Bill Kristol goes off the deep end
In an astonishing statement, the editor at large of the Weekly Standard told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday that the white working class in the U.S. has become "lazy, decadent," and "spoiled." Then he dug deeper by telling leading social researcher Charles Murray: "Look, to be totally honest, if things are so bad as you say with the white working class, don't you want to get new Americans in?"
Coming from him – who is by all accounts a very decent, civilized man – it has the redolence of the icy commissars of early 20th-century communism – whose logic was mockingly described by German far-left intellectual Bertolt Brecht in his poem "The Solution" as follows:
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
This is about par for intellectuals the world over. The famed longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer noted that intellectuals had the same characteristics no matter what their professed ideology, in that they always sought to remodel human nature.
Kristol is not the only one who wants to import a new people. Commissars always spoke of creating a New Soviet Man when Russia's peasants wouldn't do what they wanted, and National Review's Kevin Williamson found himself in hot water this year by dismissing white working-class voters as just a bunch of meth heads addicted to welfare with no interest in self-improvement. Their distressed rust-belt towns, he said, deserved to wither away.
It was even echoed by 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who dismissed 47% of the American public as addicted to public benefits and impossible to help, a statement that arguably cost him the 2012 election. Like Kristol, he made his remarks behind closed doors and hoped he wasn't being recorded.
What is it with these guys? I had the same attitude myself on the issue of free trade, astonished that Donald Trump could win votes by calling for protectionism. I had argued as an editorial writer for more than a decade on the virtue of free trade, certain of my facts, yet baffled that the arguments never got much popular traction, and in some instances, I was dismissive of trade opponents as leftist losers looking for privileges. The reality of Trump's victory told me that something different is going on, some dynamic that wasn't entirely clear to me. It wasn't just workers looking to stay lazy and uncompetitive in their industries. The election showed that the old assumptions were wrong and trade proponents would have to go over and deconstruct all of the assumptions on trade in order to understand what workers were responding to. It would actually be an adventure.
The fact of the matter is, if you believe in representative democracy, then the voters are ultimately never wrong. They may temporarily get the government they deserve at times, but their decisions are the collective result of millions of people's experiences, the same as free markets are. We already know that central planning fails miserably in economic matters, as Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek has explained, for the simple reason that central planners do not have as much information as millions of decision-making consumers. It also fails miserably in political matters. The more we open our minds to what we don't understand about voting behavior, the less frustrated we are going to be.
And more to the point, the more likely to win elections.
On Twitter, Dan Riehl expressed it best:
Shorter Bill Kristol: I hate the white working class that elected Donald Trump. Good luck with that mentality GOP.
Kristol is someone whose intellectual contributions and passionate voice are valued. He should snap out of his rigid dismissal of voters and try to find out what's really going on.