How are we to understand what is going on in national politics and American culture? How do we reconcile and transcend what now appears to be an unbridgeable, irreconcilable, and fundamental ideological divide? There is a simple solution, and that is to recognize that cultural trends that culminated in the late sixties and early seventies in our universities have now permeated much, if not all, of our national institutions and have led us astray.
These cultural trends are complex, and owe much, oddly enough, to trendy European philosophies articulated by Marxist thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Herbert Marcuse. These thinkers urged us to see the world as one of economically powerful elites nefariously using governments to suppress, conquer, and control indigenous people, racial and ethnic minorities, women and the sexually marginalized. The elites, or “our masters,” as Gore Vidal used to call them, run things for their own benefit, and what we need, as Marx taught us, is to overthrow this fundamentally unjust system, and liberate and “self-actualize” the proletariat, women, minorities, and, in general, the oppressed.
It is a powerful and romantic set of notions, and it enables one to see the world as a set of competing narratives, only one of which can be correct and legitimately defended. Thus, right now, President Trump’s critics see him as a corrupt demagogue manipulated by a foreign power to which he is somehow mysteriously indebted either for previous financial backing or horrific manipulation of our electoral machinery leading somehow to his illegitimate triumph over Mrs. Clinton. This is the story constantly reiterated, with variations and embellishments, by our mainstream media, including in particular, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. This is a story pleasing and appealing to Democrats, academics, bureaucrats, and, quite possibly, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Many defenders of Mr. Trump, however, adhere to a different, albeit not entirely dissimilar, narrative, whereby a thoroughly corrupt Mrs. Clinton, violated laws regarding national security (her infamous “bathroom server”). She was aided in her endeavors by an equally corrupt FBI led by James Comey, a CIA led by John Brennan, and a Justice Department led by Loretta Lynch, with, quite possibly, the assistance of President Barack Obama, and a host of lesser minions such as Peter Strzok and his paramour, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe and many, many others. These bureaucrats and lizards of the “Deep State,” all seeking to preserve their power and ill-gotten gains, not only ensured that Mrs. Clinton (and possibly her husband) escaped the prosecution that should have been their due, but also hatched the plot of Russian interference. Fortunately, Mr. Trump, Congressional Republicans, and quite possibly the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, are on to these Democrat miscreants, and will eventually bring them to Justice. This is the story told by Fox News, by Breitbart, by Peter Schweitzer, and by a few other intrepid reporters, and this is the narrative occasionally favored by Mr. Trump himself.
The competing narratives cannot both be true in their entireties, but each contains enough factual elements to allow partisans to cling to them for long periods. Eventually one will triumph, as, contrary to the teaching of the Marxist Post-Moderns, there is such a thing as objective reality. Fortunately, our framers brilliantly gave us a Constitutional Structure, formulated by those such as Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, steeped in what they called the new science of politics, a Constitution designed eventually to reveal and promote that reality. That Constitutional Structure, including such mechanisms as the Electoral College, the separation of governmental powers, and dual state and federal sovereignty, was concocted to check untrammeled and arbitrary political power, and to preserve the rule of law, in order to secure our God-given rights to individual liberty and to the protection of person and property.
This leads us to another story, one understood by the president and those who actually supported him and defeated Mrs. Clinton. This is that in the eight years of the Obama Administration that Constitutional structure was fundamentally undermined by an administration which ignored the separation of powers, that sought to govern by executive fiat, and that enhanced and aggregated power in a federal Leviathan. That story, which I believe to be true, ought to be the one pursued by our media. When Mr. Trump rails at “fake news,” he is lamenting the failure of too many in the press to come to grips with this fundamental reality. Mr. Trump, and his supporters, are seeking to restore the checks and balances contemplated and instituted by our framers. If one seeks reality, then, one ought to understand that the current administration is engaged, really, in the restoration of the rule of law and the sovereignty of the American people the Constitution sought to ensure. The president is not a Russian puppet. He is, simply, a patriot.
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). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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