Thanks to Arnold Kling, I Sort of Understood Trump's Speech Last Night

My personal reaction was that Trump's speech was horrifying, a dystopian vision that bears no relationship to what is actually going on in this country (e.g. violent crime continues to fall, trade continues to make us wealthier, immigrants continue to make productive contributions, etc).  Peter Suderman has more in case you missed it.

But in Arnold Kling's 3-axis model of politics, the speech made perfect sense.   Trump has decided he is going to run hard on the civilization-barbarism axis.  The barbarians are at the gates, and his opponents are either too weak to deal with them or are actually in league with the barbarians.  He is the strong leader who will turn them back and make everyone safe again.  We're not going to trade with the barbarians, we are not going to treat with them, and we are not going to waste civil rights on them.  Ugh.  Trump is working hard to make me feel the victim, but I don't accept victim status.

I am not sure if this is marginally better or worse than what we are going to get at the Democratic Convention, where we will get four days of hearing that I personally am the bad guy and source of all misery in the world and the person that needs to be regulated harder and looted more furiously.   I almost prefer the Democratic approach, because at least evil is being done against me rather than in my name.


  1. mlouis:

    Love Kling's 3-axes model. Also frightened by how true it is.

  2. Rondo:

    I guess if you don't see it it, it does not happen.

  3. mlhouse:

    While I don't totally agree with Trump's approach, what I find amazing is the visceral reaction to him when 99% of the time he is just talking about enforcing EXISTING immigration laws that are on the books. It is against the law of the United States to illegally enter this country. It is against the law of the United States to over stay your visa. Sure, millions of people do it. I believe that last year 480,000 people overstayed their visa time period and there are a total of 5 million people in the United States that has over stayed their visa......and nothing is done about it.

    While I am not sure that Trump's approach is even a possible thing. How do you round up millions of people that have come across the border illegally or have ignored their expiration of their visas?

    We have sunk a long way when someone is so hated, called a racist, etc for saying, "There are laws here".

    AS far as crime, crime has been reduced since 1991 and it has been reduced significantly. But, the other fact is that what made these reductions possible, better police protection and more incarceration, are now being attacked or radically changed. We have seen how the tolerance of law breaking is leading to more crime, particularly in the large, urban, minority communities.

  4. ErikTheRed:

    I had mentioned in a previous post that I see a great deal of similarity to Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin. I'm sure I'm nowhere near the only person to make that connection, but it's not one I've seen discussed at all. Garry Kasparov's reaction seems to back my conclusion: "I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian."

  5. MJ:

    Pretty amazing how it holds up even when applied to a relatively non-traditional "conservative" candidate.

  6. MJ:

    Also, in regard to Suderman's piece, there is a commentary by David Brooks in the NYT that is currently making the rounds in various syndicated outlets, and which looks like it is largely plagiarized from Suderman's recap, right down to using the same analogies (e.g. Trump as "Dark Knight").

  7. Eau de Javelina:

    I thought Peter Thiel had perhaps the best lines at the Convention when he said:

    When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?

    Absolutely 100% correct!

  8. Ray Van Dolson:

    Libertarians are prone to emotion based reasoning too...

    The false equivalency of being opposed to illegal immigration (of the variety where folks are looking for a free ride in our growing entitlement society, and the continued expansion of laws pandering to it) and equating that opposition to being against legitimate immigration is ignorant at best, and at worst a dishonest attempt to use the same straw man techniques libertarians claim to be intellectually above.

    The truth is we are confronted with two pretty lousy candidates. Both populists and both statists. For me, Trump necessarily has to be the lesser of two evils for the sole reason that we're far more likely to have rational, constitution-oriented jurists nominated and approved to the supreme court by a Republican congress combined with a Trump presidency. Look for further erosion of first and second amendment rights under a Hillary presidency (and the fabrication of new SJW-ish rights out of thin air).

    And for those trumpeting the distraction of moral issues... Trump doesn't care about bathrooms... Hillary will force you to care one way or another through laws or activist judges.

  9. HoratiusZappa:

    Have you noticed that most of the people (most of us here, I'd guess) in favor of open borders and free trade never seem to be harmed by it?

    When creative destruction happens, there are a few losers in addition to the many winners. "Well, overall there is net improvement" is not the end of the debate or a satisfactory answer to the losers. If the people doing well can't be bothered to seriously and successfully address the problems of people doing not-well, eventually the people doing not-well will try successively more extreme courses of action in the hopes one will eventually work out for them. And it doesn't help to explain to them earnestly that statistics show that their distress is imaginary.

  10. wreckinball:

    Abuse of the English language. Now we call anyone here from another country an immigrant whether legal or illegal? Is Coyote actually for selective enforcement of the immigration law? And here I thought this type of power was the very thing he despised.
    Last I checked Trump was OK with "legal" immigrants.

  11. Not Sure:

    I've been laid off twice due to company relocations- never realized it was up to other people to provide me with a satisfactory answer or address my problems.

  12. mx:

    But it's an argument that Peter Thiel can make because he's a privileged billionaire. Nobody is threatening to put him in jail because of which bathroom he uses and nobody is going to send him to gay conversion therapy. If someone wants to be bigoted against him, he can simply not fund their company, while many people can be legally fired because of their sexual orientation.

  13. ColoComment:

    Further to this: not only are there laws re: illegal entry and visa overstay, but there are also laws, regulations and procedures for deporting those among them who, for whatever reason, come to the attention of our justice system. Which laws, etc., apparently the current regime has given instructions to ignore. Indeed, even to house, treat medically, educate, and otherwise to make comfortable their illegal stay in this country.
    If, in fact, a President Trump did no more than enforce the immigration laws (not including O's EOs) currently on the books, I suspect that many would call his presidency a success.

  14. mx:

    I agree. Net improvement is great, but some people are negatively impacted, and part of the bargain involved in accepting the net improvement for all of us should be helping the net losers out. The problem is that people keep fighting against ways to help the negatively impacted because such changes often involve "socialism" or big government programs.

    Examples: cutting back unemployment insurance (the classic way in which the government acknowledges that, while labor flexibility is a net positive for the economy, we need to deal with the short-term effects on individuals who find themselves out of a job); slashing funds for adult education so people can be trained for new and better jobs; and fighting health care reform, which allows more people to get health care without relying on an employer so they have more flexibility to pursue different jobs and/or take on entrepreneurial pursuits.

    And that's not to say all of the above programs are great or that they aren't wasteful sometimes, but too often we say "yeah but it's a net positive for society" at the same time as we make things harder for the negatively impacted.

  15. Eau de Javelina:

    Who can be fired due to their sexual orientation without an army of lawyers coming after the company? Also, he didn't say gay rights weren't a worthy cause, he seemed to be saying that we have real problems in this country and which bathroom you want to use just isn't up there. Finally on a related note, if the NBA wants to boycott states because of their 'bathroom identity' it's the most vapid kind of PC nonsense. Take a real stand. Boycott a state or city because of it's failing schools, not because of the sign on the school's bathrooms.

  16. mlhouse:

    Although I am much more of a moderate on immigration than Trump and many other conservatives (for example, I believe we should create work visas that allow workers to enter the country and control them when they are here) what is astounding to me is how our system works.

    The 480,000 overstayed visas completely swamps the ability of our enforcement mechanism to work in finding and deporting these individuals that break the law. I saw an statistic for the number of people who face judicial action because of these visa violations but I cannot find it, but the number I recall is there is like 5,000 or so people that are found and deported that overstay. A drop in the bucket.

    THis type of action is a way of changing the law without changing the law which is exactly why it is happening under Obama's watch. A proper immigration policy, looking at legal and illegal immigrants, would make all of the pieces of the system work together. THere would be enough "enforecment" to match the magnitude of the problem. But that is nto the way Washington works.

  17. ColoComment:

    We have programs to help those who become unemployed for whatever reason, including jobs moving offshore. Why do people comment as though no attempts have been made to cushion the disruption caused by a changing business environment? For example, in Colorado:

  18. Conqueror of All Foes Cheese:

    To be fair, the Progressives and MSM have for quite some time been harping about the [non-existent] "epidemic of gun violence" and they are very unhappy with TPP now and NAFTA pretty much from the beginning there, and they whine quite a lot about "American jobs" being put in large crates and shipped overseas, and it must be dangerous out there because cops are just wantonly killing young black men all over the place for fun, right?
    So why blame Trump for saying, "You know, the Democrats are right! This place is awful!! But unlike them, instead of whining about it I'm going to do something!"
    Couple that with the constant talk about stagnant wages and pushing Obamacare on the unwilling, and the lowest labor participation rate in decades, and why would it be surprising that Trump's speech resonates?
    Does *anyone* really expect Hillary! to run on the theme of "Everything is just wonderful, and I'm going to make it better!"?

