Daily Briefing : REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA (August 25,2020)

Trump and Biden
Donald Trump and Joe Biden, official portraits from.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/pg en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_official_portrait.(Source:Andrea Widburg)

Table of Contents:

How Trump Has Changed the Republicans:  Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, Aug. 21, 2020

The Democrats’ Refounding of America:  Christopher Caldwell, WSJ, Aug. 13, 2020

Trump’s Reactive Engagement:  Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, July 23, 2020

Chris Selley: Erin O’Toole Can be a Serious Alternative to the Liberals’ Abjectly Unserious Pandemic Politics:  Chris Selley, National Post, Aug. 25, 2020

______________________________________________________How Trump Has Changed the Republicans
Gerald F. Seib
WSJ, Aug. 21, 2020 For almost four decades, the conservative movement was defined by one man, Ronald Reagan, and his movement, the Reagan Revolution.
Reagan was an unlikely revolutionary figure, a modestly successful actor with a self-effacing style and no intellectual pretensions. Yet he personally made the Republican Party into a conservative party, and his legacy inspired the movement’s leaders, animated its policy debates and stirred its voters’ emotions long after he left the scene.

Then four years ago, it all changed.

Donald Trump ran in 2016 and swamped a sprawling Republican field of more conventional conservatives. In doing so, he didn’t merely win the nomination and embark on the road to the White House. He turned Republicans away from four decades of Reagan-style, national-greatness conservatism to a new gospel of populism and nationalism.

In truth, this shift had been building for a while: Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, the Tea Party, an increasingly bitter immigration debate—all were early signs that a new door was opening. Mr. Trump simply charged through it. He understood better than those whom he vanquished in the primaries that the Republican Party has undergone profound socioeconomic changes; it has been washed over by currents of cultural alienation and a feeling that the old conservative economic prescriptions haven’t worked for its new working-class foot soldiers.

Now, as Republicans prepare to nominate Mr. Trump for re-election at their truncated convention this week, there is simply no way to put Trumpism back into the bottle. If the president wins this fall (and even more so if he loses), the question that Republicans in general and conservatives in particular face is simple and stark: How to adapt their gospel so that it fits in the age of Trump?

As it happens, a new and younger breed of conservatives has set out to do precisely that, often by stepping away from strict free-market philosophies. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is pushing for what he calls a “common-good capitalism,” in which government policies promote not just economic growth but also provide help for families, workers and communities. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a likely presidential aspirant, is calling for leaving the World Trade Organization and managing capital markets to control the inflow of foreign money into the U.S. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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The Democrats’ Refounding of America
Christopher Caldwell
WSJ, Aug. 13, 2020

At the funeral of John Lewis in Atlanta last month, former President Barack Obama described the late civil rights leader and Democratic congressman as a “Founding Father” of a “fuller, fairer, better America.” It was an epochal turn of phrase. A protégé of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis desegregated lunch counters in Nashville in 1960, spoke at the 1963 March on Washington and was beaten leading a march in Selma in 1965.

Mr. Obama explicitly linked those episodes to the efforts of progressive activists and practitioners of civil disobedience today. In recent months, demonstrators of various kinds have protested in several American cities against alleged police racism. Some have held community vigils, others have torched and looted city centers. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other self-described radicals, known collectively as “the Squad,” are now power brokers in Congress. Their ranks appear likely to swell, after the primary victories of Jamaal Bowman in New York and Cori Bush in St. Louis.

Democrats have always been partisans of the 1960s. They tend to be more admiring of that period’s reforming energy than Republicans, and more indulgent of its intemperance, unreason and violence. Shortly after he left the presidency, Bill Clinton observed: “If you look back on the ’60s and on balance you think there was more good than harm, you’re probably a Democrat. If you think there was more harm than good, you’re probably a Republican.”

Now Democrats’ understanding of the 1960s is changing, and their political mission is changing along with it. It’s not that Democrats are getting more radical on most policy issues. There is no Medicare for All in the party’s platform, no demand for the nationwide legalization of marijuana, and no call to boycott Israel over its West Bank settlements, much as the Squad might want those things. Nor have Democrats chosen a radical presidential nominee.

But progressives have begun to describe the country that existed before the 1960s as not just flawed but outright illegitimate—and Democrats are following their lead. “All told, liberal society in the U.S. is, at best, just over half a century old,” writes New Republic staff writer Osita Nwanevu, scoffing at the notion that there might be something illiberal about America’s politically correct “cancel culture.” New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie recently tweeted: “To the extent that this country is a democracy, it took people like John Lewis to make it one.” In this view, the civil rights movement wasn’t just a reform but a refounding. That is what makes the anointing of John Lewis as a “Founding Father” by the most successful American politician since Ronald Reagan so significant. It is a sign that this new understanding of American history is making headway at the top of the Democratic Party.

The real political legacy of the 1960s comes from the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Woodstock and the Summer of Love and the moon landing are interesting episodes of the 1960s. But the real political legacy of the decade comes from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It contained highly intrusive measures that were justified, in the minds of the American public, by the need to end Southern racial segregation—with its separate facilities, its inferior schools, its exclusion of Blacks from voting. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Trump’s Reactive Engagement
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review, July 23, 2020

The United States and indeed the Western world face four quite different challenges on the horizon: China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. All these threats were analyzed at length in the 68-page U.S. National Security Strategy assessment of December 2017, written by then–national-security adviser H. R. McMaster and his staff.

