Aux États-Unis, les plus opulents citoyens ont bien soin de ne point s’isoler du peuple ; au contraire, ils s’en rapprochent sans cesse, ils l’écoutent volontiers et lui parlent tous les jours. Ils savent que les riches des démocraties ont toujours besoin des pauvres et que, dans les temps démocratiques, on s’attache le pauvre par les manières plus que par les bienfaits. La grandeur même des bienfaits, qui met en lumière la différence des conditions, cause une irritation secrète à ceux qui en profitent; mais la simplicité des manières a des charmes presque irrésistibles : leur familiarité entraîne et leur grossièreté même ne déplaît pas toujours. Ce n’est pas du premier coup que cette vérité pénètre dans l’esprit des riches. Ils y résistent d’ordinaire tant que dure la révolution démocratique, et ils ne l’abandonnent même point aussitôt après que cette révolution est accomplie. Ils consentent volontiers à faire du bien au peuple ; mais ils veulent continuer à le tenir à distance. Ils croient que cela suffit ; ils se trompent. Ils se ruineraient ainsi sans réchauffer le coeur de la population qui les environne. Ce n’est pas le sacrifice de leur argent qu’elle leur demande; c’est celui de leur orgueil. Tocqueville
Last night I stood at your doorstep, trying to figure out what went wrong. It’s gonna be a long walk home. Bruce Springsteen
Les gens attendaient Trump et son discours franc, qui dit les choses comme elles sont et qui promet de défendre les intérêts du peuple. Il ne tourne pas autour du pot et c’est ça qu’on aime. (…) et même si Trump ne le sait pas, je suis persuadé qu’il a été envoyé par Dieu pour réparer ce pays et lui rendre sa grandeur ! Le système est corrompu, nous devons revenir aux fondamentaux : les valeurs américaines, le travail, le respect. Obama est allé s’excuser autour du monde, et résultat, personne ne nous respecte. Cela va changer. Kelly Lee
Les choses vont changer avec Trump car ce n’est pas un politicien, il ne doit rien à cette élite qui vit entre elle depuis si longtemps. Mike Costello
Les médias sont en embuscade, mais nous ne sommes pas inquiets parce que le peuple a vraiment vu le vrai visage partisan de ces médias. Trump ne se laissera pas faire. Au début j’ai été choquée de voir son usage de Twitter car je suis conservatrice. Mais maintenant, je comprends. Il déjouera leurs plans et dira aux gens ce qu’il pense vraiment s’ils déforment ses propos. Nous avons besoin de lois. Aujourd’hui, les gardes-frontières n’ont pas le droit d’arrêter les illégaux et laissent des villes sanctuaires les protéger sans la moindre sanction. Est-ce normal ? La presse dit que c’est raciste de penser ce que je vous dis, mais c’est ridicule ! Nous serions donc devenus une nation de racistes par- ce que nous ne sommes pas d’accord avec ce laxisme ? Annette
Ce qui nous plaît chez Trump, c’est qu’il ne doit rien à personne. Il est milliardaire mais il accepte de faire ce job pour sauver le pays. Il n’en avait pas besoin. C’est son atout. Car il va pouvoir se concentrer sur l’essentiel, au lieu de penser à être réélu. Obama s’est trop excusé, nous devons montrer notre force. Nous espérons que Trump sera le Reagan de notre génération. James Mack (ouvrier machiniste de Pennsylvanie)
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
Pendant que les élites d’Amérique et d’ailleurs célébraient le premier président noir des Etats-Unis et conviaient le monde à s’inspirer de leur multiculturalisme, l’autre moitié des Américains remâchait sa rancœur. Ceux que l’on appelait avec dérision les « petits Blancs » étaient perçus, depuis les hauteurs du pouvoir, des médias, des universités et des tours de Wall Street, telle une espèce en voie de disparition. Jusqu’à ce que Donald Trump, avec une remarquable intuition politique, un culot sans retenue et le relais puissant des médias sociaux, comprenne que ces « petits Blancs » restaient assez nombreux pour devenir une majorité. Il leur a dit ce qu’ils voulaient entendre, que l’Amérique authentique, c’était eux. « Quand l’Amérique était grande », pour reprendre le slogan de Trump, l’homme blanc, maître chez lui, dictateur de sa femme et de ses enfants, généralement protestant, travaillant de ses mains à la ferme ou à l’usine, méprisant envers les gens de couleur, soldat en cas de nécessité, celui-là seul était un Américain. Depuis les années 1960, cet homme blanc a vu son univers se déliter : la libération des femmes, la domination des musiques, des artistes, des sportifs afro-américains et latinos, la discrimination positive, l’exaltation de la diversité culturelle, le mariage homosexuel, le langage politiquement correct, tout cela a été perçu par le mâle blanc comme la substitution d’une identité nouvelle, mondialiste, cosmopolite et métisse à l’identité authentique. (…) les Américains se sont répartis en deux groupes, deux identités, deux définitions de ce qu’Américain veut dire : une moitié est de « race américaine » (les électeurs de Trump), tandis que l’autre moitié se définit par les institutions : ils se considèrent américains parce qu’ils respectent la Constitution des Etats-Unis. A ceux-là, peu importent la couleur de la peau, les mœurs et les croyances. Ce conflit entre les deux identités, qui l’une et l’autre font l’Amérique, chacun considérant que la sienne seule est authentique, se retrouve aussi en Europe, en France surtout ; mais aux Etats-Unis tout est dit, plus net, plus brutal. Cette analyse de la vague Trump minore sans l’ignorer les effets économiques de la mondialisation sur les « petits Blancs » : il est vrai que les régions de vieilles industries, celles qui ont soutenu Trump avec le plus de vigueur, sont devenues l’ombre de leur passé sous le choc des importations, et plus encore – ce que l’on dit peu – bousculées par les innovations techniques qui ont transformé les modes de production en se passant des ouvriers d’autrefois. Contre toute raison, Trump promet de restaurer cette Amérique industrieuse : il n’y parviendra pas. (…) Car l’immigration, légale ou non, se poursuivra – en raison de la prospérité américaine –, le métissage intérieur continuera et la nouvelle race américaine, arc-en-ciel, se substituera nécessairement à la résistance identitaire des mâles blancs. Cette transition pourra être douloureuse, voire violente, si Trump l’exacerbe au lieu de l’accompagner ; mais le pire n’est pas toujours certain. Guy Sorman
Trump’s message resonates with working class stiffs who believe that, despite his wealth, he understands them and their concerns. When he speaks, they understand him. There’s no complex grammar to parse. And there’s none of the phony folksiness you get from the Dems, none of the sho-nuffs and y’alls from a Hillary. To many ordinary Americans, Trump represents the promise of America as a land where everyone should have an opportunity to make it to the top if he works hard enough. These are the folks who gave the last election to Barack Obama because he made this promise, and now they’re disillusioned. (…) Many Ruling Class Republicans seem to suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. To these folks, the Trump-Kelly dust-up was the last straw. Writing in the Post, Jennifer Rubin bellyaches that Trump “whines,” “bellyaches,” and “complains.” Even (gasp!) “during the debate.” Trump had the unmitigated chutzpah to call out a member of the sacred media priesthood when she was behaving unprofessionally towards him. Genteel Republicans don’t do that. As is his wont, Trump readily admits the obvious. “I’m the most fabulous whiner…. and I keep whining and whining until I win.” And win he did. Most candidates beg the media to cover them. The reverse is true with Trump. After the dust-up with Kelly, it was Trump who black-listed Fox when he was doing the Sunday news shows, and Fox begged him to come back and make up. Wanna bet that in the future a debate moderator will think twice before treating Trump unfairly? (…) George Will is not the only Ruling Class Republican to express contempt for Donald Trump. And some express even more contempt for those who like him. Writing for National Review Online, Charles C. Cooke calls Trump a “virus.” (What is it with these misophobics?) and those who like him are ill, infected. You can recognize them because “by their dull, unreflective, often ovine behavior, they resemble binary and nuanceless drones.” Nuanceless? Choosing Trump for the presidential nomination, explains Cooke, is “comparable…to a person’s choosing a disabled man to run in a marathon.” Who would do something like that? Oh, wait. The disabled do compete in marathons, and have done so with pride since 1972. I’m sure that Cooke didn’t intend to diss the disabled. The problem for Ruling Class Conservatives like Will and Cooke, is that the Left has emasculated them. They tremble lest they let slip a faux pas that the Left can jump upon. They must at all times show that their Conservatism is “intellectually respectable and politically palatable,” and worry that Trump will make them look bad to the Liberals and their media. They are unable to grasp the fact that, notwithstanding all their efforts, the Left will never regard them as respectable and palatable. To achieve that goal, they must first become Liberals themselves.Trump makes it clear that he doesn’t give a damn what Liberals think of us. And everyday people of all political persuasions applaud when he stands up to the self-important elitist media, just as they did with Newt Gingrich in 2012. It’s time for the Right to man-up. Emulate Donald Trump and the Canadians. Esther Goldberg
The people who will suffer the most as a result of these riots are law-abiding African American residents who live in these communities. Donald Trump (Aug. 2016)
Quand il fait de telles affirmations, la presse le prend au pied de la lettre, mais pas au sérieux alors que ses partisans le prennent au sérieux, mais pas au pied de la lettre. Salena Zito
On stage, Trump began by addressing the unrest in Charlotte. He praised police, condemned “violent protestors,” and called for unity. “The people who will suffer the most as a result of these riots are law-abiding African American residents who live in these communities,” he said. Turning to the subject at hand, Trump proceeded to tell shale-industry executives from around the country about his “America First energy plan” that, he vowed, would sideline the Obama administration’s climate-change blueprint, ease regulations, and support the construction of energy-based infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines. (…) Clinton also was invited to speak at the conference but declined, organizers said. In March, during a town-hall discussion of the transition to “clean energy,” the Democratic nominee declared: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Later, she declared it a “misstatement.” Two weeks ago, she again ignited controversy, describing half of Trump’s supporters as coming from a “basket of deplorables … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.” Like Barack Obama’s description of his opponent’s supporters—“they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion”—eight years ago in San Francisco, Hillary’s remarks appalled many voters in this region, many of whom work in the energy sector or are affected by it. One of the things Trump says he wants to accomplish as president is to bring the country together—no small task. He says the first black president has struggled with the issue, one at which he should have excelled. (…) He hammered at the importance of better opportunities in black communities as a remedy to quell today’s unrest: “We have to have education and jobs in the inner cities or they are going to explode like we have never seen before. You already see signs of that already all over the country.” The best way, he says, is to provide good education and good jobs in these areas. “Fifty-eight percent of black youth cannot get a job, cannot work,” he says. “Fifty-eight percent. If you are not going to bring jobs back, it is just going to continue to get worse and worse.” It’s a claim that drives fact-checkers to distraction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the unemployment rate for blacks between the ages of 16 and 24 at 20.6 percent. Trump prefers to use its employment-population ratio, a figure that shows only 41.5 percent of blacks in that age bracket are working. But that means he includes full time high-school and college students among the jobless. It’s a familiar split. When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally. When I presented that thought to him, he paused again, “Now that’s interesting.” I asked him whether the birther controversy—his insistence for years that the first black president in the United States release his long-form birth certificate in order to prove that he is an American—would prevent him from winning over black voters. He dismissed that suggestion, pointing to recent campaign events addressing black communities in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Cleveland: “They are looking for something that is going to make it better. It’s so unsafe … I always say, ‘I’ll fix it—what do you have to lose?’ I am going to fix it.” Chicago, he said, has had more than 3,000 people shot this year. “Can you believe that?” he asked. “That’s worse than Afghanistan … our cities are in worse shape.” Democrats who have run many of America’s major cities for the past 100 years haven’t fixed things, he argued, “so that is what I say, what have you got to lose? I can fix it. The Democrats certainly haven’t.” (…) Trump faces a difficult fight over the next 45 days; he says he plans on winning that fight in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where a rich trove of energy voters live and work, many of them are from union families whose blood-lines trace to the long-gone boom days of coal and steel. Opinion-poll averages show him narrowly ahead in Ohio, and down by six in Pennsylvania. “Trump does have a chance in this area since the electorate is populated with base Republicans, fed-up independents, and working-class Democrats,” explained Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College in Northeastern Pennsylvania. “He especially has to camp out in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, where so many of these types of voter live. But he will also particularly need to convince the moderate Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs that he and his temperament are an acceptable choice.” Trump seemed eager to meet that challenge. “I like Pittsburgh, I like the people … you are going to see a lot of me here, I think, between now and Election Day,” he said as he walked toward the stage, smiling and nodding at a convention-center maintenance worker juggling a dolly stacked high with bottled water. Salena Zito
