The clueless would-be rulers

Today’s must-read, by Walter Mead:

This is not what his critics expected. At 49% overall job approval in the latest Gallup poll, and with 60% approval of the way he is handling the coronavirus epidemic, President Trump’s standing with voters has improved even as the country closed down and the stock market underwent a historic meltdown. That may change as this unpredictable crisis develops, but bitter and often justified criticism of Mr. Trump’s decision making in the early months of the pandemic has so far failed to break the bond between the 45th president and his political base.

One reason Mr. Trump’s opponents have had such a hard time damaging his connection with voters is that they still don’t understand why so many Americans want a wrecking-ball presidency. Beyond attributing Mr. Trump’s support to a mix of racism, religious fundamentalism and profound ignorance, the president’s establishment opponents in both parties have yet to grasp the depth and intensity of the populist energy that animates his base and the Bernie Sanders movement. . . .

That a majority of the electorate is this deeply alienated from the establishment can’t be dismissed as bigotry and ignorance. There are solid and serious grounds for doubting the competence and wisdom of America’s self-proclaimed expert class. What is so intelligent and enlightened, populists ask, about a foreign-policy establishment that failed to perceive that U.S. trade policies were promoting the rise of a hostile Communist superpower with the ability to disrupt supplies of essential goods in a national emergency? What competence have the military and political establishments shown in almost two decades of tactical success and strategic impotence in Afghanistan? What came of that intervention in Libya? What was the net result of all the fine talk in the Bush and Obama administrations about building democracy in the Middle East? . . .

On domestic policy, the criticism is equally trenchant and deeply felt. Many voters believe that the U.S. establishment has produced a health-care system that is neither affordable nor universal. Higher education saddles students with increasing debt while leaving many graduates woefully unprepared for good jobs in the real world. The centrist establishment has amassed unprecedented deficits without keeping roads, bridges and pipes in good repair. It has weighed down cities and states with unmanageable levels of pension debt…

Mr. Trump’s supporters are not comparing him with an omniscient leader who always does the right thing, but with the establishment—including the bulk of the mainstream media—that largely backed a policy of engagement with China long after its pitfalls became clear. For Americans who lost their jobs to Chinese competition or who fear the possibility of a new cold war against an economically potent and technologically advanced power, Mr. Trump’s errors pale before those of the bipartisan American foreign-policy consensus…

…the U.S. establishment won’t prosper again until it comes to grip with a central political fact: Populism rises when establishment leadership fails. If conventional U.S. political leaders had been properly doing their jobs, Donald Trump would still be hosting a television show. (emphasis added)

To reinforce the point, Exhibit A, from the just-passed Senate coronavirus relief bill:

Kennedy Center

The legacy media portion of the establishment is no better, in their deranged hatred both for Trump and those in the country who prefer risking him rather than the proven failures of past leadership.  CBS screamed in a headline recently that a man died and his wife was seriously hurt after taking an anti-malarial drug (hydroxycloroquine) Trump and Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have expressed optimism about as a possible treatment for COVID-19.  The problem?  What the Arizona couple actually did was notice their fish tank cleaner contained the chemical, and consumed it as a preventative measure, without consulting any medical expert.  Only two-thirds of the way through the story does it clarify the headline: “The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple took and the drug used to treat malaria is the way they are formulated.”  In other words, despite the headline, the couple didn’t take the drug.  They drank fish tank cleaner!  A factual headline, though, wouldn’t have been potentially damaging to Trump, which seems to be the primary goal of all mainstream journalism these days, facts and context be damned.

We’re supposed to be practicing social distancing.  But the elites in this country are (and have been for some time) so far out of touch with the common person’s daily experience that it shouldn’t be a surprise the latter has had more than enough of the former.

Marx and medicine don’t mix

As Americans turn their eyes to Uncle Sam for guidance about the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a certainty that Leftists will be mindful of Rahm Emanuel’s mantra “never let a crisis go to waste.”  Every misstep and deficiency will be touted as an example of why there should be a single, government-run healthcare system in our country.

Fortunately, we have a counterexample: China.

