Well, the two parts of this title have nothing to do with each other. Except: If you read a couple of great books, you will be immunized from being seduced by demagogues like Trump. And: You wouldn’t think Ayn Rand wrote any books worth reading. I could go on, as I’ve said before: You would use edu-speak phrases like “disruptive innovation,” “critical thinking,” and “competency-based education” only ironically. Well, one more thing: You’d stop hoping that the Singularity is coming. Or believing that History or science have shown that God does not exist.
One more still: You wouldn’t believe Damon Linker and others, who say that Trump’s ramblings reveal the ugly soul of the Republican party, which is all about conspiracy theorizing, nativism, manliness run amok, and such. Obviously, I can’t stand Trump. But: When the guys at Panera talk him up, they admire his toughness, his capacity to stand up to Putin, ISIS, and the Chinese, his willingness to speak his mind, his can-do record of success as a business leader (displayed by his wealth and his reality show). It’s (well, misguided) praise of his character and competence, and it is pretty content-free, although they do believe the president gave the Iranians way too much just to get a deal. A tough negotiator like Trump wouldn’t have done that!
Immigration is almost always not a major concern. Here’s that concern: Trump appeals to people who are ticked off by the disconnect between immigration and citizenship (driven by the interests of our oligarchs combing the world for low-cost labor).
Trump roughly corresponds to Gingrich last time: Two smart guys who know how to tap into some legitimate discontents, but are obviously unfit for high office. You can start taking bets on who takes Trump out—a debater who knows stuff or the media that eventually tires of using him to trash Republicans in general. So saying Trump is the ugly soul of the Republican party is highly partisan.
On Great Books: I found a very nonideological and admirably accurate (I’ll talk about a couple of sins of omission later) list of America’s twenty-five best Great Books colleges. My takeaway moment: Notice the diversity of institutions! And: The only school from Georgia on this is Mercer (which deserves its ranking); I hope my Berry (better than Mercer in every other respect [well, except sports]) will soon surge!
UPDATE: It’s been called to my attention (and not in a nice way) that there are a huge number of anti-Trump posts on NRO, and I’ve been reduced to joining the NR herd. Well, let me assure you I haven’t read any of those posts, because I don’t see the need to wage war against Trump as if he were a real danger to the party or the republic. I’ve also gotten a few touching pro-Trump messages from smart and decent people. The point of my post is that such people exist and have their reasons for thinking Trump is the ticket.