It’s not just visual: In interview after interview in all corners of the state, I’ve found that Trump’s support across the ideological spectrum remains strong. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who have not voted in presidential elections for years — they have not wavered in their support. Two components of these voters’ answers and profiles remain consistent: They are middle-class, and they do not live in a big city. They are suburban to rural and are not poor — an element I found fascinating, until a Gallup survey last week confirmed that what I’ve gathered in interviews is more than just freakishly anecdotal. The Gallup analysis, based on 87,000 interviews over the past year, shows that while economic anxiety and Trump’s appeal are intertwined, his supporters for the most part do not make less than average Americans (not those in New York City or Washington, perhaps, but their Main Street peers) and are less likely to be unemployed. The study backs up what many of my interviews across the state found — that these people are more concerned about their children and grandchildren. While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue) but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power. Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street board rooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile (many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in). Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed. The places where they live lack economic opportunities for the next generation; they know their children and grandchildren will never experience the comfortable situations they had growing up — surrounded by family who lived next door, able to find a great job without going to college, both common traits among many successful small-business owners in the state. These Trump supporters are not the kind you find on Twitter saying dumb or racist things; many of them don’t have the time or the patience to engage in social media because they are too busy working and living life in real time. These are voters who are intellectually offended watching the Affordable Care Act crumble because they warned six years ago that it was an unworkable government overreach. They are the same people who wonder why President Obama has not taken a break from a week of golfing to address the devastating floods in Louisiana. (As one woman told me, “It appears as if he only makes statements during tragedies if there is political gain attached.”) Voice such a remark, and you risk being labeled a racist in many parts of America. The Joe-Six-Pack stereotype of a Trump supporter was not created in a vacuum; it’s real and it’s out there. Yet, if you dig down deep into the Gallup survey — or, better yet, take a drive 15 minutes outside of most cities in America — you will learn a different story. That is, if you look and listen. Salena Zito
America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. (…) But t’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s. People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality. When Americans used to brag about « the American way of life »—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity. Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions. (…) Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a « family wage » that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years. (…) As I’ve argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of. But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn’t especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that’s not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best. Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference. The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That « something » has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering. The « something » that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending « nonjudgmentalism. » Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices. Charles Murray
We’re in the midst of a rebellion. The bottom and middle are pushing against the top. It’s a throwing off of old claims and it’s been going on for a while, but we’re seeing it more sharply after New Hampshire. This is not politics as usual, which by its nature is full of surprise. There’s something deep, suggestive, even epochal about what’s happening now. I have thought for some time that there’s a kind of soft French Revolution going on in America, with the angry and blocked beginning to push hard against an oblivious elite. It is not only political. Yes, it is about the Democratic National Committee, that house of hacks, and about a Republican establishment owned by the donor class. But establishment journalism, which for eight months has been simultaneously at Donald Trump’s feet (“Of course you can call us on your cell from the bathtub for your Sunday show interview!”) and at his throat (“Trump supporters, many of whom are nativists and nationalists . . .”) is being rebelled against too. Their old standing as guides and gatekeepers? Gone, and not only because of multiplying platforms. (…) All this goes hand in hand with the general decline of America’s faith in its institutions. We feel less respect for almost all of them—the church, the professions, the presidency, the Supreme Court. The only formal national institution that continues to score high in terms of public respect (72% in the most recent Gallup poll) is the military (…) we are in a precarious position in the U.S. with so many of our institutions going down. Many of those pushing against the system have no idea how precarious it is or what they will be destroying. Those defending it don’t know how precarious its position is or even what they’re defending, or why. But people lose respect for a reason. (…) It’s said this is the year of anger but there’s a kind of grim practicality to Trump and Sanders supporters. They’re thinking: Let’s take a chance. Washington is incapable of reform or progress; it’s time to reach outside. Let’s take a chance on an old Brooklyn socialist. Let’s take a chance on the casino developer who talks on TV. In doing so, they accept a decline in traditional political standards. You don’t have to have a history of political effectiveness anymore; you don’t even have to have run for office! “You’re so weirdly outside the system, you may be what the system needs.” They are pouring their hope into uncertain vessels, and surely know it. Bernie Sanders is an actual radical: He would fundamentally change an economic system that imperfectly but for two centuries made America the wealthiest country in the history of the world. In the young his support is understandable: They have never been taught anything good about capitalism and in their lifetimes have seen it do nothing—nothing—to protect its own reputation. It is middle-aged Sanders supporters who are more interesting. They know what they’re turning their backs on. They know they’re throwing in the towel. My guess is they’re thinking something like: Don’t aim for great now, aim for safe. Terrorism, a world turning upside down, my kids won’t have it better—let’s just try to be safe, more communal. A shrewdness in Sanders and Trump backers: They share one faith in Washington, and that is in its ability to wear anything down. They think it will moderate Bernie, take the edges off Trump. For this reason they don’t see their choices as so radical. (…) The mainstream journalistic mantra is that the GOP is succumbing to nativism, nationalism and the culture of celebrity. That allows them to avoid taking seriously Mr. Trump’s issues: illegal immigration and Washington’s 15-year, bipartisan refusal to stop it; political correctness and how it is strangling a free people; and trade policies that have left the American working class displaced, adrift and denigrated. Mr. Trump’s popularity is propelled by those issues and enabled by his celebrity. (…) Mr. Trump is a clever man with his finger on the pulse, but his political future depends on two big questions. The first is: Is he at all a good man? Underneath the foul mouthed flamboyance is he in it for America? The second: Is he fully stable? He acts like a nut, calling people bimbos, flying off the handle with grievances. Is he mature, reliable? Is he at all a steady hand? Political professionals think these are side questions. “Let’s accuse him of not being conservative!” But they are the issue. Because America doesn’t deliberately elect people it thinks base, not to mention crazy. Peggy Noonan
Any Republican has a difficult pathway to the presidency. On the electoral map, expanding blue blobs in coastal and big-city America swamp the conservative geographical sea of red. Big-electoral-vote states such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey are utterly lost before the campaign even begins. The media have devolved into a weird Ministry of Truth. News seems defined now as what information is necessary to release to arrive at correct views. In recent elections, centrists, like John McCain and Mitt Romney – once found useful by the media when running against more-conservative Republicans — were reinvented as caricatures of Potterville scoundrels right out of a Frank Capra movie. When the media got through with a good man like McCain, he was left an adulterous, confused septuagenarian, unsure of how many mansions he owned, and a likely closeted bigot. Another gentleman like Romney was reduced to a comic-book Ri¢hie Ri¢h, who owned an elevator, never talked to his garbage man, hazed innocents in prep school, and tortured his dog on the roof of his car. If it were a choice between shouting down debate moderator Candy Crowley and shaming her unprofessionalism, or allowing her to hijack the debate, Romney in Ajaxian style (“nobly live, or nobly die”) chose the decorous path of dignified abdication. In contrast, we were to believe Obama’s adolescent faux Greek columns, hokey “lowering the seas and cooling the planet,” vero possumus seal on his podium as president-elect, and 57 states were Lincolnesque. Why would 2016 not end up again in losing nobly? Would once again campaigning under the Marquess of Queensberry rules win Republicans a Munich reprieve? In such a hysterical landscape, it was possible that no traditional Republican in 2016 was likely to win, even against a flawed candidate like Hillary Clinton, who emerged wounded from a bruising primary win over aged socialist Bernie Sanders. (…) Hillary would rely on the old Obama team of progressive hit men in the public-employee unions, the news ministries, the pajama-boy bloggers, the race industry, and the open-borders lobbies to brand Trump supporters as racist, sexist, misogynist, Islamophobic, nativist, homophobic. The shades of Obama’s old white reprehensible “Clingers” would spring back to life as “The Deplorables.” Yet for all Hillary’s hundreds of millions of corporate dollars and legions of Clinton Foundation strategists, she could never quite shake Trump, who at 70 seemed more like a frenzied 55. Trump at his worst was never put away by Hillary at her best, and he has stayed within six to eight points for most of his awful August and is now nipping her heels as October nears. Trump’s hare-and-tortoise strategy, his mishmash politics, reinventions, mastery of free publicity, and El Jefe celebrity had always offered him an outside chance of winning. But he is most aided by the daily news cycle that cannot be quite contorted to favor Hillary Clinton. Last weekend, in a 48-hour cycle, there were “Allahu akbar” attacks in Minneapolis and New York, pipe-bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey, and shootings of police in Philadelphia — the sort of violence that the public feels is not addressed by “workplace violence” and “hands up, don’t shoot” pandering. Almost daily we read of these disasters that channel Trump’s Jacksonian populism, from closed Ford Motor plants moving to Mexico to yet another innocent killed by an illegal alien to more crowds flowing unimpeded across the border.(…) Trump’s electoral calculus was easy to fathom. He needed to win as many independents as Romney, enthuse some new Reagan Democrats to return to politics, keep steady the Republican establishment, and win at least as much of the Latino and black vote as had the underperforming McCain and Romney — all to win seven or eight swing states. He planned to do that, in addition to not stepping on IEDs, through the simple enough strategy of an outraged outsider not nibbling, but blasting away, at political correctness, reminding audiences that he was not a traditional conservative, but certainly more conservative than Hillary, and a roguish celebrity billionaire with a propensity to talk with, not down to, the lower middle classes. That the establishment was repulsed by his carroty look, his past scheming, his Queens-accented bombast, and his nationalist policies only made him seem more authentic to his supporters, old and possibly new as well. (…) The only missing tessera in Trump’s mosaic is the Republican establishment, or rather the 10 percent or so of them whose opposition might resonate enough to cost Trump 1–2 percent in one or two key states and spell his defeat. Some NeverTrump critics would prefer a Trump electoral disaster that still could redeem their warnings that he would destroy the Republican party; barring that, increasingly many would at least settle to be disliked, but controversial, spoilers in a 1–2 percent loss to Hillary rather than irrelevant in a Trump win. To be fair, NeverTrump’s logic is that Trump’s past indiscretions and lack of ethics, his present opportunistic populist rather than conservative message, and the Sarah Palin nature of some of his supporters (whom I think Hillary clumsily referenced as the “deplorables” and whom Colin Powell huffed off as “poor white folks”) make him either too reckless to be commander-in-chief or too liberal to be endorsed by conservatives — or too gauche to admit supporting in reasoned circles. (…) But the proper question is a reductionist “compared to what?” NeverTrumpers assume that the latest insincerely packaged Trump is less conservative than the latest incarnation of an insincere Clinton on matters of border enforcement, military spending, tax and regulation reform, abortion, school choice, and cabinet and Supreme Court appointments. That is simply not a sustainable proposition. Is Trump uncooked all that much more odious than the sautéed orneriness of the present incumbent, who has variously insulted the Special Olympics, racially stereotyped at will, resorted to braggadocio laced with violent rhetoric, racially hyped ongoing criminal trials, serially lied about Obamacare and Benghazi, ridiculed the grandmother who scrimped to send him to a private prep school, oversaw government corruption from the IRS to the VA to the GSA, and has grown the national debt in a fashion never before envisioned? (…) Did the scandals and divisiveness of the last eight years