I was witnessing the kind of maximum, almost brutal efficiency a society must develop when the state is the master and the individual is merely a subject. Why would a Communist country not have an effective FDA? Because who are you going to complain to if you get tainted food? The government? They don’t answer to you. The press? They are owned by the government. And again, they don’t answer to you.

So what if you don’t like the conditions in the hospital? Where else are you going to go? This hospital is the last (and only) stop. You can’t opt for another place and then just pay out of your own pocket. The government has capped financial upward mobility. There is now “income equality.” And that means nobody has the means to buy their way into a different (or better) situation. And even if you could, one doesn’t exist. The state provides it all. You’re stuck.

Single payer also means single buyer. That means the dynamics of the market get eliminated. One of the natural checks-and-balances of finding a hot-shot surgeon willing to do the risky procedure or even just seek a second opinion, get chopped away little by little. Because now we’re answering to the government. It isn’t answering to us. After all, where are we gonna go? They’ve got us. And our cancer treatment or skin graft surgery or kidney stone blast is up to their red tape. Sure, we can get in the door for free. But we might die in there, waiting on someone with no incentive and who faces no recourse, to change our plasma bag.

That’s a good summary of two basic problems with government-run anything: a lack of competitive incentives to improve and reduce costs, and no recourse when the product/service isn’t what is needed.  Left unmentioned in the linked article is an additional problem: when government is a provider, it also decides who gets the provisions.  They can decide you don’t merit the product/service because you’re too old, or a troublesome dissident, or a newborn who would be ‘too expensive’ to save.

There are legitimate criticisms of how healthcare is provided today in the United States.  Costs consistently rise faster than general inflation, making much of it unaffordable for those without access to group insurance plans or government programs.  It can be argued, though, that this is the case precisely because the government is already heavily involved.  The idea of free markets is that the cost of goods and services will reach an equilibrium based on what the market (consumers) will bear.   But the presence of a purchaser/guarantor (Uncle Sam) who believes he can throw as much money as he wants at a problem, eliminates any market incentives to become more innovative and efficient.  In fact, Sam’s presence as a customer is usually accompanied by extra overhead and red tape that make the product/service less efficient.  This same dynamic is at work in higher education, where the rising costs of tuition parallel the rise of government aid and the availability of student loans.  If County General Hospital and the University of Hereville could only charge what the average American family could afford, their operations would, of necessity, become leaner and more efficient (sorry, diversity bureaucrats!).

This is not to say government doesn’t have a role.  But instead of being a consumer, it’s supposed to be a referee — the one to whom people have recourse when an industry is being abusive or careless.  The recent requirement for hospitals to post prices for most common procedures is a tiny step in the right direction.  The requirement needs to be clarified that hospitals provide the lay reader with context by linking associated costs and giving a reasonable range of the average total price for a given procedure.  Such information is necessary for customers to know their options and take advantage of competition (which currently is next to nonexistent).

The same is true for pharmaceuticals.  Patients in the U.S. can pay anywhere from two to six times more than in other countries for the same brand-name prescription drugs.  In this paragraph’s linked article, the argument is made that’s because buying is more fragmented than in a country like the United Kingdom, whose National Health Service is a large, single buyer with associated market clout.  CNN is, of course, in favor of nationalizing U.S. health care, so it makes sense that would be their take on it.  But as they admit in their own article, Medicare is legally forbidden from negotiating drug prices (wonder who lobbied for that rule).  It isn’t that the market is ‘fragmented,’ it’s that there are only a few big players, including Uncle Sam.  When a prescription drug becomes available in an over-the-counter strength, pricing shifts to a broader market: the individual consumer, who will compare prices and look to save money.  There’s no reason this wouldn’t work in the prescription category:

[Dr. Peter] Bach, of Memorial Sloan Kettering, said that when buyers can say no, for whatever reason, they can control prices better. In fact, Bach’s hospital refused the colon cancer drug Zaltrap in 2012 because it cost double that of a reasonably good alternative, Avastin. The company that manufactures Zaltrap, Sanofi, worried that other cancer hospitals and doctors would follow suit, so it halved the price of the drug.

