Yearnings for a wiser ruler
September 08, 2015

I Want a President That is a "Strong Leader." Not!

by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

Last week, as I was practicing my French with DuoLingo, I heard Rush Limbaugh making a penetrating point about the 2016 election. It’s like 2008, he said, only this time it is conservatives that are investing all their hopes in an untried candidate and assuming he agrees with them.

Back in 2008 the details didn’t matter to Barack Obama’s supporters; they just wanted an end to the horrors of the Bush administration, and they had faith that Obama the Lightworker would make all their dreams come true. Same with 2016 and Donald Trump. Don’t confuse me with the facts, say his supporters, he’s a “strong leader” and that’s what we need.

Actually, the Trump supporters have a point, as Joseph Schumpeter wrote back in the 1940s.

[D]emocracy does not mean that the people actually rule in any obvious sense of the terms “people” and “rule.” Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them.

So yeah. The man we elect president is the man we have elected to be our ruler. As in leader.

But then I remembered the German word for “strong leader.” It is “Der Führer.”

Oh yeah.

Back in late 1920s Germany it seemed that the Weimar government just couldn’t get its act together after the economic dislocations of the Great Inflation of 1923. Various political actors started direct street action with their organized protesters, and the justice system winked at their shows of force. In this apparent chaos people started to think that Germany needed a “strong leader” to sort out the mess. Then Wall Street crashed and exported its economic malaise to Europe.

Here in mid 2010s America it seems that the Obama administration just can’t figure out how to get the economy back on track after the implosion of the Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession. And it seems almost to encourage organized street action by Occupy Wall Street and now Black Lives Matter. In this apparent chaos people are starting to think that the US needs a “strong leader” to sort out the mess. Then China crashed and...

Of course, nobody is saying that political leadership is useless. Arguably, conservatives and Republicans do need a really good leader, more than Democrats, because a Republican president has a much harder job that a Democratic president.

Arguably, President Obama is the worst leader this nation has ever elected president. But that doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat because from single payer to green energy to dense cities to disparate impact the liberal activists are beavering away night and day advancing the progressive agenda whether or not the president is a good leader. So what if the president is a lousy leader! The mainstream media will ignore any disaster or illegality or embarrassing statements, and no opposition to the liberal activist agenda ever gets any legs. Hey, who cares about bat-chomping wind turbines and Planned Parenthood’s big-box baby parts store!

It won’t matter much until a significant minority of Americans start to sense that nobody in the whole ruling class has a clue and that things are spinning out of control, and that only an outsider “strong leader” will be able to set things right. Like right now.

The trouble is that simple “strong leadership” isn’t going to get the job done. Here’s why. Almost everything we want the next president to do will fly in the face of liberal conventional wisdom and the liberal activist world, so everything he and his administration and Congress want to do will face determined opposition that will fill the airwaves and the public square.

The next president needs to be someone like Ronald Reagan and prep himself for the presidency by broadcasting issue-a-week radio spots for years before he ran for president. He’d need to be a charmer that could push a Tip O’Neill around without seeming to apply any pressure. He might even need to develop a meme that he was a lightweight that didn’t attend to details.

He would need to be a candidate that had really worked up a conservative reform agenda and a strategy for taking the liberal citadel by cunning rather than brute force or bluff and bluster. A magic bullet like the secret passage — known only to Badger! — by which the Mole, the Water Rat and the Badger retook Toad Hall from the stoats and weasels ain’t gonna work. No, the next president would really have to think deeply about what he could do and where; otherwise there is no chance for successful reform that meets and beats the liberal stoats and weasels.

Sorry, chaps. “Strong leader” isn’t going to work for Republicans any more than “Lightworker” worked for the Democrats. Ask the Germans.

January 03, 2017

I Want a President Who Loves America: Pre-Inaugural Edition

Two years ago in this space I wrote that “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I started out by telling how I fell in love with America 51 years ago on my first trip to the US over Christmas 1965.  MORE...

December 06, 2016

I Want a President Who Tells Us His Sense of the World

Why is the US in Syria? Why is the US in Yemen? What was the point of dumping Khadafi in Libya? Do you have a clue what is going on? I don’t have a clue about any of that either.  MORE...

November 01, 2016

I Want a President that Loves America, Part Trois

Back in January of 2015 I wrote my first piece in the “I Want a President” series and the title was simply “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I wrote simply about my love for America and how, in the Obama years, I longed for a president that loved America like I did. And now I see that an African American, “Gloria,” agrees with me.  MORE...

October 04, 2016

I Want a President Who Will End Victimism

Great news! The Obama administration is proposing a new race category. It’s for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent — MENA for those in the know. Why? It’s obvious when you go to USA Today and read the blather about how the new race category could solve all kinds of problems with community identity and private-sector discrimination. In other words, liberals are going full-speed ahead to square up Muslims as another victim group for their victim politics.  MORE...

September 06, 2016

I Want a President to Lift Government Off the Brow of Labor

Back in the 19th century William Jennings Bryan spoke for working men everywhere when he declared:  MORE...