ever prompt in 2012 a Democratic #NeverObama walkout or a 2016 progressive “not in my name” disowning of Obama? (…) Replying in kind to a Gold Star Muslim family or attacking a Mexican-American judge who is a member of a La Raza legal group is, of course, stupid and crass, but perhaps not as stupid as Hillary, before a Manhattan crowd of millionaires, writing off a quarter of America as deplorable, not American, and reprobate racists and bigots. As for Trump’s bombast, I wish there was an accepted and consistent standard of political discourse by which to censure his past insensitiveness and worse, but there has not been one for some time. Examine, for example, the level of racial invective used in the past by Hillary Clinton (“working, hard-working Americans, white Americans”), Harry Reid (“light-skinned African American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”), Joe Biden (“first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”), or Barack Obama (his own grandmother became a “typical white person”), and it’s hard to make the argument that Trump’s vocabulary marks a new low, especially given that few if any liberals bothered much about the racist tripe of their own. Trump so far has not appeared in linguistic blackface to patronize and mock the intelligence of an African-American audience with a 30-second, manufactured, and bad Southern accent in the manner of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. (…) Trump’s ball-and-chain flail, such as it can be fathomed, is in large part overdue. The old Wall Street Journal adherence to open borders was not so conservative — at least not for those on the front lines of illegal immigration and without the means to navigate around the concrete ramifications of the open-borders ideologies of apartheid elites. How conservative was a definition of free trade that energized European Union subsidies on agriculture, tariffs on American imports into Japan, Chinese cheating or peddling toxic products, or general dumping into the United States? For two decades, farmers and small businesses have been wiped out in rural America; that destruction may have been “creative,” but it certainly was not because the farmers and business owners were stupid, lazy, or uncompetitive. By this late date, for millions, wild and often unpredictable populist venting became preferable to being sent to the library to be enlightened by Adam Smith or Edmund Burke. Outsourcing and offshoring did not make the U.S more competitive, at least for most Americans outside of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Boutique corporate multiculturalism was always driven by profits while undermining the rare American idea of e pluribus unum assimilation — as the canny multimillionaires like Colin Kaepernick and Beyoncé grasped. Long ago, an Ivy League brand ceased being synonymous with erudition or ethics — as Bill, Hillary, and Barack Obama showed. Defeated or retired “conservative” Republican grandees were just as likely as their liberal counterparts to profit from their government service in Washington to rake in lobbyist cash. So hoi polloi were about ready for anything — or rather everything. In sum, if Trump’s D-11 bulldozer blade did not exist, it would have to be invented. He is Obama’s nemesis, Hillary’s worst nightmare, and a vampire’s mirror of the Republican establishment. Before November’s election, his next outburst or reinvention will once again sorely embarrass his supporters, but perhaps not to the degree that Clinton’s erudite callousness should repel her own. In farming, I learned there is no good harvest, only each year one that’s 51 percent preferable to the alternative, which in 2016 is a likely 16-year Obama-Clinton hailstorm. It may be discomforting for some conservatives to vote for the Republican party’s duly nominated candidate, but as this Manichean two-person race ends, it is now becoming suicidal not to. Victor Davis Hanson
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes. But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business. The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity. On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania. Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform. In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract. The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers, and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social-justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention. Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim, and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights. No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays. (…) In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection. Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun. In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed, and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant. The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh. Victor Davis Hanson
Barack Obama is the Dr. Frankenstein of the supposed Trump monster. If a charismatic, Ivy League-educated, landmark president who entered office with unprecedented goodwill and both houses of Congress on his side could manage to wreck the Democratic Party while turning off 52 percent of the country, then many voters feel that a billionaire New York dealmaker could hardly do worse. If Obama had ruled from the center, dealt with the debt, addressed radical Islamic terrorism, dropped the politically correct euphemisms and pushed tax and entitlement reform rather than Obamacare, Trump might have little traction. A boring Hillary Clinton and a staid Jeb Bush would most likely be replaying the 1992 election between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush — with Trump as a watered-down version of third-party outsider Ross Perot. But America is in much worse shape than in 1992. And Obama has proved a far more divisive and incompetent president than George H.W. Bush. Little is more loathed by a majority of Americans than sanctimonious PC gobbledygook and its disciples in the media. And Trump claims to be PC’s symbolic antithesis. Making Machiavellian Mexico pay for a border fence or ejecting rude and interrupting Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference is no more absurd than allowing more than 300 sanctuary cities to ignore federal law by sheltering undocumented immigrants. Putting a hold on the immigration of Middle Eastern refugees is no more illiberal than welcoming into American communities tens of thousands of unvetted foreign nationals from terrorist-ridden Syria. In terms of messaging, is Trump’s crude bombast any more radical than Obama’s teleprompted scripts? Trump’s ridiculous view of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a sort of « Art of the Deal » geostrategic partner is no more silly than Obama insulting Putin as Russia gobbles up former Soviet republics with impunity. Obama callously dubbed his own grandmother a « typical white person, » introduced the nation to the racist and anti-Semitic rantings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and petulantly wrote off small-town Pennsylvanians as near-Neanderthal « clingers. » Did Obama lower the bar for Trump’s disparagements? Certainly, Obama peddled a slogan, « hope and change, » that was as empty as Trump’s « make America great again. » (…) How does the establishment derail an out-of-control train for whom there are no gaffes, who has no fear of The New York Times, who offers no apologies for speaking what much of the country thinks — and who apparently needs neither money from Republicans nor politically correct approval from Democrats? Victor Davis Hanson
In 1978, the eminent sociologist William Julius Wilson argued confidently that class would soon displace race as the most important social variable in American life. As explicit legal barriers to minority advancement receded farther into the past, the fates of the working classes of different races would converge. By the mid 2000s, Wilson’s thesis looked pretty good: The black middle class was vibrant and growing as the average black wealth nearly doubled from 1995 to 2005. Race appeared to lose its salience as a political predictor: More and more blacks were voting Republican, reversing a decades-long trend, and in 2004 George W. Bush collected the highest share of the Latino (44 percent) vote of any Republican ever and a higher share of the Asian vote (43 percent) than he did in 2000. Our politics grew increasingly ideological and less racial: Progressives and the beneficiaries of a generous social-welfare state generally supported the Democratic party, while more prosperous voters were more likely to support Republicans. Stable majorities expressed satisfaction with the state of race relations. It wasn’t quite a post-racial politics, but it was certainly headed in that direction. But in the midst of the financial crisis of 2007, something happened. Both the white poor and the black poor began to struggle mightily, though for different reasons. And our politics changed dramatically in response. It’s ironic that the election of the first black president marked the end of our brief flirtation with a post-racial politics. By 2011, William Julius Wilson had published a slight revision of his earlier thesis, noting the continued importance of race. The black wealth of the 1990s, it turned out, was built on the mirage of house values. Inner-city murder rates, which had fallen for decades, began to tick upward in 2015. In one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent memory, a white supremacist murdered nine black people in a South Carolina church. And the ever-present antagonism between the police and black Americans — especially poor blacks whose neighborhoods are the most heavily policed — erupted into nationwide protests. Meanwhile, the white working class descended into an intense cultural malaise. Prescription-opioid abuse skyrocketed, and deaths from heroin overdoses clogged the obituaries of local papers. In the small, heavily white Ohio county where I grew up, overdoses overtook nature as the leading cause of death. A drug that for so long was associated with inner-city ghettos became the cultural inheritance of the southern and Appalachian white: White youths died from heroin significantly more often than their peers of other ethnicities. Incarceration and divorce rates increased steadily. Perhaps most strikingly, while the white working class continued to earn more than the working poor of other races, only 24 percent of white voters believed that the next generation would be “better off.” No other ethnic group expressed such alarming pessimism about its economic future. And even as each group struggled in its own way, common forces also influenced them. Rising automation in blue-collar industries deprived both groups of high-paying, low-skill jobs. Neighborhoods grew increasingly segregated — both by income and by race — ensuring that poor whites lived among poor whites while poor blacks lived among poor blacks. As a friend recently told me about San Francisco, Bull Connor himself couldn’t have designed a city with fewer black residents. Predictably, our politics began to match this new social reality. In 2012, Mitt Romney collected only 27 percent of the Latino vote. Asian Americans, a solid Republican constituency even in the days of Bob Dole, went for Obama by a three-to-one margin — a shocking demographic turn of events over two decades. Meanwhile, the black Republican became an endangered species. Republican failures to attract black voters fly in the face of Republican history. This was the party of Lincoln and Douglass. Eisenhower integrated the school in Little Rock at a time when the Dixiecrats were the defenders of the racial caste system.(…) For many progressives, the Sommers and Norton research confirms the worst stereotypes of American whites. Yet it also reflects, in some ways, the natural conclusions of an increasingly segregated white poor. (…) The reality is not that black Americans enjoy special privileges. In fact, the overwhelming weight of the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Last month, for instance, the brilliant Harvard economist Roland Fryer published an exhaustive study of police uses of force. He found that even after controlling for crime rates and police presence in a given neighborhood, black youths were far likelier to be pushed, thrown to the ground, or harassed by police. (Notably, he also found no racial disparity in the use of lethal force.) (…) Getting whipped into a frenzy on conspiracy websites, or feeling that distant, faceless elites dislike you because of your white skin, doesn’t compare. But the great advantages of whiteness in America are invisible to the white poor, or are completely swallowed by the disadvantages of their class. The young man from West Virginia may be less likely to get questioned by Yale University police, but making it to Yale in the first place still requires a remarkable combination of luck and skill. In building a dialogue around “checking privilege,” the modern progressive elite is implicitly asking white America — especially the segregated white poor — for a level of social awareness unmatched in the history of the country. White failure to empathize with blacks is sometimes a failure of character, but it is increasingly a failure of geography and socialization. Poor whites in West Virginia don’t have the time or the inclination to read Harvard economics studies. And the privileges that matter — that is, the ones they see — are vanishing because of destitution: the privilege to pay for college without bankruptcy, the privilege to work a decent job, the privilege to put food on the table without the aid of food stamps, the privilege not to learn of yet another classmate’s premature death. (…) Because of this polarization, the racial conversation we’re having today is tribalistic. On one side are primarily white people, increasingly represented by the Republican party and the institutions of conservative media. On the other is a collection of different minority groups and a cosmopolitan — and usually wealthier — class of whites. These sides don’t even speak the same language: One side sees white privilege while the other sees anti-white racism. There is no room for agreement or even understanding. J. D. Vance