And they would do the same if it was millions of Americans individually making the same cost comparisons in their purchase decisions.  Granted, for some medications there are no approved substitutes, so such competition wouldn’t apply.   But those situations occur in part because drug manufacturers can patent their new products for as much as 20 years.   I sympathize with the argument that development can be expensive and it’s right to expect a return on investment.  But given how many drug-related trinkets I see in doctor’s offices and patient discharge bags, I’m not sure it takes two decades to recoup costs on an effective new medication.  I’m wary of any scheme wherein government determines prices, so the preferred solution would be to reexamine what a reasonable patent period should be before generic equivalents are allowed on the market.  After that point, let market forces work.

As repeated examples have shown in history, the equality Marxism achieves is an equality of misery for the masses, with exceptions and privileges for those running the Leviathan of government.  That’s not the right prescription for whatever ails us.

It’s not just the military

A former Naval officer makes an observation in The Atlantic magazine:

I spent nine years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. I served as an aircraft commander, led combat reconnaissance crews, and taught naval history. But the first thing I did upon joining the military, the act that solemnized my obligation, was swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. How strange, then, that despite all of my training, the millions of taxpayer dollars devoted to teaching me how to fly, lead, and teach, not once did I receive meaningful instruction on the document to which I had pledged my life.

It’s a fair statement.  I’ve always been interested in the history of our nation and its institutions, so when I served on active duty I had a fairly solid knowledge of our Constitution.  It surprised me how many others did not — and moreover, how many didn’t care.  A member of one of the teams I once led was an enlisted legal resident from the Philippines (did you know citizenship is not required for military service?  You do now…).  She was studying for her citizenship exam, and we were all cheering for her to complete that lengthy process.  Out of curiosity, I asked to see the study materials she’d been given.  It was fairly detailed, and I realized if she mastered it she’d likely have a better grasp of how our nation is supposed to function than most high school graduates do today.  (This is why LEGAL immigration processes and paths to citizenship, rather than amnesties, are important).  For fun, I tossed a few basic questions from the book out to the rest of the team, and was disappointed in how little they could answer.  Like the author of the linked article, I reminded them they’d sworn an oath to protect the Constitution, so they might want to know what’s in it.

The military is in many ways a reflection of the society from which it’s drawn, and this is but one example.  There is a glaring lack of basic understanding of our institutions, particularly among those who are handed the privilege of voting at the tender age of 18.  I taught High School for a year after leaving the military.  The seniors I had for Government were roundly disinterested in the subject (to be fair, they weren’t thrilled with many others, either).  I explained they wouldn’t play any of their sports without knowing the rules.  So why were they content to begin adult life without knowing them?  Frankly, it was a depressing experience.

Almost 2,500 years ago, one of the most successful republics in history inscribed 12 tablets with basic social laws, and placed them in a public forum for all citizens to see.  This action did not create a utopia, of course, and by today’s standards some of the laws are quite questionable.  But it did foster an idea later expressed as “lex rex”  (“the law rules”), as opposed to governance being merely the whimsy of those in power.  Though that republic later fell into tyranny and then disarray, later documents such as the Magna Carta continued this line of thought: that there were limits even to a king’s power.

What limits today do Americans recognize on Uncle Sam and his little cousins, the States?  Can Sam simply take your money without due process?  What about your home?  Is the 2nd Amendment subject to curtailment by the States?  Did the writers of the Constitution intend for the government to be a dispenser of welfare?  Are we supposed to have equal justice under the law, or is your risk of prosecution for similar offenses dependent on whether you are a former deputy FBI director or someone working for a president who acts as an ‘outsider?’

Short of the Bible, there is no more important document in our society’s fabric than our Constitution.  Yet the average American today is alarmingly ignorant of both.  Is it any wonder our nation is so troubled?

Setting an example

Many of us of a certain age are increasingly concerned about the growing popularity of socialism among the younger generations.  We rightfully point out that the horrors of communist life in the 20th Century have been minimized in our history classes, so that the siren sound of “equality” has regained some of the appeal it lost amid prior carnage.

The truth, though, is that America has been flirting with socialism for about a century ourselves — we just haven’t called it that.  And while the young may not be as wise as we might hope, they’re not completely blind to the hypocrisy:

…the irony is that these old anti-socialists already live in a wonderland of government generosity that bears a passing resemblance to the socialism they so dread.

