This is an interesting article.
It’s obvious that the author can’t figure out what the problems are. How clueless to not see what’s happening to the country and the effect that that’s having on most people. It has to be Washington clueless.
Back in the day Star Trek had his episode about the cloud people and the ground people.
This dichotomy didn’t exist when Star Trek was being shown for the first time back in the 1960’s. Even in the creative and government areas of society there were enough well grounded people to keep things from going completely off the wall. Well that’s changed. See the Whole foods crowd for an example.
The typical Whole Food customer has no real contact with the people who work so hard to get that food to the store. They are insulated from their concerns . For the typical Whole Food customer, a terrible event is if their kid doesn’t get into the right school or the painters screw up the decorating before a party. The Whole Fooders just don’t get down far enough on Maslow’s pyramid to even begin to understand the consequences of the policies that they inflict on the rest of us.
Listening to then news channels or just regular TV and some other media you get the feeling that these people have no understanding about the things that are happening out in the middle of the country outside the enclaves of the cloud people. They can’t seem to connect with the fact that people are really hurting out there where the work that sustains everybody gets done. Ergo Trump.
In other words, the Trump surge has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the people he upsets. Mathew Continetti can be forgiven for not accepting this reality. He and his coevals in the chattering classes like to think they are tribunes of the people, helping educate the hoi polloi, speaking truth to power and other delusional nonsense. In reality most people detest the media with the intensity of a thousand suns.
The other interesting thing about this is that the commoners are finding out that their masters hate their guts. You see it in the comment section at NRO, which reprinted the article. The glory years of America after WW2 gave Americans a sense that ours is a uniquely egalitarian meritocracy. Finding out that it is no longer that way is tough to swallow so people are understandably ticked off about it.
Since the founding of the country there has always been a tension between egalitarian democracy and aristocratic republicanism. Founders like Jefferson, Adams and Madison talked about liberty, but they certainly did not mean democracy or even social equality. But, the new country needed the support of the Scots-Irish rabble, as well as the Yankee commoners, the result being a republic.
What the cloud people in government don’t seem to be able to understand is that the anger out among the ground people is because no matter what we do, the cloud people seem to be incapable of realizing what’s going on out in ground people land. They have no way to relate.
Agriculture is patriarchy? This obviously pure nonsense, like so much that eminates from our so called betters from being so completely in the clouds that they have no clue what goes on down on the ground anymore.
I think that the people in flyover country know that the cloud people in Washington have been sticking it too them for a long time now.
I still remember the Wallace rally as if it were yesterday. It was a highly patriotic event, and my friends, the ones who staged the walk-out, were regarded as traitors. Race no doubt had a great deal to do with Wallace’s support, but it was striking that he never mentioned the issue at all. His theme was what he called “pointy-headed bureaucrats” and “pseudo-intellectuals” (which is, I suppose, what I aspired to be), and he promised to throw the briefcases of the former in the Potomac and to put the latter in their place.
There was, as this suggests, more to his appeal than racial animosity. The people who turned out for him were angry that the Great Society had upended their lives. They were, for the most part, older folks. They were little people. They had fought in World War II or Korea. They had worked in factories or run small businesses. They had played by the rules. They had skimped and saved, and they had done tolerably well. Now, a bunch of snooty, ivy-league types had descended on them from DC and were telling them how to run their lives.
They did not much like LBJ. He was a crook, and they knew it. They liked Hubert Humphrey even less. He was, they knew, a socialist of sorts; and Eugene McCarthy and his brigade of college students they thoroughly despised. Wars were for winning; and, though they may not have loved the Vietnam War, it was their view that we should whip the communists there and then and only then come home. There was bigotry I do not doubt, but there was also public-spiritedness and a love of country behind their anger. They believed that they and the country had been betrayed, and they did not see anywhere safe to turn.
