Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

  • Location:
  • Mood:
  • Music:


The conventional wisdom in presidential politics, right up until about ten p.m. of Election 2016 Tuesday, was that enough lunch-pail voters in states with a recent history of sending the Democrat electors to cast votes would do so to make Mrs Clinton the first female president.  Didn't happen, and deplorable-shaming and virtue-signalling by Team Clinton and her accomplices with press credentials likely contributed to the outcome.

That might be the message of The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, by Salena Zito and Brad Todd.  Ms Zito has made a reputation going along the blue highways, and off the blue highways, to take the pulse of voters usually ignored or stereotyped by the Smart People surfing the internet from their coastal bubbles.

I'll begin Book Review No. 18 by noting the parts of the story that resonate with me.  Extended family gatherings that if you go away from dinner hungry, it's your own fault: page 189, check. Job shops seeking skilled tradesmen, check.  Rock and Kenosha County, just on the fun side of the Cheddar Curtain from Cold Spring Shops, check.  Macomb County, providing striving collegians for Wayne State University as well as home to the Reagan Democrats, check.  Waldameer Park, outside Erie, Pennsylvania, traditional first-evening-out destination on Cold Spring Shops road trips to points east, check.  In many of these places, there are amenities for tourists, such as the amusement park, the Great Lakes, Coney Island stands and cheese outlets, but tourism, or warehouses for the internet-based commerce of today, don't pay the way Chrysler or Allen-Bradley or Bucyrus-Erie did.

It wasn't economics alone, though, that soured Trump voters, many of whom had previously voted for Mr Obama or for John Kerry or Albert Gore back in the day, on Mrs Clinton.  It started with the condescension.  It continued with blind faith in the so-called coalition of the ascendant, a formulation that led some observers, immediately after the vote was in, to invoke the usual litany of made-up -isms and -phobias and backlash, rather than observe, for example, the mother with the marvellously blended extended family (page 105); the political class that continues to condescend, disapproving of votes and fashions alike (page 121); that continues to blather about stuff of tangential interest to Normals whilst being rude to anyone who takes a different perspective (page 124); that the results of the election are invalid because they are, and because shut up (page 165).

Neither was it one demographic that showed up: rather, Messrs Zito and Todd argue, there were elements of the old Ross Perot coalition, most explicitly what they characterize as Perot-istas, but the Rotary Reliables and Silent Suburban Moms who we might previously have understood as moderate Republicans active in the service clubs and school associations that hold together the social fabric; in addition believers who conventional wisdom would have shunned Mr Trump responded to his list of judicial nominees: these are the King Cyrus Christians (look up the history, dear reader) and some of the Rough Rebounders.  A final element of this populist coalition -- it is a coalition, as we will see -- comprises the people who have been hard done by globalization and the new dispensation.  These are other Rough Rebounders, as well as the security moms classified as Girl Gun Power in the book, and the Red Blooded and Blue Collared, some of whom might have been Reagan Democrats long ago.

Meanwhile, the Democrats became this epistemically closed coalition, with the Degreed Professionals in thickly settled areas never encountering a different point of view, and their Dependent Voters unaware there is a differing point of view.  Spend a few hours in a model railroad club, or a year as an official in a service club, or as a tradesman in a medium-sized town, and you'll learn that people with different points of view are not deplorable, not evil, and they might have your back in a scrap.  That Democrat coalition gave the impression of existing to tax Normals to hand out free stuff to preferred constituencies, page 132, and those preferred constituencies included the banksters as well as whatever parts of the coalition of the ascendant, or is it coalition of the dependent, were in favor that day.  That just made it harder to go about living, page 199.

Where, then, will this revolt lead?  On one hand, perhaps Mr Trump's success at bypassing the gatekeepers of public opinion, that is, his legions of Twitter followers and his promoters at Drudge Report and Fox News, might mean that the emergence of a new Big Brother is not so immediate a threat.  Or, perhaps, the Trump voters are tuning the political class circus out.  Or, perhaps, bracing themselves to their duties and fully prepared to smack the punditry again in the Congressional elections, and the presidential.  The Great Revolt suggests the insurgency is not anywhere near played out.  Consider page 227.  "As coverage of Trump has become more hyperbolic and more antagonistic, it only stands to reason that voters ... could pass lasting judgement on the news networks, just as they checked out on the Republican Party establishment and then Hillary Clinton.  If the Trump coalition broke two large institutions in American life, it's not a stretch to imagine it breaking another."  Particularly, dear reader, if the institutional order is senescent.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: contemporary, in the media, politics

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded