It's the presidential season, and the developments thus far have pushed the chattering classes into Bertolt Brecht territory, thinking it's easier for the punditry to abolish the people.  When it comes to the Republican voters, we have Juan "How the U.S. Went Fascist: Mass Media Make Excuses for Trump Voters" Cole and Sean "America, you're stupid: Donald Trump's political triumph makes it official -- we're a nation of idiots" Illing.  Follow the links if you want the supporting arguments, such as they are.  David "The Governing Cancer of Our Time" Brooks at least makes the reader read the column to see that, he, too, would prefer to cut out the cancer abolish the people.
Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.
Which, because Mr Brooks doesn't go far enough in shaming the Republican establishment, allows Sean Illing, apparently a Salon regular now, to engage in concern-trolling.
Republicans have played to the populist Tea Party id for years – fomenting fear, demonizing immigrants, and exploiting cultural angst. What we’re seeing now is the fulfillment of this strategy, which has helped them win elections but has failed to produce meaningful legislative change – and that’s precisely the point.
That argument, and Mr Illing's elaborations, might go well on a Sunday show or in the common room, and yet, we're seven years into a non-recovery recovery, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act is two lies for the price of one, and the cultural left is in full cry in the academy and the vulgar culture.  Doesn't look like total victory or meaningful legislative change from my perspective, or, in all likelihood, from the perspective of Trump voters.

Peter Dreier, also reacting to Brooks, suggests that Republican, again, voters, are being led down the garden path.
Key to the success of these right-wing politics -- brought to us by the corporate establishment, not the Tea Party -- has been four decades of outrageous union-busting, that begin in the 1970s, was given credibility by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, and has accelerated ever since. More than any other factor -- as reports by the Economic Policy Institute and others have documented -- this has led to three decades of declining wages and living standards for the majority of Americans.

It is this growing economic insecurity, persistent poverty, and downward mobility that has triggered much of the anger among Americans that we see expressed at Trump rallies and in his GOP primary victories so far. Much of his rhetoric involves scapegoating and racism. It is not, as Brooks argues, an increase in the number of people with "authoritarian" personalities that explains Trump's appeal. It is simply everyday people rightly angry that they are losing their homes, can't send their kids to college, don't know if their jobs will be there in a few years, can't afford to take a vacation, aren't sure that their health insurance will cover their costs if an emergency comes along, and don't know if they'll be able to retire without falling into dire poverty.

Trump's genius is to exploit these fears and frustrations rather than point the finger at the real cause, which would require him to point at himself and his fellow billionaires.
Again, there's plenty of material for the Sunday shows and the common room, but the "outrageous union-busting" might be a manifestation of the rest of the world learning how to do simple industrial tasks, and perhaps Mr Trump's mercantilism, pathetic though it is, might be a way of associating those job losses with the absence of worker protections in the Third World.  Or something.  But it's clearly not fostering false consciousness.

Meanwhile, Charles Lane provides additional material for the common room and the Sunday shows, fretting about the ruling classes in both parties.
Long-standing establishments in both parties risk losing control to men — Donald Trump for the GOP, Bernie Sanders for the Democrats — whose first major acts of party membership were to launch insurgent presidential nomination bids.

The intense following each arouses recalls Linz’s concerns about “the interaction between a popular president and the crowd acclaiming him,” which “can generate fear among his opponents and a tense political climate.”

By contrast, establishment politicians are wishy-washy, thoroughly compromised if not corrupt and, perhaps worst of all, boring. We may miss them someday.
I suspect there were people who missed Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. Get a grip, people. And get a grip on the fractured popular culture. It's the moral rot, suggests Eliot Cohen.
Trump’s rise is only one among many signs that something has gone profoundly amiss in our popular culture.  It is related to the hysteria that has swept through many campuses, as students call for the suppression of various forms of free speech and the provision of “safe spaces” where they will not be challenged by ideas with which they disagree. The rise of Trump and the fall of free speech in academia are equal signs that we are losing the intellectual sturdiness and honesty without which a republic cannot thrive.
The fault, he suggests, is not with the people, but rather with the elites.
[The lack of integrity] breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria, and now it has given us Trump.

