Class conflict was at the heart of the Trump victory

Hillary Clinton’s blindness to issues of class conflict handed victory to her hated opponent. She and her partisans never saw it coming.

Conservatives generally shy away from using the category of “class” in our political analyses. After all, it is a Marxist analytical tool, and it contradicts the noble ideals of equality in citizenship status that undergird the Republic.  If sociology professors obsess about it, that is enough to taint the concept in many conservative eyes. But the old categories of political analysis have been turned on their heads. The Democrats represent the elites, and rely on the votes of dependent classes, perpetually agitated by grievance-mongering and convinced that only the benevolence of government can sustain their lives.

Historically, the Democrats were the party that made a big deal out of class, and the old mindset has blinded them to their peril.  They pushed themselves as champions of the working class against what FDR (who inherited a fortune) called the “malefactors of wealth.”  But that was the better part of a century ago, and meanwhile the Information Revolution began replacing the Industrial Revolution as the driver of social and economic stratification.

The old political framework started crumbling when Richard Nixon discovered that hard hats were attacking hirsute anti-war demonstrators.  The Vietnam War was dividing the country as harshly as it now appears to fracturing.  The support of blue-collar Democrats gave Republican Nixon two presidential election victories, the second one a historic sweep. Nixon’s “silent majority” was succeeded by the “Reagan Democrats,” another term signifying working class support after one term of Jimmy Carter.   The support of “Reagan Democrats” – working class, union members, offended by the arrogance the left and weakened by Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” economy --  was critical. As with Nixon, Reagan’s re-election was  overwhelming.

So, when Donald Trump cultivated the white working class voters driven to further desperation by decades of de-industrialization and the scourge of opioids, he was building on a very successful model. But, given the demographic shift in the nation’s population through immigration, he needed some help from Hillary Clinton.  Shee graciously provided it, in the form of her “basket of deplorables” remark (and in countless other ways).

Writing in the New York Post, Kyle Smith provides excellent insight into the way that white working class resentment came to power Donald Trump’s victory, in his review of the book White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, by law professor Joan C. Wiliams. Her argument is clear and incisive, so I urge a read of the entire thing, Here is an excerpt.

If your answer to the question “Who am I?” is “I’m a professor,” then your identity doesn’t change whether you’re in London, Miami or San Francisco. Elites have a tendency to leave home for college, then flit from one global capital to another. Not so the WWC, which Williams defines as white middle-class people (thos.e in the $41,000 to $132,000 income range) who don’t have a college education. They’re strongly attached to their hometowns, to the people they feel comfortable with, to what they perceive to be the shared values of their communities.

Tradition and stability matter. “The dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money,” Williams notes.

Donald Trump epitomizes this idea, having made his fortune “in garish casinos that sold a working-class brand of luxury.” Gold-covered everything is exactly how you’d decorate if you were from Appalachia and struck it rich with no intervening period of finishing school at Stanford or Yale.

To the rootless global elites, though, tradition is subordinated to transgression. What society considers edgy, elites deem worthy of their praise. It isn’t acceptable merely to accept gay life, for example — it must be celebrated. Recalling moving to San Francisco and observing a fully naked man walking down the street, Williams recalls feeling proud of herself for being tolerant of such norm-shattering. Among the elites, she says, “It’s a point of pride not to be one of those petty bourgeois who’s shocked by sexual transgression.”

This attitude not only stuns the WWC but strikes them as a kind of attack on everything they hold dear. To them, bicoastal urban America is a joke to which they don’t get the punchline. They feel excluded, marginalized, left out. Worse than any of this, they feel condescended to, and it infuriates them, Williams writes.

Hillary Clinton did a marvelous job of confirming their suspicions when she said — in New York City, at an LGBT event — that “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Being called names such as these is exactly what gets the white working class fired up. She might as well have told everyone from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, “Don’t vote for me.” Outside of Chicagoland, they didn’t.

