There has been a lot going on inside the Trump White House these past few days, and it’s not easy to put a finger on what exactly is the cause for all the tension. Between Trump publicly backstabbing AG Sessions, Scaramucci’s witch hunt for leakers, and the triangle of tension Scaramucci, Priebus, and Bannon, there’s one common thread that ties all these stories together. That thread, simply, is political pragmatism. Political pragmatism is a uniquely American philosophy, and is one of the main reasons that we’ve grown to be so powerful these last decades, while also acquiring a huge body count and morally grey past. Trump is the epitomization of pragmatic behavior, and not surprisingly he has filled his White House and Cabinet full of people who share this trait with him.
What is Pragmatism?
Before you get sick of the word, pragmatism is the belief that morals and ideologies are outdated and harmful, and that as a person you need to constantly evolve and only base your current beliefs off of factual evidence and successes. The almost too obvious counterexample to this philosophy is Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been a lifelong socialist ideologue. No matter how often Marxism fails around the world, and no matter how many times nations like Venezuela, who Sanders praised, inevitably fail, he always sticks to his beliefs and uses the lovely excuse, “That wasn’t real socialism”. Ideologues are very useful around the world politically, as they can get large swaths of uneducated voters to join their “revolution” by using the credibility bestowed upon them for merely maintaining the same beliefs for a long period of time. In America though, where politics have become so focused on social matters, being anything but pragmatic is dangerous, although how politicians handle their constantly shifting beliefs is crucial. An example of pragmatic behavior coming back to bite somebody is in Hillary Clinton, who lost a lot of credibility in potential voters for having been vocally against same-sex marriage and lgbt rights for years, yet come the 2016 election decided to champion them. An example of pragmatism done right is in the recent hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as Trump’s communication director. When questioned about his previous statements on President Trump, and how Scaramucci had called him a “political hack”, Scaramucci merely blew the question off with New York bravado and said that he was new to politics at the time and had backed the wrong horse. New Yorkers tend to embody this, “do whatever it takes to win” attitude, and it probably has to do with how Wall Street and the spirit of New York are so tightly intertwined with one another. This explains why Trump was so blatant in admitting he had a persona for the GOP Primaries, and another for his actual Presidential Bid. In his business oriented mind, as long as you win, what does it matter?
The Wolf of Pennsylvania Avenue
Using this lens, you can then understand each of the aforementioned issues I mentioned at the top of this article. With the Trump/Sessions fight, it’s easy to understand how Trump would be okay publicly shaming Attorney General Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia Investigations. It’s obvious that in the President’s mind, loyalty is merely a trait that leads to you getting backstabbed, and Sessions’ handling of the situation unfortunately only made Trump and co. look guilty, despite there being no evidence on the matter.
Look next at Scaramucci’s attempt to clear out the White House of all leaks, despite only being on the job for a week. No matter how loyal a Trump aid seemed or how well they were working for the White House, if Scaramucci suspected that someone has been one of the people leaking vital information to the press and intelligence agencies, he saw them packed and booted by the next day. This action is emboldened even more by Scaramucci’s previous statements that he only reports to Trump, which is in direct contrast to Spicer, who reported first to the Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus.
Pragmatism in full effect can finally be seen in the unholy triangle of Trump staffers, Bannon, Priebus, and Scaramucci. Today on Twitter, Scaramucci implied that Priebus has been the person in Trump’s White House who has been encouraging leaks, and had been doing little stop it. Considering that Scaramucci was hired against Priebus’ wishes, reports only to Trump, and has been actively making decisions and statements that hurt Priebus’ reputation, it definitely seems as if there’s more than just bad blood between the two. Priebus is no saint either, as the former head of the RNC backed every other candidate before Trump got the nomination, and then proceeded to do everything in his power to make Trump like him and give him a position inside the White House. Where Steve Bannon ties into this (other than being the epitome of alt-right, nationalistic policy) is that Scaramucci called out Bannon today in an expletive filled interview. I’m not going to repeat what Scaramucci said, but I will link the article right here, because it’s worth the read:
After insulting Bannon, Breitbart, the Bannon-led alt-right publication, published an article that said, “Step Aside President Trump, Scaramucci Has the Media Spotlight Now”. This was obviously put in place by Bannon to bait the President, playing on Trump’s thin-skin to begin to sour on his new golden boy. The danger for Scaramucci being that although he has Reince on the ropes, he chose to pick on Bannon too, who up until now has seemed to allow Priebus to do what he wanted. Scaramucci would be remiss to think that the Harvard and Oxford educated Bannon didn’t have the tactical skills to destroy any power that Scaramucci has amassed, as Bannon still has a close spot to the President’s ear.
Can We Sustain?
If this sounds like an episode of Game of Thrones, then you’re getting the right picture. President Obama himself was an ideologue, and that’s how we got so much forced social progression these past eight years with practically no economic salvation, leaving most of the millennial generation concerned more about cop killings than our record high unemployment stats. Meanwhile, the pragmatists in Obama’s White House, like Clinton and Kerry, waged non-stop war in the Middle East, making decisions like creating ISIS to help us topple anti-US governments in the short term, but eventually horribly affecting the world in the long term. The trick with politics is to find the happy balance, where your representative has beliefs that match your own, while still making sense outside of utopian models and instead works in the real world. I think a good analogy here is that we should base our beliefs off of astronomy, not astrology. Hopefully Trump’s White House stops tearing itself apart, and goes back to focusing on getting things done. The House just passed a $1.6 billion budget that will fund Trump’s infamous wall. Trump passed a law that will force Americans to work for their welfare, removing the worry that locals and foreigners alike will take advantage of social services. At the end of the day, I voted for Trump to actually get things done, and not play house with all of his friends. The President has enough enemies, he shouldn’t let his beliefs create even more.