Ever since a particular evening in early November 2016, nearly eveyone on the Left and many on the Right have been atomically gobstopped at how America could elect the man it did for President. How could so many Americans be so stupid? Didn’t they know how bad this man was?
How could 52% of women have voted for him? Were they stupid, blind, uninformed? Hadn’t they seen that video? How could religious conservatives have voted for him and his casual relationship with the truth and his marriage vows? Even as The New Yorker, NYTs, WaPo, HuffPo, Time and CNN stay steadily on their 24/7 civic duty of reminding us all of how bad this man is, people keep supporting and defending him. Nothing seems to make sense anymore.
Well, here’s what makes sense. These middle-American, Walmart-frequenting mouthbreathers are more politically complicated and dare we say, sophisticated, than nearly all the elites appreciate. A very small few on the Left, such as Arlie Hochschild in her extremely important Strangers in Their Own Land, and Anthony Bourdain have slowed down long-enough to actually spend long periods of time listening to these folks, (Hoschild in SoLa and Bourdain in the mining towns of WVa). They discovered and explain with sharp insight how these folks are nearly nothing like the stereotypes their own peers trade in. They are actually very smart, kind and nuanced people. (Bourdain’s comments at the link above are well worth reading.)
Understanding this tricky nuance is the trick to understanding the seeming Grand-Canyon disparity between these folks personal ethics and those of the President they enthusiastically and proudly elected.
Yesterday, I read two articles from two of the smartest and most articulate conservatives in our nation, two men who I would assume have great respect for one another: Hugh Hewitt and Jonah Goldberg. They both have two diametrically different takes on Trump’s track record so far.
Hewitt, here in the WaPo, thinks Trump has done remarkably important and good things for our nation and oversees an extremely effective adminstration if you rise above the daily circus show and look at the actual record. What makes this article important is that Hewitt is no sycophant.
Goldberg, here at National Review, holds that Trump’s character, or total lack of it, will be his downfall, explaining,
What his defenders overlook is that his insults are not simply an act; they are the product of astonishing levels of narcissism, insecurity, and intellectual incuriosity. Trump’s Twitter account is simply a window into his id.
Here is what flummoxes the Left. Many on the Right understand that both Hewitt and Goldberg are precisely right and that politics is the art of deft compromise. You have to take some good with the bad and a great deal of bad with the good. To put it another way, MAGAers and 52% of women can walk and chew gum politically. They can grasp the critical nuances and live happily in the midst of them.
If you wanna understand the conundrum of Trump and his supporters, understand that both Hewitt and Goldberg are both precisely right and no small number of Trump supporters have long understood this. And they’ve greatly enjoyed watching the coastal elites pull their hair out because of their own zero-sum simplicity and shameless prejudice.