Substantively, except for Trump’s recent conversion to actually enforcing immigration laws (which offends both Brooks’ finely tuned sense of decorum and his desire to underpay his housekeeper), Trump and Brooks often seem agree on a lot – until Trump changes his mind and starts believing something else. Both are really centrists pretending to be conservatives. Both are terrible Republicans. And both are New York bubble dwellers.
But while Trump knows his market – people who aren’t New York bubble dwellers – it is only in this column that Brooks admits he does not actually know anyone who Trump appeals to. For that, he sort of apologizes and promises that in the future he will try harder to do better to comprehend the residents of the country he presumes to write about.
So good of him. Hey Brooks, all is forgiven … you crease-fetishizing, sycophantic snob.
How condescending. “Oh, I really should have understood the actual people who make up the conservative base better. Duly noted. Now all kneel before me!”
Understand that he’s no fan of Ted Cruz either, mostly because Ted Cruz is so uncouth that he actually presumes to fight the progressive elite that gently pats Brooks on his noggin and invites him to all the best parties, secure in the knowledge that on command he will obediently denounce, disavow and repudiate the same Republicans he is supposed to be representing.
So, Trump gets about 40% of the primary vote and Cruz about 30% and, while I did go to a public school, I still think that adds up to at least 70% of the GOP electorate voting for one or another candidate whose platform is essentially a middle finger to the people like Brooks who ran the party for the last 30 years.
We need to be clear on who the people supporting Trump are. I’m a Trump opponent, though I will vote for him against that evil harpy Hillary Clinton in the general because her combination of unhinged malice and bottomless stupidity will lead her to create a climate that invites lasting damage to the Union, including but not limited to actual violence. But many who agree with me about Trump’s perfidy are seeing what they would like to see rather than what truly is when it comes to the people who support him. SunTzu was very clear – you need to understand your opponent as he is, not as you wish him to be, to defeat him. So let’s understand who Trump’s voters are.
They are not leftists. There is this notion that Trump himself is a leftist because some of his positions are or have been (as if there is a difference with Trump) liberal. He’s not a leftist; leftists are socialists and hate America and Americans. Trump is many things, often all at once, but he’s not that. And neither are his supporters. To try and dismiss him as a leftist like Clinton or Sanders is counterproductive.
They are not just impoverished victims bitter because they can’t make Buicks anymore. There’s this meme that they are all dirt poor Appalachian oxy addicts, and that’s just silly. (Side Note: Kevin Williamson of National Review has gotten grief for his unflinching reporting on white poverty; I don’t agree with all his conclusions, but his gripping work is some of the best reporting out there and demonstrates that the underclass’s problems are related to a poisonous culture rather than to factors like race that liberals exploit.)
While there is a huge economic displacement component to Trump’s appeal, most of his followers are the “work hard and play by the rules” people who get disrespected by the elite (when people like Brooks bother to notice them at all) but who do much of the work building and defending this country. Note the prominence of American flags, veterans’ issues, and promises not to squander more lives on elitist-contrived Middle Eastern crusades at Trump rallies. And then there is the talk of prioritizing America’s interests – do not underestimate the appeal to Americans of a politician willing to take America’s side.
Trump fans are not all racists and xenophobes. A lot of conservatives have used the same kind of leftist slanders to tar these people that helped alienate them in the first place, hence the way Trump’s rejection of political correctness is always cited as a yuge part of his appeal. Sure, some of the people who glommed onto his campaign are freaks, but anyone who has ever been around any campaign knows that they all attract a few weirdos who won’t ever shut up. And while the media will never, ever interview the La Raza creeps with the Mexican flags and the unironic signs reading “U.S. Out of North America” at Sanders rallies, they’ll swarm all over the IQ-challenged self-proclaimed “Nordic activist” drawn to a Trump rally.
True, Trump’s followers refuse to follow the rules of the PC kabuki dance that coastal elitists instinctively adhere to when discussing issues of race, sex, or Islam. That doesn’t make them terrible – it just makes them honest. Sure, the coastal types who carefully refer to illegal aliens as “undocumented workers” may frown when some guy from Phoenix calls these criminals what they are – you think the kind of citizen who supports Trump would get a pass if he broke the law? – but it’s the elitists who are the liars. It’s the elitists using PC to cover up the truth about the economic disruption and crime illegals cause, not the Trump voters. The elitists need to change, not the Trump fans.
But, of course, change is the one thing Brooks never even considers. Sure, he now acknowledges the need to socialize with people outside of Manhattan, by which he no doubt means flying to Iowa next time and awkwardly picking at a plate of French toast in some diner adjacent to a couple farmers in John Deere caps, silently wondering if the butter was locally sourced and counting the minutes until his flight back to La Guardia. But Brooks displays no intention whatsoever of altering any of his views based upon what he claims to have learned. Illegal immigration? Nope, he’s still at “Shut up racists.” Guns? Nope, he’s still at “Let me determine what few weapons you hicks should be glad I allow you to keep.” Obama? Nope, he’s still at “We can’t possibly actually oppose him – look at those creases!”
See Brooks, you and your buddies haven’t really learned anything because you haven’t shown any inclination to change anything. Deep down – actually, not that deep down – you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. You think your own base is stupid and easily led, and you’re just mad because they are too smart to let you and your ilk lead them anymore.