is a powerful and incisive writer as well.

    7+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar

Leave a Reply