A significant emanation of hysteria has arisen from the left surrounding this election. Usually, this tripe can and should be ignored as being the emotional catharsis of ‘sore losers’; however, there are occasions when, amongst the compost for which the New York Times paper is fit, the analysis presented is so misguided and off-kilter that one must assume the writer to be either mentally unhinged or impossibly naïve to such extent that it arouses pity in the reader and, in a spirit of compassion, or at least condolence, a desire to set a fellow right.
It is in that spirit in which I have come to review and amend the following scribblings of what was purported to be ‘opinion’ – but should rather judiciously be labeled a ‘hack piece’ – which was graciously lavished upon us malcontents in flyover country by Mark Schmitt of New America, a veritable alabaster citadel of the Atlantic Coast effete elite.
We start with a promising title: “What Trump Exposed About the G.O.P.“, which for those of us who are interested in this particular parlour game of political punditry promises to possibly deliver some insight as to what in the hell the ‘#NeverTrumpers’ were thinking.
The introductory section, or ‘place-setting’, shall we say, of the piece is rather unremarkable:
The election of Donald J. Trump will bring as sharp a turn to the right as this country has seen since at least the election of Ronald Reagan — thanks mainly to the rare conservative control of Congress, the presidency and, before long, the Supreme Court. But in a strange and unforeseeable way his campaign and election mark the end of the era in which American politics is defined by ideological conflict. Ever since the election of Reagan 36 years ago, American politics has been marked by profound ideological division, increasing polarization and often paralysis. The ideologically coherent and often unyielding conservative movement represented the dominant theme, while liberals (many of whom wouldn’t even use that word) struggled to find a pitch as clear and appealing as the right’s message of lower taxes, smaller government and strong defense.
although, from a critical point of view, this last sentence begs the question of what word exactly ‘liberals’ would use to describe themselves. I suppose that ‘progressive’ is the word that most immediately comes to mind, although it should be pointed out that since the modern left is neither liberal nor progressive, we might as well describe them as ‘turquoise’, ‘mimsy’, or perhaps even ‘sesquipedalian’.
Now we come upon the opinion part of this exercise, henceforth to be known as ‘the hypothesis’:
The election of 2016 is the culmination of this ideological era, but ironically reveals its hollowness. The politics of 2016 breaks entirely along lines of identity: first race or ethnicity, followed by gender, level of education, urbanization and age. The first mystery of the year was how Donald Trump won his party’s nomination, but more important, why 16 others, including popular governors and senators, lost. The answer is simply that all the others thought the key to the Republican base was ideology. Some, such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, styled themselves as the purest and most adamant of conservatives, others as just practical enough to deliver on conservative goals and one (Gov. John Kasich) as sort of a moderate. None of them clicked with the Republican base, simply because ideology wasn’t what motivated the base. It was always about identity, about them and us. Only Mr. Trump had that key.
Here we can pause and recognize that the man has actually discovered one nugget of the truth, but then as quickly he has found something, he has lost it again, suggesting right from the outset that we are dealing with a blind squirrel rather than an oracle. For as indeed the political breaks were along lines of identity, the writer immediately jumps to using an outdated leftist hierarchy of identity groups, missing the one and only identity that mattered this election year. Though it is not surprising that most of the media have been using outdated models for their prognostication, given that the Communist Manifesto hit its heyday almost exactly one hundred years ago and Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is past due for mold remediation, it is nonetheless fascinating to see the depths of the cluelessness revealed here. Considering those of us here in Mudville today were not alive to witness for ourselves the mighty Casey, we can be thankful to the writer to have given us an example of such a devastating swing-and-a-miss.
So, you ask, just what is it that the writer was missing here? It is, in fact, the one identity group that the media elites cannot see from their own vantage point. To Flatlanders bubbles may appear as mere circles; for those away from the coasts they are usually thought of as transparent or at least translucent, iridescent spheres; but for the elites living in the bubbles we must remind ourselves of the attenuation coefficients and refractive indices which clearly befog their vision.
For the identity which is so elusive to our writer is right before us: the identity as ‘real people’. Call us ‘everyday men’ or ‘authentic Americans’ or ‘folk’, we are the people who understand where meat comes from and where trash goes – not from some empathetic position in intellectual space but from actual experience. We live where the rules meet the road and the time for academic preparation is over. We are doers and makers of all stripes. It is not about race, class, or ideology at all, but it is about substance.
