I don’t really spend time participating in comment sections anywhere, but I do occasionally skim comments to gauge the mood. I’ve been appalled at how full of nastiness and vitriol the comments are even among many of my “happy warrior” sites like Instapundit. Most of this would seem to be coming from the new “alt-right” crowd. Let me offer an interview of Jonah Goldberg by Hugh Hewlett which I don’t even think ought to be controversial, but apparently is among some folks:
Jonah Goldberg, author of “Liberal Fascism” is big on the philosophical roots of political movements, and believes we ought to have nothing to do with the core, racist alt-right, and shouldn’t aid in expanding the use of the term. Because of Jonah’s comments here, I noticed this over at Instapundit of all places:
Jonah is a hundred times worse than the vaguely defined Alt Right. They are not traitors to their own side of the political spectrum. They are not trying with all their force to get the Alinsky communist government weaponizing Islamophilic mega-criminal Hillary Clinton elected president.
Jonah is part of what is in fact a Jewish cabal (prominently led by himself and Bill Kristol and backed by numerous other prominent Jewish conservatives like Ben Shapiro), created expressly to betray the strong majority of Republican voters who chose Trump as their nominee. Trump took the lead on the issue Republican voters most care about: stopping illegal and jihadist immigration. Establishment Republicans always betrayed the voters on this issue and now this de facto Jewish cabal is doing the same.
I’m not going to be a participant in a political coalition with racists and anti-semites. Note that I’m not saying I believe that every, or even the majority of Trump supporters are racist and/or anti-semitic, and I actually don’t believe Trump himself is either, but Trump was
shameless enough willing to dog whistle racial politics to audiences eager to embrace it. This has emboldened some very distasteful individuals who now don’t feel so marginalized.
I also noticed recently that J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy (which I have not yet read, but I’ve been reading a lot of his commentary) takes a beating in the comment section of National Review over his article on why race relations have gotten worse. I don’t think there’s anything particularly ridiculous about Vance’s statements here, yet in the comments, you see comments like:
What a gigantic heap of baloney. White failure to empathize with black problems is responsible for all the problems in the black community? Good grief. Black behavior is responsible for problems in the black community. Vance is just another dizzy excuser of black pathology.
I know from a decade of blogging that reading comprehension is not the strong suit of a lot of people, but did this well-liked commenter read the same article I did? I didn’t get the impression Vance was making excuses so much as trying to promote understanding. Understanding among factions is a critical thing if we’re to avoid being at each other’s throats all the time.
One of my big problems with the anti-PC movement coming from alt-right camp is that there are some things that you don’t say… not because of PC conformity, but because decent people don’t say shit like that. I feel pretty confident in saying that if you utter “Jewish cabal” in public, you suck as a person and I don’t want anything to do with you. If that makes me PC, well, so be it. This is not the kind of thing I’m willing to tolerate or look past for the sake of political coalitions, and I’m glad there are other people who feel the same way.
How did we get here? Unlike a lot of people, I don’t blame Trump or his supporters. Trump is a symptom, not the cause of the disease, and I don’t think most of his supporters represent the kind of nasty discourse we see above.
In the current political situation, both parties have weak coalitions. The fastest growing party in this country is no party. Granted, most of those “independents” tend to lean one way or the other, but increasingly Americans aren’t all that interested in party politics. Johnathan Chait alludes to the weakness of the party system in his article, “Why American Politics Really Went Insane,” but I think Chait glosses over the fact that the Democratic Party’s leftist nuts are just as radical and out there as the Republican Party’s newly rediscovered alt-right whack jobs.
Barack Obama was, in fact, the transformational President he claimed to be. He was transformational in the sense that he realized (or perhaps accidentally stumbled upon) that the Democratic Party could build a stronger coalition than the one previously constructed by Bill Clinton. The limits of the Clinton Coalition showed with the Obamacare vote, and the devastating election results for the Democrats that followed. The Dems never really got what they really wanted out of Obamacare, but it cost them control of Congress, most state legislatures, and most governorships. Bill Clinton’s coalition was simply not capable of delivering European-style Social Democracy to US shores.
But the 2008 election results showed opportunity if that same coalition that easily swept Obama into the White House could be reproduced reliably.
What Democratic strategists figured out (and this is very much a “Chicago politics” divide-and-conquror style of running things) is that if money and grassroots effort was funneled to causes that helped nurse identity (racial, sexual, gender, etc) grievances, a thoroughly progressive coalition could be maintained that didn’t require catering to moderate suburban voters, as Clinton had done. But in order for the coalition to work, turnout among those groups needed to remain at Obama-like levels. The results had to be repeatable.
I don’t believe the fact that most people view race relations at an all time low is any accident. The Democratic political class engineered this in order to shore up their political power. That this would fuel the rise of white racial politics isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, and the hateful people coming out of the woodwork and participating in this nonsense are actually playing right into their hands.
This is not to let off the Republican Party off the hook in all this. They went into the 2016 elections thinking it was business as usual, which of course meant running someone else named Bush. I marginally more identify with “elites”, and I thought this was the very definition of insanity by the donor class. It would have been a moronic move even in a normal election year to line up behind Jeb!, but it was a disastrous one this year. The problem the GOP has is that they are beholden to the same wealthy interests as the Democrats. The difference between a Republican Wall Street Banker and a Democratic Wall Street Banker are not nearly as great as the difference between any Wall Street Banker and an unemployed coal miner from West Virginia, or some poor dude working two jobs to pay the rent and back child support. That gap in understanding is the real cause of our political woes, if you ask me. All this racial and gender bullshit is nonsense ginned up by our supposed rulers.
See, if working class whites, working class Blacks, and working class Hispanics suddenly realized they have more political interests in common with each other than they do with their wealthy coalition partners in the major parties, they might just figure out that if they vote together, they have the power to call the shots, and that would be the real disaster if you were to ask the donor class of either party. So best to keep the working classes divided against each other before they realize it. As for the rest of the rubes? Let them have
bread and circuses culture wars!
That’s my cynical take on it all. I’m not comfortable with believing this, because class is something Marxists obsess over, and I’m not a Marxist. If we had a growing economy that was lifting all boats, I don’t think we’d be in this mess. But we don’t have that, and given the advances in automation and robotics, it’s going to be hard to achieve the kind of growth for the working class. The post World War II order is now coming to an end, and I don’t know what will replace it. But I don’t like what I’m seeing so far.