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Trump Phenomenon Explained

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

For months now, pundits and establishmentarians have depicted American anger at upside down government as a phenomenon that will just go away. It won’t.

Whether you like Mr. Trump’s manner or his manners, whether you like his positions or his politics, what has attracted so many people to him is his willingness to tell it like it is, to cut through a lot of political baloney and get to the point of a matter. To him goes the credit for upping the game of most other candidates to a clearer level of needed in-your-face passion and energy about things that have gone wrong in our society.


Those few sentences may describe what happened, but they don’t fully explain why it happened, why nearly all the rules of standard politicking have gone up in backyard barbecue smoke. It’s not enough to say that people are angry and frustrated with government. Oh, it’s true we live in an upside down country where the government makes us fight against ourselves, where sanctuary cities can harbor criminals, where law enforcement personnel are disrespected at the very top, where our borders are sieves, where our position in the world is moving to the has-been category, where jobs are devalued by millions of illegals, where politicians are forced to deny that all lives matter, and on and on.

When you stop to think about it, there must be something else helping to drive that anger and frustration. Maybe it’s this. For nearly a decade, perhaps more so during the nurturing environment of the Obama Administration, abetted by State Media—the SuperPAC for progressive issues—the thought police have begun slashing away at two of our most basic rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Great influencers here have been a decade or more of college graduates who have been duped by their liberal professors into hyping their irreligious, progressive world vision. We see it and hear it constantly.

Of course, free speech doesn’t mean calling other people racist, insulting, or demeaning names. Around a hundred years ago Justice Holmes reminded us that free speech does not permit anyone to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, so we get that, but when we’re bullied into calling illegal immigrants “undocumented workers,” when you can’t refer to Middle Eastern jihadists as “Islamic terrorists,” when pro-lifers are portrayed as backward religious zealots, when students in school can’t show the American Flag, when everybody has to press 1 for English, when terror on American soil is “workplace violence,” when we’re forced to throw our children into killing grounds called “gun-free zones,” then it’s time for Americans to shout out, “Enough!” Some may call it political correctness, but it’s nothing more than progressive speech control.


Having said all that, most Americans are not anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-gay, anti-Muslim. Ours may be a less than perfect history when it comes to race (Slavery and WWII Japanese camps) and religion (antipathy toward Catholics, Jews, Muslims), but nearly all of us have turned our backs on hatred. Yet, we’re being forced to pray in more carefully defined spaces. Reagan reminded us the “Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying, (it)…was to protect their freedom to pray.” Too, we have been famous for opening our doors—legally—to “the tired, the poor, and those yearning to breathe free,” and we have been generous beyond fault to peoples around the globe needing our help.

What we don’t want now is to be told not to judge Muslims by the actions of a few, while we all gun-owners are broad-brushed by the aberrations of a very few. What we don’t want is to be told that retirement benefits, including Social Security, might run out or be cut—though we worked for them—while we have an unending supply of money for welfare, food stamps, and support of illegals. We have a society where half the population is subsidized in some way—earned benefits or free stuff—yet we’re on the verge of shrinking our military to a size smaller than before WWII because “we can’t afford it.” As someone once said in another context, having a good military is like a parachute. If you need it and don’t have it, you’ll never need it again.


So that’s another part of the answer to the Trump phenomenon. It’s been pegged as frustration with the government, with the so-called establishment. To many, it’s the upside down, everyday craziness of today’s society, the weariness of progressive, PC stuff pounded into us wherever we turn. It’s not just the government, then, and by the way, we who want the government to do as little as possible shouldn’t expect only the government to fix all that.

The way forward is through personal boycotts and at the ballot box. Americans should never be ashamed of who and what we are. We are civil, polite, and respectful, but we are determined. Though we are always called to do better, none of us should ever be embarrassed by what we have contributed to our planet.

While I’ll admit to knowing less about Scripture than some of my Protestant and Jewish friends, I do know this: in all the Old Testament and the New, though we are called to serve one Almighty God, though we are called to love our neighbor and to feed the hungry, neither the Prophets nor the Redeemer has ever called us to be stupid. We can turn things right side up. It’s up to us.

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