The Republican Party as we know it may die of Trump. If it does, it will have succumbed in part because many of its leaders chose not to fight for the Party of Lincoln, which is a set of ideas about how to govern a country, rather than an organization clawing for political and personal advantage. What is at stake, however, is something much more precious than even a great political party. To an extent unimaginable for a very long time, the moral keel of free government is showing cracks. It is not easy to discern how we shall mend them.
Where the elites have lost their focus, it is up to the people to discover a new one. Sometimes that discovery is messy. Sometimes it might involve pitchforks and torches.  But as James Kalb argues in Chronicles, when the elites adopt a form of anything goes, except for normal Americans, anything goes.
Political correctness itself, with its celebration of diversity and suppression of traditional distinctions, advances the cause in a fundamental way by suppressing social connections—family, inherited culture, religion—except for the bureaucratic and market arrangements through which the intended system would function.  Those older arrangements are considered irrational, unequal, and uncontrollable, and they act as if they have the right to decide things, so why allow them any legitimacy?  Why not get rid of them by multiplying incompatible versions of each and insisting they all have equal status?

What remains after all other institutions of social functioning are suppressed is the power of money, propaganda, and the administrative state.  So it’s not surprising that p.c. has the support of those in charge of those spheres of power: lawyers and officials, who run the new regime most directly; academics, educators, journalists, and other producers and disseminators of certified expertise and opinion, who determine the facts and principles guiding decisions; and large business and financial interests, who organize production and distribution, and correctly view the new order, which tends toward comprehensive organization and excludes popular views from serious consideration, as a natural home for crony capitalism.

Political correctness further serves today’s dominant powers by making it impossible to resist or even discuss what’s going on.  The project of social transformation of which it is a part means that a vote with regard to serious matters can take effect only if it favors outcomes that are already decided in other ways.  (Hence recent Supreme Court decisions on “gay marriage,” and the conduct of the European Union when it loses a referendum or runs into other forms of popular opposition.)  It tells people that in order to say anything that touches on their rulers’ social projects they must buy into them and possess the training and up-to-date knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of what can and can’t be said.  Otherwise, they can be shut up, made the object of public hatred and scorn, and driven from their jobs and social positions.

In principle p.c. should be vulnerable.  Its claim that we’re all equal because human differences are socially constructed is crazy, but its proponents largely believe in it, so they lose touch with reality and start doing odd things.
Put another way, the new dispensation gives the Arbiters of Public Morals powers that the Arbiters have not used wisely, and Angelo (Ruling Class) Codevilla suggests that in the Trump movement in the States, and possibly in the breakup of the Eurozone, it's the victims of the System pushing back.
America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

This class’s fatal feature is its belief that ordinary Americans are a lesser intellectual and social breed. Its increasing self-absorption, its growing contempt for whoever won’t bow to it, its dependence for votes on sectors of society whose grievances it stokes, have led it to break the most basic rule of republican life: deeming its opposition illegitimate. The ruling class insists on driving down the throats of its opponents the agendas of each its constituencies and on injuring persons who stand in the way. This has spawned a Newtonian reaction, a hunger, among what may be called the “country class” for returning the favor with interest.
It's not fascism, although a degraded and splintery popular culture is a fertile medium for fascism.

It's not stupidity, not when people can see that the Wizards of Smart have failed to deliver.

It's not false consciousness, when people might have more than one explanation of what's wrong to consider.
Ordinary Americans have endured being insulted by the ruling class’s favorite epitaphs—racist, sexist, etc., and, above all, stupid; they have had careers and reputations compromised by speaking the wrong word in front of the wrong person; endured dictates from the highest courts in the land that no means yes (King), that public means private (Kelo), that everyone is entitled to make up one’s meaning of life (Casey), but that whoever thinks marriage is exclusively between men and women is a bigot (Obergefell).

No wonder, then, that millions of Americans lose respect for a ruling class that disrespects them, that they identify with whomever promises some kind of turnabout against that class, and that they care less and less for the integrity of institutions that fail to protect them.

Trump’s voters expect precisely such turnabout. Within good measure, not only would this right any number of wrongs and restore some balance in our public life, it is also indispensable for impressing upon the ruling class and its constituents that they too have a stake in observing the limits and niceties that are explicit and implicit in our Constitution.
As Janice Shaw Crouse explains, combine the gentry liberals' nebulous faith, politically correct education, and cultural disintegration. and eventually, gentry, you'll get the pushback from your victims that you deserve.

Deny coherent beliefs of any kind, enjoy the incoherence.

1 comment:

David Foster said...

Re James Kalb's comments: I have been thinking for a while that basically the "progressives" are attempting to reverse the positions of Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft. (using the terms rather loosely)...to wit:

--families and small local institutions are to be regulated by highly-detailed sets of regulations imposed in a top-down fashion

--the national government, which inherently must be a pretty impersonal institution, is to be viewed as something friendly and family-like