Twenty-four years later, there was another eruption. It had nothing to do with race, but it was — in all other respects — similar to the one that propelled Wallace to victory in the Michigan primary. This time, it was not an intraparty affair: There were longtime Republicans and longtime Democrats who rallied to Ross Perot, and they did so because they believed that there was a collusion between the two parties to cover up a scandal. These people knew that they had played by the rules, and they knew that the folks involved in the Savings-and-Loan Scandal had done nothing of the sort. These scoundrels had contributed heavily to Democratic officeholders; they had drawn in a hapless son of George Herbert Walker Bush; and they had gotten off scot free. Because of the involvement of the younger Bush, the Republicans did not want to pursue the matter, and the Democrats were deeply involved.
Today, we face the same sort of situation. President Barack Obama came into power intent, as he put it, on “fundamentally” changing America. He called his administration “The New Foundation,” and he tried to be as good as his word. First came the expenditure of three-quarters of a trillion dollars, most of which went as gravy to the patronage-hounds of the Democratic Party. Then came Obamacare, with all the lies about one’s ability to keep one’s insurance and about cutting medical costs. This gave rise to the Tea Party, and the Republicans profited, chiefly because the Democrats’ punitive treatment of the Republicans in Congress forced them to oppose the so-called “stimulus” and because the emergence of the Tea Party induced Senator Charles Grassley, John McCain, and the others who would have embraced Obamacare to back off. In the 2010 off-year election, the Republicans did better than at any time since 1928.
In 2012, the Republicans failed to find a plausible candidate who could capitalize on the fury that had gripped their base, nominating a man who had designed for the state of Massachusetts the healthcare program that had served as the inspiration for Obamacare. He did well initially and opted to sit on a lead that he quickly lost; and Barack Obama as president got a new lease on life.
Then, in 2014, this disaffected electorate propelled the Republicans to a victory even more dramatic than the one that they had won in 2010, and they gained control of the Senate. But with this victory they did nothing. They had long before surrendered the law-making power to the executive agencies that Obama was employing to reshape American life, and they had also given up the power of the purse. All that the president had to do was to threaten a veto and threaten to shut down a variety of government functions, and they cowered. Never mind the fact that the Constitution gave Congress the power of the purse and that the shut-down would be the president’s work. They were too timid to fight the battle to the bitter end that would restore to them their constitutional prerogatives.
Moreover, in 2010 and 2012, Republican candidates had said a great deal about the need to put an end to illegal immigration, and this, too, was a concern for a lot of Americans who saw their jobs going to illegal aliens willing to work for a pittance. In the wake of 2012, however, under the influence of the Chamber of Commerce — which likes nothing better than cheap labor — the Republican leadership in both houses of Congress worked assiduously to legalize the presence of these illegal immigrants, and they sat back and did nothing while the president flouted the laws providing for the integrity of our borders.
That is when the little folks gave up on our officeholders, as they had done 24 and 48 before. I will not praise these people for their judgment. George Wallace and Ross Perot would have made terrible presidents, and Donald Trump is arguably worse. But there is a lesson in this. When a sizable proportion of the American population has a grievance, they expect redress and — if those in office fail to address their concerns — they will look elsewhere and regard the disreputable not as reprobates, but as virtuous men. Donald Trump would not be a real force in this electoral cycle if people did not feel betrayed.
I do not know where this will end. In 1968, the eruption made Richard Nixon president. In 1992, it produced William Jefferson Clinton. This year, if we are lucky, it might push Senator Ted Cruz to the forefront and, perhaps, over the top. But it could saddle us with yet another disastrous presidency.
There is, however, a moral to the story: When you step on ordinary folks and they get spitting-mad, you had better watch out. One of the two parties will address the concerns of these people, and the party that does so will prosper mightily over the next few years.
Fundamental to making this work is the idea of fairness. No one gets everything they want and few are deprived of getting something they want. Similarly, no group is getting to game the laws to take advantage of others. The laws in a society under popular government are often aimed at addressing the issue of fairness. Rich guys pay more in taxes than poor guys because the bulk of the people think it is only fair. After all, the rich guy is getting more from the bargain.
