Trump and the Forgotten Man
The Republican’s victory was a blow for non-elites.
November 10, 2016
Politics and law
The following commentary from Troy Senik (vice president of policy and programs at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research) contains a couple of what I thought to be poignant observations (highlighted).
There was a moment during Tuesday’s election night coverage when, if you were consuming the right mix of cable news and Twitter feeds, you could watch the shock wave rolling in real time. Former Obama advisor Van Jones was near tears on CNN, as was Martha Raddatz on ABC. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was, with characteristic restraint, decrying the “deep hatred in a large segment of the population.” When Ezra Klein, purveyor of the invariably supercilious “explainer” site Vox, began tweeting links to a story making the case against the Electoral College, you knew it was over.
For a sizable number of Donald Trump’s supporters, those moments may have been justification enough for their vote. After years of being sneered at, they got a front-row seat for a collective nervous breakdown radiating out through the Acela Corridor and the West Coast’s Highway 101. They got to hit the elites—a term that, though promiscuously applied, does identify a distinct cultural phylum—right in their (glass, it turns out) jaws.
Trump’s victory may well have completed the transformation of partisan politics into cultural proxy war—a transformation that, it bears noting, began well before he arrived on the political scene. As the pundits observed ad nauseam on election night, the America that voted for Trump lives, in large measure, at both a physical and social remove from the one that voted for Hillary Clinton. They failed, however, to note an important asymmetry that explains why progressive America was so thunderstruck as Tuesday night passed into Wednesday morning: the Trump parts of the country understand the Clinton parts much better than vice versa.