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President Trump’s unrelenting popularity, even after three false accusations by the corrupt Biden regime, is causing a high-profile writer for The New York Times to rethink things. David Brooks now wonders if progressives are really the “good guys” after all.
Wait, you mean the political movement that trains kids, censors Americans, and arrests political opponents “KGB-style,” maybe they’re not the heroes after all?
Insert big eye roll here…
Donald Trump seems to be impeached on a weekly basis. However, he is completely dominating his Republican rivals in the polls and is tied with Joe Biden in the general election polls. Trump’s poll numbers are stronger against Biden now than at any point in 2020.
What’s going on here? Why is this guy still politically viable, after all he’s done?
We anti-Trumpers often tell a story to explain it. It was encapsulated in a quote that University of North Carolina political scientist Marc Hetherington recently made to my colleague Thomas B. Edsall: “Republicans see a world changing around them at an uncomfortable rate, and they want it to ‘slow down, maybe even take a step back. . But if you’re a person of color, a woman who values gender equality, or an LGBT person, would you like to go back to 1963? I doubt it.”
In this story, anti-Trumpers are the good guys, the forces of progress and enlightenment. Trumpers are reactionary, authoritarian fanatics. Many Republicans support Trump no matter what, according to this story, because at the end of the day he’s still the bigot in chief, the embodiment of their resentments, and that’s what matters most to them.
I partially agree with this story; but it is also a monument to elite self-satisfaction.
So let me try another story with you. I urge you to try a point of view in which we anti-Trumpers are not the eternal good guys. In fact, we are the bad guys.
David goes on to point out how once brash working-class liberals have become elite Ivy League snobs:
Meritocracy is not just a system of exclusion; it’s an ethos. During his presidency, Barack Obama used the word “smart” in the context of his policies more than 900 times. The implication was that anyone who disagreed with his policies (and maybe didn’t go to Harvard Law) must be stupid.
Over the past few decades we have taken over entire professions and shut everyone down. When I started my career as a reporter in Chicago in the 1980s, there were still a few working-class old-timers around the newsroom. We are now not only a college-dominated profession, we are an elite college-dominated profession. Only 0.8 percent of all college students graduate from the 12 elite schools (the Ivy League universities, plus Stanford, MIT, Duke and the University of Chicago). A 2018 study found that more than 50 percent of writers at the esteemed New York Times and The Wall Street Journal attended one of the nation’s 29 most elite universities.
David points out the progressive hive mentality of coastal elites who live in a clueless bubble of their own making:
Members of our class also branch out into some booming metro areas: San Francisco, DC, Austin, etc. In 2020, Biden only won about 500 counties, but together they are responsible for 71 percent of the American economy. Trump won more than 2,500 counties, accounting for only 29 percent. Once we find our cliques, we don’t get out much. In the book “Social Class in the 21st Century,” sociologist Mike Savage and his co-researchers found that members of the highly educated class tend to be the most insular, as measured by how often we have contact with those who have jobs unlike ours. own
David recognizes that once the elites amassed all their power, they used it for themselves, rather than for the greater good.
Armed with all kinds of economic, cultural and political power, we support policies that help ourselves. Free trade makes the products we buy cheaper, and our jobs are unlikely to move to China. Open immigration makes our service personnel cheaper, but new, less educated immigrants are unlikely to put downward pressure on our wages.
Like all elites, we use language and customs as tools to recognize ourselves and exclude others. Using words like problematic, cisgender, Latinx, and intersectional is a sure sign that you have cultural capital coming out of your ears. Meanwhile, members of the less educated classes have to walk on eggshells, because they never know when we’ve changed the rules of usage so that something you could say five years ago now gets you fired.
We also change moral standards in ways that suit us, regardless of the cost to others. For example, there used to be a rule that discouraged people from having children outside of marriage, but that was removed during our period of cultural dominance as we eroded rules that seemed critical or that might inhibit individual freedom.
After this social norm eroded, a curious thing happened. Members of our class still overwhelmingly married and then had children within the wedlock. People without our resources, without the support of social norms, were less able to do so.
David finally sees the light and understands why the working class supports Trump:
Does this mean that I think the people in my class are vicious and bad? No, most of us are sincere, kind and public-spirited. But we take for granted and benefit from systems that have become oppressive. Elite institutions have become so politically progressive in part because the people in them want to feel good about themselves while participating in systems that exclude and reject them.
It is easy to understand why people of the less educated classes conclude that they are under economic, political, cultural and moral assault, and why they have rallied around Trump as their best warrior against the educated class. Trump understood that it is not employers who seem most threatening to workers; is the professional class. Trump understood that there was a great demand for a leader who would stick his thumb in our eyes on a daily basis and reject the entire epistemic regime in which we rode.
If mistrustful populism is your core worldview, Trump’s accusations seem like one more skirmish in the class war between professionals and labor, another assault by a bunch of coastal lawyers who want to defeat the ‘man who confronts them more aggressively. Of course, the allegations aren’t making Trump’s supporters abandon him. They make them become more fiercely loyal. This is the story of the polls of the last six months.
Of course, David should not label these false accusations as a political witch hunt. As a dutiful progressive soldier, he still has faith in the legal system when it fits his political beliefs. Unfortunately, in the end, it looks like David hasn’t learned anything from this situation, has he?