Politics & Policy

Trump Cares Too Much About Legacy Media to Be Your Champion against Political Correctness

One of the more disheartening aspects of Donald Trump’s disheartening dealmaking with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer is the extent to which he so obviously glories in any sign of approval from the likes of the New York Times, Morning Joe, or other parts of the legacy media. After his debt-ceiling deal, he reportedly called Pelosi and Schumer to crow that the “press has been incredible.” Is that a goal worth achieving? Will that make America great again?

Many of Trump’s fans have confused his boundless personal ambition and his warped sense of loyalty as a conviction play against political correctness. Sure, he’ll insult who he needs to insult and say what he needs to achieve his goals. And yes, he displays a degree of loyalty even to distasteful people so long as they love him and help him. (Hence his otherwise-bizarre unwillingness to decisively distance himself from the alt-right.) But he also craves the approval of his hometown news outlets — outlets that just so happen to help define and shape the cultural and political tastes of the American Left. 

If Trump could gain the presidency and win over the New York Times, he’d ditch his old supporters faster than you can say “Breitbart.” There’s no real ideology here. There are no principles in play. Trumpism is and has always been about one man’s wants and desires. I’m sorry, but that’s not how you vanquish political correctness. It’s certainly not how you keep the ship of state from tacking inexorably to the left. 

The answer to political correctness isn’t vain ambition, personal insults, or a needy quest for love and affection. Indeed, those things feed the beast. It’s to speak the truth with a measure of grace and humility, indifferent to the demands of the cultural commissars. That’s not Trump. That’s never been Trump. And now his base is dealing with the consequences of championing a man who’s prone to wander the moment CNN bats its eyes. 

The only way to pull Trump back from this Democratic brink is to threaten his first love, his own power. If the GOP can show him that he has something to lose – that he can’t truly shoot his immigration plan on Fifth Avenue and keep their support – then they’ve got a chance to keep him on task. If not, then prepare yourself for steady migration to a second consecutive Democratic presidency. And this much you can count on — the press will be fantastic. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.