Opinion: How Trump is prodding liberals to agree with conservatism

For at least two and a half centuries, Americans have argued over the proper size and scope of a central government. Though the abuses of power by a distant monarch and legislature sparked our revolt against England, and though Americans have always remained suspicious of putting too much authority in the hands of our own federal government, the general drift over the years has been toward more centralized power, and thus more centralized decision-making over important issues.

But we may have hit peak centralization.

The very election of Donald Trump spoke to the extreme contempt with which many Americans have come to hold the federal government. Many Americans held their noses while voting like never before, out of a sense of desperation that the candidacy of Hillary Clinton — the embodiment of the political class that earned their contempt — represented a point of no return regarding the concentration of power. From health care to immigration to energy to the judiciary (and the host of issues it considers from the First Amendment to the Second and beyond) a Clinton presidency could have locked into place that drift toward centralization. Instead, most conservatives and independents cast their lot with a man who at least offered a chance at preventing that.

But to many liberals now, Trump’s presidency represents a terrifying mirror image of what the right had feared. They see his actions and attempted actions as a retrogression to be Resisted. Such is their anti-Trump fervor that his presidency appears to be sparking a serious rethinking of their long-held appreciation for federal power. I suggested somewhat tongue-in-cheek right after the election that this should happen. The clearest and perhaps most prominent example that it may actually be coming true can be found within this essay in Politico by the urbanist Richard Florida. Here is the key excerpt:

“It’s time to confront a simple but stunning fact: When it comes to urban policy and much else, the federal government is the wrong vehicle for getting things done and for getting them done right. Whether it is controlled by the left or the right, no single top-down, one-size-fits-all strategy can address the desires and needs of a country as geographically, culturally and economically divided as America. Big cities and metropolitan regions, far-flung exurbs, suburbs and rural areas are very different kinds of places, with vastly different desires and needs.

“If we are ever going to rebuild our cities and our nation as a whole, including our suburbs and rural areas, there is really only one way forward, and it does not and cannot start in Washington. It can only come from our many and varied communities, who know best how to address and solve their own problems and build their own economies. And if that sounds like going back to an old-fashioned, conservative conception of how federalism should work — a kind of extreme localism — to address the sorts of issues liberals worry about, so be it. America needs nothing less than a revolution in how we govern ourselves, or we’ll only end up poorer, angrier and more divided.”

Read the whole thing, but this excerpt neatly summarizes what conservatives have long argued. The thinking is “old-fashioned” only in the sense liberals have long since deluded themselves into believing more-centralized power could only be good, because it would inevitably be used to achieve their desired ends. That might have been true as long as the right was chiefly devoted to limiting and devolving federal power. But with a president coming from the right who instead is quite interested in seeing what he can do with this large federal hammer the left spent decades fashioning, it seems some liberals are suddenly gaining a Strange New Respect for returning power to those governments closest to the people. Threatening to withhold federal funds to coerce acquiescence to federal prerogatives is apparently less appealing when it comes to sanctuary cities harboring illegal immigrants rather than (as Obamacare attempted) states refusing to expand Medicaid. It seems to have taken Trump to demonstrate to liberals what Reagan meant when he said a government powerful enough to give you what you want is also powerful enough to take it away.

I don’t want to overstate this nascent trend, if we can yet call it a trend (Florida names other liberals who agree with him later in his essay). You of course still hear many liberals whose response to Trump on, say, health care is to elect Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in 2020 and get on with the mission of single payer. But the more honest liberals surely recognize what this sentiment amounts to: Get “Better” Leaders.

The problem is Get “Better” Leaders is neither a political philosophy nor much of a plan. For one, it’s fraught with risk, as the election of Trump seems to have shown. And consider the possibility, if a strong-federal-government right truly becomes ascendant, that what follows Trump is not “better” but — perish the thought, gentle progressivist reader! — worse. If you don’t want a president who can so terrify you with his actions, the best answer is not to have such a powerful president (and executive branch … and federal government more generally). More fundamentally, Get “Better” Leaders is the very conceit of governance our Founding Fathers rejected because of their appropriately dim view of human nature.

It would be ironic if what it took for the left to acknowledge the wisdom of the right’s arguments for less-centralized governance were not the arguments themselves, but a president coming from the right who wields power like one from the left. I guess seeing really is believing.

Reader Comments 0

367 comments
JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

So far the Dim investigation into Trump colluding with Russia has shown clear evidence.

Evidence that Hillary sold our uranium to Russia for millions donated to the Clinton Foundation.

That Podesta has ties with Russia.

That Loretta colluded with Debbie to protect Hillary.'

That Loretta talked to Bill when the two should have never met.

And that the only crooked dealings were by the Dims.

But, but, but Trump colluded with Russia.

ROFLMAO

breckenridge
breckenridge

We know your propagandized poluted mind allows you to believe only what your leadership wants you to believe.

