Trump is an Enemy of Western Civilization, Not Its Champion

Donald Trump 2016 Election Face
Donald Trump

From Reason:

Some of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters believe he is the only candidate who will defend Western culture from its enemies both foreign (illegal immigrants, Muslims) and domestic (cultural relativists, campus leftists). The U.S. is besieged by forces that want to destroy its cultural heritage, and Trump is the only one who gets that, they say.

This is a terrible reason to support Trump, but not because the values of the West aren’t worth protecting—they are. The sad! fact is that Trump adamantly rejects two of the most important legacies of the Enlightenment and Western society: free markets and freedom of the press. No presidential candidate who fails to grasp why unrestricted trade across national borders is the hallmark of a civilized society is fit to lead one, and no leader who seeks the power to shut down newspapers who criticize him can be trusted to defend classical liberalism from its enemies.

Trump adamantly rejects two of the most important legacies of the Enlightenment and Western society: free markets and freedom of the press

Over at The Federalist, Mytheos Holt makes the most straightforward case that Trump is the candidate for a nation at war with the forces of barbarity and economic decline:

Donald Trump deserves to be president. More than any of the current candidates—although not to their exclusion—he is the best choice to lead this nation. … 

Trump, whatever else he might be, is unabashedly pro-Western. What’s more, he understands the essentially cultural and even spiritual nature of the vacuum white nationalism fills. 

White nationalists, in Holt’s view, are misguided to the extent that they put undue importance on race. It’s the values of Western Europeans, not their skin color, that matters:

… The sorts of people who are attracted to white nationalism are people whose own communities have been hollowed out by economic and cultural forces beyond their control, and who are now adrift in a society they perceive to be universally hostile to their heritage for no good reason. 

That heritage, as white nationalists in America see it, is the heritage of Western civilization. If you wonder what that means (which is reasonable), let me spell it out: It means historically Western European cultural norms. Specifically, norms like respect for agents of the law, aspirational pride in work, willingness to accept the consequences of one’s actions, disdain for laziness and welfarism, and reproductive responsibility (i.e., not having children you can’t afford to keep). 

They respect these norms not merely because these are what their own communities follow, but also because they think these norms make constitutional government, liberty, and classical republicanism possible. 

I agree with Holt that Western civilization is responsible for a lot of good in the world (and some bad, naturally). But I disagree emphatically that Trump has any standing to claim that he is “unabashedly pro-Western.” A man cannot portray himself as the defender of the Enlightenment, modern Western civilization, and classical liberalism if he is desperate to undo its crowning achievements.

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