Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trump’s respect for voters confounds the Left

The Leftist commentor below gets an important point.  She says that, unlike the patronising Democrats, the president gives pride back to blue-collar Americans

I’ve begun to worry about the effectiveness of the barrage of indignation that people like me are directing at this president. The daily denunciations of him are cogent and passionate. I fear they are also, in their righteous fury, misunderstanding what it will take to oust or defeat him.

If liberal outrage was all that was needed, Trump would never have won. His opponents seem to think they only have to prove him a monster and a charlatan for his shamefaced supporters to admit they were wrong, and creep back into the Democrat fold. That ignores the basis for his success and why the vast majority of his base still back him.

Trump’s appeal to his voters isn’t just his promises of a better life; it’s something intangible and even more critical: respect. He promised more than great jobs, great health and a great America; he told his voters that they themselves were great. That resonated because he was mostly addressing people who feel neglected and overlooked by economic and social changes, and who fear they are losing jobs and status to immigrants and non-white Americans.

Trump’s message was so powerful because, as the Nobel prizewinning economist John Harsanyi said, “apart from economic payoffs, social status seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behaviour”. Apes and chimps crave it and so do we. We are acutely aware of and affected by our individual standing and the standing of our group.

The lower we perceive our status to be, the more stressed and depressed we are, the less likely we are to perform well in tests, the likelier we are to get sick and to die early. As research by the American academic psychologist PJ Henry shows, low status also makes us angrier and more defensive because our position is so precarious that we are constantly watching out for social insults. Any decline in status is likely to affect us even more deeply since we will be agonisingly aware of the contrast between our past and our present.

Denunciations of the president miss the secret of his success
Trump offers his voters relief from this, which is why they are so loyal. His praise gives them something precious: pride and identity. It’s also genuine. I listened to Trump defending himself at his much-criticised Arizona rally and was struck by something besides dismay; the near-reverence with which he speaks of his voters. He told his audience that he only minded media attacks when they were aimed at his honest, hardworking supporters, “who love our nation, obey our laws and care for our people”. He did the same in Texas this week, telling his crowd: “We love you, you’re special, we’re here to take care”.

The observers who denounce his self-obsession are missing this critical connection. It stems from his own profound insecurity, and his identification as a resentful social outsider who has never had the respect he craves from America’s elite.

It electrifies his base because they are being respected by someone who embodies what they aspire to. The Californian academic Joan Williams, in her book White Working Class, makes clear just how much this group dislike salaried professionals and how they feel patronised and despised by lawyers, doctors and government employees. They are contemptuous of the anxious conformity of the professionally employed, infinitely preferring the rugged independence of people who are their own bosses and are free to speak their own minds.

They don’t want to change their culture. Their aspiration is to keep their own network of friends, family and way of life, but with added wealth. Trump, with his crudity, defence of civil war statues, fondness for gilt furniture, burgers and rewarding his family with high-powered jobs, represents their dream.

Everything that incenses liberals about that behaviour is further proof to this group that Trump is their man and that they are his team. Liberals’ denunciations of him are implicit criticisms of them, their values and their choices, and threaten their self-respect. They double down behind the president and blame the media or “the swamp” for any setbacks. Gallup reports that even after the chaos and scandals of this year, Trump’s support among Republicans has only fallen by 12 percentage points. Almost half his base would back him even if he shot someone.

Only a fool would assume that the accusations of Russia or racism will reverse the Trump tide. Michael Moore, the leftwing filmmaker and one of the few to predict Trump’s victory, is warning that he’s on track to win again in 2020. But so far the Democrats, who lost because they patronised or ignored the electorate in key states, delude themselves that moral superiority alone will win back the White House. They are offering nothing to those voters except condescension and denigration. If they cannot learn how to bind Americans together rather than divide them, I fear it is they who will be humiliated again.



A chance for Congress to get its mojo back

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP last week started a six-month countdown clock to end his predecessor's executive order protecting immigrants who were brought illegally to America when they were children, the denunciations came fast, furious, and fevered. Angry outrage has become the standard reaction to almost everything Trump says and does, often with reason. But on the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that fury is misplaced. Trump has created an opening that should gladden conservatives and liberals alike — one that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should exploit.

For years, legislators have allowed presidents to push the limits of executive power, bypassing Congress on issues ranging from warrantless wiretaps to health care subsidies. Lawmakers, constantly battling each other, have failed to defend what should be their exclusive power to make the nation's laws. Unexpectedly, Trump has just handed them a chance to reclaim lost ground.

