The rise of Donald Trump has totally confounded the chattering class. This is as true for conservatives as it is for liberals. Never in recent history have more deep-thinkers been wrong about a presidential candidate than now.
That's because all the books they've read — way too many — never prepared them to understand the American people.
Like most intellectuals, New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks doesn't understand Trump's appeal, but at least he has an inkling as to why. "I was surprised by Trump's success because I've slipped into a bad pattern," he says, "spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people of similar status and demographics to my own."
Brooks' sociology is accurate. Most of the intelligentsia come from a pampered class, one that insulates them from blue-collar workers and lower-middle class employees — the very heart of Trump's appeal. Having spent more time in bookstores than in bars, they have no more idea of what life is like for blue-collar workers than Marx did in understanding factory workers — he never set foot in one.
A large swath of America is justifiably angry. For one, they experience firsthand the machinations of those below them who have learned how to game the system. Meanwhile, they and their families struggle to make ends meet.
To be specific, many in the working class, as well as those in the lower middle class, interact daily with those in the lower class, and what they see angers them. The cops, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, social workers, cab drivers, and others have good reasons to think that the deck is stacked against them.
No "Obamaphone" for these folks.
When these Americans listen to liberal members of the chattering class, they hear how bad things are for the "poor" — to say nothing of the "plight" of illegal aliens — and then they witness how these alleged unfortunates manage to pull it off.
When they listen to conservative members of the chattering class, they hear how wonderful free trade is, and then they learn how another plant is moving overseas.
Do the anti-Trump intellectuals ever experience anything like this? Have they ever seen how easy it is to rip off Uncle Sam and get away with it? Have they ever worried how their jobs might be rendered obsolete by another trade deal? Or how it feels to lose one's job while reading about the feds bailing out the welfare cheats on Wall Street?
How many intellectuals ever served a day in the military? How about their siblings and friends? How many of their neighbors served? When they went to college, did they join ROTC?
Or, was ROTC banned on their elite campuses because the Army wasn't sufficiently gay friendly?
So whose kids are dying in the Middle East? The very ones whom Trump appeals to. He scores with those in the lower ranks because they don't want their kids to lose their life in one more war with Muslim barbarians.
Why is it that Trump's base intuitively understands that the barbarians who live a tribal existence are not interested in freedom and equality, yet many intellectuals still can't figure it out?
Why are we shoving Jeffersonian ideas down their throats when they have made it clear that they prefer to be left alone?
Too much philosophy can corrupt common sense. The time has come for real diversity: the deep thinkers need to meet the proletariat instead of chattering about them.
Dr. William Donohue is the president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The publisher of the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, Donohue is a former Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation and served for two decades on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. He is the author of six books, and the winner of several teaching awards and many awards from the Catholic community. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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