The federal government already guarantees single-payer health care to Americans over 65 through Medicare. Senior citizens already receive a certain kind of universal basic income; it’s called Social Security. While elderly Americans might balk at the idea of the government paying back hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt, they are already the grand beneficiaries of a government debt subsidy: The mortgage-interest deduction, a longtime staple of the federal tax code, effectively compensates the American homeowner (whose average age is 54) for their mortgage debt, thus saving this disproportionately old group approximately $800 billion in taxes owed to the federal government each decade. The economist Ed Glaeser has likened these policies to “Boomer socialism.”

In this framing, Sanders is not offering his more youthful constituency a radically new contract. Instead, he is extending the terms of an existing social contract to cover more—and, necessarily, younger—Americans.

Now, while I’m inclined to agree with this diagnosis, I don’t agree with the proposed treatment: “Some, but not all, of the problems facing young adults would be well addressed with an expansion of government.”  The socialism we’ve tacitly accepted since the days of the Progressive Era and FDR has already warped our society and economy in harmful ways.  Government spending in the areas of healthcare and education (much of it debt subsidy in the latter) has allowed prices in those arenas to skyrocket far beyond the rate of inflation (itself a result of government meddling with the currency).  Want to reign in health costs?  Put the consumer back in control by forcing providers to post price lists and compete for business that’s paid for at the point of sale.  When someone else is paying the bill, there’s no incentive to reduce costs, and those who don’t have that “someone else” are left priced out of the market altogether.  Same with education – get the government treasury out of it, and institutions will suddenly no longer have funding for “diversity coordinators” that add little value to the transmission of useful knowledge that leads to gainful employment.

For many years I’ve said I’d love to have the option to sign away my claim to any Social Security benefits in exchange for never paying the tax again.  As I get closer to retirement, that’s obviously less of a good deal for me.  But while I’d love to have the taxes I’ve paid in my private accounts rather than in Uncle Sam’s, the fact is that *if* I draw what Social Security currently projects for me (something I certainly don’t count on), I’ll recoup my contributions in less than 6 years.  So if I live another decade or more after that, where’s the money coming from?

The paychecks of younger workers, that’s where — the very generation that realizes the system will not work for them as it has their elders.  Where their contributions don’t cover it all, Uncle Sam’s uses his credit card, the balance of which is a drag on everyone’s fortunes whether they realize it or not.  For example, Sam is desperate to keep interest rates low, so he can continue to carry that balance (and add to it!).  But in doing so, he robs those who dutifully save of the interest they would normally make as a result of their frugality.  Since the elderly on a fixed income can no longer live on interest earnings, Social Security becomes an essential part of most people’s retirement plans… and the cycle begins anew.

That which can’t go on forever, doesn’t.  Our current structures are unsustainable.  We are at a crossroads: either we double down on what is known to be a failed economic model (planned economies), or we get the government out of the driver’s seat.  We need to find a way to set the sun on Social Security and Medicare (just for starters), while putting consumer protections in place like truthful labeling of medical costs and investment risks.  Government is supposed to police abuses of the market, not become the major provider of a good or service.  I’ve said it before: the worst result of our current hybrid system is that it isn’t true market capitalism in many respects, but is believed to be.  As a result, truly free market economics gets a bum rap.

So it’s worth keeping in mind the difficulty of convincing Bernie Bros not to point our nation toward full-blown Marxism when we’re already relying on programs of which Karl would have heartily approved.

Echoes of Cromwell

So the House of Representatives stands adjourned, having failed to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for action.  You know, the articles that were so urgent they were rammed through in a party-line vote.  Mixed messages much?

Perhaps when Congress returns to town they should be forced to listen to this speech from nearly four centuries past:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”  (emphasis added)

Oliver Cromwell, dismissing by force the English Long Parliament – April 20, 1653

These are no longer merely parliamentary games.  The Democrats are carelessly playing with literal fire.  Confidence in Congress has been in the dumpster since long before the current chapter.  The bewildered reaction of the Left to the 2016 election showed they simply did not comprehend the level of anger in the country — an anger that had only been stoked by their treatment of the earlier, more ‘polite’ Tea Party movement.  The past couple of days show they are either still clueless, or past the point of caring.

