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Friday, April 3, 2020

The MAGA Doctrine

By C.J. Ciaramella - April 03, 2020 at 06:00AM

Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative college group Turning Point USA, has written The MAGA Doctrine, a work of exquisite flattery and brown-nosing masquerading as a field guide to Trumpism.

"There is a set of principles, however roughly hewn, behind the president's vision of national renewal," Kirk assures readers, "one that is both familiar and eternally in need of clear, firm restatement."

The goal of every MAGA-grapher is to impose detail and order on this chainsaw sculpture of an ideology. Unfortunately, The MAGA Doctrine is not a work of rigorous analysis. The cover features a photo of Trump hugging an American flag, and lest anyone doubt his fealty, Kirk both dedicates the book to Trump and thanks him in the acknowledgments. Kirk manages to contain himself for just 20 pages before writing: "If the establishment senses in our times something akin to Ancient Rome, I suggest they look to a figure very different from Nero for Trump comparisons. They should look a century earlier, to the influential orator Cicero."

Kirk's points, such as they are, tend to be either so obvious that they're unremarkable or so wrong that they're bizarre. He insists, for example, that Trump is a staunch small-government and free market conservative, tariffs and deficit spending be damned. (A cynic might wonder whether Kirk is redefining Trumpism to undercut nationalist conservatives, some of whom have heckled him at speaking gigs.)

The MAGA Doctrine has the substance and style of a hastily written book report. But seen as a shameless attempt to ingratiate the author to the president and his cult of personality, it may just be a perfect encapsulation of the current conservative movement.


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