Decius Revealed

Perhaps the most illuminating insight into the agenda of the Trump administration is to be derived from the anonymous writings of Michael Anton, formerly known as “Decius,” in his whimsically titled Journal of American Greatness. This latter fluttered by, enticing and agitating political junkies in something like the the way the anonymous publication of Primary Colors did once upon a time. Part of the fascination of the writings is that they are clearly highly intelligent, of no clear conservative pundit orientation although their author clearly moved among conservative pundits, and yet they present themselves as articulating “Trumpism,” which seemed simply impossible on the assumption that Trump was an unelectable buffoon.


The author of these writings is now a senior national-security official in the Trump White House, and arguably, what he has to say gives us the underlying unity behind the disparate positions we are coming to associate with Trump. The principal interest is that if they reveal the dominant thrust of the administration, what they reveal is not as a form of Putin-hugging isolationism, but nationalism on steroids. I will leave it to my fellow Poseidonians to determine whether we should be worried about that or not.


There’s nothing for it. You simply have to read them, and take comfort, or be harrowed, as your prior commitments dictate. Our new populist president has some intriguingly elitist friends, but at least they’re really angry elitists.


One comment on “Decius Revealed

  1. CL says:

    If we marched back into Iraq next year, then I’d say Trump is a neocon, but Trump was willing to say ‘we destabilized the region’ or ‘we created a power vacuum’ whereas others are not willing to take any position that might seem anti-military. Haley has addressed the UN, saying that US sanctions on Russia will remain in place until they withdrew from Crimea, a mark of emerging continuity between this administration and the last. Considering that Republicans are now talking about ‘repairing’ Obamacare, the notion of swift or abrupt policy changes at the whim of the partisan majority appears to be limited by a deliberation about outcomes such as the dire political consequences of kicking twenty-million people off of Medicaid. This is still the same federal government, and there isn’t a real blow to the establishment when the usurper is lawfully elected and forced to accept that his victory is a formality instead of a loud popular mandate. I don’t think that you can classify Trump populism within the scope of political categories that it sought to transcend as an electorate, which, while it hasn’t changed completely in the twelve years since Bush was reelected, has shifted focus from foreign policy to economics. Trump wasn’t elected for being pro-military or tough on terror, but for being tough on immigration, outsourcing, offshoring, etc.—economic priorities that provided the only conceivable reason for vague rational people to support him, whether or not his proposed solutions are complete or effective. He will do his best to deliver on his campaign promises, and the result will probably be similarly misguided and ineffective policy that is overdetermined by its symbolism of the electorate. The same as the last president.

    Our system wasn’t really designed to function, it was only designed to represent us, and limit the exertion of power. The rest is the monopoly on the legitimate use of force accompanied by the mere prudence of due process. So the law will never be more precise than the people actually demand. The lesson of this election, with people up in arms and barking nonsense on either side, is the pointlessness of looking to government as the policy leader, as if government must unite the realm of domestic human affairs, which circumscribes and limits the acts of government. In its active form, it is only the specialized implementor, and in its passive form, only a symbol of collective inertia and stable interests. A real movement does not begin with representation, and so there isn’t any more to fear in Trump’s America than what has been here all along, blending in whenever people are busy making things and getting paid. I hope for absolutely nothing from this administration, but if there is an idiot in a White House, then perhaps there is a similarly unlikely success hovering somewhere over rock bottom. Trump’s occasional appeal was just the anomaly, not ‘voter anger’, but the unlikely becoming likely, the promise of change to nothing in particular except whatever the odds didn’t favor. I didn’t want chaos, so I voted for myself. I forgave him for his belligerence and stupidity because he was the underdog. I am ever-more concerned about the outcome of his policies, but I was always more concerned about the reaction of his opponents. That is another topic entirely.

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