The encompassing theme of that blueprint was dubbed “strategic realism.” In popular parlance it may have been better known as a new “Jacksonianism” — defined loosely as something like the self-composed epitaph of the Roman strongman Sulla found in Plutarch’s life of the general (“No friend had ever surpassed him in doing kindness, and no enemy in doing harm” [οὔτε τῶν φίλων τις αὐτὸν εὖ ποιῶν οὔτε τῶν ἐχθρῶν κακῶς ὑπερεβάλετο]), or perhaps the reactive principle enshrined in the motto of the Stuart dynasty of Scotland, Nemo me impune lacessit — “No one provokes me with impunity.”

One overarching goal of the NSS white paper was to synthesize U.S. and allied interests while isolating enemies and winning over neutrals — and all in the context of a new domestic paradigm of enhancing the economy of the American interior while securing the nation’s borders. That assessment of continued, though recalibrated, engagement abroad explains the considerable increases in U.S. defense spending, the preservation of some 800 military bases and installations, the steady deployment of 170,000 active military personnel overseas, and the assignment of 30,000 State Department officials outside the U.S. Isolationist powers simply do not commit such massive resources outside their borders; declining nations “in retreat” do not allot such forces to protect the interests of so many allies. The aims of restoring economic vitality in the U.S. interior, pressuring China for reciprocal trade, and establishing a secure southern border and energy independence are not just campaign props, but foreign-policy assets that allow America to extend its strategic reach, if need be, well beyond its borders and on its own terms.

There is nothing radical in the American idea that NATO allies must meet their promises of military investment if the alliance is to survive in the 21st century. Who would disagree that our military, after 19 years in a stalemated Afghanistan, should rethink its strategic agenda and indeed the utility of its presence? What is controversial in concluding that policies that led to interventions in Libya did not enhance U.S. interests or regional stability? The Iraq War is now mostly seen, in a cost-to-benefit analysis, fairly or not, as not having been worth the price in blood and treasure. And if isolationism is defined by taking out General Qasem Soleimani, or bombing ISIS into retreat, or taking unprecedented action in moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, or reestablishing good relations with Egypt and the Gulf monarchies, then such isolationism is a strange sort of blinkered standoffishness. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Chris Selley: Erin O’Toole Can be a Serious Alternative to the Liberals’ Abjectly Unserious Pandemic Politics
Chris Selley
National Post, Aug. 25, 2020

At 9:45 p.m. on Sunday night, Hartley Lefton, who chaired the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ Leadership Election Organizing Committee, offered some perspective on the hours-long delay in declaring Erin O’Toole the new federal Conservative leader: “The last time a Conservative party had a delayed leadership announcement with record memberships and turnout, the result was an overwhelming election win over an incumbent Liberal government.”

He was referring to the nightmare that unfolded in Markham, Ont. at the Ontario PC leadership convention in 2018, when various glitches and counting disputes forced organizers to send paying Tories home before Doug Ford was declared winner. In one sense, it’s a stretch. Justin Trudeau is no Kathleen Wynne. Recent polls suggest the Kielburger Affair may have nullified the boost Trudeau’s government enjoyed for its middling-at-best performance during the pandemic, but only a single poll — by Campaign Research, conducted August 10–13 — has them trailing the Conservatives, and only by three points. The others have the Liberals in pretty comfortable position. Trudeau has amassed an impressive collection of baggage in his nearly five years on the job, but it’s nothing compared to the groaning stagecoach Wynne was hauling around after 13 years of Liberal government at Queen’s Park. Conservatives indulge the idea that the next election is theirs to lose at enormous peril.

In another sense, though, Lefton is dead right. Almost no one is going to remember Sunday night when it comes time to mark a ballot. And almost no one is going to remember the dreary, often unedifying federal Conservative leadership campaign itself. In part because it was so dreary and often unedifying, and in much larger part because they had, and have, far more important things to worry about. Life and death things: jobs, mortgages, the plague.

Indeed, for exactly that reason, now is a pretty good time for a serious person — which O’Toole generally is, certainly much more so than the vanquished Peter MacKay — to take the reins of a government in waiting.

Never have so many Canadians been so dependent on the federal government, through no fault whatsoever of their own. There is no vaccine in sight, and it’s possible none may ever materialize. Many experts are certain a second wave will hit us in the fall; we can only hope they’re wrong. The provinces have failed to roll out anything approaching gold-standard plans to reopen schools. But when they turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, Canadians are hearing all about how and when the government might wind down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). It’s unnerving, to say the very least. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

What if Trumpism Is the G.O.P.’s Natural State? Adam Jentleson, NYTimes, Aug. 18, 2020 — Buckle up, Democrats, because the time between now and Election Day will be a white-knuckled, cannonball run of doom-scrolling.

Can Joe Biden Hold the Democrats Together?:  Ruy Teixeira, WSJ, Aug. 14, 2020 — Since the New Deal, Democrats have struggled to hold together the eclectic elements of their coalition. Under President Franklin Roosevelt, who forged the party as we know it, the bedrock of Democratic support was the white working class, the “solid South” and Black Americans.

From DNC Irony to Parody Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Aug. 23, 2020 — If nothing else, the architects of the 2020 Democratic Convention appeared to be ignorant of irony. Either that, or they know irony so well and cared so little that they wished to ram it down the throats of the few who watched the nightly taped speeches—as if to say, “We’re hypocrites and proud of it—and what are you going to do about it?”

Joe Biden Wants To Reform the Criminal Justice System He Helped Create:  Reason TV, YouTube, June 4, 2020 –– The presidential candidate deserves praise for retreating from his tough-on-crime stance. But let’s not forget that his policies contributed to mass incarceration and the police misconduct that people are protesting today.

What Has Erin O’Toole Promised to Do as Tory Leader?: Rachel Aiellow, CTV News, Aug. 24, 2020 — The Conservative Party of Canada has a new leader. His name is Erin O’Toole and he won the party’s leadership race with 57 per cent of the vote after a ballot count delayed by thousands of damaged ballots.