Am I a bad trad? Do I sin if I fail to believe monarchy is inherently a superior form of government to all others attempted in human history? It is generally the most stable, but that is hardly a commending accolade.
Winston Churchill's comment that democracy is the "worst form of government, after all the others" has always resonated with me if only because it acknowledges that the matter of government is practical, not ideal, and that in dealing with human nature it tends to come up short in any application. The current state of the American and British governments are constitutionally perilous, although they do not seem to underpin any innate proclivity toward violence in the issues which cause our crises. Britain's crisis is Brexit, the question as to whether a non-binding vote should be honored and how it should be honored. America's crisis, as always, reflects the divvying up of demographics over the last few decades by both parties to win elections. The result is a deeply divided state in which one side seeks to kick out the legitimately elected, incompetent president, Mr. Donald Trump.
I voted for Mr. Trump. I would repeat my choice if the 2016 election were to happen again and I expect to cast my ballot for him again in 2020, but I have no illusions that he is either a good leader or a good man. He was the least-bad person who was not Hillary Clinton who could beat Hillary Clinton, nothing more.
So, when a friend suggested that I joined him at the Trump rally in Dallas last month I initially recoiled a bit at the idea of standing alongside the great mass of humanity, clad with red trucker hats announcing the MAGA slogan, and listening to chants of "Lock her up!" I found my company's luxury suite was available at the venue that evening, which meant a guaranteed parking space, a shorter security line, and seclusion from the crowd. Conceding that I might learn something, I agreed to attend.
A venue which holds 20,000 people was entirely full with just as many standing in line, zig-zagging through downtown Dallas, waiting for admission. The place was a sea of red MAGA hats. The President was scheduled to begin at 7:00PM, but took the stage 25 minutes late. Before most of the crowd even took notice of him, I recognized that the President was on the floor. His hair, a shade of reddish-gold unknown in the natural world, stood out from the palette of blacks, blues, greys, and reds behind him. The crowd erupted. I had been in the same venue eleven months earlier for an Elton John concert, and this crowd made twice as much noise. By the end of the night my ears were ringing.
"Louis Vuitton. It's costed me a lot money, folks," he opened to a roar of cheers. He had just toured their new factory just outside of Dallas. Five minutes into the night it became clear Mr. Trump spoke extemporaneously, and unlike most public speakers, he did not have a message. Much more akin to a comedian, he had shtick. Although he told many jokes and said many things to incite laughter ("sleepy Joe Biden, whose son got thrown out of the Navy like a dog"), he spoke about political matters while demonstrating a sense of timing on par with the best stand up comics: Dangerfield, Kinison, Norm MacDonald.
On television, Trump appears to stutter, ramble, drift off in vocal tone, and repeat himself quite often. In person these patterns repeat, but with their purpose revealed. He uses these devices, athwart deafening noise unheard on television, to control, redirect, and time the reaction of the crowd. His drifts let them have their final applause before he changes topic. His roars quiet them down so they may hear the punchline. His repetitions let them know he is not yet through with a topic. He continued this mesmerizing spectacle for nearly two hours and the crowd did not subside in enthusiasm. A huge section of "Hispanics for Trump" chanted "Build that wall!" alongside blue collar white men, neither of whom want to pay for Abuelo Alberto to come to Dallas.
By the end of the night I confirmed a theory that I first developed in high school after hearing Bill Clinton speak in a similar manner, albeit with more finesse and refinement. Political figures do not sell ideas, they sell facts. When Obama said "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon" or when Trump said "Mexico sends us some good people, but they're sending a lot of really bad people" they are selling a narrative of reality that resonates with a large segment of the populace even if those stories and ideas fail to correlate with why people feel that way.
The disconnect between voters and reality is stunning, and the people for whom they vote are more connected to reality yet are less connected to the people to whom they appeal. Is the answer to this a replacement of the failed representative system with a direct rule? Unfortunately, the ruler(s) would reflect the values held by the elite of our day and not the values of the monarchs from five centuries ago.
After the event my friend and I shared drinks at a distant watering hole. He awed at "how much the people who like him really like him", and they do. I yearned for a day without universal suffrage, if we are to continue a democratically elected, republican form of government. I do not mean a return to an age without women and blacks voting, but I do think the primitive days of the American republic had some merit to a few of their voting qualifications: one had to be able to read and hence to be an educated person, one had to be a property owner who paid taxes and therefor be a participant with a stake in the matters disputed by government.
Sadly, this purification of the voting system will never happen. The progressives have carved up America for four generations by expanding the effects of voting (lowering the voting age, making Senators into super-Congressmen etc) and concurrently creating a welfare state to make voters reliant on the system for which they voted. The right, always behind the times, continuously picks up yesteryear's disillusioned Democrats on their way to the grave: neo-conservatives, anti-Communists, labor union members.
My expectations for Trump's administration were modest. As an anti-establishment candidate, I expected the system would reject him and that he would accomplish very little of his agenda, which was alright by me. In fact, it would be a welcomed change if a president did not directly influence the lives of the general public for four or eight years. President Trump wants to make America great again. I would be quite happy if he did not do anything at all.