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The Trump Challenge

The candidacy of Donald J. Trump has upended American politics, and, indeed, has changed the political landscape in ways our liberal and conservative elites never expected and clearly abhor. He talks like an ordinary person, for one thing – a rarity in a realm where politicians routinely speak as if they are giving a speech before the Peoria Rotary Club. Unrehearsed and raw, he doesn’t do  “talking points” – and this, I think, more than his controversial proposal to deport millions of illegal immigrants, has provoked the policy wonks and the “intellectuals” into paroxysms of contempt. It’s also what’s endears him to ordinary people, and makes them listen – perhaps for the first time – to what a candidate for the highest office in the land is saying about where America is today and where he wants the country to go.

Trump’s domestic platform, such as it is, doesn’t really interest me: his proposal to “temporarily” ban Muslims from entering the US is unenforceable and downright silly. (How can you know if someone is a Muslim?) The issue that catapulted him to national attention – immigration – has already been settled, for better or worse: with millions of illegal immigrants already here, largely as a result of US laxity in maintaining border security, the immigration restrictionists are about forty years too late. His plan to deport illegals will never happen.

It’s in the realm of international affairs that Trump has really made a significant and lasting contribution to the discourse. As Bill Schneider writes in a Reuters opinion piece: “Trump is repudiating the entire framework of US foreign policy since 1947.” That dramatic and unmistakable fact is being lost amid the theatrics of a campaign season that often resembles an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump explicates his consensus-busting view of America’s proper role in the world:

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