Trump is undoubtedly no Cromwell.  But the more the Democrats shred our institutions and precedents in their hunt for his scalp, the more the door is opened for one to appear.  When social and/or governing systems break down, people cast about for the rescuer on the white horse.  Not since the early 1930s has the U.S. been so ripe for such a development.

History will judge Pelosi’s partisans as harshly as Cromwell judged his own miscreant legislature.  Perhaps, like the England of old, the U.S. is due for a reminder just how rare, precious and fragile self-government really is.

What respect for the Founding looks like

If Attorney General Bill Barr approaches his duties consistent with the philosophy of original intent he highlights here, he may be one of the best nominees Trump has put into office.  This entire speech is worth your time, either by reading or watching.

Excerpts:

“…In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implicationsThey never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.  (emphasis added)

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.  And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media…  (emphasis added)

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The value of the vote

Caution: this is a long post; that’s why it has a “jump break” on the front page of the blog.

It’s ironic that Bernie Sanders brought this up while I’ve been re-reading Heinlein’s Starship Troopers:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he thinks every U.S. citizen, even the convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, should be allowed to vote in American elections.  Sanders offered his stance at a CNN town hall Monday when asked whether he thought felons should be allowed to vote while they’re incarcerated, not just after their release.

He was pressed on whether it was appropriate to enfranchise sex offenders or someone convicted of a heinous crime like Tsarnaev, who with his brother carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead and injured hundreds more.

“Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said in response to a question about restoring felons’ voting rights.

It appears Sanders is saying everyone should have the privilege of voting, regardless what they’ve done in their lives.  That’s not merely wrong, it’s disastrously dangerous.  Unlike the (poorly done) movie of Starship Troopers, the book discusses in great detail the importance of the franchise.  Indeed, the book is highly controversial for presenting a futuristic society in which the only full citizens with voting privileges are military veterans.  Pardon the excerpt from one of the book’s classroom discussions:

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A feature, not a bug

So Congress has only passed 12 laws so far this year?  Great!  That’s still probably close to a dozen more than are necessary.

Democrats flush with a new House majority after nearly a decade in the minority are sending over a rash of bills most political watchers believe have little chance of passing the Senate, such as universal background checks for gun purchases, net neutrality, climate change, congressional ethics, expanding voter access, raising the minimum wage and more.  ((“a rash of bills,” or “a lot of rash bills?  — Jemison))

The Senate was designed to be a speed brake on ill-considered legislation (of which there appears to be a considerable amount of late). Congress should be judged by the wisdom of its output, not its quantity.  So here’s an agenda I’d offer Congress:

  1. Pass next year’s Federal Budget BEFORE the end of the current fiscal year for once
  2. Repeal the 16th Amendment, abolish the IRS and institute a national sales tax
  3. Confirm or reject whatever nominees remain before the Senate
  4. Go home and let the American people live their lives for the next year.
  5. Repeat #1, #3 and #4 annually

Who’s with me?

The science is settled, er, a settlement

We’re asked daily to accept a lot of ideas based on the recommendations of “experts.”  It’s important to realize that “experts” — and the people who offer them data — are still fallible human beings, susceptible to error… or deliberate misconduct:

Duke University is paying the U.S. government $112.5 million to settle accusations that it submitted bogus data to win federal research grants. The settlement will also bring a $33.75 million payment to Joseph Thomas, the whistleblower who drew attention to the fraud when he worked for Duke.

The dozens of grants in question covered the study of the lung function of mice. The Justice Department says Thomas’ lawsuit alleged that “between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted and caused to be submitted” claims to federal agencies that were unknowingly paying grant money for falsified research data.

In a letter to the university’s community, Price said, “This is a difficult moment for Duke. Citing the “devastating impact of research fraud,” he also said the school had taken numerous steps to encourage scientific integrity, improve training and archive research data.

Because Thomas brought the original lawsuit under the False Claims Act’s qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions, he stood to share in any money that was recovered from Duke. For pursuing the case on the U.S. government’s behalf, he will now receive $33,750,000 from the settlement, the Justice Department said.

