There remains a strong constituency for economic nationalism, foreign policy realism, and a libertarian-ish social conservatism that hates political correctness and identity politics. That constituency awaits a leader who knows how to lead, whose vision extends beyond the ramparts of his own backside."Foreign policy realism" does not mean "conserve the current sclerotic international order," never mind all of the people who suddenly discovered a love for overseas adventures now that Our President is backing away from them.
Reason's Nick Gillespie extends. "What Trump ultimately represents or embodies is the twilight of postwar America, of a consensus forged for a very different world and very different circumstances. He too will pass from the scene, and then many, if not all, of the same problems will remain—until we reach a new consensus for a government that no longer tries to be all things to all people, both here and abroad."
The problem, dear reader, is that there are far too many Front Row Kids whose continued prestigious existence depends on government trying to be all things to all people, whether as high government officials, or as talking heads. Thus, Ross Douthat's pessimism.
A governing class that has vaulting self-confidence and dwindling credibility, locked in stalemate with populist movements that are easily grifted upon and offer more grievances than plans.That's the nature of emergence. Abraham Lincoln was controversial in office, as was Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. When the old social order is fracturing, compromise, consensus, and process are of little use.
In theory the impasse can be overcome. That’s what statesmanship is for — to bridge gaps between complacent winners and angry losers, to weld populism’s motley grievances into a new agenda suited for the times, to manifest an elitism that is magnanimous instead of arrogant.
But can the system we have really produce such a statesman? The next one we find will be the first.