Est-ce le plus beau cadeau qu’Hillary Clinton ait fait à son adversaire ? En traitant “la moitié” des électeurs de Trump de “basket of deplorables”, Hillary a donné à l’équipe Trump un nouveau slogan de campagne : Les Deplorables (en français sur l’affiche avec le “e” sans accent, et aussi sur les t-shirts, sur les pots à café, dans la salle, etc.) ; avec depuis hier une affiche empruntée au formidable succès de scène de 2012 à Broadway Les Misérables (avec le “é” accentué, ou Les Mis’, tout cela en français sur l’affiche et sur la scène), et retouchée à la mesure-Trump (drapeau US à la place du drapeau français, bannière avec le nom de Trump). Grâce soit rendue à Hillary, le mot a une certaine noblesse et une signification à la fois, – étrangement, – précise et sophistiqué, dont le sens négatif peut aisément être retourné dans un contexte politique donné (le mot lui-même a, également en anglais, un sens négatif et un sens positif), surtout avec la référence au titre du livre de Hugo devenu si populaire aux USA depuis 2012… L’équipe Trump reprend également la chanson-standard de la comédie musicale “Do You Hear the People Sing”, tout cela à partir d’une idée originale d’un partisan de Trump, un artiste-graphiste qui se désigne sous le nom de Keln : il a réalisé la composition graphique à partir de l’affiche des Misérables et l’a mise en ligne en espérant qu’elle serait utilisée par Trump. Depuis quelques jours déjà, les partisans de Trump se baptisent de plus en plus eux-mêmes Les Deplorables (comme l’on disait il y a 4-5 ans “les indignés”) et se reconnaissent entre eux grâce à ce mot devenu porte-drapeau et slogan et utilisé sur tous les produits habituels (“nous sommes tous des Deplorables”, comme d’autres disaient, dans le temps, “Nous sommes tous des juifs allemands”). De l’envolée de Clinton, – dont elle s’est excusée mais sans parvenir à contenir l’effet “déplorable” pour elle, ni l’effet-boomerang comme on commence à le mesurer, –nous écrivions ceci le 15 septembre : « L’expression (“panier” ou “paquet de déplorables”), qui qualifie à peu près une moitié des électeurs de Trump, est assez étrange, sinon arrogante et insultante, voire sophistiquée et devrait être très en vogue dans les salons progressistes et chez les milliardaires d’Hollywood ; elle s’accompagne bien entendu des autres qualificatifs classiques formant le minimum syndical de l’intellectuel-Système, dits explicitement par Hillary, de “racistes”, xénophobes”, et ajoutons comme sous-entendus “crétins absolus” ou bien “sous-hommes”, et ajoutons encore implicitement “irrécupérables” et de la sorte “à liquider” ou à envoyer en camp de rééducation ou plutôt à l’asile, comme l’éclairé Bacri conseille de faire avec Zemmour. » Récupéré par les électeurs de Trump eux-mêmes puis par l’équipe Trump, le slogan peu résonner comme un cri de révolte qui pourrait donner un formidable rythme et un atout considérable de communication à la campagne du candidat républicain. Philippe Grasset
In another eerie ditto of his infamous 2008 attack on the supposedly intolerant Pennsylvania “clingers,” Obama returned to his theme that ignorant Americans “typically” become xenophobic and racist: “Typically, when people feel stressed, they turn on others who don’t look like them.” (“Typically” is not a good Obama word to use in the context of racial relations, since he once dubbed his own grandmother a “typical white person.”) Too often Obama has gratuitously aroused racial animosities with inflammatory rhetoric such as “punish our enemies,” or injected himself into the middle of hot-button controversies like the Trayvon Martin case, the Henry Louis Gates melodrama, and the “hands up, don’t shoot” Ferguson mayhem. Most recently, Obama seemed to praise backup 49ers quarterback and multimillionaire Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand during the National Anthem, empathizing with Kaepernick’s claims of endemic American racism. (…) Even presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not really defending the Obama administration’s past “red line” in Syria, the “reset” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the bombing of Libya, the Benghazi tragedy, the euphemistic rebranding of Islamic terrorism as mere “violent extremism,” the abrupt pullout from (and subsequent collapse of) Iraq, or the Iran nuclear deal that so far seems to have made the theocracy both rich and emboldened. (…) Racial relations in this country seem as bad as they have been in a half-century. (…) Following the Clinton model, a post-presidential Obama will no doubt garner huge fees as a “citizen of the world” — squaring the circle of becoming fabulously rich while offering sharp criticism of the cultural landscape of the capitalist West on everything from sports controversies to pending criminal trials. What, then, is the presidential legacy of Barack Obama? It will not be found in either foreign- or domestic-policy accomplishment. More likely, he will be viewed as an outspoken progressive who left office loudly in the same manner that he entered it — as a critic of the culture and country in which he has thrived. But there may be another, unspoken legacy of Obama, and it is his creation of the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Trump is running as an angry populist, fueled by the promise that whatever supposed elites such as Obama have done to the country, he will largely undo. Obama’s only legacy seems to be that “hope and change” begat “make America great again.” Victor Davis Hanson
Hillary Clinton’s comment that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”—a heck of a lot of phobia for anyone to lug around all day—puts back in play what will be seen as one of the 2016 campaign’s defining forces: the revolt of the politically incorrect. They may not live at the level of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” but it was only a matter of time before les déplorables—our own writhing mass of unheard Americans—rebelled against the intellectual elites’ ancien régime of political correctness. (…) Mrs. Clinton’s (…) dismissal, at Barbra Streisand’s LGBT fundraiser, of uncounted millions of Americans as deplorables had the ring of genuine belief. Perhaps sensing that public knowledge of what she really thinks could be a political liability, Mrs. Clinton went on to describe “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them . . . and they’re just desperate for change.” She is of course describing the people in Charles Murray’s recent and compelling book on cultural disintegration among the working class, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” This is indeed the bedrock of the broader Trump base. Mrs. Clinton is right that they feel the system has let them down. There is a legitimate argument over exactly when the rising digital economy started transferring income away from blue-collar workers and toward the “creative class” of Google and Facebook employees, no few of whom are smug progressives who think the landmass seen from business class between San Francisco and New York is pocked with deplorable, phobic Americans. Naturally, they’ll vote for the status quo, which is Hillary. But in the eight years available to Barack Obama to do something about what rankles the lower-middle class—white, black or brown—the non-employed and underemployed grew. A lot of them will vote for Donald Trump because they want a radical mid-course correction. (…) The progressive Democrats, a wholly public-sector party, have disconnected from the realities of the private economy, which exists as a mysterious revenue-producing abstraction. Hillary’s comments suggest they now see much of the population has a cultural and social abstraction. (…) Donald Trump’s appeal, in part, is that he cracks back at progressive cultural condescension in utterly crude terms. Nativists exist, and the sky is still blue. But the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t phobic about a modernizing America. They’re fed up with the relentless, moral superciliousness of Hillary, the Obamas, progressive pundits and 19-year-old campus activists. Evangelicals at last week’s Values Voter Summit said they’d look past Mr. Trump’s personal résumé. This is the reason. It’s not about him. The moral clarity that drove the original civil-rights movement or the women’s movement has degenerated into a confused moral narcissism. (…) It is a mistake, though, to blame Hillary alone for that derisive remark. It’s not just her. Hillary Clinton is the logical result of the Democratic Party’s new, progressive algorithm—a set of strict social rules that drives politics and the culture to one point of view. (…) Her supporters say it’s Donald Trump’s rhetoric that is “divisive.” Just so. But it’s rich to hear them claim that their words and politics are “inclusive.” So is the town dump. They have chopped American society into so many offendable identities that only a Yale freshman can name them all. If the Democrats lose behind Hillary Clinton, it will be in part because America’s les déplorables decided enough of this is enough. Bret Stephens
This year there’s a new name on our list of the Eight Greats: Israel. A small country in a chaotic part of the world, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs. Although 2016 saw the passage of yet another condemnation of Israel at the United Nations, this time in the Security Council thanks to an American decision to abstain rather than veto, overall the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics. Three factors are powering Israel’s rise: economic developments, the regional crisis, and diplomatic ingenuity. Looking closely at these tells us something about how power works in the contemporary world. The economic developments behind Israel’s new stature are partly the result of luck and location, and partly the result of smart choices. As to the luck and location factor, large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel’s economy; energy exports boost Israel’s foreign policy clout. In 2016 Erdogan’s Turkey turned on most of its NATO and Western allies; ties with Israel strengthened. Turkey’s Islamist ruler wants gas, and he wants to limit Turkey’s dependence on Russia. Israel is part of the answer. But beyond luck, Israel’s newfound clout on the world stage comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built up over many years. In particular, Israel’s decision to support the rise of a domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy has put Israel at the center of the ongoing revolution in military power based on the importance of information control and management to 21st century states. It is not just that private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups; access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile system) matters to more and more countries. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia all want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry. Other, less glamorous Israeli industries, like the irrigation, desalinization and dry land farming tech that water poor Israel has developed over the decades play their part. Israel’s diplomatic outreach to Africa and its deepening (and increasingly public) relationship with India benefit from Israel’s ability to deliver what people in other countries and governments want. The second factor in Israel’s appearing on our list is the change in the Middle Eastern balance of power that has transformed Israel from a pariah state to a kingmaker. On the one hand, Syria, one of Israel’s most vociferous enemies and biggest security threats in the old days, has now been broken on the wheel. What has happened in Syria is a terrible human tragedy; but in the cold light of realpolitik the break up of Syria further entrenches Israel’s military supremacy in its immediate neighborhood. Egypt hates Hamas, ISIS and Islamic Jihad as much as Israel does; never has Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation been as close as it is today. Even more consequentially, the rise of Iran and its aspirations to regional hegemony on the one hand and the apparent support for its dreams from the Obama administration made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf states, who loathe Iran and fear a Shia victory in the religious conflict now raging across the Middle East. The Arab Establishment today has two frightening enemies: radical jihadi groups like ISIS on one side, and Iran on the other. Israel has a mix of intelligence and military capabilities that can help keep the regional balance stable; privately and even not so privately many prominent Arab officials today will say that Israeli support is necessary for the survival of Arab independence. Finally, Israel has managed, uncharacteristically, to advance its global political agenda through effective and even subtle diplomacy. Just as Israel was able to strengthen its relationship with Turkey even as Turkish-U.S. and Turkish EU relations grew distant, Israel has been able to build a realistic and fruitful relationship with Russia despite Russia’s standoff with the west over Ukraine, and Russia’s ties with Iran. The deepening Israel-India relationship has also required patience and skill. Israel’s diplomatic breakthroughs in relations with African countries who have been hostile to Israel since the 1967 war were also built through patient and subtle diplomacy, often working behind the scenes. That behind-the-scenes outreach diplomacy has also helped Israel achieve new levels of contact and collaboration with many Arab countries. It is not, of course, all sweetness and light. Hezbollah has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel and, thanks to Iran’s victories in Syria, it can now enjoy much more reliable supplies from its patron. The Palestinian Question is as far from a solution as possible, and even as they fragment and squabble among themselves, the Palestinians continue to fight for Israel’s delegitimation in the UN and elsewhere. Israeli politics are as volatile and bitter as ever. The kaleidoscopic nature of Middle East politics means that today’s hero can be tomorrow’s goat. While the breakdown of regional order has so far been a net positive for Israel’s security and power, things could change fast. In ISIS coup in Saudi Arabia, the collapse of Jordan, the fall of the Sisi government in Egypt: it is not hard to come up with scenarios that would challenge Israel in new and dangerous ways. Former President Obama and his outgoing Secretary of State, John Kerry (neither widely regarded these days as a master of geopolitics), frequently warned Israel that its policies were leaving it isolated and vulnerable. This is to some degree true: European diplomats, American liberals and many American Jews are much less sympathetic to Israel today than they have been in the past. Future Israeli leaders may have to think hard about rebuilding links with American Democrats and American Jews. But for now at least, Israel can afford to ignore the dismal croaking of the outgoing American administration. One of a small handful of American allies to be assiduously courted by the Trump campaign, Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House, and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world’s major powers bar Iran. Teodor Herzl would be astonished to see what his dream has grown into; David Ben-Gurion would be astounded by the progress his poor and embattled nation has made.