Thomas’ attorneys say he stuck with the case after the government opted not to mount its own investigation after he reported his allegations and filed suit.

“In many meritorious cases, the government decides to ‘intervene’ at that stage of the proceedings, basically taking over the lead of the case,” lawyers for Thomas said. “But here, that never happened. This left Mr. Thomas and his lawyers at the point of the spear – going against a venerated academic institution with enormous resources.”

Note it was a private citizen, not the government, that ultimately forced the issue and brought accountability.  That’s the problem with most government spending: too little incentive to ensure it’s doing any good.  As we’ve seen with Federal funding of many “green technologies” under the past administration, Uncle Sam is often a lousy judge of potential.  Is it harder to get private money?  Sure.  But if someone like the late Paul Allen is funding your project, you can expect to be asked regularly what their money is accomplishing.  That gets better results.

Accountability: the standard of winning societies.

(Oh, and remember this anytime global warming alarmists smugly tell you “the science is settled.”  Is it really?)

For those with ears to hear

I was impressed by President Trump’s State of the Union address.  It was one of his better public speaking performances, and whoever helped him craft the remarks instilled some great message discipline.  The speech covered a wide range of topics, some of which I thought could have been left for a different venue in order to tighten up the key points.  But those key points shone through, as this analysis by Glenn Reynolds shows:

So one of the interesting things about Trump’s speech last night is how it seemed calculated to demolish all the standard anti-Trump tropes from the media and from the left and to do so with compelling imagery. Consider:

Trump’s a Nazi: Praise for Holocaust survivors, and a touching rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (With Trump waving his fingers like a conductor).
Trump hates minorities: Brags about record low black, Hispanic, and Asian unemployment — while white-clad Democratic women, overwhelmingly white themselves, sat prune-faced.
Trump’s a Russian tool: Withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
Trump’s a warmonger: Without me, Trump says, we’d be at war on the Korean peninsula. Also, I’m looking at pulling out of Afghanistan.
Trump hates women: Except he got even the prune-faced white-clad Democratic women up dancing (and chanting “USA! USA!”) when he talked about record female employment in and out of Congress.

And his rebuke to socialism was designed to strip the glamour that the media have tried to imbue it with by tying it to the abject misery of Venezuela.

In debate, I think this is called cutting across your opponent’s flow. ((As a former competitive debater, I can confirm that term.  – Jemison))  And I think it’s Trump’s opening shot at 2020, as well as an effort to undercut the “Resistance” in and out of Congress. Plus, as Ann Althouse notes, despite the predictions of lefties like Robert Reich (see below) it was all wrapped in optimism and sunny American exceptionalism.

Genuinely Reaganesque.

There’s one Reynolds missed.  While I’m not in favor of the government providing taxpayer-funded family leave after the birth of a child, I was very glad to see him pivot from the “image of a mother holding her new baby” to the horrors of the recent pro-abortion legislation in New York and Virginia.  The contrast was deliberate and well-executed, followed by a call to Congress to outlaw late-term abortion (it’s a start).

Overall I was encouraged by the way in which the speech was an invitation to work together for the good of the country, without retreating from strongly held policy positions.  If the goal in politics is to capture the middle ground, I think Trump did a good job of it last night.

Naturally, many in the country today are dismissing everything he had to say.  Some, like Senator Chuck Schumer, were dismissing it even before hearing it.  No matter how reasonable Trump tries to be, nor how many facts he arms his talking points with, there will continue to be those partisans who refuse to listen.  Not only because they are invested in the Democratic party, but because they abhor the vision of America Trump’s election represents — a return to the roots, if you will.  The most “Reaganesque” moment of the speech in my opinion was when Trump pledged our nation would never be a socialist country.  The fact there were audible boos in the halls of Congress to this rejection of socialism should be a wakeup call to Americans who value their freedom.  It is not hyperbole to say there are members of Congress dedicated to subverting everything our Constitution and our history stand for.  They will not be swayed by reasonable arguments, demonstrable facts or the evidences of history.  They will have to be fought tooth and nail as if the survival of our nation depends on it.

Because it does.