Conservatives begin to Catch on?
The American Conservative is both a marvelous and flawed mag. It has paleo-con leanings, but was fervently in the NeverTrump camp. However, an article appeared there the other day that grabbed my attention in an instant: “Towards a Republican Counter Elite.” The article is a must read. Here is a sample:
While the GOP should of course welcome an expanded electoral base, the narrative of a multicultural, working-class-led GOP is a briar patch that the often-dimwitted GOP leadership should avoid. That narrative presents two dangers to the party: First, that in its laudable efforts to reach out to minorities, the GOP will abandon or attack the legitimate interests of its existing, predominantly white, voter base; and, second, that in focusing its efforts on building a working-class coalition, it will alienate the elites that it ultimately needs to win over to govern successfully.
J.D. Vance’s GOP primary win in Ohio was largely built on his appeal to working-class Republicans. But while Vance’s focus on the real needs of working-class Americans is a laudable model for the party, it is not that focus that will make Vance an effective power broker. It is not the J.D. Vance of the holler, but the Vance of Yale Law, the venture capitalist with deep connections to billionaire Peter Thiel and media powerhouse Tucker Carlson, whose wife was a clerk for Chief Justice Roberts, who can exercise power within the American system. As the writer and conservative podcaster Alex Kaschuta wrote, “all politics is elite politics. The only thing that changes is the client class and their level of obligation felt to it.”
The GOP’s core “deplorables,” who are typically whiter, more rural, predominantly middle and working class, and often not college educated, represent a declining demographic with less and less access to the power structure with each passing year (almost two-thirds of voters were white non-college when Reagan won in 1980; today, the number is approximately half that). Depending on those voters to lead a new-right coalition is a losing strategy. And while reaching out to a multicultural and working-class coalition is good, it will not solve the GOP’s problems in the corridors of power. If the poor white voters of Appalachia cannot meaningfully assume political leadership in 2022, neither can the poor Hispanic voters of South Texas, among whom Trump performed so strongly in 2020.
While Trump accelerated the GOP’s problem among American elites, it preceded him by many years and was evident even when he was not on the ballot. Twenty-six of the 27 wealthiest congressional districts are represented by Democrats. Meanwhile, Trump won white suburbanites by 4 points in 2020, down sharply from his 16-point win in 2016. At the same time, he increased his rural-vote share from 59 percent to 65 percent. Even Trump’s vaunted gains among Hispanics were achieved down-market: He won 41 percent of non-college-educated Hispanics and only 30 percent of college-educated Hispanic voters.
This breakdown mirrored Trump’s performance with white Americans. He beat “working-class Joe” 65-33 among white non-college voters. Meanwhile, Trump lost white college grads 57-40, a number that was almost certainly worse among graduates of top-tier colleges from which the elite draws their leadership. Against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump won 56 percent of white voters who make $100,000 or less but lost 53 percent of white voters making $175,000 or more. Millionaires favored Biden 56-39. Biden out-raised Trump, a billionaire who has spent his entire life in wealthy circles, almost two to one.
The author, Jeremy Carl, has discovered what many social scientists on both sides of the isle have been noticing. It is what the Left-wing Sociologist C. Wright Mills called The Power Elite. Following the famous “Iron Law of Oligarchy” we find it is no surprise that America is ruled by a kind of military-industrial complex with a cultural elite at the top. Any successful revolution will need the endorsement or at least the consent of that elite. But what does our elite look like at the moment?
Our current Power Elite, according to the late Angelo Codevilla, is overwhelmingly Left-wing. His research was largely backed-up by the great Charles Murray’s analysis. Indeed, the “Great Awokening” currently rampaging through our cultural institutions is largely a reflection of the Power Elite’s tastes and preferences. But Wokeness is only a success in institutions where the Elite can force their ideas onto the masses and it largely breaks apart once put to public scrutiny.
The only hope for the Populist Right is to overthrow the current elite and replace it with a new elite that is more sympathetic to their interests. Will they succeed? Would a new elite be better than the current one? I detest the current elite, but in the interests of honesty: I have no idea. Either way, we’ll have to wait to see what the future holds.
My advice? Keep your eye on J.D. Vance. He might just be the GOP’s future.