Source for my title quote, if you haven’t heard it before. In light of this, I thought it apt.
It turns out, plenty of people did vote for President Trump, and a new book provides insight and clarity into who those people are and why they voted the way they did. The Great Revolt:Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics by Salena Zito and Brad Todd presents a delicious mix of quantitative and qualitative data analysis regarding the 2016 election cycle. You might remember Zito through her dispatches from flyover country during the election in publications such as The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, and The Atlantic. Many election-watchers may have been caught off guard when Trump won the presidency, but I suspect Zito was not.
Her co-author Todd, a GOP consultant and political ad guru, also had a reputation for unique insight into Trump voters. Todd’s observation that “voters take Donald Trump seriously but not literally, while journalists take him literally, but not seriously” ended up as one of the most quoted lines of the 2016 election.
While some voters were hesitant to pull the lever, fully aware of Trump’s shortcomings, their trepidation could not outweigh their dissatisfaction with beltway business as usual. One thing you won’t find coming from the interview subjects is the tired refrain we hear from the political celebrity class, hopelessly doomed to misunderstand the 2016 election: Trump voters are racist, sexist, xenophobic, and the like. Rather, the common theme from these unexpected voters was a revolt against the status quo, a revolt that transcended political partisanship.
It wasn’t that one party or another had let them down. It was the entire political system and those in its orbit that had failed at addressing their concerns. They were very intentionally voting for a complete outsider.
It would be comforting to think that the group most in need of understanding The Great Revolt will read it and reflect on how the Trump victory came to be. However, the political industry has abandoned good-faith reflection in favor of doubling down on their cartoonish characterization of President Trump and his supporters as part of their political advocacy.
Even anti-Trump Republicans, still bitter over the Trump victory, are investing more time in damaging the Trump agenda than they ever did the Obama agenda. The media, entertainers, and the political establishment live in cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington DC, and they are far away from the communities and personal realities described in Zito and Todd’s book.
Which brings us right back ’round to the Kael quote again, amusingly enough.
Update! Shclichter expands on the theme:
Here’s the reality. In 2016, Normal Americans rebelled against an establishment composed of liberal fascists in government and a hateful cultural elite, as well as their allegedly conservative kept boys who placed their personal positions and prosperity above the people’s interests. As my upcoming book Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim Our Democracy recounts, in the kind of clear, unrestrained prose that goes hand-in-hand with not having to be FCC-language compliant, how the rise of Donald Trump was the inevitable result of a cultural war where our side was desperate for a fighter who would actually take up our banner and win. Remember how Abe Lincoln had to prune the deadwood in the Union Army before he could find a general to lead the fight against the Democrats the last time they tried to win a civil war? Like Ulysses S. Grant, Donald Trump is imperfect, but he fights and he wins.
Donald Trump was incorrect when he promised that we would get tired of all the winning – well, not really incorrect since he was joking. No, we are not tiring of winning. Not even close. Trump, unlike those foes he has vanquished, actually understands Americans. He knows we won’t ever tire of winning because Americans consider winning to be our natural state.
That fact, as Militant Normals viciously and profanely argues, highlights the great difference between American Normals and the elite that seeks to govern them. Normal Americans expect to win – they demand it, because winning is what Americans do. We believe, deeply, that we are better than every other nation and culture on earth, largely based upon the fact that we are. American exceptionalism is the core of our identity. If you ain’t American, you ain’t Adam Schiff.
But our elites, the snooty people who are supposed to be taking care of our institutions and making them work smoothly for everyone else (in return for prestige, power, and material renumeration) no longer believe in American exceptionalism. This is largely the fault of academia, which the elite controls, training future elitists that their own countrymen suck and that their loyalty should be to an unelected transnational class of like-minded snobs with glowing credentials but no track record of success in actually accomplishing the basic tasks that elites are supposed to accomplish.
And when the society the elite has so woefully mismanaged predictably manifests problems, they don’t look in the mirror and say, “Whoa, we’re screwing up. We had better do a deep personal inventory to correct our shortcomings.” No, they blame the very people on whose behalf they are supposed to be running things. The elite can’t possibly be at fault; it’s got to be that America is flawed. And therefore, losing should be our natural state, because Americans are undeserving of winning.
And their inability to shame or drive off Trump’s supporters, devoted as those supporters are to the changes he’s making in DC business as usual, has in its turn driven them all completely nuts. His every success to them is like a flaming stake dipped in pure essence of spite driven directly into their very eyeballs.
Think we’re seeing Peak Crazy now, though? Just wait till their precious “blue wave” fails to crest, and then he’s re-elected in 2020. The conniptions and hissy-fits are really going to be something to see.