Hat tip: Ed Driscoll, Instapundit

Hillary Clinton’s blindness to issues of class conflict handed victory to her hated opponent. She and her partisans never saw it coming.

Conservatives generally shy away from using the category of “class” in our political analyses. After all, it is a Marxist analytical tool, and it contradicts the noble ideals of equality in citizenship status that undergird the Republic.  If sociology professors obsess about it, that is enough to taint the concept in many conservative eyes. But the old categories of political analysis have been turned on their heads. The Democrats represent the elites, and rely on the votes of dependent classes, perpetually agitated by grievance-mongering and convinced that only the benevolence of government can sustain their lives.

Historically, the Democrats were the party that made a big deal out of class, and the old mindset has blinded them to their peril.  They pushed themselves as champions of the working class against what FDR (who inherited a fortune) called the “malefactors of wealth.”  But that was the better part of a century ago, and meanwhile the Information Revolution began replacing the Industrial Revolution as the driver of social and economic stratification.

The old political framework started crumbling when Richard Nixon discovered that hard hats were attacking hirsute anti-war demonstrators.  The Vietnam War was dividing the country as harshly as it now appears to fracturing.  The support of blue-collar Democrats gave Republican Nixon two presidential election victories, the second one a historic sweep. Nixon’s “silent majority” was succeeded by the “Reagan Democrats,” another term signifying working class support after one term of Jimmy Carter.   The support of “Reagan Democrats” – working class, union members, offended by the arrogance the left and weakened by Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” economy --  was critical. As with Nixon, Reagan’s re-election was  overwhelming.

So, when Donald Trump cultivated the white working class voters driven to further desperation by decades of de-industrialization and the scourge of opioids, he was building on a very successful model. But, given the demographic shift in the nation’s population through immigration, he needed some help from Hillary Clinton.  Shee graciously provided it, in the form of her “basket of deplorables” remark (and in countless other ways).

Writing in the New York Post, Kyle Smith provides excellent insight into the way that white working class resentment came to power Donald Trump’s victory, in his review of the book White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, by law professor Joan C. Wiliams. Her argument is clear and incisive, so I urge a read of the entire thing, Here is an excerpt.

If your answer to the question “Who am I?” is “I’m a professor,” then your identity doesn’t change whether you’re in London, Miami or San Francisco. Elites have a tendency to leave home for college, then flit from one global capital to another. Not so the WWC, which Williams defines as white middle-class people (thos.e in the $41,000 to $132,000 income range) who don’t have a college education. They’re strongly attached to their hometowns, to the people they feel comfortable with, to what they perceive to be the shared values of their communities.

Tradition and stability matter. “The dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money,” Williams notes.

Donald Trump epitomizes this idea, having made his fortune “in garish casinos that sold a working-class brand of luxury.” Gold-covered everything is exactly how you’d decorate if you were from Appalachia and struck it rich with no intervening period of finishing school at Stanford or Yale.

To the rootless global elites, though, tradition is subordinated to transgression. What society considers edgy, elites deem worthy of their praise. It isn’t acceptable merely to accept gay life, for example — it must be celebrated. Recalling moving to San Francisco and observing a fully naked man walking down the street, Williams recalls feeling proud of herself for being tolerant of such norm-shattering. Among the elites, she says, “It’s a point of pride not to be one of those petty bourgeois who’s shocked by sexual transgression.”

This attitude not only stuns the WWC but strikes them as a kind of attack on everything they hold dear. To them, bicoastal urban America is a joke to which they don’t get the punchline. They feel excluded, marginalized, left out. Worse than any of this, they feel condescended to, and it infuriates them, Williams writes.

Hillary Clinton did a marvelous job of confirming their suspicions when she said — in New York City, at an LGBT event — that “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Being called names such as these is exactly what gets the white working class fired up. She might as well have told everyone from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, “Don’t vote for me.” Outside of Chicagoland, they didn’t.

Hat tip: Ed Driscoll, Instapundit

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