‘Trump represents something revolutionary’

Daniel McCarthy on why American voters crave a new political order.


Topics Politics USA

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The US establishment’s worst nightmares could be about to come true. Donald Trump is cruising to victory in the Republican primaries and is even beating President Biden in some polls. The man who has been branded a fascist, a demagogue and a threat to democracy by the great and good could be on his way back to the White House. Has the elite’s demonisation campaign against Trump failed? Why are his voters sticking by him so strongly?

Daniel McCarthy – editor-in-chief of Modern Age: A Conservative Review – returned to The Brendan O’Neill Show to discuss the enduring appeal of the former president. What follows is an edited extract from the episode. Listen to the full thing here.

Brendan O’Neill: How important is class as a factor in understanding the popularity of Trump?

Daniel McCarthy: It’s incredibly important, but most of the American pundit class is ignorant of it. You’ll often see these conventional, business-oriented conservative pundits who argue that things are not really that bad for the working or middle classes because they have jobs. They’ll point out that their income has grown a little bit, and that they have plenty of consumer products. But not only are we experiencing some very real economic problems in the US, there is also a strong feeling among ordinary people that they are looked down upon. They are considered backward and an impediment to America’s advancement in the 21st century.

This advancement involves liquidating not only our old material industries and workforces, but also our entire history. It involves dissolving the way of life and character of everyone who’s not university educated, in favour of a globalised, cosmopolitan alternative. That’s the fundamental dividing line in American politics. There are the people who want America to remain the country that they’ve known all their lives. And then there are the people who believe that America should no longer exist, except as an administrative zone that funds foreign wars and foreign development.

This is the programme that America’s educated elites religiously believe in. It’s not just an intellectual commitment for them, but also a moral and emotional one, too. When they see the American people dissenting, they are morally outraged. They consider it to be blasphemous that anyone would support Donald Trump. And they consider it heretical that Americans might want to reduce immigration and slow down globalisation. The very idea of those things is unbearable to them.

O’Neill: What separates Trump from the rest of the ruling class?

McCarthy: What’s interesting is that this dividing line reflects the way in which class definitions have changed over time. Income and wealth are a consistently big part of that definition. But now education seems to be the defining class divide in America. A lot of commentators will say that Donald Trump represents the establishment, purely because he’s rich. But the truth is that Donald Trump is seen by the establishment as a first-degree class traitor. This is someone who is completely unacceptable to the kind of people who attended Harvard University. He is completely unacceptable to America’s leading newspapers. And Trump is particularly unacceptable to America’s permanent federal bureaucracy.

More importantly, what scares the American establishment most is not Trump himself, but the more sophisticated advisers and supporters who surround him. The elites are saying that, when Donald Trump gets re-elected, he will uproot the permanent bureaucracy in the US and oversee an institutional revolution. They’re not just worried about losing elections. They’re terrified that they will lose their power and influence in the federal government.

This also explains the elite reaction when voters look to more independent candidates, like Robert F Kennedy Jr and Cornel West. Cornel West, a black scholar and former professor at Harvard University, was one of America’s most revered black academics until he decided to run for the presidency as an independent. But now, if you read the mainstream press, every article focusses on how he might be dodging his taxes and failing to pay alimony for his children. They’re trying to paint him as a monster. The elites perceive West as a threat not just to Joe Biden, but also to the deep-state consensus that he represents.

The magnitude of the legal harassment of Donald Trump has shown a lot of voters that their instincts of identifying with Trump are correct. He really is a threat to the establishment. Otherwise, why would the elites be going to these extraordinary lengths to try and take him off the ballot and throw him in jail? This is a campaign that has never been waged against any other American leader. And the reason it’s being waged against Trump is because he really does represent something different and revolutionary.

Daniel McCarthy was talking to Brendan O’Neill on The Brendan O’Neill Show. Listen to the full conversation here:

Picture by: The Fund for American Studies.

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Topics Politics USA


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