Perhaps nothing is more striking to the retrospective reader of The Emerging Republican Majority than how completely marginal, if not irrelevant, was the drama of the New Left to the causes of the realignment that led to the Nixon/Reagan supermajority. Phillips recognized what was lost on the political and media elite of the 1960s and ’70s—that the emergence of this supermajority, not the campaigns of Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, was the real story of 1968.
Much of the political story of the past few years should be understood as the unfolding consequences of a highly analogous situation among the millennial generation. The privileged student radicals of 1968 became the vanguard of the new class, which, despite its electoral marginality, defined American liberalism for the next five decades. Their children, inheriting their values, advanced their cause both in the prestige media and as the loudest, most aggressive voices on elite campuses. Today, that prosperous elite is ever-more isolated from the social and economic devastation that has gripped most of the country.
The overwhelming preference of millennials for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton—and the not-insignificant showing of millennial support for Donald Trump—has thus been a revolt by that generation’s masses against their appointed representatives in prestige media, who were largely responsible for creating the illusions about the mood of the country that have set the tone and underlying assumptions for the Clinton campaign.