Via Breitbart, I’m being charitable to him by including “maybe” in that headline. Beck doesn’t actually hedge. Nor is this the first time he’s lunged at a racial explanation for tea partiers backing a more moderate Republican. The Right Scoop reminds me that he said something similar in 2011 when some TPers swung behind Newt Gingrich in the primaries. Man, if he feels this way now, imagine how he’ll feel after he finds out about all the white-nationalist Trump fans on Twitter.
What’s the real common thread between tea partiers opposing reliably leftist Barack Obama for six years while backing Kaus-ian anti-amnesty center-leftist Donald Trump now? Some of it, as Jonathan Last suggests, is simply Trump’s alpha-male appeal. A party whose base is blue-collar and rural doesn’t like losing to beta males like O and being led by nebbishes like Mitch McConnell or stiffs like Mitt Romney. Jeb Bush seems cut from the same wonky, overly domesticated cloth as Obama. There’s something to be said for the idea of Trump as conservatism’s id. Some of the appeal, meanwhile, is nationalistic. One of the hardest, earliest knocks on O from the right was the idea that he was engaged in a perpetual “apology tour” abroad on America’s behalf. Trump is the antithesis of that, the guy who apologizes for nothing and who’s going to make America great again even if it means pissing off international elites by building a wall to fence out Mexicans. (One interesting bit of common ground between Obama and Trump, though, is the fact that they were both critics of the Iraq war, item numero uno on the long liberal list of recent sins America has to atone for.)
Mainly, though, I think it’s a class/cultural reaction. Obama reeks of Ivory Tower disdain for conservative culture; Trump, for all his money, still sounds like a guy on the barstool in Queens. Obama’s single most notorious moment as a candidate in 2008 was dismissing rural Americans as clinging to guns and religion and grumbling about illegals out of little more than economic panic. That’s unthinkable with Trump, a guy who’s pointedly scheduled some of his biggest rallies in Alabama and Texas even though they’re not key primary states because he wanted to signal respect for the places where populist conservative culture thrives. He’s “one of us” even though he really, really isn’t. What’s eating at Beck here is, as I said last week, the same thing that’s eating at Rand Paul, the idea that a movement that’s supposedly dedicated to shrinking government and liberating the individual might actually have higher priorities than that in its bones, with none of those priorities being terribly political in a traditional left/right way. That’s a surprising oversight for Beck since he too is highly non-traditional in some of his priorities and has always seemed to grasp that there’s a lot more that drives people’s political impulses, like religious faith, than simple liberal or conservative dogma. Oh well.