I am barely into Unmasking the Administrative State by John Marini. It is a slow read and a deep look in the shift from a constitutional to an administrative government, the legacy of the Progressive Era. It is ironic that the movement that heralded greater democracy also removed a greater portion of the government from democratic accountability.
Progressives assumed a general will that surpassed any differences or debate and that in a modern state and economy this ‘will’ would be best served by educated professionals unrestrained by political and constitutional accountability. The state advanced into more areas of our life and began to undermine civic institutions. In this light this passage addressed the rise of Trump from that view.
It is possible that the Trump phenomenon cannot be understood merely by trying to make sense of Trump himself. Rather, it is the seriousness of the need for Trump that must be understood in order to make sense of his candidacy. Those most likely to be receptive of Trump are those who believe America is in the midst of a great crisis in terms of its economy, its chaotic civil society, its political corruption, and its inability to defend any kind of tradition—or way of life derived from that tradition—because of the transformation of its culture by the intellectual elites. This sweeping cultural transformation occurred almost completely outside the political process of mobilizing public opinion and political majorities. The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality. This great crisis has created the need for a Trump, or someone like Trump, and only those who recognize it as a crisis can be receptive to his candidacy. To be clear, the seriousness of the need does not mean that the need can be satisfied, perhaps even by a Lincoln, let alone a Trump. Nonetheless, Trump has established his candidacy on the basis of an implicit understanding that America is in the midst of a crisis. Those who oppose him deny the seriousness of the crisis and see Trump himself as the greatest danger. And here again, Trump’s success will likely depend upon his ability to articulate the ground of a common good that is still rooted in the past—a common good established by a government that protects the rights of its citizens in a constitutional manner and establishes limits on the authority of government by demanding that the rule of law replace that of bureaucratic privilege and status.
Marini, John. Unmasking the Administrative State (pp. 38-39). Encounter Books. Kindle Edition.