Many rightish critics of our current political state of affairs assert that modern mass democracy does not breed true statesmen, and some of these sincere rightish critics point to the success of Donald Trump as a case in point. (I say sincere rightish critics because globalist donor class shills masquerading as movement conservatives who are critical of Trump, such as Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Bill Kristol, the boys at National Review, et al, are not sincere.) And these sincere critics are certainly right. This point deserves separate elaboration, but suffice it to say that the suite of traits that make for a good campaigner in our modern democracy, especially at the national level, do not necessarily make for a good leader, and are even potentially antagonistic to each other. The current occupant of the Oval Office, who is a master campaigner but a lousy leader, is an excellent illustration of this.
I would suggest, in addition, that while modern mass democracy does not select for statesmen, neither does it select for men with traditional masculine virtues. Here’s a test. Think of all the national politicians you can. Which ones would you want on your side in a bar fight? I would take on 10 men if I had the late Jim Traficant, may God rest his soul, on my side, but what modern politician would inspire that sort of confidence? Are you charging into a bar fight with Bobby Jindal backing you up? John Kasich? Jeb Bush is a big fella, but would you want him by your side against a couple of bikers? Controlling for age, Chris Chrsitie, Rudy Giuliani and Peter King come to mind, but not many others, and it’s probably no coincidence that the latter two are ethnics. In fact, I think a lot of Christie’s early appeal, before he fell from grace with the bridge scandal, related to the fact that he’s scrappy and not a typical plastic glad-handing pol.
Modern society is becoming increasingly feminized and sexually androgynous. Walk into a mall in Anywhere, USA and look around. Where are the manly men? Studies have even demonstrated that testosterone levels in men are falling.
Enter Donald Trump. The appeal of Donald Trump surely has a lot to do with a visceral, instinctual reaction to this societal feminization. Even the Trump haters at National Review recognize this aspect of Trump’s appeal because they published this textbook example of protesting too much in response. Our friends in the manosphere have pegged Trump as a classic alpha male, and in many senses he is. Trump’s apparent sensitivity to slights perhaps comes into play in evaluating his “alphaness,” but whatever one may say about his alphaness, he is unmistakably a man. Watch him enter a room. The swagger is palpable. He walks in knowing he owns the room.
Trump’s unique list of celebrity endorsers demonstrates this “real man” angle to his appeal. As a way to needle Trump critics, I have been posting on social media every time a particularly masculine celebrity endorses Trump, but beyond me rubbing it in to the supporters of other candidates, it is easy to spot a real meaningful trend here. The list is pretty impressive. Celebrities (description attached for those that might be a bit more obscure) who have endorsed or said positive things about Trump include (in no particular order):
Kevin Nash (professional wrestler)
Adrien Broner (boxer)
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Nick Mangold (offensive lineman)
Johnny Damon (MLB)
Mark Martin (NASCAR Driver)
Holly Holm (OK, not a man but she counts for the purposes of this list)
Chael Sonnen (UFC fighter)
Tito Ortiz (UFC fighter)
Jimmy McMillian (The Rent Is Too Damn High Party guy)
Paul Teutul, Sr. (Orange County Choppers)
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Robert Davi (actor)
Larry the Cable Guy
Aissa Wayne (daughter of John Wayne, again not a man but important for the point of this list)
Jesse James (West Coast Choppers)
Dennis Rodman (yes, I know about that picture in a dress)
Lou Ferrigno (body builder, The Hulk)
Willie Robertson (Duck Dynasty)
Wayne Allen Root (columnist, Libertarian VP nominee in 2008)
Fred Williamson (actor, football player)
Clay Buchholtz (pitcher)
Bill Elliot (NASCAR driver)
Chase Elliot (NASCAR driver)
Ted DiBiase (professional wrestler)
Richie Incognito (NFL lineman)
Jerry Lawler (professional wrestler)
Shawne Merriman (NFL linebacker)
Ryan Newman (NASCAR driver)
Digger Phelps (basketball coach)
Chris Weidman (UFC)
Latrell Sprewell (NBA)
Meisha Tate (UFC Women’s Champion [for the record, Rhonda Rousey endorsed Bernie])
Kevin Von Erich (professional wrestler)
“Roosh” (manosphere writer)
Dan Bilzerian (professional poker player)
Alex Jones (radio host)
Dean Cain (actor)
Whatever one may think of all the individuals on this list, there are no metrosexuals among them. Trump seems particularly popular with the NASCAR, professional wrestling and UFC crowds. Hmmm… Compare this list to some of the manlets leading the #NeverTrump campaign – Senator Lindsey Graham, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore and National Review writer Kevin Williamson come to mind.
As a traditionalist conservative, I too value statesmanship, but in political campaigns I believe that my fellow political obsessives and wonks can often get so wrapped up in the details that they miss the big picture. No, for those who value decorum and the sanctity of the process, Trump is not a statesman. And to all the conservative movement gatekeepers and box checkers, like many of those who backed Ted Cruz, he is not a by the books “conservative” as that term is currently (and erroneously) defined. But elections aren’t determined by obsessives and wonks like us. They are determined by actual voters. They are rarely about the fine print. They are about the Gestalt, the meta. And with Trump, this meta is not just policy. It’s also aesthetic, and part of the Trump aesthetic is clearly push back against the increasing feminization and hostility to masculinity that is degrading our culture. This reaction is largely visceral, not rational, but it’s healthy nonetheless and undeniably conservative in a more basic sense of the term. Recognize it and work with it. Don’t fight it. Don’t let the details put you on the wrong side of the big picture.