PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’s unCOMMON COMMON SENSE
President Trump said at his rally in Montana, “I’m not really an ideologue. I think I’m a person of common sense.”
What was Trump appealing to and why is it inherently both American and conservative to do so?
Here’s the answer.
Early on the freezing cold morning of January 10, 1776, in Philadelphia, a forty-seven-page booklet was published that would go on to change American and indeed world history.
It was the watershed moment in the American Revolution.
The publication was called Common Sense, and its author was Thomas Paine. The arguments contained in the petite volume galvanized opposition to the Crown and catalyzed the political movement to independence.
Paine had been born in Britain and had only immigrated to America in 1774 at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin. Writing for the Pennsylvania Magazine under the pseudonyms of Atlanticus, Aesop, and Vox Populi, he lashed out at the folly and wrongs of British rule. His common-sense opus, written in language every common person could understand, had instant and dramatic effect.
Striking a chord with colonist conscience, it was rapidly translated into many languages, reprinted thousands of times over, and circulated widely. It did nothing less than convince Americans who were undecided on the issue of independence that they should unite and separate.
Paine considered the content of his pamphlet to be a plain truth (which was, at first, his working title), clear to all right-thinking, rational persons. He had borrowed the phrase from its earlier use in England (as early as the fourteenth century), where it was considered a sense very much like our other senses. They were called the “five wits,” and the “common” sense united them into a useful whole.
Like that powerful expression of the American consciousness, today we need another jolt of common sense—and Donald Trump is providing it.
We need it to restore faith in the market and wealth creation and also to give common people, regular men and woman in America and around the world, a prudent voice for creating a better future, putting America first. The President knows this and based his campaign and presidency on it.
This week at his rally in Montana he reiterated, “We have lost our common sense and I am seeking to restore it.”
Unfortunately, it is often said that common sense is not as common as it ought to be. Possibly one of the best spokesmen for common sense was Ronald Reagan. In his farewell address, the fortieth president defined his time in office as “a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.” Actually from the very start of his career, Reagan dedicated his tenure to his belief in the idea that society “could be operated efficiently by using the same common sense practiced in our everyday life, in our homes, in business and private affairs.”
Today, some decades later, responsible, purposeful leaders are taking up this mantle and laying claim to the phrase “common-sense business.” What exactly does this mean, and how does it work? What truths do we hold as self-evident in a common-sense framework, and what are the benefits—to leaders, employees, shareholders, and communities, and most critically to companies and for America?
In the field of economics, common-sense behavior has been seen as saving more money when one is faced with an uncertain future; it’s part of “risk aversion.” The so-called precautionary saving motive is one of many faulty principles of this dismal science. In economics’ cousin, accounting, prudence is a fundamental concept. It determines the time at which revenue can be recognized, which is not an unimportant or inconsequential event. Lawyers also still abide by the “prudent man rule,” a nearly two-hundred-year-old judgment method appealing to common sense. Some governments have even established prudential conduct authorities, intended to guide fiscal choices in a better direction after the financial crisis.
Arguably the most dominant organization on the planet, the Church has insisted on maintaining the virtue of prudence in all ventures, making it part of its standard for belief and practice, the Catechism: “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”1 It goes on to conclude with some sound advice: “The prudent man looks where he is going.”2
If prudent behavior is right reason in action—or as we define it, the natural intelligence that is available to all rational people—then why has it been mostly abandoned, forfeited in more recent times and nearly totally forgotten by our post-modern culture and governments?
That is, except for Reagan, and now President Trump.
Contrast the experienced based performance of the economy under Trump with the socialist rationale and abstract lack of achievement by his predecessor.
Which do you prefer?
Give me Trump and Common Sense.