Conservative Thinker Who Predicted Rise of Trump-Like President a Decade Ago Dies in Accident


Claremont Institute senior fellow Angelo Codevilla, who predicted the rise of a populist candidate like former President Donald Trump, died in a car accident earlier this week in northern California. He was 78 years old.

Besides being a prolific author of many books, Codevilla was also a professor emeritus in international relations at Boston University and served on former President Ronald Reagan’s transition team within the State Department, specializing in matters related to Western Europe and the U.S. intelligence community, according to his Claremont Institute biography.

Codevilla originally hailed from Milan, Italy, and immigrated to the U.S., where he became a citizen in 1962 and went on to serve as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

New York Post columnist Matthew Schmitz noted while the ascendancy of Trump to the presidency caught most intellectuals, including conservative ones, by surprise, Codevilla was not among them.

“Far from being surprised by the Trump phenomenon, he predicted its broad outlines in a 2010 essay for The American Spectator, read on air by the late Rush Limbaugh,” Schmitz wrote.

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“In it, Codevilla observed that Americans could no longer maintain the pretense of being equal citizens. They were now aware of being divided into two classes, rulers and ruled — a court party clustered around universities, urban hubs and the government bureaucracy lording over an unorganized country party attached to habits and regions that history seemed to have passed by.”

National Review actually put Codevilla’s prediction of the rise of a Trump-like figure a year earlier in a July 2009 piece.

In it, he distinguished between the “Court Party” made up of the well-connected to mainstream politicians, “who argue over how many trillions should be spent on reforming American society, who see themselves as potters of the great American clay — and the ‘Country party’ — the many more who are tired of being treated as clay.”

Codevilla said the key to a populist candidate like Trump prevailing would be to unite the anti-establishment sentiment brewing in much of the country.

“Any leader of the Country party would have to challenge the Court party’s assertion of wisdom and morality, attack it for its privileges and corruption, and repeat the most damning of questions: Who the hell do you think you are to presume to rule us like this?”

Trump, and the Make America Great Again movement, of course was able to do just that.

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In an opinion piece for American Greatness in January of this year, Codevilla argued the ruling “oligarchy” tried to make it personal during the 2016 election, knowing the issues Trump was running on were popular.

“But Trump’s actual peculiarities made it possible for the oligarchy to give the impression that its campaign was about his person, his public flouting of conventional norms, rather than about the preservation of their own power and wealth,” Codevilla wrote.

“The principal consequence of the ruling class’ opposition to candidate Trump was to convince itself, and then its followers, that defeating him was so important that it legitimized, indeed dictated, setting aside all laws, and truth itself,” he added.

“Thus did the FBI and CIA, in league with the major media and the Democratic Party, spy on candidate Trump, concocting and spreading all manner of synthetic dirt about him,” Codevilla recounted.

Nonetheless, the New York businessman won.

Codevilla contended that Trump after becoming president should have fired FBI Director James Comey and the others in the intelligence community, which ran a surveillance operation against his campaign, and kept his first national security advisor Michael Flynn on the job.

The oligarchy was able to consolidate power and spent the next four years trying to undermine Trump at every turn.

In a Tuesday tribute to Codevilla, Claremont Institute president Ryan Williams wrote, “We have lost a great and good man at a time when we are still very much in need of his wisdom and guidance.

“We will now have to settle for his voluminous writing over many decades. May we keep his memory alive so that future generations of students and statesmen seek him out, in dark and trying times, to the benefit of their country.”

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