This went viral on the right over the weekend but some of the posts about it neglected to mention that “Jonathan Pie” isn’t a real person, he’s a character created by British actor Tom Walker. “Pie” seems to have begun as a satire of the buttoned-up news reporter who can’t swallow any more of the corrupt inanities that he reports on and finally begins vomiting up angry truths, a variation on the Howard Beale character from “Network.” The clip below plays like one of Olbermann’s old “Special Comments” except with far more of a reality-check for the left than Olby ever could have mustered. (Olbermann is exactly the sort of sneering leftist whom “Pie” is addressing below, in fact.) I’d like to think it’s also a sly goof on how modern media rewards angry rants, especially online. But there’s nothing satirical in the substance. Walker has said when asked how similar “Pie’s” views are to his, “I invented some spleen. He was an exaggeration of the way I was feeling.” It may be that, as the character has become more popular among British viewers, it’s become less of a satire and more of a straightforward vehicle for the actor to make his point politically while holding nothing back.
And his point here is well taken, especially among conservatives. Judging from some of the political podcasts I listened to this weekend, this seems to be the consensus explanation on the right for why Trump won. The white working class finally had its fill of the left’s politically correct culture-war nonsense about how there are 42 different genders and bakers in rural Montana should have to make cakes for gay weddings and nuns should need a waiver from the government if they don’t want to pay for contraception in their insurance plans and there’s never a legitimate reason to own a gun and, most importantly, that it’s illicit to even politely disagree about any of this. (The last part is where Pie/Walker comes in.) There’s truth to all of that, I’m sure, but remember: A lot of people in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania voted for Barack Obama twice. If left-wing cultural garbage is a dealbreaker, it’s odd that they would have reelected him four years ago. How far would Trump have gotten in those states if he had campaigned strongly on cultural grievances but followed an orthodox Ryan-style fiscal plan involving tax cuts for the rich and curbs on entitlement spending to reduce budgetary pressures? Does he still win without his protectionist strategy for bringing back the jobs? How many out-of-work steelworkers in rural Pennsylvania are even following the arguments over gender pronouns? It’s fun to laugh at solipsistic nerds like David Brooks who see the answer to America’s problems in a new third party that just so happens to match up perfectly with their own oatmealy political beliefs, but believing that Trump voters were primarily animated by the stuff you happen to agree with them about is a variation of the same practice. And what about the fact that Hillary will end up badly underperforming Obama’s 2012 vote totals and grossly underperforming his 2008 numbers? If Trump’s win was a revolt of the cultural right, what do we make of the millions of missing Obama voters? Is that cultural too, or is it a straightforward reaction to Clinton’s corruption?
Whatever the answer, Walker’s advice is sound. And it won’t be heeded, except among the Democratic leadership class whose job it is to actually win elections. Note: There must be three dozen F-bombs here in the span of slightly more than six minutes, so if you’re at work or the kids are around, break out the headphones for this one.