The National Review still doesn’t get it:
Conservatives must find a way to make common cause with Andrew Jackson’s nationalist heirs.
Okay. So far, so good.
Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination by exploiting vulnerabilities few were aware existed. When the 2016 race began, almost no one seemed to have understood that a plurality of the Republican party had a fundamentally different set of policy preferences from those of doctrinaire conservatism. Trump saw this opening and took full advantage.
No one? Don’t you mean “no one among the conservative elitists and GOP establishment”? Because there are a lot of us who understood that the GOPe was not looking out for our interests. That’s what the Tea Party and Sarah Palin were all about. That’s why Eric Cantor isn’t in Congress anymore.
Trump’s positions follow the contours not of movement conservatism but of American folk nationalism, often known as Jacksonianism. As Walter Russell Mead, my boss over at The American Interest, has noted, Jacksonians characteristically emphasize anti-elitism and egalitarianism while drawing a sharp distinction between members of the folk group and those outside it. In domestic policy, this translates to tough-on-crime stances and stubborn adherence to traditional views on social issues (and, historically, opposition to civil rights), and to advocacy of government assistance for “deserving” members of the folk group. Looking abroad, they are uninterested in Wilsonian nation-building projects or promoting global order, but if they feel the nation is threatened, they are willing to fight back by whatever means are necessary. Sound familiar yet?
Jacksonians don’t fit easily into either the liberal or the conservative camp; they are the “radical middle.” They also don’t comport with regional stereotypes. Jacksonians are not synonymous with southerners or rednecks: Trump has performed best in northeastern states and prospered in cities. And while Trump is supported by racists (especially by the ugly little band of Twitter trolls known as the alt-right), Jacksonians cannot be dismissed as such en masse. In the past, Jacksonians have been found at the heart of the Confederacy, but they also formed the core of the Union Army, and later the one that defeated Hitler. Their motivations and history are too complex — and they comprise too wide a swath of the American public — to be rightly considered atavistic or a sectional rump.
When Jacksonians take up politics, they do so with a vengeance, and Jacksonian uprisings have overturned the American political order more than once. But Jacksonians tend to be quiet politically when things are going well. Much of the time, it’s easy for elites to misread them as supporters of other movements, forget them, or take them for granted.
Meanwhile, structural shifts in the economy, from globalization to automation, have been breaking down traditional sources of blue-collar and clerical employment, even as 50 years of mass immigration — a large chunk of it not sanctioned by law — have altered the nature of the American folk group. The latter has weakened social cohesion, and the former not only grates on Jacksonians’ sense of economic security but undermines their very identity as industrial workers and providers. Meanwhile, the perception that the world abroad was threatening and thankless grew even as confidence in the efficacy of conservative foreign and military policy waned. The conditions for a Jacksonian revolt were ripe.
There’s a lot of good stuff here. I sense the dawning of enlightenment.
While conservatives are more than within their rights to write off Trump, they would be neither wise nor justified to write off the Jacksonians. They may be disgusted with Trump’s antics, and they may find some Jacksonian positions inchoate, wrongheaded, or unfulfillable. But after the dust from this election settles, it will be urgently necessary to once again fuse patriotic, idealistic, and inclusive conservatism with Jacksonian nationalism.
Damn. Missed it by *that* much. Close but no cigar. Thanks for playing and be sure to come again.
“But after the dust from this election settles, it will be urgently necessary to once again fuse patriotic, idealistic, and inclusive conservatism with Jacksonian nationalism.”
After? How about before? If conservatives don’t support the Jacksonians (i.e. Trump) now there won’t be a party left to unite.
Here’s the condensed version of the article:
You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.
Seriously, imagine the reaction if this article was referring to “people of color” instead of white trash. The author’s attitude reminds me of white progressives from the Victorian era talking about the White Man’s Burden.
“Those knuckleheads are like big children. They mean well, but they need our guidance and supervision.”
Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child
Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain
Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly) to the light:
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden-
Have done with childish days-
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!