Donald Trump and the Politics of Charity

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“We are a working-class party now. That’s the future.” — Senator Josh Hawley

I’ve held off on writing a post-election column, hoping against hope that the votes would be counted quickly and fairly. I suppose that was naïve. At this rate—and regardless of who “wins” in the end—half of the American people will feel cheated out of victory.

One thing is certain, however. In 2020, President Trump won the largest share of nonwhite voters than any Republican candidate since 1960. It is (rightly) being hailed as a sign that normal Americans reject the Democrats’ politics of racial resentment. This is good news for conservatives, and very good news for Christians.

The Democrats went into this election assuming they would win by a landslide, thanks largely to black and Latino voters. That “Blue Wave” never appeared, however, because the President actually won more votes from every demographic group… except old white men.

Of course, Critical Race Theory has always been more popular among affluent whites than poor minorities. That’s why professional Wokesters like Robin DiAngelo and Nikole Hannah-Jones spend all their time in corporate boardrooms. It’s also why most “anti-racist” rioters are pale, skinny teenagers.

So, we can’t say for sure how many of our countrymen actually view the United States as in the thrall of systemic racism. But some do. The mobs that sacked Portland and Kenosha certainly do. All the Democratic Party’s rising stars, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, are deeply sympathetic to these racialist narratives. All of them believe that one’s standing in this country is (or ought to be) determined by the color of one’s skin, not the content of one’s character. They believe that pernicious old lie, that “demography is destiny.”

The great Catholic intellectual L. Brent Bozell took on this mentality (which was evident, even then, on both the Left and the Right) in “The Sin of Head-Counts,” his brilliant 1971 essay in The New York Times. Bozell notes that “the demographic mind looks upon the human race as a crop—for which, alas, supply and demand are seldom equal.” For example,

There is a boy in Bombay, a little fellow. His stomach is swollen. A single rag hangs about his loins. His face is drawn, well beyond his eight or nine years. He wanders, apparently aimlessly, through squalid streets. There is a greater supply of him than there is demand. He disturbs the ecological balance. He is socially inconvenient. The demographic mind eyes him and observes it would be better had his father been sterilized, or his mother aborted him—or, better still, had he never been conceived. He disagrees.

Does this sound like any Trump supporter you know? Of course not.

It does sound a whole lot like Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats, whose solution to poverty among black folks is for black mothers to kill all their children in the womb. No black people, no black violence. And, while we wait for blacks to abort themselves out of existence, stick ‘em on the dole and keep them locked in their ghettos. Problem solved!

Yet this “demographic mind” also sounds like a particularly noxious elitism espoused by some Never-Trump Republicans. For instance, in 2016, the noisome Kevin D. Williamson of National Review had this to say about poor, white enclaves in rural America:

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible…. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does Oxycontin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.

Speaking of National Review, remember how we said that President Trump won more nonwhite voters than any Republican since 1960? That was the year the GOP first nominated Richard Nixon. In the next election cycle (1964) they put up Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was committed to a new “fusionist” conservatism: an unwholesome cocktail of social traditionalism and economic libertarianism invented by National Review’s founder, William F. Buckley.

In other words, there was nothing truly conservative about Goldwater (or Buckley, or Mr. Williamson). Fusionism was, however, truly novel—and truly incoherent. Old-school conservatives like Peter Viereck and Russell Kirk warned that such a garbled ideology would succeed only in robbing conservatives of our credibility. After all, how could we claim the moral high ground on social issues when we espouse the economics of Social Darwinism?

In 1992, Pat Buchanan made one final appeal for the Republican Party to serve the interests of Main, not Wall Street. Alas, he didn’t succeed. But, twenty-four years later—and running on a platform virtually identical to Buchanan’s—Donald Trump made it to the White House.

President Trump offered a new way forward. He rejected the Republican establishment’s market fundamentalism; he also rejected the Democrats’ commitment to a welfare state, which they intend to fund through high taxes on multinational corporations. (If you haven’t noticed, those corporations are happy with that deal. It’s why they funnel so much dough into progressive campaigns. They’re only too glad to pay a little extra in taxes if it means they get to abandon American workers, with their occupational safety laws and collective bargaining, in favor of Chinese wage-slaves.)

Instead, the President promised to bring back jobs from overseas. His economic nationalism gave thousands and thousands of Americans a chance to make an honest living for themselves and their families.

In 2016, the President’s America-first economic agenda appealed more to white voters than to blacks and Latinos. But, clearly, nonwhites are coming around. Working-class Americans of all races are beginning to realize that infanticide and welfarism are not paths to a brighter future—or to any future, for that matter. They want the dignity and independence that comes from honest labor. They don’t want to abandon their communities: they want to see them flourish again. They demand the right to their own destiny, and to Hell with demographics.

