Blog: The ends of appearance

The ends of appearance
The ends of appearance
Date: 2018-Apr-01 00:46:15 EST

The sharpest argument I can make against Trump, for people who are steadfastly pro-America (I am not), and outside concerns about basic competence, the people he surrounds himself with, and his pettiness and ego, is the following:

It is nearly impossible to have both extreme power and showings of extreme power at the same time. The latter wounds the dignity of the less powerful and leans them against cooperation. America, for most of its existence, has consistently leaned towards the former. It has not usually demanded other nations acknowledge its greatness, and instead has been content to get them to buy into a political-social order that it originated and has some steering over. They get a better outcome between its carrot and its stick, and even often a better status quo because these economic and political rules often (but not always) created better prosperity than alternate systems, even though their alignment is squarely with American particulars.

What I see in Trump, with a desire to smash the dignity of other nations and force them to kneel, is a pissing away of a lot of actual power for the sake of its trappings. A public greatness almost necessarily looks like this; it's showy and self-destructive, and weakens us. Those that believe in American greatness should reject populism and the short-term, in favour of expertise and the long, quiet path that has led America to power.