A new piece from a New York Times (!) columnist gets to the heart of the matter. It hit me hard, since I too have gotten in trouble for telling the elites something they didn’t want to hear.
David Brooks is a conservative New York Times columnist (which means he’s not all that conservative). He’s smart, but he tends towards self-satisfied windbaggery. He’s a guy who didn’t tell readers he took money from a nonprofit he promoted – after he wrote a book called “The Road to Character.”
Hey, maybe he was taking the scenic route.
But Brooks just nailed it.
Did he ever. In a column called, “What if We’re the Bad Guys Here?” Brooks sought to explain the increasingly obvious fact that the prosecutions of Donald Trump are only strengthening him.
Trump now polls even with Joe Biden even though the economy is far stronger than it was six months ago. The United States has avoided recession (because we haven’t really dealt with inflation, and because where else can companies invest? Europe, which is halfway to tearing up its roads to make Greta Thunberg happy? China, where you can make all the money you like as long as Xi Jinping doesn’t notice?)
Presidential elections are supposedly referendums on economic growth: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Yet neither solid growth and stock market recovery nor Trump’s indictments have helped Biden – or hurt Trump, who is now a near-lock to win the Republican nomination.
Ron DeSantis’s bizarre decision to focus on the homoerotic Nazi vote rather than his success keeping Florida open has helped Trump too. But Trump’s strength clearly is bigger than DeSantis’s problems. No other Republican candidate has a realistic shot either. (In fact, the causality may run the other way, as Trump drives DeSantis to desperate and stupid moves.)
So what’s going on?
Brooks has a theory, and it’s a good one. It sure matches my experience since 2020.
Brooks’s article is paywalled. But this is the essential thought:
I ask you to try on a vantage point in which we anti-Trumpers are not the eternal good guys. In fact, we’re the bad guys.
This story begins in the 1960s, when high school grads had to go off to fight in Vietnam, but the children of the educated class got college deferments…
The ideal that “we’re all in this together” was replaced with the reality that the educated class lives in a world up here, and everybody else is forced into a world down there. Members of our class are always publicly speaking out for the marginalized, but somehow we always end up building systems that serve ourselves.
(What if “The Elite Guide To Serving Man” turned out to be a cookbook?)
Thus, Brooks writes:
It’s easy to understand why people in less-educated classes would conclude that they are under economic, political, cultural and moral assault — and why they’ve rallied around Trump as their best warrior against the educated class. Trump understood that it’s not the entrepreneurs who seem most threatening to workers; it’s the professional class.
Here’s what I’d add. Trump is not alone in that realization.
But he is so obnoxious, so narcissistic, and so unapologetic that he drives the elites to distraction. As I wrote in May, Trump “causes his opponents to overreact and thus reveal themselves.”
Democrats and reporters (I know, the overlap is about 100 percent) may pretend to care about fair treatment under the law and in journalism. But how can anyone who has seen the plea deal Hunter Biden was about to receive last week believe them? At this point they hate Trump so much they seem ready to do anything to prevent him from assuming office again.
Yes, the elites believe in the rule of law. Totally. Completely.
As long as they’re winning.
How am I so sure?
Because I have felt their wrath myself. Especially in 2021.
The elites had faith in the Covid vaccines, and the process that led to their emergency authorization. (At least they did once Biden won.)
They didn’t entirely understand it, but they believed in it. Given the importance of Covid jabs, they believed they could trust drug companies to tell the truth about them. They believed the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control would provide a meaningful check on the companies, too.
And they did NOT want to hear anyone say otherwise, especially if those objections were grounded in data. (They didn’t mind hearing bizarre, conspiratorial theories like the one that mRNAs make people magnetic, because they liked believing that anyone who had questions must be a fool.)
No one, except maybe Tucker Carlson, felt their anger on the jabs more than I did. And that’s not a coincidence. Tucker and I were both class traitors and thus particularly annoyed them.
For a while they were content to rely on mockery and social ostracism to shut me up.
But when those measures failed, and push came to shove in the summer of 2021, the media, academic, and leftist political elites made clear that they didn’t give a damn about my First Amendment right to speak.
They still don’t. They haven’t even acknowledged the black-and-white evidence I have presented of the White House’s censorship efforts.
So, yeah, I cannot stand Donald Trump. (Yes, still.) But I know very well how he and his supporters feel. As I texted a friend yesterday:
There is one big difference between me and Trump, though.
At this point the elites would rather forget about the mRNAs. Everyone knows the vaccines didn’t work. They didn’t stop Covid, and they probably didn’t even make a meaningful difference to its trajectory. It mutated to become more transmissible and less virulent, as viruses do, and everyone wound up getting it anyway.
But they can’t forget about Donald Trump. Because he will not go away.
What they don’t get is that their relentless refusal to let voters decide Trump’s fate for themselves is now provoking a backlash, a backlash that is only going to grow.
The details of what Trump did with a few boxes in Mar-a-Lago last year or even in the White House in January 2021 matter less and less.
What matters is the growing perception that Trump is being hounded not in spite of the fact he might win next year but because of it.
Jack Smith doesn’t get to decide who is going to be president any more than Andy Slavitt decides who can talk about Covid vaccines.
The elites have forgotten that they don’t get to make all the rules. Most, maybe, but not all. As Brooks wrote, “‘History is a graveyard of classes which have preferred caste privileges to leadership.’ That is the destiny our class is now flirting with.”
Or, to put it in a more populist fashion:
Fuck with the bull, get the horns.
Trump’s not the bull. The voters are the bull.
Trump’s the horns.
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