August 02, 2016

I Want a President That Won’t Stiff the Opposition

So Hillary Clinton has been nominated as the candidate for President of the United States, the first woman ever so nominated by a major party.  MORE...

July 05, 2016

I Want a President Born on the Fourth of July. Really

Eighteen months ago I started this I Want a President series with “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I wrote of my love for America and how I’d like a president that loved America as much as I did.  MORE...

June 07, 2016

I Want a President Who Can Tame America’s Lefty Rioters

There they go again. In San Jose last week, lefty demonstrators rioted against typical Americans leaving a Donald Trump rally, and the mayor of San Jose blamed Donald Trump for the violence. In the 21st century, in a democratic republic where “the people rule,” what is going on?  MORE...

May 03, 2016

I Want a President Who Can Teach Us to Accept Capitalism

In last week’s foreign policy speech Donald Trump had this to say about jobs:  MORE...

April 05, 2016

I Want a President to Teach Liberals a Lesson

The eternal frustration of every conservative is the way the public square is skewed in favor of liberals. “Right-wing extremism” is said to be a problem, but left-wing street riots are nothing but “peaceful protest.” We are to understand that anything less than a flat-out denunciation of loser David Duke and the pathetic remnants of the Ku Klux Klan is disqualifying while the accomplished racist agitator, Reverend Al Sharpton, gets White House invitations and fawning profiles in Vanity Fair.  MORE...

March 01, 2016

I Want a President Who is My Kind of Con-man

Many conservative pundits and principled Republicans are recoiling from Donald Trump on the grounds that he is a con-man, a confidence trickster. To which my retort is: So?  MORE...

February 02, 2016

I Want a President for Americans that Follow the Rules, Go to Work, and Obey the Law

It’s true! The pundits have just discovered that Republicans and Democrats really are different, after all. First, there’s the Kaiser Family Foundation poll that shows that Democrats want specifics from politicians and Republicans want principles. Then there’s the MSNBC campaign switch, reported by young Ezra Klein. He quotes Benjy Sarlin:  MORE...

January 05, 2016

I Want a President That Loves America. Again

It was just a year ago that I floated my dearest political wish upon the waters: “I Want a President Who Loves America.” It really wasn’t asking much. Since then, I’ve written again and again about what I want in a president.  MORE...

December 08, 2015

I Want a President Who Understands the Value of the Nation State

President Obama’s Oval Office address on Sunday night was par for the course: steady as she goes, and don’t let’s be beastly to the Muslims.  MORE...

November 03, 2015

I Want a President That Demonstrates Strategic Vision

Now that President Obama has sent boots on the ground into Syria, the question is: What’s the strategy? We know the president’s strategy on domestic policy; he wants to expand government-by-experts to the utter limit. And he wants to keep today’s hyphenated Americans by dividing them from “typical Americans” using Frankfurt School and Alinsky techniques to keep them hived off in identity silos. But what is the famed Lightworker’s strategy for the Middle East?  MORE...

October 06, 2015

I Want a President Who's "Unteachable." But Not Like Obama

Back in the glorious days of the Reagan administration Democratic wise man Clark Clifford opined that Reagan was an “amiable dunce.” That is Eighties-speak for today’s complaint that President Obama is “unteachable.”  MORE...

August 06, 2015

I Want a President Who Will Encourage the Millennials

If there’s one group in America that’s hurting worse than the African Americans in Prince George’s County looking at $300,000 mortgages on their $150,000 homes, it’s got to be the Millennials.  MORE...

July 07, 2015

I Want a President Born on the Fourth of July

Just in time for the fireworks, Gallup reports that the share of Americans that are “extremely proud” of America is down to 54%. It was 58% when America elected its First Black President (H/T PJMedia).  MORE...

June 02, 2015

I Want a President Who Cares About People Like Me

It is, I think, scandalous that Barack Obama won the “cares about people like me” sweepstakes over Mitt Romney by 81%-18% in 2012. The New York Post reported that it wasn’t an accident:  MORE...

May 05, 2015

I Want a President That "Gets" the Economy

Oh well, another day, another dollar, as the Obama economy continues to disappoint with a 0.2 percent growth rate for GDP in the first quarter for 2015.  MORE...

March 31, 2015

I Want a President Who Plays by the Rules

If you are a politician, why bother to play by the rules? Or if you are a citizen, why should you care whether the political leaders on your team play by the rules? (It goes without saying that we all care when the Other Guys break the rules.)  MORE...

March 03, 2015

I Want a President Who'll Dump the Stupid FCC

It was the Progressive Era that invented independent regulatory agencies. We needed an Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate those railroads. The noble idea was that we needed independent experts to protect the helpless farmer from the greed of the railroad barons. We needed a watchdog that was free of both of partisan taint and political patronage and also free from influence by corporate power.  MORE...

December 30, 2014

I Want a President That Loves America

I first fell in love with America 49 years ago. I flew from the UK to Denver visit my parents in Christmas 1965, and it was love at first sight. I fell in love with America, the land; I fell in love with America, the people. And I fell in love with the American way of life, the unconsciously optimistic approach to life and work and the future.  MORE...