- - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I have just read a book that is very engaged in the challenges of our time. It is very informed and thoughtful. It is titled “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” and it is written by Donald Trump Jr. It answers a question that I have had about Donald Trump Sr. since 2013, the year when I formally met him and came to the conclusion that he could be president of the United States.

“Triggered” could have been marketed as a textbook on modern-day conservative thought. All the arguments are there. For instances, the argument against Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialism, which she has never experienced, Don Jr. has. He visited his grandfather in Czechoslovakia when the country was still Communist. There he witnessed the empty shelves of retail stores. He heard his mother’s family talk about waiting in line for hours just to purchase one orange. Don Jr. makes the case for the market, which allows scarce resources to be allocated in a free society allowing the citizenry to put those resources to productive use. The result is prosperity. “Triggered” makes the case for limited government. It makes the case against identity politics, against political correctness, and takes on the issue of racism, arguing that for a certitude we have racism in America but not as widely as the left says we have it. Their charges are exaggerated. 

Yet, what I found particularly informative as I read through the book is that in making the case for American exceptionalism, Don Jr. revealed perhaps the fundamental reason that Donald Sr. is suddenly so pervasive in American politics. His father is moved by patriotism. Most conservatives, at least most conservative leaders, have read economist Milton Friedman, political theorist Michael Oakeshott and a dozen other formative writers. Donald Sr. gets his conservatism from living in America and understanding it. He has conferred that understanding on his children. It inheres throughout Don Jr.’s book. 


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A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Lord, Wladyi Pleszczynski and I visited the president in the Oval Office. Supposedly, this was another of those times when he was in a stormy mood. He was erratic. He was obsessed with his enemies. He was in the glums. Alas, I hate to report back to his enemies, but he was not erratic, not gloomy, not obsessed with his enemies. In fact, we hardly talked about his enemies. The president was upbeat, optimistic and full of fun. He was in very good form, and his aide, Brad Parscale, remarked that this is one of the reasons Mr. Parscale enjoys working with him. Never once did the president mention a conservative writer, but he mentioned things American. When I mentioned my visit with a Fox News contributor, he said he had had a similar experience. “They’re (the president’s enemies) living in a bubble,” the Fox reporter said. The president is having a ball, and if he is obsessed with his enemies he never showed it to us.

What is it that has made Donald Trump a successful president? I think it is that he realizes that America is a success story. It is not a failed state or in anyway a failed anything. This is a successful country, probably the most successful country on Earth. All the president needs to do is keep it going on the path it is on.



Some Americans disagree. They find it a deeply flawed country. It has been inhospitable to immigrants, they say. It harbored slaves and after freeing them it treated them as second-class citizens. Its Founding Fathers often owned slaves. Those who believe these canards do not share the president’s patriotism and do not understand America.

Don Jr. does. In his book, all the arguments for a conservative society are there: The arguments for capitalism. The arguments for maintaining order and relying on the police to maintain order. The arguments for the courts to uphold the rule of law. The arguments for maintaining the free society, and a sense of gratitude for living in the best country on Earth. Don Jr. got these arguments from his dad.

My guess is that we are approaching the Trumps’ favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. It is the time when we give thanks for all the blessings that have been conferred upon America and the holiday when the president will have time to relax with a good book. Donald, try “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” It is very good.

• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.

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