Mini-Feature: Number One Issue for the Next President
Real issues need to be addressed.
The votes are still being counted—or stuffed—or however you prefer to understand the moment. Sooner or later, however, we will either have a continuation of the current administration or Harris will be elevated to the Oval Office. (Half-hearted joke, people.) Either way, TAM editors have some advice on what to do first.
What is the number one issue that the next president must tackle?
We are in the midst of a revolution. An oligarchic elite is in an indignant frenzy, worried about a challenge to their power in the figure of Trump, but they also have a very real sense that the old means of control are melting away. Engaged in the time-honored strategy of playing the poor against the middle class, they have allied with radicals who seek to destroy the last vestiges of the old American republic, whose principles and purposes they utterly reject—assuming they understood them in the first place, which is doubtful. So, we need a bold re-founding of America. This great and noble task will first require that we defeat the ongoing revolution of the elites. This, in turn, will require President Trump to go to war against the many thousands in the federal government who oppose him. The only way to win the civil war within the government itself will be to reorder the form and structure of the administrative state.
The top task for facing the administration in January is to unquestionably re-establish the sovereign authority of the United States of America over our civic life. From violence in the streets to militant woke religion in our institutions, antipathy toward Trump has been used as a catalyst and a cover for a comprehensive project to wrest sovereignty away from our system of government and build in effect a parallel regime capable of seizing and consolidating the power to found a new post-American country. Increasingly, radical voices speak explicitly of exactly this goal. It must be taken seriously and responded to systematically, cast plainly before the American people as being just what it purports to be: an illegitimate revolution aspiring to illegitimate tyranny.
If you are Trump, deal with tech censorship in the media. That’s the story, for me, of this election. Twitter, Facebook, and the lesser-deities. This can’t go unchecked. What happened with the New York Post was a trial balloon. And we let them get away with it. What comes next is worse. If you are Biden, the first order of business is to take a good, hard look at how well Trump did with parts of the electorate you thought you had in the bag. You squeaked by, there was no blue wave. Guess what that portends…
One day when Jesus was teaching, an expert in the law asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. The two men agreed that the essential thing was to love God and “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Then the expert asked, “but who is my neighbor?”
Our own “experts”—the people in our country who think their extensive credentials give them a right to speak with authority—are confused about much the same question. “Who is my neighbor?” That is, to whom do I owe an obligation of fellowship and care by virtue of his mere existence and need? Nation-states are political neighborhoods: they consist of people whose citizenship binds them to each other in fellow feeling and common aspiration. If a country—a republic especially—is going to survive, its citizens must be neighbors. The question our American experts are confused about is: “who is my fellow citizen?”
The answer they have come up with is an old one: your fellow citizen, the one with whom you should stand first and last in every group conflict, is the one who shares your demographic identity markers. Black people must fight together against whiteness, say the experts, and gays against heteronormativity, and women against toxic masculinity. All of these marginalized groups are in a struggle against America to wrest basic human rights and recognition from her unwilling hands.
The contradictions inherent in such a philosophy arise because of what its adherents call “intersectionality”: people are more than demographics, and all of us have multiple potential identity allegiances. The result is not concord but chaos and selfishness, as we have seen both in the riots on our streets and in the vicious self-policing which takes place within the Democratic vanguard and will continue without end.
Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he responded to the expert’s question with his famous parable of the Good Samaritan. It was not tribal allegiances between Samaritan and Samaritan or between Jew and Jew that mattered in that parable, you’ll remember: it was the common law of love that bound together Jew and Samaritan, the one in need and the other willing to help.
The grand irony of our moment is that Donald Trump and his supporters have become associated with “tribalism” by the very people who insist that we tribalize one another endlessly. It is the Democrats, BLM, and Antifa who cry for racial violence, for a war between the sexes, for violence of tribe against tribe. What Donald Trump stands for, in fact, is America—the land and the people and their traditions, the Constitution and the rule of law to which we share a common devotion.
Only if we share such a devotion—to America first, and to everything else but God second—will we fight together instead of against one another. There is nothing more important than restoring this civic friendship, and no task more difficult—attenuated as our patriotism has been by the corrosive acid of bad education and a degraded culture.
The most important thing for a president to do in this moment is affirm again and again that all American citizens are Americans before they are anything else, and that is a good thing. In speeches and in legislation, a president must show that America’s borders are not markers of oppression and injustice. To the contrary: only within them, if they are strong, can we recommit ourselves to one another in neighborly affection and civic friendship. Rekindling that shared commitment—to our Constitution, to our country, to our common good—must be the first task on the mind of our head of state. I pray God we get one who can do it.