You tell 'em Sarge. This whole Russia thing is nothing but a partisan witch hunt, a big fat nothing burger.   That's why Michael Flynn wanted to testify under oath in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Wait.......immunity from prosecution? If he did nothing wrong why did he need immunity from prosecution? Hmm.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

How old are you?

If you were more than wet behind the ears you would know it is pretty much standard for someone to seek immunity when testifying during witch hunts.

Your side is so off the rails they want to prosecute anyone.

Flynn is not a dummy.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

This Russian attorney Donald Trump Jr. thing is beginning to sound more and more like a set up that Trump Jr. fell for. The attorney denies Putin ties and that she offered information on Hillary Clinton. She said she never had or sought information on Clinton. Also this meeting was set up by a third party who told Trump this attorney had defaming information that could help the Trump campaign. This doesn't add up. Sounds like a scam to propagate the collusion allegation.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

It's a big nothing and shows the desperation of the LibProgs as their collusion claims are crashing around them.

There is not a campaign on Earth that would not meet with others to get dirt on the opposition.

At minimum, Jr was duped as the attorney wanted to discuss adoption.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb @SGTGrit

Wrong

There is not a campaign on Earth that would not try to get dirt on their competition.

And BTW, you don't help your credibility posting links to the Huff who gave up their credibility with that silly attack on Trump they posted at the end of each article during the campaign.

Are they still doing that?

Doomy
Doomy

@SGTGrit


Doesn't even matter. The Russian lawyer had no ties to the Kremlin and the Kremlin has stated that they don't even know who she is. Therefore, if she has no ties to the Russian govt there can be no official collusion with the Russian govt to begin with. Its yet another nothing burger for the leftist kooks to scream about. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara @SGTGrit Post one quote of a former campaign official who claims they would have done it.


This was not "opposition research".  This was data recovered from espionage.  If the Russians broke into the DNC headquarters and promised Trump to release it as looks to be the case, this is a very clear violation.  this is what Nixon did with foreign influence.  


If you think this is okay if it turns out to be true, you are not an American. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Doomy @JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara @SGTGrit No, that's not what I said.  I said no campaign would seek dirt from a foreign nation got from stealing it from another American private citizen.  They would call the FBI, because that is the right thing to do. 


Russia is not our friend.  If they have put a puppet into office, we need him removed.  I don't care if its Mike Pence, Mitch MConnell, or any other Republican.  I'm an American, and I don't want a President who can be manipulated by Russians.

Doomy
Doomy

@JFMcNamara @Doomy @JohnnyReb @SGTGrit


"I said no campaign would seek dirt from a foreign nation got from stealing it from another American private citizen."


If you believe that then I have some beachfront property in Omaha I would like to sell you. As it stands though I'm about to head down to the beach here in Gulf Shores. Ya'll have a good day. Doomy out. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Low and behold Bookman just published a piece on Trump Jr meeting with the Russian attorney.

He goes on about one of Obama's right hand men writing a piece on how campaign finance law can be used to get Trump.

He ends the piece stating its not over.

News Flash for Bookman.

It's over, it never started except in your delusional mind.

What's over is your credibility as an opinion columnist.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@JohnnyReb

It's "Lo," numbnuts. Sheesh!

Did you see the headlines over at CNN and NYT? The Real Media is out for justice. (And they will get it.)

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

Geez, do you have to display your political idiocy so openly?

Sessions has the backing of the base, and Kushner the son-in-law.

That equals cement.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

In another display of LibProg lunacy......

The Seattle City Council wants to tax the rich.

The damage from that will be the rich moving outside the city just like the history of same in other states, Maryland for example.

This is the same bunch who raised the minimum wage with the result being low end workers being paid more per hour but their hours reduced and they actually have less take home pay....

if they still have a job as unemployment in that group went up.

What did the City Council do in return?

They hired a consulting firm to produce results they liked. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Donald Jr meeting with a Russian attorney on a tip to gain damaging info on the Hilldabeast then for the attorney to talk about adopting Russian children is a big nothing on the collusion claims.

Yet Hayes at MSNBC tweets its a smoking gun.  What an idiot.  He even looks like an idiot.  Is that bigoted?  Yea, but I don't care.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Look at the two terrorists cheering on the terrorists.

Sick!

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

What's sick is the extent to which you're such an easily duped America hating fascist sycophant, IReport. But with the revelations concerning Lyingscumbag Jr., we are getting closer to uncovering the whole bloody treasonous plot.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

They give aid and comfort to the enemy, eyeball, why are you not appalled like I am?

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

I gave a stark yet realistic assessment of the situation in Iraq.  Only a stupid loser would consider that aiding and comforting the enemy.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

You hope, for political or otherwise deranged reasons, that the terrorists continue to kill innocent women and children. Look in the mirror for the loser.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

You are such a delusional loser-face. 

