Can Conservatives Deal with a Bigger GOP Tent?

I can’t quite decide how to describe the Trump impact on the conservative movement. Is it the blousy town girls showing up at a sorority poetry reading and showing a bit too much cleavage? Or is it the oil-field workers showing up at the wine bar and ordering Miller Light?

It does seem that the unfocused and non-ideological Trump supporters are a real challenge for libertarians and conservatives like me. For us, the world is neatly explained by our brilliant theories and our virtues, a reflection of our liberal friends across the aisle, with their reactionary ideas masquerading as progress and pompous talk about arcs of history.

For conservatives the Trumpsters are a problem because (can you believe it!) they still support Social Security and Medicare and fences and protection and other embarrassments. For liberals they are the discarded mistress, a reminder of a time long ago when liberals loved to adorn their working-class little darlings with government baubles in return for their electoral services.

But I got a clue about the Trump folks the other morning reading Michael Mann and his multi-volume Sources of Social Power. He argued that the bourgeois revolutions like the American and French Revolution were driven not by the capitalists and big businessmen, the bourgeoisie of Karl Marx, but by the ordinary shopkeepers and tradesmen. The big boys could wheel and deal with the old regime and find a place in its patronage networks, but the middle-class shopkeepers and small businessmen were cut out. It was their frustrations that drove the revolutions and then forced the “notables” to lead them.

Isn’t that eerily familiar? For today’s conservative elite life isn’t so bad. With our education and our connections we can wive and thrive in the liberal world even if we hate it. Not convinced? Here is the latest from Angelo Codevilla (H/T Maggie Gallagher):

America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

But the Trumpsters are out in the cold. No commanding heights or satellite knolls for them. And all they want is a decent job and family and decent prospect for their kids. They are angry and frustrated, and they are afraid for their children.

And by the way, let us conservatives ask how long we will be allowed to operate as naughty dissenters to the liberal ruling class, and allowed to pick up the crumbs from the liberal patronage machine? The portents are pretty clear. You will be made to care, heretics, or the activist speech police will know the reason why.

So I think the challenge in the spring of 2016 is on conservatives. Do we have the generosity and the kindness to open the tent flaps of the GOP to the Trumpsters, let them swarm all over the place, and give them succor after their wanderings in the political wilderness in the years since the Civil Rights Acts morphed into what John Derbyshire calls Jim Snow laws? Or are we going to create a #NeverTrump safe space and hide from the endless microaggressions of Obama’s America? There will be time enough to argue about the shape of the new Republican Party in the years to come, and debate how our Joshua will march us around the walls of the liberal city of Jericho, blowing our trumpets till the walls come a-tumbling down. But right now we have a tribe of migrants knocking loudly on our door, cast out of the land of Egypt by a cruel liberal Pharaoh, and they need a roof for the night.

I never forget the words of Michael Barone, that the Republican Party is the home of people that think of themselves as typical Americans. The Trump supporters are nothing if not typical Americans. They belong in the party of typical Americans, and it is a shame that for so long the party of typical Americans completely fumbled the ball on this and forgot to leave the light on. This Sunday on FoxNews Rush Limbaugh nailed it as usual.

Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he's put together a coalition that's exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win and, yet, look like what they're doing. They’re trying to get Trump out of the race, because they're not in charge of it.

But it will all work out, says Rush, because we all have a common enemy. Its name begins with “D”.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

I can’t quite decide how to describe the Trump impact on the conservative movement. Is it the blousy town girls showing up at a sorority poetry reading and showing a bit too much cleavage? Or is it the oil-field workers showing up at the wine bar and ordering Miller Light?

It does seem that the unfocused and non-ideological Trump supporters are a real challenge for libertarians and conservatives like me. For us, the world is neatly explained by our brilliant theories and our virtues, a reflection of our liberal friends across the aisle, with their reactionary ideas masquerading as progress and pompous talk about arcs of history.

For conservatives the Trumpsters are a problem because (can you believe it!) they still support Social Security and Medicare and fences and protection and other embarrassments. For liberals they are the discarded mistress, a reminder of a time long ago when liberals loved to adorn their working-class little darlings with government baubles in return for their electoral services.

But I got a clue about the Trump folks the other morning reading Michael Mann and his multi-volume Sources of Social Power. He argued that the bourgeois revolutions like the American and French Revolution were driven not by the capitalists and big businessmen, the bourgeoisie of Karl Marx, but by the ordinary shopkeepers and tradesmen. The big boys could wheel and deal with the old regime and find a place in its patronage networks, but the middle-class shopkeepers and small businessmen were cut out. It was their frustrations that drove the revolutions and then forced the “notables” to lead them.

Isn’t that eerily familiar? For today’s conservative elite life isn’t so bad. With our education and our connections we can wive and thrive in the liberal world even if we hate it. Not convinced? Here is the latest from Angelo Codevilla (H/T Maggie Gallagher):

America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

But the Trumpsters are out in the cold. No commanding heights or satellite knolls for them. And all they want is a decent job and family and decent prospect for their kids. They are angry and frustrated, and they are afraid for their children.

And by the way, let us conservatives ask how long we will be allowed to operate as naughty dissenters to the liberal ruling class, and allowed to pick up the crumbs from the liberal patronage machine? The portents are pretty clear. You will be made to care, heretics, or the activist speech police will know the reason why.

So I think the challenge in the spring of 2016 is on conservatives. Do we have the generosity and the kindness to open the tent flaps of the GOP to the Trumpsters, let them swarm all over the place, and give them succor after their wanderings in the political wilderness in the years since the Civil Rights Acts morphed into what John Derbyshire calls Jim Snow laws? Or are we going to create a #NeverTrump safe space and hide from the endless microaggressions of Obama’s America? There will be time enough to argue about the shape of the new Republican Party in the years to come, and debate how our Joshua will march us around the walls of the liberal city of Jericho, blowing our trumpets till the walls come a-tumbling down. But right now we have a tribe of migrants knocking loudly on our door, cast out of the land of Egypt by a cruel liberal Pharaoh, and they need a roof for the night.

I never forget the words of Michael Barone, that the Republican Party is the home of people that think of themselves as typical Americans. The Trump supporters are nothing if not typical Americans. They belong in the party of typical Americans, and it is a shame that for so long the party of typical Americans completely fumbled the ball on this and forgot to leave the light on. This Sunday on FoxNews Rush Limbaugh nailed it as usual.

Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he's put together a coalition that's exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win and, yet, look like what they're doing. They’re trying to get Trump out of the race, because they're not in charge of it.

But it will all work out, says Rush, because we all have a common enemy. Its name begins with “D”.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.