That’s obviously a very simple way of putting it, but fairness is the canvas on which popular government is drawn. It is the sense of fairness that is at the heart of reform campaigns and the primary appeal of political parties. Democrats in America have been campaigning on fairness for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. Even Republicans tuck the fairness issue into their appeals for low taxes and open borders. In the West, at least, popular government is nothing but a debate over what is fair and equitable.
I suspect that part of what’s happening to the Republicans, and the Buckley Conservatives, is rooted in the fairness issue. The people fobbing themselves off as conservatives these days are mostly libertarians with some social conservative ideas bolted on as decoration. This is the result of Frank Meyer Fusionism, which was supposed to bring together the free market ideas of libertarians and the traditionalism of the old Right. Today it is just technocratic libertarianism with some hand waving about abortion and the gays.
As I’m fond of pointing out to libertarians, people are not moist robots. Their heads may say that the factory has to close because it is losing money, but they still feel terrible for the men getting pink slips. They may be swayed by free trade appeals, but they still feel wrong seeing jobs being shipped to China, while Americans end up on the welfare rolls. It’s the nagging sense of fairness that leads us to think that maybe we’re not living up to our obligations to our fellow citizens.
The people on the ground see more and more of the resources that they need to live their lives soaked up and spent on ever bigger deals for the rich and connected. Small businessmen see their hard earned tax dollars spent on their huge competitors for incentives to send jobs offshore.
The ground people aren’t stupid. They see what’s going on. After all the “for lease” signs and empty factories are rather hard to miss.
President Obama’s emphasis on battling climate change—aimed largely at the energy and manufacturing sectors—in his last year in office will only exacerbate these conflicts. For one thing, the administration’s directive to all but ban coal could prove problematic for many Midwest states, including several—Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana—that rely the most on coal for electricity. Not surprisingly, much of the opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decrees come from heartland states such as Oklahoma, Indiana, and Michigan. The President’s belated rejection of the Keystone Pipeline is also intensely unpopular, including among traditionally Democratic-leaning construction unions.
These policies have also succeeded to pushing the energy industry, in particular, to the right. In 1990 energy firms contributed almost as much to Democrats as to Republicans; last year they gave more than three times as much to the GOP.
In contrast, the tech oligarchs and their media allies largely embrace the campaign against fossil fuels. Environmental icon Bill McKibben, for example, has won strong backing in Silicon Valley for his drive to marginalize oil much like the tobacco industry was ostracized earlier. Meanwhile the onetime pragmatic interest in natural gas as a cleaner replacement for coal is fading, as the green lobby demands not just the reduction of fossil fuel but its rapid extermination.
Embracing the green agenda costs Silicon Valley little. High electricity prices may take away blue collar jobs, but they don’t bother the affluent, well-educated, Telsa-driving denizens of the Bay Area, who also pay less for power. But those rates are devastating to the less glamorous people who live in California interior. As one recent study found, the average summer electrical bill in rich, liberal andtemperate Marin County was $250 a month, while in impoverished , hotter Madera, the average bill was twice as high.
Many Silicon Valley and Wall Street supporters also see business opportunities in the assault on fossil fuels. Cash-rich firms like Google and Apple, along with many high-tech financiers and venture capitalist, have invested in subsidized green energy firms. Some of these tech oligarchs, like Elon Musk, exist largely as creatures of subsidies. Neither SolarCity nor Tesla would be so attractive—might not even exist—without generous handouts.
In this way California already shows us something of what an economy dominated by the intangible sectors might look like. Driven by the “brains” of the tech culture, the ingenuity of the “creative class,” and, most of all, by piles of cash from Wall Street, hedge funds, and venture capitalists, the tech oligarchs have shaped a new kind of post-industrial political economy.
It is really now a state of two realities, one the glamorous software and media-based economy concentrated in certain coastal areas, surrounded by a rotting, and increasingly impoverished, interior. Far from the glamour zones of San Francisco, the detritus of the fading tangible economy is shockingly evident. Overall nearly a quarter of Californians live in poverty, the highest percentage of any state. According to a recent United Way study, almost one in three Californians is barely able to pay his or her bills.
