And Gen X conservatives come by their hostility to emotivist liberalism honestly, because many of us grew up amid its wreckage. “Xers have little collective memory of either instability or liberalism,” Smith suggests, but that part of his analysis is wrong. To grow up in the ’70s or ’80s was to come of age just after liberalism’s last high tide, and to see evidence of its failures all around — from the urban blight and ugliness left by utopian renewal projects to the adult disarray and childhood misery sowed by the ideology of sexual liberation in its Hefnerian phase.
Americans younger than us have seen a lot of elite failure in the last 20 years, much of it conservative or centrist, and the idea of voting Republican, let alone for Trump, because of liberalism’s dangers seems to many of them absurd.
But what Generation X conservatives remember is not a distant past, nor an unlikely future. Their Trump support may be a folly, but their concern for what comes next is earned.