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Can Conservatives Deal with a Bigger GOP Tent?

by Christopher Chantrill
March 08, 2016 at 12:00 am

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I CANNOT QUITE decide how to describe the Trump impact on the conservative movement. Is it the blousy town girls showing up at a sorority poetry reading and showing a bit too much cleavage? Or is it the oil-field workers showing up at the wine bar and ordering Miller Light?

It does seem that the unfocused and non-ideological Trump supporters are a real challenge for libertarians and conservatives like me. For us, the world is neatly explained by our brilliant theories and our virtues, a reflection of our liberal friends across the aisle, with their reactionary ideas masquerading as progress and pompous talk about arcs of history.

For conservatives the Trumpsters are a problem because (can you believe it!) they still support Social Security and Medicare and fences and protection and other embarrassments. For liberals they are the discarded mistress, a reminder of a time long ago when liberals loved to adorn their working-class little darlings with government baubles in return for their electoral services.

But I got a clue about the Trump folks the other morning reading Michael Mann and his multi-volume Sources of Social Power. He argued that the bourgeois revolutions like the American and French Revolution were driven not by the capitalists and big businessmen, the bourgeoisie of Karl Marx, but by the ordinary shopkeepers and tradesmen. The big boys could wheel and deal with the old regime and find a place in its patronage networks, but the middle-class shopkeepers and small businessmen were cut out. It was their frustrations that drove the revolutions and then forced the “notables” to lead them.

Isn’t that eerily familiar? For today’s conservative elite life isn’t so bad. With our education and our connections we can wive and thrive in the liberal world even if we hate it. Not convinced? Here is the latest from Angelo Codevilla (H/T Maggie Gallagher):

America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

But the Trumpsters are out in the cold. No commanding heights or satellite knolls for them. And all they want is a decent job and family and decent prospect for their kids. They are angry and frustrated, and they are afraid for their children.

And by the way, let us conservatives ask how long we will be allowed to operate as naughty dissenters to the liberal ruling class, and allowed to pick up the crumbs from the liberal patronage machine? The portents are pretty clear. You will be made to care, heretics, or the activist speech police will know the reason why.

So I think the challenge in the spring of 2016 is on conservatives. Do we have the generosity and the kindness to open the tent flaps of the GOP to the Trumpsters, let them swarm all over the place, and give them succor after their wanderings in the political wilderness in the years since the Civil Rights Acts morphed into what John Derbyshire calls Jim Snow laws? Or are we going to create a #NeverTrump safe space and hide from the endless microaggressions of Obama’s America? There will be time enough to argue about the shape of the new Republican Party in the years to come, and debate how our Joshua will march us around the walls of the liberal city of Jericho, blowing our trumpets till the walls come a-tumbling down. But right now we have a tribe of migrants knocking loudly on our door, cast out of the land of Egypt by a cruel liberal Pharaoh, and they need a roof for the night.

I never forget the words of Michael Barone, that the Republican Party is the home of people that think of themselves as typical Americans. The Trump supporters are nothing if not typical Americans. They belong in the party of typical Americans, and it is a shame that for so long the party of typical Americans completely fumbled the ball on this and forgot to leave the light on. This Sunday on FoxNews Rush Limbaugh nailed it as usual.

Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he’s put together a coalition that’s exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win and, yet, look like what they’re doing. They’re trying to get Trump out of the race, because they’re not in charge of it.

But it will all work out, says Rush, because we all have a common enemy. Its name begins with “D”.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Physics, Religion, and Psychology

Paul Dirac: “When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion. However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.”
John Farrell, “The Creation Myth”


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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