Tom Klingenstein explains why 2020 may be the most consequential election since 1860—and why President Trump is the man most uniquely suited to the moment. Read his entire remarks below, via American Greatness.
Klingenstein is a principal in the investment firm of Cohen, Klingenstein, LLC and the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute.
THOMAS KLINGENSTEIN: My name is Tom Klingenstein. I am the chair of the board of the Claremont Institute which is a conservative think tank, managing partner of a New York investment firm and playwright.
I wish to make three points. First, Trump is the perfect man for these times, not all times, perhaps not most times, but these times. Second, Republicans are not doing a good job explaining the stakes in this election. They must explain, and this is my third point, that the Democratic Party, which has been taken by its radical wing, is leading a revolution. This makes the coming election the most important one since the election of 1860. Let’s begin there.
Unlike most elections, this one is much more than a contest over particular policies—like health care or taxes. Rather, like the election of 1860, this election is a contest between two competing regimes, or ways of life. Two ways of life that cannot exist peacefully together.
One way of life, I’ll call it “the traditional American way of life,” is based on individual rights, the rule of law, and a shared understanding of the common good. This way of life values hard work, self-reliance, volunteerism, patriotism, and so on.
In this way of life there are no hyphenated Americans. We are all just Americans. Colorblindness is our aspiration.
The other way of life I call multiculturalism. Others call it “identity politics” or “cultural Marxism” or “Intersectionality”.
The multicultural movement, which has taken over the Democratic party, is a revolutionary movement. I do not mean a metaphorical revolution. It is not like a revolution; it is a revolution, an attempt to overthrow the American Founding as President Trump said in his excellent Mt. Rushmore speech. Republicans should say the same thing. Republicans everywhere, at every level, and at every opportunity.
Multiculturalism conceives of society, not as a community of individuals with equal rights but as a collection of cultural identity groups—defined by race, ethnicity, gender, and so forth. According to the multiculturalists, all these identity groups are oppressed by white males.
Their goal is to have each identity group proportionally represented in all institutions of American society. As should be immediately clear, achieving this proportional representation requires a never-ending redistribution of wealth and power from some groups—and not just from whites—to other groups. Such a massive redistribution can only be achieved by a tyrannical government and like in all tyrannies, one where dissenters are silenced.
In order to achieve this proportional representation, the Democrats require not just endless affirmative action but genuine socialism, open borders, unrestricted trade, seizing guns, sanctuary cities, and much more.
The Black Lives Matter/Democrats understand (which Republicans seem not to), that if they are to achieve this policy agenda they must get Americans to change their values, their principles, and the way they understand themselves.
They must get us to believe that national borders and colorblindness are racist; that we are not one culture but many; that the most important thing in our history—the thing around which all else pivots—is slavery. More broadly, the multiculturalists must get us to believe that we are unworthy—not just that we have sinned (which of course we have)—but that we are irredeemably sinful, or, in the language of today, “systemically racist.” And sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic and all the other “ists” and phobias. Simply put, multiculturalism must get us to believe we are bad
This suggests one way to frame the coming election: as a contest between a man, Trump, who believes America is good and a man, Biden, who is controlled by a movement that believes America is bad. I do not think it is any more complicated than that.
For the multiculturalist to change traditional values and principles they must destroy, or radically restructure, the institutions that teach those values and principles. The most important of these institutions is family, but also very important is religion, education (which they have mostly destroyed already) and community life, replacing the latter with government bureaucrats. It is here—in these value-teaching institutions—that we see the underpinnings of the Revolution. This is where the real action is. Republicans seem to be missing in action.
Republicans need to explain that BLM and their Democratic enablers wish to destroy the traditional mother-father family. To substantiate this claim, Republicans have only to point to the BLM mission statement. The mission statement, written by avowed Marxists, also lets us know that BLM holds transgenderism to be the burning issue of our time.
Republicans must also explain that religion, because it teaches American values, is also on the chopping block.
Republicans also must make American see that the taking down of statues is not about removing a few confederate generals; it’s about destroying America’s past, as is the New York Times 1619 Project. The rioters, and their BLM-Democrats enablers, are tearing down the statues even of people like Frederick Douglass who fought against slavery. This is not an accident. It is not collateral damage. Frederick Douglass was a great American. He believed that America in her soul was not racist. He believed in hard work and self-reliance. And because of his embrace of American values the BLM-Democrats have to get rid of him.