We’re at a space shuttle moment. The most vulnerable time for the space shuttle is when it re-enters the environment, so that when it comes back into the environment it doesn’t blow up. The tiles need to be tight. I’m concerned about the tightness of the tiles on the space shuttle right now. We have to get through this heat. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
What happened the next night shocked even the most pessimistic Democrats. But in another sense, it was the reckoning the party had been expecting for years. They were counting on a Clinton win to paper over a deeper rot they’ve been worrying about—and to buy them some time to start coming up with answers. In other words, it wasn’t just Donald Trump. Or the Russians. Or James Comey. Or all the problems with how Clinton and her aides ran the campaign. Win or lose, Democrats were facing an existential crisis in the years ahead—the result of years of complacency, ignoring the withering of the grass roots and the state parties, sitting by as Republicans racked up local win after local win. (…) What’s clear from interviews with several dozen top Democratic politicians and operatives at all levels, however, is that there is no comeback strategy—just a collection of half-formed ideas, all of them challenged by reality. And for whatever scheme they come up with, Democrats don’t even have a flag-carrier. Barack Obama? He doesn’t want the job. Hillary Clinton? Too damaged. Bernie Sanders? Too socialist. Joe Biden? Too tied to Obama. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? Too Washington. Elizabeth Warren? Maybe. And all of them old, old, old. The Democrats’ desolation is staggering. But part of the problem is that it’s easy to point to signs that maybe things aren’t so bad. After all, Clinton did beat Trump by 2.8 million votes, Obama’s approval rating is nearly 60 percent, polls show Democrats way ahead of the GOP on many issues and demographics suggest that gap will only grow. But they are stuck in the minority in Congress with no end in sight, have only 16 governors left and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. Their top leaders in the House are all over 70. Their top leaders in the Senate are all over 60. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 1,034 seats at the state and federal level—there’s no bench, no bench for a bench, virtually no one able to speak for the party as a whole. (…) There are now fewer than 700 days until Election Day 2018, as internal memos circulating among Democratic strategists point out with alarm. They differ in their prescriptions, but all boil down to the same inconvenient truth: If Republicans dominate the 2018 midterms, they will control the Senate (and with it, the Supreme Court) for years, and they will draw district lines in states that will lock in majorities in the House and across state capitals, killing the next generation of Democrats in the crib, setting up the GOP for an even more dominant 2020 and beyond. Most doubt Democrats have the stamina or the stomach for the kind of cohesive resistance that Republicans perfected over the years. In their guts, they want to say yes to government doing things, and they’re already getting drawn in by promises to work with Trump and the Republican majorities. They’re heading into the next elections with their brains scrambled by Trump’s win, side-eyeing one another over who’s going to sell out the rest, nervous the incoming president will keep outmaneuvering them in the media and throw up more targets than they could ever hope to shoot at—and all of this from an election that was supposed to cement their claim on the future. (…) everyone from Obama on down is talking about going local, focusing on the kinds of small races and party-building activities Republicans have been dominating for cycle after cycle. But all that took decades, and Democrats have no time. What are they going to do next? There hasn’t been an American political party in worse shape in living memory. And there may never have been a party less ready to confront it. Politico
Are you scratching your head and wondering, Since when did liberals and the Left embrace a sunny, light-filled vision of the United States? If so, you’re not misremembering things. These are the same liberal elites who have been telling us for decades that America is shot through with an ever-expanding array of hatreds and injustice that disenfranchise large portions of the population and force them to live in fear. (…) These thoroughly representative members — and products — of the cultural elite are the same people who have given us “safe spaces” and “allyship” on college campuses, under the preposterous notion that any American college student who is not white, male, and heterosexual is “unsafe.” The Left has developed a typology of American students as victims, their allies, and their presumed oppressors. (…) The press, the campus-rape bureaucracy, and an army of federal regulators proclaim that terrified college co-eds are living through a rape tsunami, which can be eradicated only by campus kangaroo courts. So rapidly does American oppression metastasize into new forms, in the eyes of the Left, that the Left is constantly forced to coin a new vocabulary for it: microaggression, intersectionality, institutional racism, white privilege, cis privilege, implicit bias, etc. The media’s contempt for Trump’s use of the phrase “carnage” to describe the rising violence in the inner city is particularly ludicrous. The press has slavishly amplified the Black Lives Matter claim that we are living through an epidemic of racist police shootings of black men. A New York Times editorial from July 2016 was titled “When Will the Killing Stop?” That same month, President Barack Obama asserted that black mothers and fathers were right to fear that their child will be killed by a cop — remarkably, he made this claim during the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down by a Black Lives Matter–inspired assassin. (…) So if Trump is so contemptibly misguided in his description of the rising street violence over the last two years as “carnage,” how does that criminal violence compare with the supposed epidemic of cop killings of black men? In 2015, the last year for which we have official national data, more than 6,000 black males, according to the FBI, were killed by criminals, themselves overwhelmingly black. That is 900 more black males killed in 2015 than in the year before, but the number of black victims was undoubtedly higher even than that, since an additional 2,000 homicide victims were reported to the FBI without a racial identity. Black males make up about half of the nation’s homicide victims, so they presumably make up a similar share of racially unclassified homicide victims. According to several uncontradicted non-governmental estimates, homicides continued rising throughout 2016, thanks to what I have called the “Ferguson effect”: officers backing off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, under the relentless charge of racism, and the resulting increase in violent crime. The year 2016, therefore, probably also saw well over 6,000 black males murdered on the streets. By contrast, the nation’s police fatally shot 16 “unarmed” black males and 20 “unarmed” white males in 2016, according to the Washington Post’s database of police killings. I have put “unarmed” in quotes because the Post’s classification of “unarmed” victims rarely conveys the violence that the suspect directed at the shooting officer. But even when we take the “unarmed” classification at face value, those 16 fatal police shootings of unarmed black men represent no more than 0.2 percent of all black male lives lost to homicide in 2016. If police shootings of allegedly unarmed black males represent a national epidemic of bloodshed, then what should we call the gunning down of over 375 times that number of black men by criminals? “Carnage” seems like a pretty good descriptor. In Chicago alone in 2016, 24 children under the age of twelve, overwhelmingly black, were shot. Trump has regularly denounced inner-city violence; he promised in his inaugural that that violence “stops right here and stops right now.” He invoked the “child . . . born in the urban sprawl of Detroit” or in the “windswept plains of Nebraska” as both looking up “at the same night sky” and deserving of the same public safety. President Obama scoffed at Trump’s concern over rising urban violence even as he regularly accused the cops of lethally discriminating against blacks. For truth-telling when it comes to the actual dangers in American society, I’ll take the current president over the former one and the cultural milieu from which he emerged. Heather Mac Donald
Obama, franchement il fait partie des gens qui détestent l’Amérique. Il a servi son idéologie mais pas l’Amérique. Je remets en cause son patriotisme et sa dévotion à l’église qu’il fréquentait. Je pense qu’il était en désaccord avec lui-même sur beaucoup de choses. Je pense qu’il était plus musulman dans son cœur que chrétien. Il n’a pas voulu prononcer le terme d’islamisme radical, ça lui écorchait les lèvres. Je pense que dans son cœur, il est musulman, mais on en a terminé avec lui, Dieu merci. Evelyne Joslain
Il n’y a évidemment que des coups à prendre – et ils sont nombreux – lorsque l’on dénonce les discours alarmistes qui visent l’Amérique de Donald J. Trump. Mais, contrairement aux chiens de garde de BFMTV, la Rédaction de Marianne ne « dégage » pas ceux qui font entendre une voix dissonante (un cas de « délit d’opinion » s’y est produit ces jours derniers), ce qui est tout à l’honneur de Delphine Legouté et Renaud Dely, en particulier, mais également de TSF Jazz et Radio Nova qui ont régulièrement donné la parole à l’auteur de ce blog qui existe depuis mars 2012. La démocratie à l’épreuve du verbe est tout ce que ceux qui se revendiquent du camp des « progressistes » redoutent. L’histoire n’est pas nouvelle. Ceux qui se paient de mots et veulent censurer les mots des autres n’ont rien de différents de ces gens qui se rendent le dimanche à la messe et sont, pour quelques un, des salauds hors les murs de l’église ou trop souvent, des intolérants, et de ces autres dont Montaigne disait qu’ils «envoyent leur conscience au bordel, et tiennent leur contenance en règle». Le tout, c’est de conserver un langage agréable à l’oreille, d’afficher des convictions à vous faire croire que certains humains naissent naturellement purs de tout instinct grisâtre et de toute idée injuste et surtout, de défendre la belle idée plutôt que l’action qui elle, comporte toujours sa part de risque et d’échec. Les centaines de milliers de personnes qui viennent de défiler, aux Etats-Unis et à travers le monde, pour crier leur opposition voire leur haine contre le 45ème président des Etats-Unis sont tout à fait en droit de revendiquer, mais que revendiquent-ils au juste ? Ils disent s’opposer à la violence, et la chanteuse Madonna porte leur voix en disant qu’elle a pensé à « faire exploser la Maison-Blanche ». Ils veulent la paix dans le monde et ne se sont pas lancés dans les rues pour demander à « leur » président, Barack Obama, de traiter la montée de l’Etat Islamique et l’effondrement de la société syrienne avec le sérieux nécessaire. Ils demandent le respect vis-à-vis des immigrants mais on ne les a vu nulle part pour s’opposer à la plus grande vague d’expulsions jamais organisée et qui a marqué les deux mandats de Barack Obama, sans compter le travail des fameuses brigades « ICE », en charge de la traque des illégaux. On ne les a jamais vus, non plus, le long des 1300 kilomètres de mur déjà construit à la frontière avec le Mexique. Ils n’ont pas organisé de « sittings » géants pour demander la fin des exécutions capitales ou la grâce de Snowden, Manning ou Bregham. Pire : les « millennials », ainsi que l’on appelle les plus jeunes, ou les Afro-Américains, ont boudé les urnes et ont fait défaut à la candidate démocrate Hillary Clinton le 8 novembre. Ce sont les mêmes qui scandent « Trump n’est pas mon président ». Les femmes ? Offusquées, scandalisées par les propos et les attitudes de Trump, oui, mais leur colère date t-elle de son apparition dans le paysage politique américain ? Et cette colère, dont on ne sait plus ni les contours ni les messages tant ils sont portés par une rage totale, quelle est sa finalité, quelle mesure, quel changement, au juste, peuvent l’apaiser ? On ne sait plus. (…) Comment expliquer tant de frustrations, de colères, de fureurs, au terme de huit années de pouvoir d’un homme aussi célébré que Barack Obama ? On lui impute soudain mille législations et actions positives, alors que l’on dénonçait, hier encore, l’obstruction systématique des Républicains – élus, soit dit en passant, lors des élections intermédiaires – à toutes ses entreprises. On s’attaque à un système électoral que personne ne change depuis sa mise en place et que l’on ne dénonce pas quand il profite à son camp. On annonce une guerre totale contre l’administration Trump lorsqu’hier, on s’en prenait au manque d’esprit bipartite du camp républicain. Tout cela est incohérent. Toute cette séquence, en réalité, est de pure rhétorique. Certes, dans nos pays européens, à l’exception de l’Angleterre, où l’expression publique est bornée par des lois visant à contenir certains outrages, Donald J. Trump se serait exposé à de nombreuses plaintes sinon condamnations. Mais quelle ironie que de voir les Américains, qui vénèrent la liberté d’expression totale et méprisent nos entraves à cette liberté, s’émouvoir soudain des débordements de M. Trump. Le puritanisme américain a encore de beaux jours devant lui. C’est le même qui préside au sentiment de bien faire, d’exporter la démocratie dans le monde, tout en pilotant des drones meurtriers ou en fabriquant de futurs terroristes dans des geôles à Guantanamo ou ailleurs : l’important, c’est de faire les choses avec une bonne intention, de ne pas en parler et d’avoir bonne conscience, bref, de garder son exquise politesse. C’est au nom de cet état d’esprit que l’Amérique – et le monde – célèbre toujours un John Fitzgerald-Kennedy quand bien-même ce dernier fut le premier président autorisant fin août 1961, le premier usage du Napalm sur les paysans vietnamiens. Ce n’est pas une affaire strictement américaine : la France et son Indochine, avec son discours sur la patrie des droits de l’Homme et ses Sangatte, n’a pas de leçon à donner aux Yankees. Tout comme l’époque est au ricanement, comme le dit fort justement Alain Finkielkraut, tout comme l’époque est au souriant antisémitisme ou la célébration de tout ce qui est jeune, femme ou de couleur dans le camp des prétendu « progressistes », elle l’est au déni. Désormais, chaque action, chaque signature du nouveau président américain fera résonner le monde de colère et de condamnation, et la politique américaine va se résumer à un vaste complot visant à l’abattre et avec lui, son administration. C’est cela, désormais, la démocratie, la lutte des gens « bien » contre les méchants et les imbéciles. Le problème, c’est que les gens bien se plaignent de tout ce qu’ils on fait et n’ont pas fait lorsqu’ils en avaient le pouvoir, pour le reprocher à ceux auxquels il a été confié. Une histoire de fou. Stéphane Trano
La photo comparant la foule présente à l’investiture de Donald J. Trump vendredi dernier et celle de Barack Obama en 2009 a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux ce week-end. Des chaines de télévision et des journaux influents se sont également laissé emporter par cette vague. Donald Trump est le président le moins populaire depuis Jimmy Carter, il y a 40 ans. Selon un sondage du Washington Post et de ABC News, le nouveau président aurait moins de 40% d’opinions favorables. Certes, il est impopulaire. Certes, son investiture a regroupé moins de personnes que ce à quoi l’on s’attendait. Est-ce une raison pour comparer son investiture à celle de l’ancien président démocrate, Barack Obama? Tout cela serait une affaire de démographie. Depuis bien longtemps, le District de Columbia ainsi que les états autour, tels que la Virginie, le Maryland, la Pennsylvanie, la Caroline du Nord, le Delaware, etc. sont des états démocrates. Lorsqu’un président démocrate est élu, il est plus facile pour ces personnes de rejoindre Washington, puisqu’ils se trouvent relativement près de la capitale, contrairement à certaines personnes vivant dans des états républicains, plus éloignés. Donald J. Trump a misé sa campagne présidentielle sur l’économie et l’immigration, cherchant le vote de la classe moyenne et des minorités. Cette population gagne entre 46 000 et 86 000 euros par an. Après avoir payé les dettes, les impôts, le loyer, les courses et autres dépenses de la vie quotidienne, il ne reste plus rien. (…) Cette population se bat pour vivre normalement, et pour avoir un salaire décent. Selon le ministère du travail et de l’emploi, 5% de la population, soit 18 millions d’américains, auraient entre deux et trois emplois pour pouvoir subvenir aux besoins de leurs familles. Ils ne sont pas tous républicains, mais pour les ceux qui souhaitent s’offrir un weekend dans la capitale pour assister à l’investiture d’un président républicain, cela coûte cher et parait hors de portée. (…) Contrairement, un président démocrate a déjà un bon nombre de ses électeurs vivant dans les états autour de Waghington DC et qui peuvent venir dans la capitale plus facilement. Donald J. Trump n’arrive pas au pouvoir avec une popularité à son plus haut, mais cela est-il la raison d’une foule moins nombreuse lors de son investiture? Lorsque George W. Bush est devenu le 43e président des États-Unis en 2001, seulement 300 000 personnes se sont montrées pour son investiture et son taux de popularité était de 62% selon le site internet de la Maison-Blanche. En janvier 2005, entre 100 000 et 400 000 personnes ont assisté à son investiture. Au final, ce n’est pas la première fois qu’une investiture républicaine attire moins de monde qu’une investiture démocrate. George W. Bush était plus populaire que Trump lors de ses investitures, mais plus de monde a assisté à celle de Donald J. Trump. (…) Selon le comité d’investiture, 700 000 personnes se seraient regroupées sur le Mall, la sécurité intérieure quant-à elle, estime qu’entre 800 000 et 900 000 personnes auraient été présentes ce jour là. Comparer une investiture d’un president démocrate et celle d’un républicain n’est pas représentatif de la popularité du president élu. Cependant, Obama était tout de même plus populaire que Trump lors de son investiture avec 78% de popularité et presque 2 millions de personnes à son investiture en 2009. Clémentine Boyer Duroselle
