Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trumpism is all About Working Class Whites

This group has been absolutely hammered in recent years and this more than anything if what Trump is about.

An interesting point that's been made lately is that the GOP has been losing upper middle class whites to the Democrats-and that a Trump candidacy would more or less codify this move.

The GOP has become the party of struggling, downscale whites. And these same supporters are very angry at the party. David Frum as a must read piece in explaining the rise of Trump.

There is a lot of handwringing by movement conservatives like Glenn Beck about the rise of Trump. George Will, Byron York-all these conservative pundits can do is state the obvious-Trump is no conservative.

"Can Donald Trump Lead A Conservative Movement He Barely Understands?"

"If you are a more traditional conservative, someone who has been active in issues like abortion or tax policy and market regulation, yeah, I could see some of those people being quite anxious about Trump because he is a total wild card," said Matt Dallek, an professor of political management at George Washington University who studies the conservative movement. "They don’t know him and he doesn’t know them. It is not clear that he supports their policies on many issues. Conservatives who have been successful politically did not spend years shouting from the hilltops."

"The problem for conservatives goes beyond Trump's own positions, which over the years departed from the conservative orthodoxy. Trump lacks a basic sense of the values of the conservative movement, its jargon, or the deals struck over the years to hold the different elements of the movement together as a unified force."

As conservative columnist George Will put it, "Trump is indifferent to those conservative tenets."

"For at least two generations, conservatives have been playing the long game on taxes, the judiciary, and abortion, to name a few pillars of the movement. They have carefully crafted plans to make incremental gains when the political winds were against them, and be well positioned to make dramatic gains when the winds shifted in their favor. They talk about their issues in highly refined, well-tested ways, and avoid the rhetorical pitfalls they've discovered the hard way."

Does any of that sound like Trump or his modus operandi?

"In a Meet the Press interview in August, Trump said that “as a real estate developer and as what turned out to be a world class businessman based on what I've done, you don't ask questions about, ‘Gee, are you pro-choice? Are you pro-life?"

"It's just something that is not really discussed. As a politician, they discuss it all the time," Trump said.

“I don’t think he can get up to speed," says Dov Zakheim, a Republican national security advisor who has worked for GOP heavyweights from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney. “You cannot view a few slide briefings or an oral briefing and become a national security expert. It does not happen. You need some experience.”

Trump has no interest in 'getting up to speed' with movement conservatism. Why would he?  If he did, he'd lose all his support. As David Frum argues, the Tea Party was wrongly understood as a libertarian demand for the policies of the Wall Street Journal editorial plan. In 2012 the GOP ran Paul Ryan who wants to privatize Medicare as Romney's running mate.

Again, this year it was Jeb and his $100 million in super PAC money. The Establishment has willfully not understood what Trumpism is all about. Willfully-ie, they don't want to know. It's got nothing to with supply side libertarianism.

Conservatives should feel chagrin as it is not just nothing to do with fussy  conservatives like George Will or Glenn Beck, but, it represents an existential threat to this very same fussy conservatism.

Ok, back to David Frum. He nails the Trump phenomenon. Think about all the angst we've heard about a growing morality of lower middle class whites, etc. This is a group that is both suffering economically-as much of the country is-but also losing a lot of their former white privilege.

"White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for—the Republican Party of Romney, Ryan, and McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, “That’s my guy.”

"They aren’t necessarily superconservative. They often don’t think in ideological terms at all. But they do strongly feel that life in this country used to be better for people like them—and they want that older country back."

Hence, The Donald's campaign slogan-Making America Great Again. A time these folks remember where they had both more white privilege and much higher incomes.

"Against all evidence, GOP donors interpreted the Tea Party as a movement in favor of the agenda of the Wall Street Journal editorial page."

It's a great piece and very much worth reading in its entirety.

The important thing to understand is that these voters are victims. They blame the wrong people for their plight. This has been the key to conservatism for years. It's great that they are finally also pointing some blame the GOP Establishment''s way-which in truth, deserves most of the blame. 


  1. "fussy conservatives like George Will or Glenn Beck"

    I still think of Beck as a conspiracy theory clown. Has he changed.

  2. No being a fussy conservative doesn't preclude you being a conspiracy theorist. I didn't mean 'fussy conservative' as praise. LOL

    What they share is a belief in conservative ideology. Indeed, I read a George Will piece today and he of course hates Woodrow Wilson as much as Beck does.

    1. Some lefty purists also hate Wilson... I guess for some sketchy racial views. Oh well.

      I'd think that Beck's impressive clown credentials would bind him closer to Trump (who's clown credentials are impeccable) than to Will.