Barack Obama's DACA policy was a classic example of achieving an excellent end through terrible means. It offered to protect 1 million or so young people from deportation and allow them to work legally, so long as they stayed out of trouble, finished school, and registered with the government. More than three-fourths of eligible immigrants signed up for DACA status, and by all accounts they have been a productive and law-abiding cohort. Some have been downright heroic.

The problem with DACA is that it was imposed unilaterally by Obama in 2012. He claimed he had to take "action to change the law" by executive order because Congress had failed to pass a bill (the proposed DREAM Act) that would do so legislatively. At first he insisted that DACA was only a "temporary stopgap measure." But as hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" signed up, DACA became institutionalized. Two years later, Obama tried to expand it, sheltering not only Dreamers from deportation, but their parents — a population numbering more than 4 million. When a group of states sued to block the expansion, federal courts backed them up. Obama's action was "manifestly contrary" to existing immigration law, ruled the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and presidents cannot make immigration law by fiat.

But DACA itself remained in force, and there is no question that the policy is popular. An overwhelming 76 percent of voters, say DACA enrollees should be allowed to stay legally in the United States; only 15 percent want them deported. Majorities of Democrats (84 percent), independents (74 percent), and Republicans (69 percent) believe Dreamers should able to remain in America as permanent legal residents. Even among self-identified Trump voters, two-thirds think Dreamers should stay.

Trump himself has repeatedly expressed unwillingness to hurt Dreamers. "I have a love for these people," he said on Tuesday. "Hopefully, now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly."

That's exactly what Congress should do.

Even granting Trump's habit of saying "X" on Monday and "not-X" on Thursday, it seems plain that a clean bill giving Dreamers legal status is one he would relish signing — if only to tout it as an achievement only he could have engineered. "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do)," Trump tweeted on Tuesday. "If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

No one should miss the significance of Trump's surprising deference to Congress. Trump used to say he would end DACA the way Obama created it: unilaterally. In his campaign kickoff speech in the Trump Tower lobby two years ago, he vowed that if elected he would "immediately terminate President Obama's illegal executive order on immigration."

But he didn't. He hesitated for months on DACA — and when he finally moved it was because of a looming legal threat: A group of state attorneys general were about to challenge DACA in court. If Trump wanted DACA killed without having to pull the trigger himself, he could have invited that lawsuit and ordered the Justice Department not to oppose it.

Instead he is urging Congress to take the lead and "legalize DACA." To put it differently, Trump is urging the legislative branch to reclaim its proper constitutional authority — to take back a measure of power that Obama usurped.

In modern times, presidents of both parties have routinely overstepped their bounds. Obama arguably went further down that path than any previous president. "Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power," The New York Times observed last year, "Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history." It took a while for Obama to get over those "misgivings" — after all, he had sharply criticized George W. Bush's reliance on unilateral orders. But once he did, he pursued executive power without apology.

Improbably, Trump has now handed Congress a perfect vehicle to undo an act of presidential overreach and enhance its own authority. For Republicans, this is an opportunity to roll back one of Obama's most blatant acts of "pen-and-phone" aggrandizement. For Democrats, it is a way to deter Trump from engaging in overreach of his own — from, say, ordering a wall to be built along the Mexican border on the grounds that Congress hasn't acted. For both, it is a chance to pass a bill that Americans by a wide margin would welcome.

Trump should be cheered, not cursed, for handing off DACA to Congress. For years, lawmakers of both parties have fumed as presidents have gotten away with wielding power unilaterally. Now Capitol Hill has a chance to do something about it, and with White House encouragement. Blow this opportunity, and they may never get another.



2 Democrat Senators Show Hostility to Religion in Questions for Judicial Nominee

“Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” is an unusual and inappropriate question for a senator to ask a judicial nominee. In fact, the Constitution forbids it.

But that didn’t stop Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., from probing Notre Dame Law professor Amy Coney Barrett about her faith. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. D-Calif., also chided Barrett for being a practicing Catholic, proclaiming, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

Both senators appear to have forgotten Article VI’s admonition that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Officer or public Trust under the United States.”

The senators’ hostility to religion was loudly on display as Barrett and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, having been nominated by the president to fill two federal appellate vacancies.

President Donald Trump nominated Larsen for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Michigan and Barrett for the 7th Circuit in Indiana. Both women have faced bitter scrutiny from the left. This makes sense, as both are brilliant, young, conservative, and female, making them serious contenders for a future Supreme Court vacancy.

After a delay, Democratic senators from both Michigan and Indiana have returned the nominees’ blue slips, allowing their nominations to move forward.



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