Tags: Donald Trump | Hurricane Harvey | North Korea | Venezuela | constitutional | feinstein | prayer

Trump's Virtues, Wisdom Will Enhance as Presidency Progresses

Trump's Virtues, Wisdom Will Enhance as Presidency Progresses

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump leave after attending services at St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., this past Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. The president last week named today a National Day of Prayer for victims of Hurricane Harvey. (Susan Walsh/AP)

By Tuesday, 05 September 2017 06:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

How can one explain the left’s abhorrence of President Donald Trump? What could lead Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., to state that, "if Trump takes a position, then you must take an equally extreme and opposite position. He’s for Mother’s Day — you must be against Mother’s Day."

Why would a female journalist blast Melania Trump for wearing a pair of stilettoes as she boarded Air Force One for a trip to Texas to inspect the damage from Hurricane Harvey? What leads The New York Times and The Washington Post to interpret disagreement among White House advisors, and the staff attrition and reshuffling that is normal for the first year in any administration, as proof of chaos, turmoil, and incompetence?

Why did former FBI director James B.Comey immediately assume that Mr. Trump could not be trusted, and thus Comey needed to memorialize each conversation he had with the President in writing? Indeed, why did Mr. Comey apparently reach the conclusion that he would exonerate Hillary Clinton of any misconduct even before the FBI completed its investigation of her clearly improper (and probably illegal) maintenance of an unsecured private server which she employed for official state department business?

What is it that leads the Antifa, the storm troopers of the progressives, to believe that they are permitted to use violence to silence those on the right, and why does The Washington Post carry puff pieces about them?

William of Ockham taught us that the simplest explanation is usually the best, and the simplest explanation for all of this is the triumph of leftist ideology in the media, the academy, the Democrats and in much of the deep state bureaucracy. This ideology, which manifests itself in "virtue signaling" — the public display of an attitude of superiority to ideas, principles, or people with whom one disagrees — appears to have become a sort of mental illness, one which now threatens to poison not only our political discourse, but the orderly running of our government.

John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi, in a recent article in the City Journal, quoting conservative criminologist Walter Miller, wrote that ideology can transform "plausibility into ironclad certainty . . . conditional belief into ardent conviction . . . and [the] reasoned advocate into the implacable zealot." This is what Mrs. Clinton’s label of "deplorables" reveals.

Progressives, liberals, and Democrats who find the behavior of the president and first lady ostentatious, showy and in myriad ways "politically incorrect," find it impossible to consider that the policy proposals the President has put forth, involving reduced taxation, market solutions for the provision of health insurance, and the renegotiation of trade deals, stand a better chance of meeting the needs of Americans than did the opposite policies put in place by the prior administration.

The president’s critics profess to believe in worthy goals. Their philosophy, after all, claims to be one of inclusion, tolerance, equality and opportunity. But this will not be achieved through the progressive politics Democrats favor. The Fabian socialism that lies at their core might just as easily lead to the stagnation and despair of Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba.

This is what Mr. Trump and his supporters understand. The ideology implanted in most of our universities, many of our public schools and much of our entertainment industry, an ideology that Allan Bloom lamented exactly 30 years ago in his brilliant "The Closing of the American Mind," is responsible for the virtue-signalers’ inability to understand the older, more traditional mindset that Mr. Trump himself displays.

Curiously, this man, dismissed by Democrats as a vulgarian, is actually closer to the classical concept of virtue, which used to be taught and celebrated in Anglo-American education, but is no longer.

Today he called for a National Day of Prayer for Houston. For the left, that likely recalls Obama’s comment about Republicans "clinging to their religion." What would doubtless shock them even more are the many Americans who think that prayer is efficacious.

In our misguided quest for specialized inoffensive or technical education, in too much of the academy, we have forgotten that the classical conception of education, one steeped in history, philosophy, literature, religion and morals, is the true source of wisdom and virtue in the citizenry.

When Benjamin Franklin, perhaps apocryphally, explained, on the steps of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, that the framers had given us "A Republic, if you can keep it," he was hoping that virtue, not virtue-signaling, would bind us together. If Mr. Trump is given a chance, as even Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., hinted, he just might surprise his critics, and show the wisdom and virtue now so desperately needed.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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In our misguided quest for specialized inoffensive or technical education, in too much of the academy, we have forgotten that the classical conception of education, one steeped in history, philosophy, literature, religion and morals, is the true source of wisdom and virtue in the citizenry.
constitutional, feinstein, prayer
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 06:20 PM
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