Then Trump came along, and the media and political landscapes were re-ordered. Now there was no philosophical or political split among America’s wealthiest and most educated people. Both strains of snobbism — one looking down on the unschooled, the other looking down on an economically parasitic underclass — fused, putting wealthy America’s pretensions under the same tent for the first time.
It’s no longer surprising to see people like Frum — an incomparable villain in liberal circles even ten years ago — cheerfully identifying himself as part of the “Blue America” that’s “had enough.” Like Rand’s famous Atlases, they all want to go on strike. American politics is no longer an argument about supply-side economics, or war, or big vs. small government. It’s about check-writers versus check-takers, the book-learned against the dolts.
The former group, the people who say they’re paying the bills, have spent years now trying to let the rabble know there’s a limit to both their patience and their generosity. They’ve made it clear there are limits to how much speech freedom they’ll confer, how much political choice or right to assembly will be permitted, how much ignorance will be allowed to fester. The news landscape has become writer Thomas Frank’s dreaded “utopia of scolding,” with every screen full of finger-wagging Rahms and croaking Brian Stelters telling us how “fed up” they are with others’ inadequacy. This approach not only will fail, it already has, over and over.