In what was unthinkable a year ago, Donald J. Trump is well on the way to becoming the nominee of the Republican Party in the 2016 election.
Of the many things that can be said of Mr. Trump — from our perspective, an overwhelmingly negative list — one interesting fact is that he is apparently not a small-government, movement conservative.
This, as much as his overt racism, immaturity, ignorance of policy, and neo-fascist encouragement of violence against protestors at his campaign events has the Republican elite upset.
Some of the dismay from movement conservatives over Mr. Trump's march toward the nomination has begun to be directed at his white, working class supporters. Among perceptive observers, these folks are widely described as non-college educated people who have seen their economic prospects decline rapidly in recent decades with the decline of good-paying, low-skilled jobs. Many commentators see Trump as a demagogue playing to the fears and resentments of people who were most hurt during the near-depression of 2008 and its aftermath.
However, in a much commented-upon article recently in the conservative National Review, Kevin Williamson contemptuously dismissed the concept that Trump's working class supporters are a "victim class."
This description "is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn't. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about 'globalists' and — odious, stupid term — 'the Establishment,' but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves."
Williamson goes on to recycle and apply the movement conservative "blame-the-poor-for being-poor" attitude to the white working class. "Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America." he writes. "The white American under class is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles."
The gall of these statements matches anything that has come from Mr. Trump's mouth. Which political party, led by its "establishment," has glorified consumerism, wealth and greed for the last three and a half decades? Which party has in recent years equated "immigration reform" with the pejorative term "amnesty" and made any humane legislative solution impossible? Which political party stood mute as a narcissistic television reality show star for years questioned President Obama's U.S. citizenship? Which party has repeatedly and irresponsibly threatened to shut or actually shut down the government like an angry little boy? Which party denies the reality of facts it doesn't like, such as human-caused climate change, and has resisted any scientific study of the causes and extent of gun violence? Which party vowed to block President Obama's every initiative from the beginning — even things they once be supported — and the good of the nation be damned?
The Republican elite long played the game of riling up the rank and file with social issues like gay marriage, race and abortion, while in practice the overriding priority was in economic policies that would overwhelmingly favor the rich. Moral dysfunction in this party, as in this nation, starts at the top. The selfishness, self-delusion, prejudice and deliberate ignorance that has led to the political rise of Donald Trump has a long pedigree, and it runs through a Republican party that has become increasingly angry, anti-intellectual and ever-more in thrall to a "survival-of-the fittest" ideology that divides the world into "makers and takers."
Mr. Trump has taken the fast track to extremism and as president would be a grave threat to our democracy, but the party elites who now despise him have done much to create the "vicious, selfish culture" in which he has thrived.