June 2016 article
6/27/16, "Why Trump Wins," "He knows border wars have replaced culture wars." The American Conservative, by
"Yet he managed to prevail—to mount the most astonishingly successful insurgent campaign against a party establishment in our lifetimes. For all of Trump’s talents, his victory probably owed as much to underlying political currents as to his brilliance as a leader and political tactician.
Donald Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee because he won the GOP’s untapped residue of nationalist voters, in a system where the elites of both parties are, as if by rote, extreme globalists. He won the support of those who favored changing trade and immigration policies, which, it is increasingly obvious, do not favor the tangible interests of the average American.
He won the backing of those alarmed by a new surge of political correctness, an informal national speech code that seeks to render many legitimate political opinions unsayable. He won the support of white working-class voters whose social and economic position had been declining for a generation. He won many who consciously or unconsciously identified with the pre-multicultural America that existed for most of the last century. And he won with backing from the growing group of Republicans who understand that the Iraq War was an unmitigated disaster.
When one examines Trump’s main opponents— Bush and Rubio then, Hillary Clinton now—on the critical issues of immigration (legal and illegal), trade, and Iraq and other military interventions, one finds no substantial differences between them. In foreign policy, the liberal interventionists who would staff a Hillary administration line up seamlessly with neoconservatives in support of continued American "hegemony." A recently published Center for a New American Security report, produced by charter members of both groups, makes this unambiguously clear. With some tweaking on social issues and the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton could have run interchangeably with Bush and Rubio in the Republican field, and vice versa.
Opposition to this establishment consensus has been advancing, by fits and starts, and is now too large to be ignored. Michael Lind of the New America Foundation argues that the 2016 election ratifies a party realignment that began in 1968, when white working-class voters started moving towards the GOP. The core of Trump’s supporters are the political descendants of what had been the backbone of the Democratic New Deal coalition: working-class whites, politically strongest in the South and flyover states. On the triad of trade, immigration, and foreign policy, these voters are nationalist, not globalist—they would limit America’s intervention in foreign conflicts and subject the importation of products and people from the rest of the world to a more rigorous is-it-good-for-us test. (And by “us” they mean themselves, not the Fortune 500.) By nominating Trump, the Republican Party has finally been forced to come to terms with these sentiments, choosing a candidate who is largely disdainful of the globalist consensus of GOP donors, pundits, and think-tank experts. For Trump and his voters, the “Reaganite” basket of so-called “conservative” issues—free trade, high immigration, tax cuts for those with high incomes and entitlement cuts for the middle class—was irrelevant or actually undesirable.
Meanwhile the Democrats under Hillary Clinton have solidified their identity as a party of America’s top and bottom, revolving around the dual axis of urban coastal elites who benefit from their ties to a global economy and poorer ethnic minorities. The Clinton wing of the Democrats defends the free trade deals and has now joined much of the hard left in opposing meaningful enforcement of America’s immigration laws. (Before his campaign started, Bernie Sanders assailed open-borders advocacy as a right-wing “Koch Brothers” argument, but the logic of his party’s politics drove him to embrace amnesty and non-enforcement.) On the left, the argument that national boundaries are themselves, like racism or sexism, an arbitrary and unjust form of discrimination is made with growing frequency. During their debates, both Clinton and Sanders expressed support for an amnesty-based immigration reform and opposed the deportation of migrants who had not committed crimes here.
While neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have fully jelled as nationalist or globalist parties, that is the clear direction of their evolution. Lind suggests that “border wars” have replaced “culture wars” as the critical dividing line between the parties....
In one form or another, this nationalist-versus-globalist division is being reproduced in almost every country in the West facing the pressure of working-class decline and mass immigration. Given the opportunity, most European voters have consistently resisted ceding greater powers to the EU, but their votes have had little impact. Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader who now heads most French presidential polls, mocks France’s President Hollande by referring to him as Angela Merkel’s vice chancellor, a functionary permitted to administer “the province of France.” Throughout Europe, right-wing nationalist parties are rising in the polls against establishment coalitions unable to preserve either the economic gains won by past generations or public safety in migrant-dominated urban areas.
Trump is obviously part of this pan-Western nationalist/populist wave, and may be the first to break through in a major Western country. But even if he loses, he will have transformed the Republican Party. Because the Democratic coalition, perhaps now best exemplified by the twin poles of Goldman Sachs and Black Lives Matter, is inherently unstable, there is every likelihood that a more conventional politician, making use of Trump’s basket of issues, will again win the GOP nomination and eventually the presidency.
♦♦♦Rereading the first two essays of Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites, published just after his death 22 years ago, confirms that the issues that have elevated Trump are not particularly new. Lasch described an American establishment increasingly contemptuous of Middle America, a “new aristocracy of brains [who] tend to congregate on the coast, turning their back on the heartland and cultivating ties with the international market in fast-moving money, glamour, fashion and popular culture. It is a question whether they think of themselves as American at all.” For Lasch, this “global bazaar” of multiculturalism, which could be savored without meaningful social obligation or commitment, suited the new elites to perfection."...