Donald Trump and Authoritarian Liberalism

It’s been pointed out frequently that Donald Trump is no kind of conservative, that he is a New Yorker comfortable in that culture, a social liberal, a show biz guy, has many Jewish friends and associates, has an Orthodox Jewish convert daughter married to an Orthodox Jew, and so forth. This reflects a misunderstanding about what Trump represents, and where he comes from.

The political culture of greater New York City is most definitely progressive, but has an element I have described as authoritarian liberalism. Liberal and progressive ideas and policies are great, but will run into the problem that things must get done and things must run. If it doesn’t work out in Detroit, so be it; nobody cares about Detroit and cars can and will be built elsewhere. The same thing happened many other places.

New York is different. Nostalgia for the decrepit, sleazy Manhattan of the 70’s that you sometimes see aside, New York must function as the de facto capital of finance and culture. Giuliani was the first manifestation of this; people had had it with morons like John Lindsay and hard core progressives like David Dinkins. Giuliani was a Republican, but a liberal New York Republican. He made a name cleaning up the Mafia, an unfortunate artifact of earlier times. Michael Bloomberg kept up pretty much the same policies in a more low-key manner.

People can live with all kinds of liberal policies but they cannot live without basic security. Liberals in most places never had to deal with this. Conservatives in the sticks passed law and order laws in the state legislature, and put crime more under control. New York City is not run by the people upstate, so this didn’t happen the same way there. The only way to get law and order in NYC was to have it locally imposed.

Trump is not a conservative, as we mean it, but an authoritarian liberal. Such a person can only come from New York City, so liberals elsewhere will hate him and conservatives elsewhere will be confused by him.

In the old days, a person like this would have just been a conservative Democrat. But those days are long gone.

Giuliani was put in place by a populace that saw things gone frighteningly out of control, and tacitly accepted by a power structure that saw things could use some cleaning up, although they didn’t want to come out and admit it.

Trump is the same phenomenon on a national level. People are generally comfortable with liberal policies, but not comfortable with disorder. The nation at large is a lot like NYC in the 70’s- affluent but disorganized, with feckless, incompetent leaders and basic order unraveling.

I don’t think, despite what you read, that the establishment is all that opposed to Trump. They would rather have him than some Republican yahoo from the sticks. They probably realize immigration is out of control and damaging the social fabric, and the Obama years of college professor governance have been poor. NYC went from Giuliani to the much more restrained Bloomberg, back to the full progressive DiBlasio. I think liberals think they could live with Trump.

America is a progressive country. Politics ranges from raging leftism to sane centrism. LBJ was followed by Nixon, Carter by Reagan. Obama was not as liberal as either, and didn’t push progressive causes too hard. Likely enough we are in for more managerial liberalism, but eventually we will need a break. It might or might not be with Trump. 

About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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9 Responses to Donald Trump and Authoritarian Liberalism

  1. Pingback: Donald Trump and Authoritarian Liberalism | Neoreactive

  2. Hizzle says:

    I don’t think Bloomberg was more subtle than Giuliani. In some ways he’s more invasive than Rudy; it’s just that he’s considered a liberal, so he can do what he wants and not be called on it. Ditto with Obama vis-a-vis Bush, as you yourself have pointed out. Obama’s extrajudicial policy of killing is more indiscriminate than Bush’s and his PRISM program is more invasive and unconstitutional than Bush’s Patriot Act, but Obama is Obama, not Bush, and thus can do whatever he wants and the good people will not call him on it.

    I don’t think the Establishment would put a hit out on Trump (or Bernie) if through some fluke he made it to the White House, but I think they would prefer Hillary. Politics is (as you’ve said before) about the style of things, and Trump’s abrasive self-confidence and explicit pride in his wealth is anathema to really powerful, rich liberals (or even most rich conservatives, like Romney). Working class people like Trump too much for the people in charge to be totally comfortable with him. I still say Hillary will win, though I’m confused as to why she hasn’t hammered harder on the historic first (First female president) and accused her opponents of being sexist, with the same vehemence that Obama played that race card.

  3. Ryu says:

    Good article, Thrashy. Time will tell.

  4. John Jones says:

    Score! Well done. Important insights about Trump that I had only intuited but had not articulated.
    My only criticism is I would’ve cut the essay off without the last paragraph.

  5. You’re reading this wrong. The system is toast. They have too many bills and not enough revenue. Long time lifers have already retired, and it looks like they’re getting ready for trouble. FEDGOV is toast. The country hit the skids in the 1970s had a brief ride on easy credit in the 1980s, but after Reagan left the Middle Class has been in a Depression. This new normal is a lead balloon. Lowering your standards doesn’t work in America. People are gunning up and there’s an Anti-American idiot in the White House that is just pissing everyone off with his african dictator clueless one man wrecking ball. There’s gonna be a War. The Government is going to LOSE. They’re arming paper pushing bureaucrats so they must be short on guns. The military hates this guy. He threw away a military victory they fought hard for and is treating Vets like crap. The cops are pissed with this BLM terrorist wave that has them getting shot and looking behind their backs. This Government is done.

  6. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/11/22) | The Reactivity Place

  7. This is a good article, and as someone who lived in NYC for decades, I agree with this take completely.

    New York votes GOP when they want to shut up the teacher’s unions and other assorted Democratic party foot-soldiers, but NYC Republicans are just as “socially liberal” as the most left-wing of liberal Democrats.

    But at some point, as Noam Chomsky said about the Wall Street Journal, the people who actually have to run things have to have a tolerably realistic understanding of what is going on.

  8. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#92)

  9. 0jr says:

    very liberal except to when it comes to his privacy and money he is like a jew but when it comes to your money and privacy he is like a jew either way you lose with a jew oh by the way are you a crypto jew jew

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