trump populism reckoning

Before peace, reconciliation and healing, there must come reckoning

Donald Trump is not a modest man. He is not polished, well read, stylish, university educated, ‘sophisticated’, or a paragon of moral virtue. But he is the duly elected President of the United States of America, and there is now every chance that he will continue to be so for a second term. The economy is doing well, he seems to keep his promises, and he has been tested against serious allegations which have been found to have no substance. He has, overall, had a pretty effective first two years in office.

His opponents may have better claims to most of the above urbane virtues –save morality – and this is partly why a huge and enthusiastic crowd gathered to see him in Grant Rapids Michigan when he attended his first public meeting since the Attorney General released a summary of the Mueller Report. This declared there was no evidence linking the President or his election campaign to improper collusion with Russians who, along with Chinese, Ukrainians and even some British and European folk, sought to influence the election of the most powerful man (/woman) in the world, either lawfully or otherwise.

Rather ominously for some, Trump alluded to some “very bad” things which happened after his election, and promised that the time was coming for accountability. The crowd was pleased to hear this, though the practical outworking of his brief remarks will not be pretty for some. One senses that upsetting Donald Trump is rather like getting on the wrong side of Tony Soprano. It is never wise to orchestrate a failed coup against a strong, ruthless and determined opponent, especially one with right on his side. Win or face the unpleasant consequences is usually the rule of realpolitik in these cases.

As Christians of the modern era, we might instinctively recoil from promises of retribution. Many will pivot to the position of calling upon him to “bring the country together”. I sense this is neither the time, nor is he the man, to make that happen.

Leaving aside the fairly obvious point that consensuality does not appear to be in his nature, would it be in the public interest at this time? Is he not right to first examine the role of those responsible for fomenting division and discord? If public officials acted in a prejudiced and partisan fashion, is he not right to have this examined as assiduously as his own alleged wrongdoings? If a large majority of journalists crossed the line to become political activists, is it not reasonable at least to challenge their behaviour with the facts of the investigation which they did everything to promote?

Surely, it it not now improper for the President and his supporting public to require confession, repentance and contrition as a precondition before he and they consider attempting reconciliation? “Who knew what and when did they know it?” were good questions during the Watergate scandal, and they will serve the American people well in the next phase of this controversy.

For two years President Trump has faced a daily assault on his integrity on this subject. His opponents sought from the outset to delegitimise his election victory. Those in public office in the Department of Justice, the FBI and CIA all took it upon themselves, even before he was elected, to secure warrants to spy on his campaign and his supporters with the knowledge of the outgoing President Obama, who specifically asked to be kept informed. FBI agent Peter Strzok, who orchestrated the project, wrote to his work colleague and mistress Lisa Paige that they would not let Trump win and that were he to do so, they should have “an insurance policy” with which to take him down, by which he referred to the “Russia collusion narrative”. If there were any doubt that this was a deliberate establishment plot, Ms Paige has since confirmed in her testimony that the words of their text messages meant precisely what they appeared to be saying.

We know this already from the material and testimony within litigation secured by the excellent and assiduous Judicial Watch. Its President, Tom Fitton, provides regular and informative videos for those keep to keep abreast of the developing story. The latest one is instructive. They have already discovered that both President Obama and Tony Blair communicated with the notorious insecure (and illegal) server, vulnerable to hostile hacking and situated in the Clinton bathroom in upstate New York.

Embarrassingly for the British, there is even some evidence that our security services were cooperating with those who wished Donal Trump ill. Prime Minister Theresa May and then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson may both have known about the project to undermine the President. One wonders whether this contributes in any way to the PM’s announced inclination to “move on”, even if a President Trump will not. Knowing the man, his praise for them is not to be taken at face value. The man is ‘a player’.

He sacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and poured scorn on Robert Mueller. The role of the Deputy Attorney General is intriguing. He has been the constant presence in the Department throughout: he was there when there were discussions about removing the elected President under the 25th Amendment, and he talked about wearing a wire to record loose words in the Oval Office. Rod Rosenstein nevertheless retained his position and became a cosignatory to the Mueller Report. In this murky world little can be taken at face value. It may well be that the President was smart enough to have run some disinformation and double-agents of his own.

When the Director of the FBI, charged with the responsibility to investigate leaks from the Inquiry, was found to be himself leaking to CNN through an old college friend, we are in a world of deep intrigue. It is scarcely surprising that in this political swamp the old adage ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’ is a principle wearily adopted by many ordinary and decent folk in America who see so much wrong in academia, the media, the Washington establishment and the Democrat Party. Can one be terribly surprised if they see in this deeply flawed President one who “may be a bastard, but at least he’s our bastard”?

It is not nice and it is not pretty. We are told ‘To everything there is a season‘, and thank God there will be a time for healing, but before that season comes some reconstructive surgery in the body politic may be needed.

On both sides of the Atlantic, an infection has entered the heart of the political establishment. Cynicism has become prevalent among those in power whose belief in their ‘advanced’ or ‘higher’ views has beguiled them into thinking that their superior ends justify overthrowing the well-established principles of probity in public life. That is a dangerous arrogance within a ruling class. They may not like what they dismiss as ‘populism’ among those they are accustomed to lead; they may disapprove of the people’s choices of alternative agents of change and their uncouth disrespect, but a contempt for the people’s democratic choices within the established rules will not end well for them, whether that be in Washington, London, Paris or Brussels.

There is a time for peace, reconciliation and healing, but in some circumstances that must follow a reckoning. Pray God that reckoning occurs in accordance with the rule of law and the procedures and precedents which have evolved and served us all well for generations. Playing fast and loose with those procedures, whether in the FBI or the House of Commons, is a very dangerous game, and the people will not stand for it.