It is fair to say that the former president is a threat to constitutional government. He has no understanding of the separation of powers and thinks Article II would authorize him to do whatever he wants. He seems unaware of the limitations the Bill of Rights places on the powers of the federal government and has no conception of an independent judiciary.
It is also fair to say that Mr. Trump is a threat to the rule of law. He believes he can instruct the Justice Department to prosecute his political opponents. He has no problem ignoring judicial decisions when they go against him and has mused about being a dictator for a day.
And it is fair to say that Mr. Trump is a threat to prosperity. His plan to impose 10% across-the-board tariffs—which American consumers would have to pay—without reforming entitlement spending will make us all poorer and increase the deficit.
[DBx: Some readers will object to Hasnas’s insistence that Trump is not a threat to democracy. On an older and more mature understanding of democracy – an understanding in which democracy is no synonym for raw majority rule – that objection would have weight. But because today so very many people, no less on the left than on the right, equate “democracy” with “almost unlimited rule by the latest electoral majority,” Hasnas’s use of “democracy” here is – sadly – accurate.]
Phil Magness continues to expose the sloppy, tendentious ‘research’ of ‘scholars’ bent on undermining the legacy of the late Nobel-laureate economist James Buchanan. [DBx: The goal of Nancy MacLean and those who follow in her footsteps has nothing to do with better identifying or more fully revealing truth. The response of these people, including MacLean herself, to the presentation of towering evidence exposing MacLean’s book about Buchanan to be fictional in all but its insignificant details testifies convincingly to the fact that these ‘researchers’ start with their baseless conclusion, and then cherry-pick historical facts and twist interpretations in order to create a tissue of reasons for the utterly unsuspecting to believe that a major 20th-century classical-liberal economist was a racist pursuing vile ends. Fortunately, drunk with the conviction that they are agents of history’s angels, these ‘researchers’ are singularly inept and careless, often comically so. In most cases only a bit of archival research – or, sometimes, simply pointing to the full passages in Buchanan’s published works – is sufficient to expose the tendentiousness of their silly arguments. This comment – by Brian Doherty – on Phil’s post about one such ‘researcher’ is spot-on: “While aware the incentives go the other way, I should think ‘I discovered something in a week that decades of experts didn’t’ should make you extra careful and doubtful of yourself.”]
But the other reason that liberalism [DBx: i.e., ‘progressive’ illiberalism] is surviving its disconnect from what remains of American normalcy is conservatism’s inability to just be normal itself, even for a minute.
Trump himself is a great abnormalizer. But so are the various fixations and follies that take shape in his wake — like the very-online right’s bizarre reaction to the romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, a love story that’s united the two remaining pillars of our common culture: the National Football League and, well, Swift herself.