The Unpopulist Presidency

It’s hard to learn history when it started in January.  You can’t forget what happened in the 1800s if you never learn it.  Those not interested in the dumb corded-phone past may nonetheless enjoy learning the ghost of some old dude haunts the Oval Office.  Ask the incumbent who William Jennings Bryan is for a mirthful break from the day’s crude updates.  Donald Trump presumes he’s some low-energy twit at National Review.

Those who are aware of what happened before breakfast feel like the preening masks something old familiar.  The embodiment of populism is finally president, at least in spirit.  Bryan’s beliefs made it to the White House on the fourth try thanks to someone who wasn’t trying at all.

The fascination with shiny pricey metals indicates WJB may be reincarnated.  The man he’s inhabiting is a fan of all things golden. It obviously represents the awesome level of success you’d expect from someone who made owning everything in the Sharper Image catalog a life goal.  The actual valuable resource is tougher to acquire. He’s not a collector of solid bars, which anyone paying attention could’ve told you by 1989.

As for a century before that, free silver was somehow the day’s biggest issue.  I’d love to get some today along with a liquor store who’ll accept it as currency.  Bryan was the biggest fan, but not because of anything he believed.  The man who couldn’t beat McKinley famously said “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver. I will look up the arguments later.” No politician would ever declare something so goofily pandering in these sophisticated modern times.  Now, let’s keep forcing insurers to sell their product because the public thinks it’s mean.

Classic ideas are the most rotten over time.  Another politician is indulging in the worst thing possible, namely doing what people want.  Have you met any?  Yikes.  Click a trending hashtag for a frightening glimpse of what happens when humans get free reign.  Doing as polls wish is an easy way to get support and the worst way to fix the country. Even worse, cheaply expensive bribes only work so many times.  Good luck winning an election after circumstances turn because you obeyed the popular will.

Trump may be marginally better at sensing what’s right than the typical liberal, although he remains their frequent ideological pal.  The fact they are as horrified that Trump often agrees with them as they are by the idea of promotions almost makes this all worth it.  An occasional sop to Republicans is more for him to remember what party he’s presently in than any demonstration of principles.  Think of George R.R. Martin trotting out the occasional dragon only to shut up frustrated fans.

It’s important to know which people to patronize.  Trump likes demean his very fans who claim their foes like being humiliated, which at least shows an inadvertent sense of humor.  Get amusement where you can. Sure, he ruined the party.  But he inspired insane protests by lunatics who agree with most of his policies.  And there is his welcome instinct to condemn terrorism as a basic threat to civilization, which shouldn’t be novel as it is.

Our sweet fellow countrymen think he’ll do what they want, which is a guaranteed way to be very happy and never ever disappointed.  Leaders are totally going to fulfill promises, including those you only thought you heard.  The uncommon adoration for Trump is amusingly held up as a virtue.  It only shows that the zombie parasite infects on a bipartisan basis.  A president should have some idea of what he’s going to support.  But he has to have ideas first.

There’s good news for anyone who feared having to think for themselves.  The perpetually retired Barack Obama dictating what was best for everyone trained us for domination.  Now, we get a leader who’s both bossy and eager to appease.  Party and personality change notwithstanding, the government will fix it no matter what’s broken.  Your busted taillight just needs a sledgehammering.  Both repairmen create the same results, and isn’t it nice to agree?

It’s not that people need to be told what to do.  In fact, it’s the opposite: the populace should be made to figure things out on their own.  Stop expecting the president to heed your whims.  Doing what they want rather than having politicians hand it to them would set a dangerous political precedent, so do that.  Our present 19th-century approach working as well as expected in our own times.  We always hope a leader will do what the people want.  But it’s usually not us.

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