Le génie Trump a vu que la classe politique était un tigre de papier et que le pays était en colère. Qu’un outsider comme lui puisse prendre le contrôle d’un parti politique américain majeur est tout simplement du jamais vu et c’est lui qui devrait gagner. Conrad Black
Trump sensed that the proverbial base was itching for a bare-knuckles fighter. They wanted any kind of brawler who would not play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules of 2008 and 2012 that had doomed Romney and McCain, who, fairly or not, seemed to wish to lose nobly rather than win in black-and-blue fashion, and who were sometimes more embarrassed than proud of their base. Trump again foresaw that talking trash in crude tones would appeal to middle Americans as much as Obama’s snarky and ego-driven, but otherwise crude trash-talking delighted his coastal elites. So Trump said the same kinds of things to Hillary Clinton that she, in barely more measured tones, had often said to others but never expected anyone to say out loud to her. And the more the media cried foul, the more Trump knew that voters would cry “long overdue.” We can expect that Trump’s impulsiveness and electronically fed braggadocio will often get him into trouble. No doubt his tweets will continue to offend. But lost amid the left-wing hatred of Trump and the conservative Never Trump condescension is that so far he has shattered American political precedents by displaying much more political cunning and prescience than have his political opponents and most observers. Key is his emperor-has-no-clothes instinct that what is normal and customary in Washington was long ago neither sane nor necessary. And so far, his candidacy has not only redefined American politics but also recalibrated the nature of insight itself — leaving the wise to privately wonder whether they were ever all that wise after all. Victor Davis Hanson
After the election, in liberal, urban America, one often heard Trump’s win described as the revenge of the yahoos in flyover country, fueled by their angry “isms” and “ias”: racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on. Many liberals consoled themselves that Trump’s victory was the last hurrah of bigoted, Republican white America, soon to be swept away by vast forces beyond its control, such as global migration and the cultural transformation of America into something far from the Founders’ vision. As insurance, though, furious progressives also renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College, advocating for a constitutional amendment that would turn presidential elections into national plebiscites. Direct presidential voting would shift power to heavily urbanized areas—why waste time trying to reach more dispersed voters in less populated rural states?—and thus institutionalize the greater economic and cultural clout of the metropolitan blue-chip universities, the big banks, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, New York–Washington media, and Hollywood, Democrat-voting all. Barack Obama’s two electoral victories deluded the Democrats into thinking that it was politically wise to jettison their old blue-collar appeal to the working classes, mostly living outside the cities these days, in favor of an identity politics of a new multicultural, urban America. Yet Trump’s success represented more than simply a triumph of rural whites over multiracial urbanites. More ominously for liberals, it also suggested that a growing minority of blacks and Hispanics might be sympathetic with a “country” mind-set that rejects urban progressive elitism. For some minorities, sincerity and directness might be preferable to sloganeering by wealthy white urban progressives, who often seem more worried about assuaging their own guilt than about genuinely understanding people of different colors. Trump’s election underscored two other liberal miscalculations. First, Obama’s progressive agenda and cultural elitism prevailed not because of their ideological merits, as liberals believed, but because of his great appeal to urban minorities in 2008 and 2012, who voted in solidarity for the youthful first African-American president in numbers never seen before. That fealty wasn’t automatically transferable to liberal white candidates, including the multimillionaire 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Obama had previously lost most of America’s red counties, but not by enough to keep him from winning two presidential elections, with sizable urban populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turning out to vote for the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern. Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win. What is insufficiently understood is why a hurting rural America favored the urban, superrich Trump in 2016 and, more generally, tends to vote more conservative than liberal. Ostensibly, the answer is clear: an embittered red-state America has found itself left behind by elite-driven globalization, battered by unfettered trade and high-tech dislocations in the economy. In some of the most despairing counties, rural life has become a mirror image of the inner city, ravaged by drug use, criminality, and hopelessness. Yet if muscular work has seen a decline in its relative monetary worth, it has not necessarily lost its importance. After all, the elite in Washington and Menlo Park appreciate the fresh grapes and arugula that they purchase at Whole Foods. Someone mined the granite used in their expensive kitchen counters and cut the timber for their hardwood floors. The fuel in their hybrid cars continues to come from refined oil. The city remains as dependent on this elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as it always was. The two Palo Altoans at Starbucks might have forgotten that their overpriced homes included two-by-fours, circuit breakers, and four-inch sewer pipes, but somebody somewhere made those things and brought them into their world. In the twenty-first century, though, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacturing of products are more easily outsourced than are the arts of finance, insurance, investments, higher education, entertainment, popular culture, and high technology, immaterial sectors typically pursued within metropolitan contexts and supercharged by the demands of increasingly affluent global consumers. A vast government sector, mostly urban, is likewise largely impervious to the leveling effects of a globalized economy, even as its exorbitant cost and extended regulatory reach make the outsourcing of material production more likely. Asian steel may have devastated Youngstown, but Chinese dumping had no immediate effect on the flourishing government enclaves in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, filled with well-paid knowledge workers. Globalization, big government, and metastasizing regulations have enriched the American coasts, in other words, while damaging much of the nation’s interior. Few major political leaders before Trump seemed to care. He hammered home the point that elites rarely experienced the negative consequences of their own ideologies. New York Times columnists celebrating a “flat” world have yet to find themselves flattened by Chinese writers willing to write for a fraction of their per-word rate. Tenured Harvard professors hymning praise to global progressive culture don’t suddenly discover their positions drawn and quartered into four part-time lecturer positions. And senators and bureaucrats in Washington face no risk of having their roles usurped by low-wage Vietnamese politicians. Trump quickly discovered that millions of Americans were irate that the costs and benefits of our new economic reality were so unevenly distributed. As the nation became more urban and its wealth soared, the old Democratic commitment from the Roosevelt era to much of rural America—construction of water projects, rail, highways, land banks, and universities; deference to traditional values; and Grapes of Wrath–like empathy—has largely been forgotten. A confident, upbeat urban America promoted its ever more radical culture without worrying much about its effects on a mostly distant and silent small-town other. In 2008, gay marriage and women in combat were opposed, at least rhetorically, by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their respective presidential campaigns. By 2016, mere skepticism on these issues was viewed by urban elites as reactionary ignorance. In other words, it was bad enough that rural America was getting left behind economically; adding insult to injury, elite America (which is Democrat America) openly caricatured rural citizens’ traditional views and tried to force its own values on them. Lena Dunham’s loud sexual politics and Beyoncé’s uncritical evocation of the Black Panthers resonated in blue cities and on the coasts, not in the heartland. Only in today’s bifurcated America could billion-dollar sports conglomerates fail to sense that second-string San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem would turn off a sizable percentage of the National Football League’s viewing audience, which is disproportionately conservative and middle American. These cultural themes, too, Trump addressed forcefully. In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity. Trump, the billionaire Manhattanite wheeler-dealer, made an unlikely agrarian, true; but he came across during his presidential run as a clear advocate of old-style material jobs, praising vocational training and clearly enjoying his encounters with middle-American homemakers, welders, and carpenters. Trump talked more on the campaign about those who built his hotels than those who financed them. He could point to the fact that he made stuff, unlike Clinton, who got rich without any obvious profession other than leveraging her office. Give the thrice-married, orange-tanned, and dyed-haired Trump credit for his political savvy in promising to restore to the dispossessed of the Rust Belt their old jobs and to give back to farmers their diverted irrigation water, and for assuring small towns that arriving new Americans henceforth would be legal—and that, over time, they would become similar to their hosts in language, custom, and behavior. Ironically, part of Trump’s attraction for red-state America was his posture as a coastal-elite insider—but now enlisted on the side of the rustics. A guy who had built hotels all over the world, and understood how much money was made and lost through foreign investment, offered to put such expertise in the service of the heartland—against the supposed currency devaluers, trade cheats, and freeloaders of Europe, China, and Japan. Trump’s appeal to the interior had partly to do with his politically incorrect forthrightness. Each time Trump supposedly blundered in attacking a sacred cow—sloppily deprecating national hero John McCain’s wartime captivity or nastily attacking Fox superstar Megyn Kelly for her supposed unfairness—the coastal media wrote him off as a vulgar loser. Not Trump’s base. Seventy-five percent of his supporters polled that his crude pronouncements didn’t bother them. As one grape farmer told me after the Access Hollywood hot-mike recordings of Trump making sexually vulgar remarks had come to light, “Who cares? I’d take Trump on his worst day better than Hillary on her best.” Apparently red-state America was so sick of empty word-mongering that it appreciated Trump’s candor, even when it was sometimes inaccurate, crude, or cruel. Outside California and New York City and other elite blue areas, for example, foreigners who sneak into the country and reside here illegally are still “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented migrants,” a blue-state term that masks the truth of their actions. Trump’s Queens accent and frequent use of superlatives—“tremendous,” “fantastic,” “awesome”—weren’t viewed by red-state America as a sign of an impoverished vocabulary but proof that a few blunt words can capture reality. To the rural mind, verbal gymnastics reveal dishonest politicians, biased journalists, and conniving bureaucrats, who must hide what they really do and who they really are. Think of the arrogant condescension of Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the disastrous Obamacare law, who admitted that the bill was written deliberately in a “tortured way” to mislead the “stupid” American voter. To paraphrase Cicero on his preference for the direct Plato over the obscure Pythagoreans, rural Americans would have preferred to be wrong with the blunt-talking Trump than to be right with the mush-mouthed Hillary Clinton. One reason that Trump may have outperformed both McCain and Romney with minority voters was that they appreciated how much the way he spoke rankled condescending white urban liberals. Poorer, less cosmopolitan, rural people can also experience a sense of inferiority when they venture into the city, unlike smug urbanites visiting red-state America. The rural folk expect to be seen as deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers by city folk. My countryside neighbors do not wish to hear anything about Stanford University, where I work—except if by chance I note that Stanford people tend to be condescending and pompous, confirming my neighbors’ suspicions about city dwellers. And just as the urban poor have always had their tribunes, so, too, have rural residents flocked to an Andrew Jackson or a William Jennings Bryan, politicians who enjoyed getting back at the urban classes for perceived slights. The more Trump drew the hatred of PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, the elite press, the universities, the foundations, and Hollywood, the more he triumphed in red-state America. Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that identity politics became a lethal boomerang for progressives. After years of seeing America reduced to a binary universe, with culpable white Christian males encircled by ascendant noble minorities, gays, feminists, and atheists—usually led by courageous white-male progressive crusaders—red-state America decided that two could play the identity-politics game. In 2016, rural folk did silently in the voting booth what urban America had done to them so publicly in countless sitcoms, movies, and political campaigns. In sum, Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history. Victor Davis Hanson
Attention: un idiot du village peut en cacher un autre !
En ce lendemain d’une investiture …
Qui n’a de cesse, comme elle l’avait fait pour Reagan ou Bush, de moquer le prétendu idiot du village …
Comment ne pas voir avec l’historien militaire américain Victor Davis Hanson et l’un des rares analystes à l’avoir perçue …
La revanche de ces bouseux …
Que ces derniers avaient si longtemps méprisée ?
Le véritable génie de leur improbable multi-milliardaire et hédoniste new-yorkais de champion …
Quasiment seul contre l’establishment des médias, de l’université ou du monde du spectacle ou même de son propre parti à l’avoir reconnue ?
How a lifelong New Yorker became tribune of the rustics and deplorables
At 7 AM in California’s rural Central Valley, not long before the recent presidential election, I stopped to talk with an elderly irrigator on the shared border alleyway of my farm. His face was a wrinkled latticework, his false teeth yellow. His truck smelled of cigarettes, its cab overflowing with flotsam and jetsam: butts, scribbled notes, drip-irrigation parts, and empty soda cans. He rolled down the window and muttered something about the plunging water-table level and whether a weak front would bring any rain. And then, this dinosaur put one finger up on the wheel as a salutation and drove off in a dust cloud.
