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The 10 Richest Ironies of the Trump Age

Beyond the noise of controversies real and invented, a 24-hour news cycle demanding perpetual outrage, and hyperbole and partisan polarization on grounds more stylistic than substantive and cultural than ideological, the Trump Age has provided a signal that is incredibly clarifying.

The behavior in response to the Trump presidency has proven remarkable, with actors switching sides and positions understood to be deeply held in a matter of years and sometimes minutes, revealing their true colors and motives in ways few would have anticipated.

To wit, the Trump presidency has exposed the American political elite by illuminating the internal contradictions, deep-seated biases and core hypocrisies of its major players. At heart, what it shows is that power is the elite’s single unifying principle.

Here are 10 of the richest ironies of the Trump age:

  1. Leftists are federalists

There was a time not long ago when the Left put states’ rights in euphemistic scare quotes intended to discredit legitimate conservative efforts to assert Tenth Amendment rights in the face of an increasingly omnipotent federal government by associating such efforts with the Confederacy, slavery and racism. On January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, that all changed. The next day, The Economist printed a piece signaling what was to come titled “Democrats are learning to invoke states’ rights.” Since then, we have seen Democrats resist policies at odds with their agenda in unique ways, including becoming sanctuary states, barring lawmakers’ use of taxpayer dollars to travel to states with laws on LGBT issues they do not like, and engaging in lawfare against the Trump administration on all manner of issues, from the attempted transgender military ban to Obamacare and deregulatory environmental policy – and all of this just in California. Who would have thought progressives would embrace the notion of states as laboratories of experiment?

  1. Leftists oppose executive power

Relatedly, when once the Left lauded the power of a president’s “pen and phone” to implement policy through executive action, today it celebrates the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches – and even the executive agencies themselves – to thwart the president. The Left and even some putatively on the right are perfectly content to sponsor legislation seeking to block the president from firing subordinates and even from ordering the firing of weapons at military adversaries; for federal judges to block clearly lawful executive orders on utterly frivolous grounds; and for administrative state holdovers to refuse to carry out requests of the commander-in-chief. Can anyone imagine the howls if this president were to seek to do an end-run around the Senate and enter into a de facto treaty a la the Iran Deal without the Senate voting on it as such? The impeachment papers would be drawn before the president could compose his next tweet. Apparently, the left only believes in championing executive power when its partisans are at the helm.