An Institutional Analysis of the Present Political World

What are we witnessing these days?  Clearly we are witnessing a war of sorts, but who is it between and what are the weapons?  In a broad sense, it is between conservative and liberals, but only in the broad sense.  Many conservatives oppose Trump, and many Democrats in the rust belt supported him.  So it is complicated.

Perhaps it is easier to look at the matter from an institutional perspective.  Which institutions are supporting Trump and which are opposing him?

If one looks at American society, it is clear that most of the governments are controlled by Republicans.  At the federal level, the political appointees of the Executive branch obviously support Trump, as does the majority in the House and the Senate.  And the Senate has a filibuster which is eliminated or weakened as to appointments.  At the state level, most states are controlled by Republican governors and very few states have both houses controlled by Democrats.  Thus, the government is largely controlled by Republicans.

But the Democrats, especially the left, control many institutions in society and they are using those institutions.  One might characterize these institutions as cultural institutions and their actions as involving cultural power.  These institutions comprise the media, the universities, the arts, sports leagues, nonprofits, the civil service, and most large businesses.

Basically, these institutions are using whatever authority they can.  The media and the universities are portraying Trump and the Republicans in the most unattractive terms possible.  Other institutions are taking actions to basically insist that their members criticize Trump, or at least not support Trump.  Obviously, this does not occur 100% of the time, but it occurs frequently and especially as to the most salient issues.

It will be interesting to see how this “war” turns out.  On the one hand, the Republicans are unlikely to maintain this form of political dominance for long, although it is quite conceivable that they could keep both houses in 2018 (given the senators who are up for reelection) and perhaps Trump could win reelection in 2020 (given how hard it is to defeat an incumbent).  On the other hand, the Democrats are likely to keep control of these cultural institutions for quite a while.  Yet, if these institutions continue to behave in aggressive ways, and Trump supporters become annoyed about that, they could feel it on their bottom line.

Mike Rappaport

Professor Rappaport is Darling Foundation Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, where he also serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism. Professor Rappaport is the author of numerous law review articles in journals such as the Yale Law Journal, the Virginia Law Review, the Georgetown Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. His book, Originalism and the Good Constitution, which is co-authored with John McGinnis, was published by the Harvard University Press in 2013.  Professor Rappaport is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he received a JD and a DCL (Law and Political Theory).

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  1. gabe says

    “Cultural institutions” you call it? Hmmm!

    What kind of culture is this wherein these institutions spy on its own leadership and release information calculated to destroy the credibility of it’s duly elected leadership:

    http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/02/13/flynn-resignation-raises-questions-fbi-intel-services/

    Flynn forced to resign. One of his intended subordinates, a man who for 17 years possessed one of the highest security classifications while serving in Defense Intelligence is DENIED a security clearance by the CIA.

    turns out the subordinate supported Flynn and Flynn critique of CIA incompetence in Syria and the failed attempts at swaying Erdogan of Turkey.

    Yep, that’s pretty *cultural* – i.e., the “institutional culture” of Democrat Party run executive branch mechanisms, or as I prefer to call it, the *internalities* of large institutions (in this case both the Fed Admin Agencies AND the Democrat Party (Oops, but I repeat myself).

  2. says

    I think that this analysis is spot on. Gets right to the point & helps clarify the real divide. I think it was Roger Kimball who coined the phrase: “the progressive march through the institutions” that began full force in the 60’s. My wish would be that the true bias and the harm being done by these institutions would be revealed, as much as possible. I see this moment as the best time for this to occur.
    As they moan and whine, Trump and his spokesmen should take every opportunity to show the public the actual progressive ideology that pervades these institutions of culture, TV, hollywood, op music, and social media included. We might not have another teachable moment like this one.

    Gabe’s reply reinforces Rappaport’s thesis.

    –William Francis Brown MD
    Forest, VA

    • gabe says

      William:

      Absotively agree.

      I have this recurring fantasy that The Trumpster gets on national TV and simply and clearly explains to the American people all of the wretchedly vile actions and motives of the denizens of the Federal Administrative State and exposes the utter corruption of our National Security institutions.

      Perhaps Bannon’s influence will be more conducive to such an approach than was the case with that self acknowledged genius Karl Rove.

  3. Steven Michael says

    I have long thought, from a philosophical sense, that the left has taken the idea of perfection (or Plato’s Forms) and abused them in the extreme. Why else would they ignore clear facts on issues? Why else do progressive policies produce and promote devastating results that they never acknowledge? Why else do they deflect accountability?

    Their perversion of any “ideal” also allows them to posture their viewpoints in high moral tones. This, of course, appeals to the cultural institutions that Mr. Rappaport describes. This stealing of morality on any issue is also fuel to their endless energies. Finally, their perversion of the “ideal”, and subsequent false ownership of high morality, makes it easy for them to look upon any criticism as immoral, and all detractors as less than human.

    The above described progressive template, when applied to every political, economic, and cultural issue, reveals the nexus of the progressive virus.

  4. Scott Amorian says

    This essay misses the point.

    The Brexis and Trump things are about people rejecting bad government. A lot of us haven’t had raises in years while inflation (imaginary in the eyes of government, but real at the grocery store) eats away at our income. Add the Affordable Care Act, which folks like us cannot afford to continue paying, and which takes away our income and gives it to other folks who haven’t earned it, all in the name of someone else’s ideals. The public recognized to ongoing folly in continuing the path of statist ideology, and we rebelled. The removal of servitude to statist ideologues is the bottom line because of the realities of having us pay for their unaffordable nonsense.

    I’m not a big Trump supporter but I think he’ll kick the economy into high gear and I’ll finally see some growth in my personal finances. For that reason I will back him.

  5. Scott Amorian says

    And before I forget …

    All the folks in the media and academia are throwing tantrums because we folks who have been paying for their ideologically driven directives finally decided enough is enough. We are tired of their mandated doles. They demanded too much. We slapped them down and just said “No.” Now they are throwing hissy fits. Boo, hoo, hoo for them.

    We reject their agenda because we cannot afford to pay for it.

    The story is no more complicated than that.

    • wm brown says

      Scott, I think all you say is accurate, but I am not sure that this was the point of the article. I think that Rapport was making a larger point about the role of the “institutions” in feeding their statist narrative and effectively brainwashing large swathes of the American population who fed on this garbage. The media and entertainment industries are almost completely dominated by leftist progressives, as is most of government education, the arts, academia, etc. Americans are bombarded 24/7 with ideological propaganda.
      Maybe Mike can correct me, but this is what I take from the article, and I think it’s crucially important. Politics is downstream from culture. If we want to move our country in a conservative direction (toward more freedom and flourishing), we need to influence the mass culture, which is the teacher for hundreds of millions of people.

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