The alliance of the aggrieved

Although Palin did finish college, her life story resembled the lives of non-college white America in a way that the personal lives of the Bushes, of John McCain, of Mitt Romney, or of Paul Ryan never did or could. The themes and commitments that define Movement Conservatism—free-market ideology, organized religiosity—are increasingly upmarket themes … and increasingly remote from downmarket America. Sarah Palin did get rich in the end, but like Donald Trump, she didn’t get wealth or enjoy wealth in the way that the hated elite got and enjoyed wealth.

Meanwhile, Trump is battling against Ted Cruz of Princeton and Harvard Law School, a Supreme Court practitioner married to an investment banker, who insists that the dividing line between “us” and “them” is not life story, not personal experience, but ideas and values. His conservatism is defined not by personal wrongs but by a complicated set of principles, that connect opposition to abortion to support for the gold standard; missile defense to cuts in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency; and gun rights to a lower corporate tax rate.

Ideology versus identity: That’s going to be the ballot question in Iowa on the first of February. A lot more than the Republican presidential nomination may depend on the answer.