At the end of the day, all of the globalists, communalists, speculators, and other spin-meisters must ask themselves what have I done today of substance, what have I done that matters? Because the stark reality of it all is that most of the effort has been spent towards building the bubble itself, reinforced with as much self-congratulation and insulation that borrowed Chinese money can buy.
But let us get on with the rest of this navel-gazing piece in which the Gray Lady has us mired:
Consider immigration, the concept that drove both the Tea Party and the Trump campaign. For most of the long campaign, the media thought that it was about immigration policy: comprehensive immigration reform versus border security and deportations. The Republican “autopsy” from 2012 concluded that Republicans should support immigration reform. But it turns out it was always just about immigrants, as in, people who aren’t like us, not policy. That’s why Trump supporters were unmoved by reports that Melania Trump had worked in the United States without authorization, and it’s why Mr. Trump, in a late rally in Minnesota, declared that the state had “suffered enough” from the presence of Somali immigrants, a well-settled middle-class group in the state for more than two decades. It’s why Mr. Trump found his strongest support not in areas most affected by immigration but in aging states with the lowest number of foreign-born residents, such as Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin, where immigration is mostly a distant symbol of otherness.
A repeated mistake throughout this campaign has been the assumption that all motivation is driven by racism and xenophobia, but we can forgive this misunderstanding if we recognize that this is the prism through which the left has always viewed the world. It is also problematic to disparage the people of states in which one would likely not deign to set foot. I would suggest a viewing of ‘Gran Torino’ for those who are lost. As for Mr. Schmitt I suspect that it is a hard day’s work that is a ‘distant symbol of otherness’.
Ideology had formed a kind of a comforting curtain around the more intractable divides of race and identity. Ideological conflict, as deep and irresolvable as it often seems, at least in theory, lends itself to persuasion and compromise, such as President Obama’s long quest for a “grand bargain” on spending and taxes. Ideology can help structure people’s engagement with politics, giving them clear preferences organized around a few core values.
But ideology can also be hard work — most people don’t have the time or inclination to decide if they are “liberal” or “conservative,” and what that means, or to fight about it.
The problem with most political pundits is that they do not have a clear understanding of why things are the way they are and what historical implications they contain. It is indeed quite unfortunate that our modern discourse has found itself entrapped in “liberal” and “conservative” camps, but these camps themselves were built by the bubble inhabitants. ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ are nowhere to be found in the founding documents or ideology of this country and the constraints of the modern two-party system have been built by a self-serving civil bureaucracy. I agree that most people don’t have the time or inclination to try to dovetail their views and shackle themselves into one of these two preselected confinements, but this says more about the problematic system than the people themselves. People do have a sense of right and wrong, and given a system that more fairly allowed representation of differing views we may have a more civil discourse.
What we need is a repeal of large segments of the code that drives our current bureaucracy. Were we able to do that, through the sawdust and mildewy encrusted remains we may be able to scavenge the hope and ideal that is America. For anyone who needs a reminder of what that America represents I suggest that you start your reading with Jefferson.
Most of the remainder of the article may be dispensed as more of the same hackneyed dribble, but the end of the essay does merit some further discussion:
Rather than a pragmatic fixer-upper, Mr. Trump now seems likely to be the vehicle through which the ideological right achieves its decades-old dream of undoing the Great Society and the Warren and Burger courts. But the victory that made that possible was based explicitly on identity, not ideology.
Here we have the fears of the writer unveiled, that a Trump presidency will lead to a repeal of civil-rights law, abortion on demand, and cradle-to-grave entitlements. I do not share those fears, because I believe that good will prevail. No honest person wants a return of racist laws, and compromises can be found on the other issues. Hopefully the scaremongering and other ‘progressive’ canards will fall by the wayside as this train moves along.
This brings us to a quick discussion of ‘rights’. I believe that we need new language to talk about the compact that citizens would like to have with government. Our founding fathers were quite astute when describing the rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. I hear about all sorts of other perceived ‘rights’ such as the ‘right’ to an education, the ‘right’ to health care, and the ‘right’ to a job. These can never be ‘rights’ given to all, because they each require the work of another individual to be obtained. If you have a ‘right’ to health care you have then enslaved someone else to act as your doctor.
It would be more precise to say that because we live in a land of plenty we have an ‘expectation’ of a job, an ‘expectation’ of health care, and an ‘expectation’ of ongoing education for all of our people. But with expectations come responsibilities, and if you are going to take from the system you must put in real, actual work yourself. Working in and for the system is a privilege that should be appreciated, contained, and restricted, a thing some people i.e. the Clintons seem to have forgotten, if they ever believed it to begin with.