How Trump Is Bringing Back a Sense of Community

Happy New Year!

Here is Aaron M. Renn writing at the Manhattan Institute:

He’s not only looking to boost America’s GDP.

Some business leaders, economists, and free market proponents have panned President-elect Donald Trump’s intervention to stop Carrier’s relocation to Mexico and his Twitter haranguing of other firms planning overseas relocations. These pro-business purists have clearly learned nothing from his victory.

To understand what Trump is doing, we must first return to the most basic question of society: What is a country? Is it a commonwealth of citizens in the pursuit of personal and mutual flourishing? Or is it just a geographic venue for global businesses to make money?

Too many people give off the impression that they see it as the latter. But Trump knows that a society that does not provide for the aspirations of its citizens is a failed state, no matter how economically efficient it is or how much GDP it produces.

We once understood this. Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out that one of the keys to America’s unique success was its sense of enlightened self-interest. Americans worked and competed hard for themselves, their families, and their businesses, but they understood that a purely selfish mindset was self-destructive in the long term. Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America, “Each American knows when to sacrifice some of his private interests to save the rest; we [the French] want to save everything, and often we lose it all.”

. . .

By focusing his rhetoric and energy directly on American middle-class, blue-collar workers, Trump is reminding businesses of the social contract they thought they could leave behind. He’s telling them that the solution to our nation’s challenges might be complex and not obvious, but they had better well be part of it, not just worried about squeezing out a bit more return on invested capital to boost the CEO’s bonus next year.

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