Five hours later, and just 180 miles distant, I bought a coffee at a Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, the spawn of Stanford University. Two young men sat at the table next to me, tight “high-water” pants rising above their ankles, coat cuffs drawn up their forearms, and shirts buttoned all the way to the top, in retro-nerd style. Their voices were nasal, their conversation rapid-fire— politics, cars, houses, vacations, fashion, and restaurants all came up. They were speaking English, but of a very different kind from the irrigator’s, accentuating a sense of being on the move and upbeat about the booming reality surrounding them.
I hadn’t just left one part of America to visit another, it seemed, but instead blasted off from one solar system to enter another cosmos, light-years distant. And to make the contrast even more radical, the man in the truck in Fresno County was Mexican-American and said that he was voting for Trump, while the two in Palo Alto were white, clearly affluent—and seemed enthused about Hillary Clinton’s sure win to come.
The postelection map of Republican and Democratic counties mirrored my geographical disconnect. The Donald Trump nation of conservative red spanned the country, to within a few miles of the two coasts, covering 85 percent of the nation’s land area. Yet Clinton won the popular vote, drawing most of her support in razor-thin, densely populated blue ribbons up and down the East and West Coast corridors and in the Great Lakes nexus. As disgruntled liberal commentator Henry Grabar summed up the election result: “We now have a rural party and an urban party. The rural party won.” This time around, anyway.
The urban party has been getting beat up a lot, even before Trump’s surprising victory. Not only have the Democrats surrendered Congress; they now control just 13 state legislatures and 15 governorships—far below where they were pre–Barack Obama. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 elected Democratic state lawmakers have lost their jobs, with most of the hemorrhaging taking place outside the cities. As political analyst Ron Brownstein puts it, “Of all the overlapping generational, racial, and educational divides that explained Trump’s stunning upset over Hillary Clinton . . . none proved more powerful than the distance between the Democrats’ continued dominance of the largest metropolitan areas, and the stampede toward the GOP almost everywhere else.”
“Everywhere else” basically means anywhere but the two coasts. After the election, in liberal, urban America, one often heard Trump’s win described as the revenge of the yahoos in flyover country, fueled by their angry “isms” and “ias”: racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on. Many liberals consoled themselves that Trump’s victory was the last hurrah of bigoted, Republican white America, soon to be swept away by vast forces beyond its control, such as global migration and the cultural transformation of America into something far from the Founders’ vision.
As insurance, though, furious progressives also renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College, advocating for a constitutional amendment that would turn presidential elections into national plebiscites. Direct presidential voting would shift power to heavily urbanized areas—why waste time trying to reach more dispersed voters in less populated rural states?—and thus institutionalize the greater economic and cultural clout of the metropolitan blue-chip universities, the big banks, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, New York–Washington media, and Hollywood, Democrat-voting all.
Barack Obama’s two electoral victories deluded the Democrats into thinking that it was politically wise to jettison their old blue-collar appeal to the working classes, mostly living outside the cities these days, in favor of an identity politics of a new multicultural, urban America. Yet Trump’s success represented more than simply a triumph of rural whites over multiracial urbanites. More ominously for liberals, it also suggested that a growing minority of blacks and Hispanics might be sympathetic with a “country” mind-set that rejects urban progressive elitism. For some minorities, sincerity and directness might be preferable to sloganeering by wealthy white urban progressives, who often seem more worried about assuaging their own guilt than about genuinely understanding people of different colors.
Trump’s election underscored two other liberal miscalculations. First, Obama’s progressive agenda and cultural elitism prevailed not because of their ideological merits, as liberals believed, but because of his great appeal to urban minorities in 2008 and 2012, who voted in solidarity for the youthful first African-American president in numbers never seen before. That fealty wasn’t automatically transferable to liberal white candidates, including the multimillionaire 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Obama had previously lost most of America’s red counties, but not by enough to keep him from winning two presidential elections, with sizable urban populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turning out to vote for the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern.
The city remains as dependent on elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as ever
Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win.
What is insufficiently understood is why a hurting rural America favored the urban, superrich Trump in 2016 and, more generally, tends to vote more conservative than liberal. Ostensibly, the answer is clear: an embittered red-state America has found itself left behind by elite-driven globalization, battered by unfettered trade and high-tech dislocations in the economy. In some of the most despairing counties, rural life has become a mirror image of the inner city, ravaged by drug use, criminality, and hopelessness.
Yet if muscular work has seen a decline in its relative monetary worth, it has not necessarily lost its importance. After all, the elite in Washington and Menlo Park appreciate the fresh grapes and arugula that they purchase at Whole Foods. Someone mined the granite used in their expensive kitchen counters and cut the timber for their hardwood floors. The fuel in their hybrid cars continues to come from refined oil. The city remains as dependent on this elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as it always was. The two Palo Altoans at Starbucks might have forgotten that their overpriced homes included two-by-fours, circuit breakers, and four-inch sewer pipes, but somebody somewhere made those things and brought them into their world.
In the twenty-first century, though, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacturing of products are more easily outsourced than are the arts of finance, insurance, investments, higher education, entertainment, popular culture, and high technology, immaterial sectors typically pursued within metropolitan contexts and supercharged by the demands of increasingly affluent global consumers. A vast government sector, mostly urban, is likewise largely impervious to the leveling effects of a globalized economy, even as its exorbitant cost and extended regulatory reach make the outsourcing of material production more likely. Asian steel may have devastated Youngstown, but Chinese dumping had no immediate effect on the flourishing government enclaves in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, filled with well-paid knowledge workers. Globalization, big government, and metastasizing regulations have enriched the American coasts, in other words, while damaging much of the nation’s interior.
Few major political leaders before Trump seemed to care. He hammered home the point that elites rarely experienced the negative consequences of their own ideologies. New York Times columnists celebrating a “flat” world have yet to find themselves flattened by Chinese writers willing to write for a fraction of their per-word rate. Tenured Harvard professors hymning praise to global progressive culture don’t suddenly discover their positions drawn and quartered into four part-time lecturer positions. And senators and bureaucrats in Washington face no risk of having their roles usurped by low-wage Vietnamese politicians. Trump quickly discovered that millions of Americans were irate that the costs and benefits of our new economic reality were so unevenly distributed.
As the nation became more urban and its wealth soared, the old Democratic commitment from the Roosevelt era to much of rural America—construction of water projects, rail, highways, land banks, and universities; deference to traditional values; and Grapes of Wrath–like empathy—has largely been forgotten. A confident, upbeat urban America promoted its ever more radical culture without worrying much about its effects on a mostly distant and silent small-town other. In 2008, gay marriage and women in combat were opposed, at least rhetorically, by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their respective presidential campaigns. By 2016, mere skepticism on these issues was viewed by urban elites as reactionary ignorance. In other words, it was bad enough that rural America was getting left behind economically; adding insult to injury, elite America (which is Democrat America) openly caricatured rural citizens’ traditional views and tried to force its own values on them. Lena Dunham’s loud sexual politics and Beyoncé’s uncritical evocation of the Black Panthers resonated in blue cities and on the coasts, not in the heartland. Only in today’s bifurcated America could billion-dollar sports conglomerates fail to sense that second-string San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem would turn off a sizable percentage of the National Football League’s viewing audience, which is disproportionately conservative and middle American. These cultural themes, too, Trump addressed forcefully.
Is there something about the land itself that promotes conservatism? The answer is as old as Western civilization. For the classical Greeks, the asteios (“astute”; astu: city) was the sophisticated “city-like” man, while the agroikos (“agrarian”; agros: farm/field) was synonymous with roughness. And yet there was ambiguity as well in the Greek city/country dichotomy: city folk were also laughed at in the comedies of Aristophanes as too impractical and too clever for their own good, while the unpolished often displayed a more grounded sensibility. In the Roman world, the urbanus (“urbane”; urbs: city) was sometimes too sophisticated, while the rusticus (“rustic”; rus: countryside) was often balanced and pragmatic.
Country people in the Western tradition lived in a shame culture. Family reputation hinged on close-knit assessments of personal behavior only possible in small communities of the like-minded and tribal. The rural ethos could not afford radical changes in lifestyles when the narrow margins of farming safety rested on what had worked in the past. By contrast, self-reinvention and social experimentation were possible only in large cities of anonymous souls and varieties of income and enrichment. Rural people, that is, don’t honor tradition and habit because they’re somehow better human beings than their urban counterparts; a face-to-face, rooted society offers practical reinforcement for doing so.
In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity.
Farming, animal husbandry, mining, logging—these traditional bodily tasks were often praised in the past as epitomes of the proper balance between physical and mental, nature and culture, fact and theory. In classical pastoral and Georgic poetry, the city-bound often romanticized the countryside, even if, on arrival, they found the flies and dirt of Arcadia bothersome. Theocritus and Virgil reflected that, in the trade-offs imposed by transforming classical societies, the earthiness lost by city dwellers was more grievous to their souls than the absence of erudition and sophistication was to the souls of simpler farmers and shepherds.
Trump, the billionaire Manhattanite wheeler-dealer, made an unlikely agrarian, true; but he came across during his presidential run as a clear advocate of old-style material jobs, praising vocational training and clearly enjoying his encounters with middle-American homemakers, welders, and carpenters. Trump talked more on the campaign about those who built his hotels than those who financed them. He could point to the fact that he made stuff, unlike Clinton, who got rich without any obvious profession other than leveraging her office.
Give the thrice-married, orange-tanned, and dyed-haired Trump credit for his political savvy in promising to restore to the dispossessed of the Rust Belt their old jobs and to give back to farmers their diverted irrigation water, and for assuring small towns that arriving new Americans henceforth would be legal—and that, over time, they would become similar to their hosts in language, custom, and behavior.
Changes come more slowly to rural interior areas, given that the sea, the historical importer of strange people and weird ideas, is far away. Maritime Athens was liberal, democratic, and cosmopolitan; its antithesis, landlocked Sparta, was oligarchic, provincial, and tradition-bound. In the same way, rural upstate New York isn’t Manhattan, and Provo isn’t Portland. Rural people rarely meet—and tend not to wish to meet—the traders, foreigners, and importers who arrive at ports with their foreign money and exotic customs.
The “Old Oligarch”—a name given to the author of a treatise by an anonymous right-wing grouch of fifth-century BC Athens—described the subversive hustle and the cornucopia of imported goods evident every day at the port of Piraeus. If one wished to destroy the purity of rural, conservative society, his odd rant went, then the Athens of Pericles would be just about the best model to follow. Ironically, part of Trump’s attraction for red-state America was his posture as a coastal-elite insider—but now enlisted on the side of the rustics. A guy who had built hotels all over the world, and understood how much money was made and lost through foreign investment, offered to put such expertise in the service of the heartland—against the supposed currency devaluers, trade cheats, and freeloaders of Europe, China, and Japan.
Language is also different in the countryside. Rural speech serves, by its very brevity and directness, as an enhancement to action. Verbosity and rhetoric, associated with urbanites, were always rural targets in classical literature, precisely because they were seen as ways to disguise reality so as to advance impractical or subversive political agendas. Thucydides, nearly 2,500 years before George Orwell’s warnings about linguistic distortion, feared how, in times of strife, words changed their meanings, with the more polished and urbane subverting the truth by masking it in rhetoric that didn’t reflect reality. In the countryside, by contrast, crops either grow or wither; olive trees either yield or remain barren; rain either arrives or is scarce. Words can’t change these existential facts, upon which living even one more day often depends. For the rural mind, language must convey what is seen and heard; it is less likely to indulge adornment.
Today’s rural-minded Americans are little different. Trump’s appeal to the interior had partly to do with his politically incorrect forthrightness. Each time Trump supposedly blundered in attacking a sacred cow—sloppily deprecating national hero John McCain’s wartime captivity or nastily attacking Fox superstar Megyn Kelly for her supposed unfairness—the coastal media wrote him off as a vulgar loser. Not Trump’s base. Seventy-five percent of his supporters polled that his crude pronouncements didn’t bother them. As one grape farmer told me after the Access Hollywood hot-mike recordings of Trump making sexually vulgar remarks had come to light, “Who cares? I’d take Trump on his worst day better than Hillary on her best.” Apparently red-state America was so sick of empty word-mongering that it appreciated Trump’s candor, even when it was sometimes inaccurate, crude, or cruel. Outside California and New York City and other elite blue areas, for example, foreigners who sneak into the country and reside here illegally are still “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented migrants,” a blue-state term that masks the truth of their actions. Trump’s Queens accent and frequent use of superlatives—“tremendous,” “fantastic,” “awesome”—weren’t viewed by red-state America as a sign of an impoverished vocabulary but proof that a few blunt words can capture reality.
