Trump Derangement Syndrome: National Review Condemns Poor Whites
The rise of Donald Trump has exposed some uncomfortable truths for the conservative movement. Chief among those uncomfortable truths is that doctrinaire conservatism of the kind promoted by William F. Buckley and much of the contemporary conservative establishment is actually very unpopular with Republican voters. It is an elite orthodoxy confined to DC think tanks, certain sections of the media, and various strongholds in academia. There are not enough orthodox conservatives to form a governing majority even for the Republican Party, let alone the country.
The fact that conservatism is a fundamentally flawed model of reality is besides the point; few people actually believe it anyway, even in the Republican Party. Though people in polls claim to be “conservative,” those same people believe in fully funding Social Security and Medicare, taxing the rich, fair trade, and a more realistic foreign policy.
This revelation and its populist messenger, Donald Trump, has irked and dismayed conservatives to the point that the destruction of the Republican Party seems like an actual possibility. While a more formal collapse of the GOP will not be evident one way or the other until the convention in July, the disintegration among the various groups that make up the party is becoming increasingly plain in conservative media.
Kevin Williamson of National Review, whose previous claim to fame was calling for women who have abortions to be hanged, has offered what may be the most unmitigated declaration of hatred for the working class Republicans voting for Trump.
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.
Ouch. As was noted by Lawyers, Guns, and Money, this kind of classism and disdain for poor whites has likely been festering within the Republican elite for some time. Now, like the lack of popular support for conservatism, it too has been exposed.
Whether or not Donald Trump makes it to the White House, he will leave a legacy within American politics. Trump may be a billionaire from New York who says “Two Corinthians,” but he doesn’t have such palpable contempt for the rank and file of the Republican Party. His campaign has ripped the public relations-formed scab off the Republican establishment and conservative movement, and lo, behold the puss.