  19. HoratiusZappa:

    Programs exist; therefore problem solved?

  20. HoratiusZappa:

    It shouldn't be. But I've noticed that people with relatively high aptitude to do almost anything they turn their minds to are much more successful than those born with fewer gifts.

  21. mx:

    People in the majority of states can legally be fired due to their sexual orientation: And several states have passed or are considering laws that prohibit local governments from including sexual orientation in local anti-discrimination laws too (the law in North Carolina isn't just about bathrooms, it prohibits local governments from enacting their own anti-discrimination laws or for setting a higher minimum wage for that matter).

    There are absolutely real problems we should be focused on, which is why it's so depressing we have to spend time discussing laws that say that Caitlyn Jenner should be sent to jail unless she uses a men's room instead of focusing on literally anything else that could help people.

  22. J K Brown:

    Then you need to read Kling's post from today, 'Wither the Suburban Homeowner?' and the linked article from Walter Russell Mead.

    They delve into the conflict between the academic, professional class and the middle/lower middle class.

    What they miss is that many of the academic, government, etc. class are little more than toll collectors having erected government barriers to extract from productive work.

  23. ColoComment:

    I was trying to counter the statement "If the people doing well can't be bothered to seriously and successfully address the problems of people doing not-well...." by showing that not to be so, but I guess I failed.

    So let me ask: if publicly-supported programs such as unemployment, job training, and job placement, and the various other social service organizations, are examples of doing-well people not being bothered to address the problems of other people who are not doing well, then what more or different exactly, do you have in mind that they should do? Disallowed answer: more money.

  24. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    Who is most likely to support our immigration laws set out by congress? Who is most likely to appoint conservative judges? Who is most likely to counter the rules and regulations being pressed upon us by administrative departments such as EPA, DOE, etc. Who is more likely to get a better trade deal for the US? Who is more likely to defend our constitutional freedoms? Who is more likely to confront Muslim violence for what it is? My gut tells me all the answers are "Trump".

  25. Rich Abbott:

    Well, no he isn't ok with legal immigrants who are Muslim. He was also against a "Mexican" judge who was born in Ohio. So, I can understand how anyone with a little more pigment in their skin may be a little leary of Donald Trump's vision.

  26. David in Michigan:

    "Have you noticed that most of the people (most of us here, I'd guess) in
    favor of open borders and free trade never seem to be harmed by it?"

    I don't know that I agree with the "most of us here" part but otherwise I do agree with the overall statement that those advocating open borders and free trade benefit from these things.

    And that's about the extent of my agreeing with you. "..... overall there is net improvement...." for SOME (i.e., you) but not for many, many others. And by others I mean those who you say "that their distress is imaginary".

    This is precisely the attitude that explains why Donald Trump is now the Republican candidate for President. That is, net improvement for you and your ilk but not many, many others. And certainly not "imaginary" distress. You just don't get it. I won't even try to explain it to you. It would be wasted. Trump is where he is because of ANGER at aholes like you.

  27. David in Michigan:

    Is that Horiatius at the bridge or Horiatius who knows how to play bridge. Are you Frank Zappa or Emilio Zappa.
    You just dig yourself deeper and deeper into the shallow people pool.

  28. markm:

    There's another issue here: Probably the majority of the 480,000 visa overstayers legally _can_ stay by renewing their visas, and _did_ get the renewal paperwork in well ahead of time - but it's stuck somewhere in the huge and entirely incompetent INS bureaucracy. Even when there's no question about the final result, a document can sit in a pile for six months waiting for a rubber stamp. It also works the other way - a student visa (to learn to fly an airplane, but maybe not to land it) was approved and mailed out to one of the 9-11 hijackers six months later. In the six months it sat waiting for the final rubber stamp, no one noticed that the name on it had become infamous, and no one checked up on what he'd been doing.

    And finally, I once knew a gentleman from El Salvador whose application for political asylum was denied because he couldn't prove that revolutionary and/or government hit squads back home wanted to kill him. He simply hired a good lawyer who pointed out that INS hadn't dotted all the t's and crossed all the i's in the deportation paperwork - and kept on getting the deportation order sent back because of errors for ten years after all the real issues had been decided against this guy. It didn't even cost too much - he was working pouring concrete, and after paying his lawyer and sending money home to support his parents, he had enough left to live on.

    We don't have a working immigration law, but instead there is an incompetent bureaucracy that preys on the poor and ignorant, but is helpless against those with the knowledge and money to fight it in court.