Catholics should be on board with this agenda 100 percent. Many Catholic Democrats have for years insisted that Christ’s injunction to help the poor compels us to support the Democrats’ welfarism, but they’re wrong. Catholic social teaching has always emphasized the need for dignity and prosperity through work.

As Pope Leo XIII wrote in his landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum,

The labor of the working class—the exercise of their skill, and the employment of their strength, in the cultivation of the land, and in the workshops of trade—is especially responsible and quite indispensable. Indeed, their cooperation is in this respect so important that it may be truly said that it is only by the labor of working men that States grow rich.

Likewise, in Pacem in Terris, John XXIII declared:

The government is also required to show no less energy and efficiency in the matter of providing opportunities for suitable employment, graded to the capacity of the workers. It must make sure that working men are paid a just and equitable wage, and are allowed a sense of responsibility in the industrial concerns for which they work.

In Centesimus Annus, John Paul II specifically condemned the Welfare State—which, he warned, “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”

In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI said: “Work is of fundamental importance to the fulfillment of the human being and to the development of society. Thus, it must always be organized and carried out with full respect for human dignity and must always serve the common good.”

And we could go on. Let it suffice to say that our Holy Mother Church is pro-work—and, thanks to Donald Trump, so is the Republican Party. This isn’t a partisan statement; it’s a matter of fact. So, let’s never hear the “Seamless Garment” crowd nag us about how we mustn’t be single-issue voters. Democrats are the party of abortion, welfare, and racial determinism; Republicans are the party of life, dignity, and freedom. For Catholics, the choice between the two couldn’t be clearer.

Let me go further. Had the media not spent the last six years tarring President Trump as a racist, I wouldn’t be surprised if he won half of nonwhite votes handily. His policies were manifestly better for poor folks—especially blacks and Latinos—than any of his predecessors’ in the last fifty years. It’s wrong that he doesn’t get more credit for his accomplishments, and it may have cost blue-collar voters this election.

But, sooner or later, the day will come when President Trump will be succeeded by another pro-work Republican. It may be Senator Josh Hawley; it may even be Tucker Carlson. In any event, it will be impossible for the media to tar him as a racist, as they did President Trump. Nobody will believe them. And this new, pro-work Republican will trounce the socialist, welfarist, globalist, racialist Democrats.

This may be President Trump’s most enduring legacy: the transformation of the GOP into a party that supports the interests of ordinary, hard-working American moms and dads.

That, too, will be a great boon to Christians. No longer bound by the dogmas of market fundamentalism, we’ll finally be able to help build a real politics of charity—one grounded firmly in the Church’s social teachings. We won’t have to stand shoulder to shoulder with contemptuous Social Darwinists like Kevin D. Williamson. We’ll be able offer a “preferential option” to the poor without infantilizing them, leaving them to beg for their milk and bread from the Nanny State. We can help them to earn their keep, like men.

We can’t underestimate what a revitalizing influence this may have on the Church in America. Ever since orthodox Catholics became shackled to the free-market orthodoxies of the National Review set, our intellectual life has been malformed, incomplete. Our moral witness in politics has been stunted, as Kirk and Buchanan (both Catholics) warned that it would be. We’ve taken bribes from Dives when we should have been fighting for Lazarus.

Pope Francis once said, “I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian.” He’s right. And, thanks to Donald Trump, we have the chance to take it back.

Before we close, let me say that I do believe that Democrats are in the process of committing election fraud on an unprecedented scale. I believe that President Trump would have won this election by a landslide were it not for the nationwide vote-rigging operation being committed by agents of the DNC.

Yet I’ve also never been more optimistic about the future of American politics. The Republican Party is doing what it never thought was possible: making inroads among nonwhite voters, and under a president the mainstream media has relentlessly tried to slander as a white nationalist. A new generation of capable and intelligent conservatives, like Senator Hawley and Mr. Carlson, stands ready to ensure that the Republican establishment moves forward with President Trump’s reforms. Meanwhile, globalist plutocrats like Mitt Romney and their handmaids in “conservative” media—Kevin Williamson, Bill Kristol, David French, and the like—will either go over to the Democrats or else fall into irrelevance where they belong.

Take heart, my friends. A new day is dawning for the American Right, and the fight has only just begun.

[Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images]

Michael Warren Davis

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Michael Warren Davis is the editor of Crisis Magazine. He is a frequent contributor to The American Conservative and author of The Reactionary Mind (Regnery, 2021).

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