Donald Trump was an unlikely presidential candidate. But he still won the primaries in spite of the opposition from the Republican establishment and mainstream American media. He was an unlikely winner but he still won against all odds. On the presidential election day in 2016, nearly three sixty-three Americans voted for Donald Trump who became the first American President without any political and military experience. He did not poll more votes than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, but he did manage to win the majority of the Electoral College votes. It emerges from Victor Davis Hanson’s new book The Case for Trump that Donald Trump won the presidential elections because of his better understanding of American politics and better election strategy. Hanson says that President Trump’s voters support him but his opponents despise him, not oppose him. A very unlikely president, he challenged more than political agendas of the political parties. His method of campaigning, governing or his manner of speech and appearance was and remains an affront to the Washington political classes and media as well as to the norms of political discourse and behavior. In spite of all this, he won.
Hanson explains why people voted for him and can still vote for him one more time. He argues that Trump became the old silent majority’s pushback to the new, loud progressive minority’s orthodoxy. He writes, “His voters quite liked the idea that others loathed him. The hysterics of Trump’s opponents, at last, disclosed to the public the real toxic venom that they had always harbored for the deplorables and irredeemables.” He argues that the media and the progressive opposition never quite understood that trading insults with Donald Trump was unwise, at least if they wished to cling to the pretense that contemporary journalists and politicians were somehow professional and civic-minded. Hanson says that Trumpism on the campaign trail and after the election was also a political belief that the interior of the country should not be written off as an aging and irrelevant backwater. It was not its own fault that it had missed out on globalization. Nor had mid-western red and purple states become permanently politically neutered by either new demographics or their own despair at the new centers of cultural and financial power on the coasts. Instead, America’s once industrial heartland was poised for a renaissance if given the chance. Voters in the American heartland who believed that promise could still win Trump an election.
Donald Trump’s agenda also arose as the antithesis to the new Democratic party of Barak Obama. After 2008, Hanson argues, Democrats were increasingly candid in voicing socialist bromides such as open borders and higher taxes. Progressives talked up these leftist visions mostly among themselves without much idea how they sounded to a majority quite unlike themselves. These populist ideas were proving an affront to the traditional working classes of rural America as well as urban blue-collar industrial workers and many of the self-employed. So far Trump has proved to be one of the rare presidents who has attempted to do what he said on the campaign trail. He has also not acted much differently in 2017-18 than he said he would during 2015-16. That continuum is why his critics understandably fear him, and why his hard-core supporters often seem to relish their terror.
The Case for Trump is a necessary and important addition to the already existing body of literature on why and how President Trump defeated first his Republican rivals and later Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. This well-researched and dispassionate study will upend the current debate on politics in the United States. Writing current history in a dispassionate manner is a most difficult task and Victor Davis Hanson has successfully provided a dispassionate analysis of what is wrong with America. Packed with new knowledge and perspectives, The Case for Trump is a timely and revealing book. It may be a cliché to say that it is a must-read but it is true.