If anybody believes that the things that are being done to the economy do not have a negative impact they are kidding themselves. The actions taken and the ensuing chaos had deep and profound impacts on businesses and the people.
An Economy Under Fire
As you’ve surely figured out by now, this is not a case of a heartbroken Chicago sports fan, saddened by the loss of yet another title. Major league sports in the United States may have the occasional bad call or the occasional thuggish player, but the scale described above could never happen in baseball, football, or our other professional American sports.
The United States private sector economy, however, is very much a beloved Home team, a set of entrepreneurs and businesses, small and large, privately held and publicly traded, that together employ the American people. The private sector manufactures goods, raises and markets agricultural crops, and provides services of immense variety and scale. The private sector works to provide employment and investment opportunities for a nation under fire.
The United States public sector – the regulatory aspect of the leviathan – is the obstacle course that our private sector must overcome. From federal agencies to state and local bureaucrats, the armies of inspectors and regulators and paperwork – often created with good intentions – have accumulated to make success an impossibility for ever more of our employers. We used to fear our tax burden, but we have found that our tax burden is just a part of the arsenal that this malevolent force wields against us.
It is hard to start a business, to put your own savings at risk and open a shop, a restaurant, or a factory… hoping against hope to turn profitable before your seed investment runs out.
You already have to pay for rent, utilities, employees, and materials; now imagine adding to that list a stack of government regulations to follow, taxes to pay, mandated benefits to provide to your employees.
And then, after you’ve accepted these obstacles that the Visitors have put in your way – a level of taxes, a level of bureaucracy, a level of mandated salary and benefits – imagine then that the target keeps moving. Imagine that the government keeps on making it harder. First your city raises your property taxes, then your state raises your workmen’s comp and unemployment insurance costs, then the feds raise your income taxes and your FICA match. Every year, one or two of them go up.
Some years, they all go up. Other years, a state government will have pity and lower a tax, so the feds pounce on the opportunity and hike theirs even higher.
And then to all this, add the regulations. We grow up aware of a certain level, but every year, more so than ever these past two terms, federal agency regulations have skyrocketed. If you ran a coal mine a decade ago, you’ve been driven to the brink of bankruptcy by the Obama administration by now. If you ran a nuclear power plant, you’ve been forced to switch to less efficient oil, or much less efficient water, or insanely less efficient wind, by a federal government newly dedicated to eradicate nuclear power.
But we always knew those power utilities were hard businesses, you say. Fine. Then what about manufacturing, where the EPA has ratcheted up the penalty ranges for emissions that wouldn’t even have been regarded as a pollutant a decade ago? What about the restaurant business, where minimum wages and minimum benefit mandates have doubled the cost of hourly workers practically overnight? What about healthcare, where a complete upturning of the insurance industry has destroyed the old pricing model, resulting in countless hospital mergers, clinic closures, and physician retirements, just since that dark day in March 2010 when Obamacare was illegally passed and signed?
The federal, state, and local government assault on the private sector is illegal and unrelenting. And the people we count on to protect us – the other co-equal branches of government, particularly the judicial branch – have dropped the ball as well, being coopted, infiltrated, or outnumbered to the point of helplessness.
If the establishment has a problem with the rise of the Donald they need to understand that the Donald is a product of their own failures.
The people are going to the Donald not because of Trump’s successes but because of the enormous failures of either party to resolve the terrible economic chaos and destruction that’s been inflected upon them.
I’m going to end this with a couple of poems from Kipling.
The Sons Of Martha
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.
They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd—they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit—then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden—under the earthline their altars are—
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd—they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet—they hear the Word—they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!
Unfortunately the time comes when the Sons of Mary ask for too much and the Sons of Martha have nothing left to give. When those times come another poem comes to mind. It’s a warning. The cloud people should heed it.
The Gods of the Copybook Headings AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race, I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place. Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn: But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind, So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace, Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place, But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch, They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace. They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease. But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife) Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man There are only four things certain since Social Progress began. That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!