Magazine article The American Conservative

Why They Love Trump

Magazine article The American Conservative

Why They Love Trump

Article excerpt

I am of several minds about Donald Trump, but I love as countrymen the Trump supporters, drawn from that narrowing swath of Americans who remain patriotic, desperately so, their naivete laced with cynicism (or is it the other way around?), scorned by their (our) country's enemies (chickenhawks, social justice warriors, Conservatism, Inc.), so hungry for someone in authority (or on television) who seems to give a damn that they have latched on to the titan of American Bombast.

A Mexican Wall? I'm afraid that my public-works fantasies are limited to painting a splashy LOVE in the road where Exit 48 of the New York State Thruway meets Oak Street, homage to John Gardner's 1972 novel The Sunlight Dialogues. But then I dream small.

Trump's base overlaps with that of the last let's-roll-up-our-sleeves-and-fix-this-thing businessman candidate, Ross Perot, whose bantam martial deportment concealed a relatively pacific, mildly isolationist outlook, skeptical of foreign interventions and openly hostile to such managed trade deals as NAFTA.

The more intriguing Trump parallel is with the much-demonized press baron William Randolph Hearst, remembered today as the target of Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane" and as the laird of Hearst Castle, which makes Trump Tower look like the Little House on the Prairie.

Hearst, reviled by the ruling element of both parties, steered a populist course, supporting William Jennings Bryan, denouncing the "hyenas" of Wall Street and their preening bellhop Teddy Roosevelt--who "sold himself to the devil and will live up to the bargain"--and unsuccessfully pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904, only to be bested by Judge Alton B. Parker, the candidate of Wall Street.

Hearst earned a lasting reputation as a jingo jackass during the Spanish-American War, though it is unlikely he actually wired Frederic Remington in Cuba, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Thereafter Hearst inclined to neutrality, suspicious of foreign entanglements but ever ready to respond to real or perceived slights. His newspapers were blazoned with the declaration "America First Should Be Every American's Motto."

Like Trump, who has refused to rattle sabers against Putin, Hearst was soft on Russia, boldly advocating recognition of the Bolshevik government in the 1920s. Hearst was also a full-throated immigration restrictionist, both on racist anti-Asian grounds and also because he saw hard-working immigrants as undermining the standard of living of the American workingman. …

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