To the rural mind, verbal gymnastics reveal dishonest politicians, biased journalists, and conniving bureaucrats, who must hide what they really do and who they really are. Think of the arrogant condescension of Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the disastrous Obamacare law, who admitted that the bill was written deliberately in a “tortured way” to mislead the “stupid” American voter. To paraphrase Cicero on his preference for the direct Plato over the obscure Pythagoreans, rural Americans would have preferred to be wrong with the blunt-talking Trump than to be right with the mush-mouthed Hillary Clinton. One reason that Trump may have outperformed both McCain and Romney with minority voters was that they appreciated how much the way he spoke rankled condescending white urban liberals.
Poorer, less cosmopolitan, rural people can also experience a sense of inferiority when they venture into the city, unlike smug urbanites visiting red-state America. The rural folk expect to be seen as deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers by city folk. My countryside neighbors do not wish to hear anything about Stanford University, where I work—except if by chance I note that Stanford people tend to be condescending and pompous, confirming my neighbors’ suspicions about city dwellers. And just as the urban poor have always had their tribunes, so, too, have rural residents flocked to an Andrew Jackson or a William Jennings Bryan, politicians who enjoyed getting back at the urban classes for perceived slights. The more Trump drew the hatred of PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, the elite press, the universities, the foundations, and Hollywood, the more he triumphed in red-state America.
Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that identity politics became a lethal boomerang for progressives. After years of seeing America reduced to a binary universe, with culpable white Christian males encircled by ascendant noble minorities, gays, feminists, and atheists—usually led by courageous white-male progressive crusaders—red-state America decided that two could play the identity-politics game. In 2016, rural folk did silently in the voting booth what urban America had done to them so publicly in countless sitcoms, movies, and political campaigns.
In sum, Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history.
Victor Davis Hanson
The American middle classes, the Chinese, and Vladimir Putin have never been convinced that Ivy League degrees, vast Washington experience, and cultural sophistication necessarily translate into national wisdom. Trump instead relies more on instinct and operates from cunning — and we will soon see whether we should redefine “wisdom.” But for now, for example, we have never heard a presidential candidate say such a thing as “We love our miners” — not “we like” miners, but “we love” them. And not just any miners, but “our” miners, as if, like “our vets,” the working people of our moribund economic regions were unique and exceptional people, neither clingers nor irredeemables. In Trump’s gut formulation, miners certainly did not deserve “to be put out of business” by Hillary Clinton, as if they were little more than the necessary casualties of the war against global warming. For Trump, miners were not the human equivalent of the 4,200 bald eagles that the Obama administration recently assured the wind turbine industry can be shredded for the greater good of alternate energy and green profiteering. In other words, Trump instinctively saw the miners of West Virginia — and by extension the working-class populations of states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio — as emblematic of the forgotten man, in a way few of his Republican rivals, much less Hilary Clinton, grasped. No other candidate talked as constantly about jobs, “fair” trade, illegal immigration, and political correctness — dead issues to most other pollsters and politicos. Rivals, Democratic and Republican alike, had bought into the electoral matrix of Barack Obama: slicing the electorate into identity-politics groups and arousing them to register and vote in record numbers against “them” — a fossilized, supposedly crude, illiberal, and soon-to-be-displaced white working class. For Democrats that meant transferring intact Obama’s record numbers of minority voters to a 68-year-old multimillionaire white woman; for Republicans, it meant pandering with a kinder, softer but still divisive identity-politics message. Trump instinctively saw a different demographic. And even among minority groups, he detected a rising distaste for being patronized, especially by white, nasal-droning, elite pajama-boy nerds whose loud progressivism did not disguise their grating condescension. Trump Dismissed as a Joke Yet even after destroying the Clinton Dynasty, the Bush-family aristocracy, the Obama legacy, and 16 more-seasoned primary rivals, Trump was dismissed by observers as being mostly a joke, idiotic and reckless. Such a dismissal is a serious mistake, because what Trump lacks in traditionally defined sophistication and awareness, he more than makes up for in shrewd political cunning of a sort not seen since the regnum of Franklin Roosevelt. Take a few recent examples. Candidate Donald Trump was roundly hounded by the political and media establishment for suggesting that the election might be “rigged.” Trump was apparently reacting to old rumors of voting-machine irregularities. (In fact, in about a third of blue Detroit’s precincts, to take just one example, more votes this election were recorded than there were registered voters.) Or perhaps Trump channeled reports that there was an epidemic of invalid or out-of-date voter registrations. (Controversially, the normally staid Pew Charitable Trust found that 2.4 million voter registrations were no longer accurate or were significantly inaccurate.) Or maybe he fanned fears that illegal aliens were voting. (Another controversial study from two professors at Old Dominion suggested that over 6 percent of non-citizens may have voted in 2008; and the president on the eve of the election, in his usual wink-and-nod fashion, assured the illegal-alien community that there would be no federal interest in examining immigration status in connection with voting status.) Or perhaps Trump was convinced that the media and the Democratic establishment worked hand in hand to warp elections and media coverage. (The WikiLeaks trove revealed that media operatives leaked primary debate questions and sent their stories to the Clinton campaign for fact-checking before publication, as two successive DNC chairpersons resigned in disgrace for purportedly sabotaging the primary-challenge efforts of Bernie Sanders.) For all this and more, Trump was roundly denounced by the status quo as a buffoon who cherry-picked scholarly work to offer puerile distortions. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both expressed outrage at Trump’s supposedly incendiary suggestions of voter irregularity, alleging that Trump was either delusional or insurrectionary or both. But was he? Or did he sense that his candidacy was touching off an “any means necessary” effort of unethical progressives to warp the law and custom for purportedly noble ends? After the election, that supposition was more than confirmed. The Joke’s on Them Trump’s enemies have now proved him a Nostradamus. Fourth-party candidate Jill Stein, joined by the remains of the Clinton campaign, asked for a recount of the 2016 election, but only in those states that provided Trump his electoral majority and only on the assumption that there was zero chance that Stein’s candidacy would be affected by any conceivable new vote figure. Though perhaps, Trump’s critics wished, the recount would resurrect the candidacy of Stein’s stalking horse Hillary Clinton. Trump’s enemies have now proved him a Nostradamus. Then members of the Clinton campaign and powerful Democrats joined an effort to pressure electors of the Electoral College to defy their state-mandated duty to reflect the vote totals of their states and instead refrain from voting for Donald Trump. That was all but a neo-Confederate, insurrectionary act that sought to nullify the spirit of the Constitution and the legal statues of many states — part and parcel of new surreal progressive embrace of states’-rights nullification that we have not seen since the days of George Wallace. Trump then earned greater outrage when he questioned the CIA’s sudden announcement, via leaks, that the Russians had hacked Clinton-campaign communication. When Trump said that the newfound post-election “consensus” on Russian hacking was improper, unreliable, and suggestive of an overly politicized intelligence apparatus, he once again drew universal ire — proof positive that he lacked a “presidential” temperament. Yet our intelligence agencies do have a history of politicization. The 2006 national intelligence assessment at the height of the Iraq insurgency and of George W. Bush’s unpopularity oddly claimed that Iran had stopped nuclear-weapons work as early as 2003 — a finding that, if plausible, would probably have rendered irrelevant all of Obama’s frantic efforts just three years later to conclude an Iran deal. And our intelligence agencies’ record at assessment is not exactly stellar, given that it missed the Pakistan and Indian nuclear-bomb programs, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and the status of Saddam’s WMD program. There is still no solid proof of deliberate Russian cyber interference intended to aid Donald Trump. Loretta Lynch is skeptical that Russia tried to help the Trump campaign. A Washington Post story alleging that the RNC was hacked was based on myth. WikiLeaks, for what it is worth, insists its source was not Russian. And we now learn that intelligence authorities are refusing to testify in closed session to the House Intelligence Committee about the evidence that prompted their odd post-election announcements — announcements that contradict their earlier pre-election suggestions that Russian hacking was not affecting the election. One possibility is that the likelihood of a Clinton victory spurred the administration and the likely president-elect to suggest that the election process remained sacrosanct and immune from all tampering — while the completely unforeseen loss to Trump abruptly motivated them to readjust such assessments. Trump has a habit of offering off-the-cuff unconventional observations — often unsubstantiated by verbal footnotes and in hyperbolic fashion. Then he is blasted for ignorance and recklessness by bipartisan grandees. Only later, and quietly, he is often taken seriously, but without commensurate public acknowledgement. A few more examples. Candidate Trump blasted the “free-loading” nature of NATO, wondered out loud why it was not fighting ISIS or at least Islamic terrorism, and lamented the inordinate American contribution and the paucity of commensurate allied involvement. Pundits called that out as heresy, at least for a few weeks — until scholars, analysts, and politicos offered measured support for Trump’s charges. Europeans, shocked by gambling in Casablanca, scrambled to assure that they were upping their defense contributions and drawing the NATO line at the Baltic States. President-elect Trump generated even greater outrage in the aftermath of the election when he took a call from the Taiwanese president. Pundits exploded. Foreign policy hands were aghast. Did this faker understand the dimensions of his blunder? Was he courting nuclear war? Trump shrugged, as reality again intruded: Why sell billions of dollars in weaponry to Taiwan if you cannot talk to its president? Are arms shipments less provocative than receiving a single phone call? Why talk “reset” to the thuggish murderous Castro brothers but not to a democratically elected president? Why worry what China thinks, given that it has swallowed Tibet and now created artificial islands in the South China Sea, in defiance of all maritime custom, law, and tradition? Two weeks later after the call, analysts — true to the pattern — meekly agreed that such a phone call was hardly incendiary. Perhaps, they mused, it was overdue and had a certain logic. Perhaps it had, after all, sent a valuable message to China that the U.S. may now appear as unpredictable to China as China has appeared to the U.S. Perhaps the Taiwan call had, after all, sent a valuable message to China that the U.S. may now appear as unpredictable to China as China has appeared to the U.S. More recently, Trump asked in a tweet why we should take back a sea drone stolen by China from under the nose of a U.S. ship. Aside from questions of whether the drone is now compromised, damaged, or bugged, would anyone be happy that a thief appeared days later at the door, offering back the living room’s stolen loot, on the condition to just let bygones be bygones — at least until the next heist? On most issues, Trump sensed what was verbiage and what was doable — and what was the indefensible position of his opponents. Prune away Trump’s hyperbole, and we see that his use of the illegal immigration issue is another good example. Finishing the existing southern border wall is sane and sober. “Making Mexico pay for it” can quietly be accomplished, at least in part, by simply taxing the over $50 billion in remittances sent to Mexico and Latin America by those in the U.S. who cannot prove legal residence or citizenship. Ending sanctuary cities will win majority support: Who wants to make the neo-Confederate argument that local jurisdictions can override U.S. law — and, indeed, who would make that secessionist case on behalf of violent criminal aliens? Deporting illegal-alien law-breakers — or those who are fit and able but without any history of work — is likewise the sort of position that the Left cannot, for political reasons, easily oppose. As for the rest, after closing off the border, Trump will likely shrug and allow illegal aliens who are working, who have established a few years of residence, and who are non-criminal to pay a fine, learn English, and get a green card — perhaps relegating the entire quagmire of illegal immigration to a one-time American aberration that has diminishing demographic and political relevance. Finally, Trump sensed that the proverbial base was itching for a bare-knuckles fighter. They wanted any kind of brawler who would not play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules of 2008 and 2012 that had doomed Romney and McCain, who, fairly or not, seemed to wish to lose nobly rather than win in black-and-blue fashion, and who were sometimes more embarrassed than proud of their base. Trump again foresaw that talking trash in crude tones would appeal to middle Americans as much as Obama’s snarky and ego-driven, but otherwise crude trash-talking delighted his coastal elites. So Trump said the same kinds of things to Hillary Clinton that she, in barely more measured tones, had often said to others but never expected anyone to say out loud to her. And the more the media cried foul, the more Trump knew that voters would cry “long overdue.” We can expect that Trump’s impulsiveness and electronically fed braggadocio will often get him into trouble. No doubt his tweets will continue to offend. But lost amid the left-wing hatred of Trump and the conservative Never Trump condescension is that so far he has shattered American political precedents by displaying much more political cunning and prescience than have his political opponents and most observers. Key is his emperor-has-no-clothes instinct that what is normal and customary in Washington was long ago neither sane nor necessary. And so far, his candidacy has not only redefined American politics but also recalibrated the nature of insight itself — leaving the wise to privately wonder whether they were ever all that wise after all.
His political achievements are already unprecedented, and his insight amounts to genius