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The Case for Trump

The true story of how Donald Trump has become president

By Victor Davis Hanson
12-minute read
Audio available
The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson

The Case for Trump (2019) explains the story of how a businessman and reality TV star with no political experience managed to best his Republican rivals and Hillary Clinton to become president of the United States. And what’s more, it shows how Trump, despite being constantly attacked in the media, is managing to implement his policies successfully.

  • Anyone wondering how Trump became president
  • Both liberals and conservatives looking to understand Trumpism

Victor Davis Hanson is an American historian and author. He is professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Classics and Military History at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, and is the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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The Case for Trump

By Victor Davis Hanson
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson
Synopsis

The Case for Trump (2019) explains the story of how a businessman and reality TV star with no political experience managed to best his Republican rivals and Hillary Clinton to become president of the United States. And what’s more, it shows how Trump, despite being constantly attacked in the media, is managing to implement his policies successfully.

Key idea 1 of 7

Trump’s two signature campaign issues managed to appeal to a divided America.

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced to the nation that he was running for president of the United States. But at the time, the nation was anything but united. And it hadn’t been for a long time.

Trump’s campaign took place in a divided America. Coastal liberal elites who had been enriching themselves off the back of globalization bookended an increasingly disenfranchised American heartland. Incomes in places like San Francisco and New York were skyrocketing, but middle-class wages in red states had been stagnating for decades. While coastal big tech, media and financial institutions hauled in trillions from their 7.4 billion potential global clients, America’s interior had lost out on jobs that had been shipped overseas.

But as Obama pushed the nation farther and farther to the left, Republican challengers like McCain and Romney were unable to counter it – they themselves were perceived as part of the elite, and were unable to capture the imagination of America’s white working-class interior. The problem wasn’t that red-state white working classes were voting for Democrats; they simply weren’t turning up in sufficient numbers to vote for uninspiring establishment Republicans.

Enter Donald Trump. Unlike previous Republicans, he wasn’t afraid to throw a wrench into things and disrupt the establishment. And by doing so, he was able to motivate a starkly divided and previously apathetic America to get out and vote.

He did so by relentlessly focusing on two major issues from the launch of his campaign all the way through to his ongoing presidency.

The first is, of course, the idea that America doesn’t win anymore. This was particularly the case with the seemingly unending and infinitely expensive wars that his predecessors had gotten involved in. Trump told middle America that while he would talk loudly and carry a big stick, he would only use his stick if he could win. Sure, he would “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and stand up to North Korea to keep Americans safe. But he would rather spend money on Americans who were hurting at home than on nation-building in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Secondly, Trump promised to protect American jobs by recalibrating the entire international economic order. While both parties had in the past supported globalization and free trade deals, Trump claimed that in doing so, they’d humiliated the American working classes whose jobs had been shipped overseas.

But perhaps even worse was that both Democrats and Republicans had allowed floods of cheap labor over the southern border to steal jobs away from Americans in their own country.

The simple solution that would energize his emerging base? Building a wall.

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