So: Trump punted on DACA. The border wall now involves strengthening existing walls, instead of building a bad-ass Escape From New York style barrier. And the dreamers can stay. It sure sounds like “we” lost to me. Or does it?
American politics is based on the simple idea that government is harmful when it acts in its own interests, so it must be crippled by an extensive system of hoops, chutes and ladders that makes it almost impossible for government to get anything done. This system has a weakness, of course, which is that once government makes a mistake, it is doubly impossible to remove it. First, the system hampers any action; second, voters are usually oblivious to any changes which remove things, as they would prefer to think about good things coming their way, like winning a lottery or the chance that their favorite team might win the superbowl.
To date, Trump has outplayed every adversary he has come up against. When he began his campaign, it was all but written in stone that Hillary Clinton would become Barack Obama II, or rather William Jefferson Clinton III, and then use her power to bring in more immigrants from around the world to vote Leftist. Like others of her type, she does not care about consequences, like the destruction of the nation, so long as she gets her way. If you are thinking of Captain Ahab commanding the ruins of his boat to chase down the white whale, here, you are correct. The white whale is the Western European majority and Leftists will not be happy until they have subjugated it forever, and they do not care if this destroys themselves in the process (imagine someone saying “Allahu Ackbar!” with a Beltway accent). Of course, even that will not make them happy because Leftists are fundamentally unhappy people, but for them to confront that is to self-destruct.
The departure of Steve Bannon was a major event in the Trump administration because it represented a shift in strategy. Instead of trying to remain united, the group that brought us the Trump presidency has begun fighting on different levels. Trump dispatched Bannon to apply pressure on Trump from the media, since it has become clear that Breitbart will replace Fox News as the major source of information for conservatives, followed by the Daily Caller and aggregators like the Drudge Report and Real Clear Politics. When Bannon left, it signaled that the initial phase of establishing an administration and setting up strategy is over, and the Trump has a game plan for both of his terms.
For the first half of his first term, his goal has changed. He cannot directly achieve any more than he is currently doing with executive orders, through which he is restricting the extremes of Obama-era policy, and through appointments, through which he is dismantling the lower-level infrastructure of fanatical Leftists that infests the American government. Instead, he needs to clear aside some obstacles, and he is doing this in a classic formula from his days as a builder: offer a solid plan, let the opposition destroy it, and then force them to come up with their own instead of adjusting his own plan to meet their needs, as any other candidate would do. He will give lip service to compromise, but really, he is going to keep trotting out plans that he does not believe in simply because they are centrist compromises that will unite the Democrats and domesticated Republicans in opposing them. At that point, he sits back and forces the decision onto them, which fractures their fragile coalition and makes Congress the “owners” of existing bad policy and the type of hacked-up committee thinking replacements that career bureaucrats — sorry, “politicians” — like to cook up.
While he is doing that, Trump continues to play a game of misdirection and false signals. He has made statements about DACA, but not anything that immigrants can rely on. He did not offer amnesty, nor did he adopt a compromise policy, but instead deferred action. At the same time he is doing this, agents of his administration are increasing pressure on those who hire illegal immigrants, which is causing a steady outflow along the borders but, more importantly, beginning to slow the inflow. This is the “pincer strategy”: raises costs for doing what is not wanted, while making what is wanted seem more appealing. By increasing the crackdown while refusing to adopt amnesty, Trump is raising the cost to be an illegal immigrant in the US; by stabilizing regions around the world, he is also making the prospect of staying home become sweeter. This will slow the influx and have ripple effects as the trend of immigrating to the US dies out, at which point many people here will reconsider what they are doing. No one wants to be on the wrong side of a trend.
If he is as experienced and critical of a thinker as many suspect, his real target is an idea: the notion that the majority should be penalized in order to increase diversity. This is summarized by a range of laws and legal theories, including disparate impact and affirmative action, that form the heart of the Civil Rights and Social Justice movements. He will probably target these through the interpretations of laws such as our Civil Rights code, changing perceptions so that simply cracking down on non-majority people, or refusing to hire or sell to them, is no longer seen as a violation of their rights. When this theory — the basis of affirmative action and all quota programs — falls, the pincer strategy will have more power. When a non-majority person can walk into any job knowing that they will be hired over a majority person simply because the business fears a lawsuit, they can dominate; when parity is achieved, the march of the Leftist-minority coalition into American institutions will stall and then violently reverse itself. This is the real target in the short term.
Trump will spend the first half of the first term making Congress weak. The 2018 elections are coming up, and all of these actions which he has deferred will then be questions before Congress, which means that people will be forced to see how their local representatives choose. At the same time, a number of people riding Trump’s coattails will be running for office. In a pure win situation, Trump ends up with a quarter of Congress being people who are elected for the sole purpose of being like Trump, which means they are going to vote with him. Even if only a few Congresscritters get voted out, the fear will spread. At that point, Republicans will find themselves judged on whether or not they uphold conservative policy, and Democrats will be seen as obstructionists, because Trump has not advanced any radical bills as the media predicted he would. Instead, he is systematically dismantling illusion, which is not a shift to the Right so much as a reversal of the shift to the Left which has pushed us very far from center over the past thirty years.
His “now you own it” strategy is terrifying to face. The foes who reject anything he offers must then come up with something of their own, and it will either appear too far Left or too indecisive, at which point they lose face and with it, power with the electorate. His pincer strategy is driving back the Leftist-minority coalition and creating market forces that create replacements for minority labor, at a time when automation is just entering the market and replacing most of those jobs anyway. Someday, the robots will do all of our jobs, at which point people will make their living solely by trading and owning stock, and many will simply exit the first world anyway to go live in the more comfortable third world environments where subsistence farming, shopkeeping and artisan activity will keep them busy. In preparation for that, he is clearing away the unskilled labor and starting the momentum against The Diversity Project at the same time.
Is any of this emotionally satisfying? Not really, compared to the Great Wall Of Texas or other wonderful visual images. But Trump is trying to dismantle seventy years of fanatical Leftism that has systematically infected and dominated American government, while working within a system designed to impede and thwart such radical changes. In addition, he faces a deeply entrenched self-serving cartel of Leftists who apply nepotism rigorously to help each other across government, media and industry. The old Leftist slogan was “never trust anyone over thirty,” but our new slogan might be, “never trust anyone with an office job.” Counteracting that, Trump has his work cut out for him, but it is not time to lose heart yet.