What did I say? I said ISIS is about cooked in Iraq.  And I said the Sunnis and Shiites can get back to the sectarian violence that has plagued the country since Saddam was kicked to the curb.  That is what is called a fact - Sunnis and Shiites going after each other.

And stop with your Trump imitation, it makes you look even more foolish than usual.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Well it looks like ISIS is just about to be extinguished in Iraq. That means the Sunnis and Shiites can get back simply gunning down and blowing up members of other sect.  Sunnis have not, nor will they ever, accepted Shiite dominance in Iraq.  And meanwhile the Kurds want nothing to do with either of them.


Yep, a stable and peaceful democracy is just around the corner.  Or not.  Um......I'll take not for 100 grand Alex.

Starik
Starik

@breckenridge They're still fighting in pockets in Mosul, and a number of smaller cities and villages are still held by ISIS. Now Isis will turn from nation building to old fashioned terrorism.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The polling isn't meant to be accurate, that's why they don't call Cons, Cons don't have the answer they're looking for. 

Okay then let's assume a 10 point margin of error on everything.  So that means instead of 83% of Americans thinking the republican healthcare plan sucks, just 73% think it sucks. 


Yep. That makes all the difference. 


SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Looks like Kyle's blog topic has run out of gas.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit The AJC's right wing blog isn't prospering, is it? 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

"Former president Barack Obama will formally reenter the political fray this week less than six months after leaving office, headlining a fundraiser for a group that could prove critical to the Democratic Party’s rebuilding efforts."

Probably the Russians. 😂

Sad!

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@AndyManUSA#45 Obama probably has way more "flexibility" now, that he no longer is the President.  Please tell Vladdie.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Not much mention of U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe. This will grow in scope and begin eating Russia's lunch big time.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Eye wonder @SGTGrit 

But he did with Barack Obama. In fact Obama told Putin that after he was reelected he could do more.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Back just before the election the polls had Hillary at nothing less than the certain winner and then came the November election night shock. The Democrats are still in a state of shock that will continue for some time as they continue to try and rationalize their loss. I have to admit I find it amusing to witness their distress.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Dems just love them some polls, haha, interesting article.


When polling the public, most mainstream firms “overloaded for Democrats, underloaded for Republicans and conservatives,” said Francis Coombs, managing editor of Rasmussen Reports.

John Zogby, another independent pollster, also told TheDCNF he sees significant Democratic polling bias.

“I am a liberal Democrat, but I always felt that other polls oversampled Democrats and undersampled Republicans,” he said.

Zogby is the founder of the internationally acclaimed Zogby poll and a senior partner at John Zogby Strategies.


http://dailycaller.com/2017/07/09/exclusive-uh-oh-pollsters-are-screwing-up-again/ 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@RafeHollister

The LibProgs typically have a BS answer for everything and polling is no exception.

They will tell you how they use weighted averages or some other new math that in their mind makes up for oversampling Dims.

However, what they can't tell you is why their polling and reality never align.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

The polling isn't meant to be accurate, that's why they don't call Cons, Cons don't have the answer they're looking for. The purpose of the poll results are used to reinforce the fake news fiction that everyone loves the fascist and hates the Republican. It never works, it only serves to beclown the media even more than they've beclowned themselves already. If anyone believes that tossoff dropped 13 points in the final week, I want a bag of whatever they're smoking.

Well, actually, no I don't.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@RafeHollister  Dems/MSM (almost one and the same these days) have tried to weaponize these polls on both the national and state (GA) level past few election cycles. They appear to believe that by showing an overwhelming lead ahead of an election they can will a certain outcome.

The backfire irony is that folks on the right see these bogus poll results and are motivated to go vote in droves - and they're winning in droves.

Caius
Caius

The EU and Japan have concluded a major trade agreement. When President Trump killed TPP Japan just finished it off with the EU agreement. "Make the EU great again!"?

Now China is in Germany and the two countries will announce in a few weeks a major trade agreement. Xi and Merkel spent a lot of time negotiating during the G 20.

In the meantime Mexico is looking to add to it's 46 countries with which it has FTAs. (This is why Ford makes cars in Mexico, they can ship to 46 countries direct from Mexico.)

US jobs will be going overseas as we make America smaller attempting to make America first.  Only 315,000,000 of the 7,000,000,000 consumers on the planet live in the US.


RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Caius Trade deals should work for both countries, but in the past,we got the trade deficit and the other countries got the deal.  The US and Britain are about to announce a big trade deal.  Probably haven't heard about it, due to RusSIA, Russia, Russia.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Caius

The United States has by far the largest economy in the world.

We are simply too big to ignore or work around.

Any news of America loosing out as other countries do this or that is fake news, smoke and mirrors, or what ever BS term you wish to apply.

In other words, its propaganda from the Left.