Calm down, drama queens: 1968 was worse

It is interesting to note that the people now shrieking in the streets (or on Twitter) that these are the worst of times, and possibly the end times, are the same ones who were doing it in the 1980s. Trump himself was a great Japanophobe in the 1980s, threatening to run for president in 1988 (he was really just hawking a book) and treating Oprah Winfrey to tirades against free trade. In 1964, they were in Barry Goldwater’s camp; in 1968, they were with George Wallace, whose policy views were radically opposed to Goldwater’s libertarianism (Wallace was, for instance, an opponent of right-to-work laws, the sort of politician who would have been a union-hall Democrat if he had been from somewhere other than Alabama). But Wallace pressed some of the same cultural buttons. When he was trying to recruit former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler as his vice-presidential candidate, an aide argued: “We have all the nuts in the country. We could get some decent people, too — you working one side of the street and he working the other.”

One suspects that Chris Christie recently received an e-mail with approximately the same contents.

But they aren’t really nuts — not all of them, anyway. They are disproportionately male, in the South and the Rust Belt, not poor but economically anxious, and — conservatives should here take a note — not conservative. They’re “conservative” if you are the kind of illiterate who works at NBC and describes the pro-abortion, anti-gun Rudy Giuliani as “far right.” But if you aren’t a complete moron, you’ll see that they are anti–free market (especially markets that span borders), pro-welfare (just don’t call their entitlements “welfare”), blasé or worse on abortion and marriage, and they are as class-war driven as any smelly hippie Occupying wherever. The union men I spoke with at Bernie Sanders events would never think of openly supporting a Republican, but they have exactly the same views on immigration as Donald Trump. In another era, they’d have been Wallace voters; no doubt more than a few of them were.

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