They must also get rid of Abraham Lincoln, for it is he who best explains what we should aspire to. And it is he who is the best defender of the American Founding. In one sense, this election is a referendum on the Founding. Whether America was founded in 1619, as the BLM-Democrats contend, or, in 1776 as Lincoln, and, until recently, all Americans believed.
Republicans must make more of political correctness and cancel culture, which, as we have seen so vividly of late, brutally punishes apostates.
Who does Twitter think it is, censoring an American president? Republicans simply cannot stand for that.
And Republicans must explain, as I earlier explained, that the multiculturalists are trying to get us to believe that we are systemically racist so that we will surrender to their policy agenda. This too must not be allowed to stand. The American people need to hear what they know in their hearts: they are not racists. Republicans should stand up and say, “no, America is not racist.” Period.
If Americans are systemically anything, it is a systemic commitment to freedom and equal rights for all.
Perhaps most importantly, Republicans must say over and over that America is “incredible,” to use President Trump’s adjective of choice. They must remind the American people that, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, America has brought more freedom and more prosperity to more people than any country in the history of mankind. Most Americans know this, but this too they need to hear from their leaders.
In order to make the case that the Democrats are leading a revolution, Republicans must delegitimize Black Lives Matter—the organization, of course, not the sentiment. To BLM and their Democratic enablers, Republicans must say: “Absolutely, black lives matter. They just don’t matter to you. You don’t care about Mr. Floyd, the black businesses you have destroyed, the blacks who are getting killed because you have forced the police to back off. You’re here for destruction. Not black lives, not any lives.”
After delegitimizing Black Lives Matter, the next step for Republicans is to tie BLM’s revolutionary agenda around the necks of Democrats.
The BLM wing of the Democratic party has captured the entire party. Run-of-the-mill Democrats may not agree with all of the BLM agenda but they go-along, so they might as well agree. Joe Biden is one of the go-along Democrats.
So do not expect all Democrats to sing the BLM tune; even so, most will kneel before them.
Listen to Biden. On one occasion Biden said, “Let’s be clear, transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time.” A year ago, Biden may not have even known what transgenderism is. He does not seem to know it, but he has been radicalized.
Biden now regularly talks about “systemic” racism. On one occasion Biden said, though without evidence, there is “absolutely systemic racism in law enforcement.” “[But] it’s not just in law enforcement,” he continued, “it’s across the board. It’s in housing, it’s in education . . . It’s in everything we do.”
He is wrong on every count, but if indeed he believes that racism is in “everything we do,” that it is systemic, then he believes, whether he admits or not, that the system must be overturned. Biden does not realize it, but he is calling for the overthrow of the American way of life. I presume that is not his intent, but when the words he is reading off his BLM teleprompter get translated into policy, that will be the consequence — the destruction of the American way of life.
Biden demurs. There is nothing to fear from Biden says Biden: “Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?” No, he does not, but what he does look like is a sap.
Republicans must make it clear that these are the “Biden riots.”
This brings me to my last point: Trump. I know President Trump has many faults. I myself sometimes cringe listening to him. Sometimes he is his own worst enemy. He is a braggart, often misinformed, petty, sometimes even vengeful. And more.
And yet, we are very lucky to have him. I am almost prepared to say that having him is Providential. How else to explain that we find ourselves with this most unusual, most unpresidential man who has just the attributes most needed for this moment. At any other time, he might well have been a bad president. But in these times—these revolutionary times—he is the best president we could have had.
He has the indispensable attribute of a leader: courage. As a leader must, he goes where others are afraid to go. And he has common sense, which means he generally wants to go to the right place.
Above all else, and above anyone else, Trump is committed to America. He is unreservedly, unquestionably pro-America. He feels no guilt for America’s past. He makes no apologies. He concedes nothing. These may not always be the attributes one wants in a President, but in this day of woke guilt they are the most essential things. And Trump has unlimited confidence in America. In this time of national doubt, this too is just what the doctor ordered. He thinks our culture is “incredible” and that’s the way he wants to keep it.
Trump not only thinks America is incredible, he knows we are in a fight for our lives.
And despite what one hears ad nauseum from the Democrats, Trump is perhaps among the least racist presidents we have ever had. Trump is not defending the white way of life; he is defending the American way of life, a colorblind way of life which is open to anyone who is willing to embrace it.
If we want to save our country, then we should support him—unequivocally. I am. I think this election is that important, and I think Trump is that good. I hope you agree.
Remember, Trump versus Biden is the choice between a man who believes America is good and a man who is controlled by a movement which believes America is bad.