We “anti-Trumpers” have a neat way of explaining why the former president continues to bewitch Republicans, says David Brooks in The New York Times. Republican voters see a world changing around them uncomfortably fast and want to rewind the clock on contentious issues like gender and racial equality. In this narrative, we are the forces of “progress and enlightenment”, while Donald Trump’s supporters are cast as “reactionary bigots”. But – dare I say it – I’m starting to suspect anti-Trumpers are “not the eternal good guys. In fact, we’re the bad guys.”
Since the 1960s, the idea that “we’re all in this together” has been replaced by the reality that “the educated class lives in a world up here” and everybody else is “down there”. This is our modern meritocracy: highly educated parents go to top schools, marry each other, and pass their class privileges to their children. This means important industries are “elite-college-dominated”. More than half of the staff writers at America’s two biggest newspapers, for example, attended one of the country’s 29 most elite universities. Armed with all this “economic, cultural and political power”, we opinion-formers support policies that help ourselves. We back free trade and open borders so we can get cheaper goods, because it isn’t our jobs being lost to Chinese workers or immigrants. We use stuffy language like “cisgender” and “intersectional” to signal our “cultural capital”. Liberals can “condemn the Trumpian populists all day”, but it’s not the populists’ fault. The blame lies squarely with us elites, and the so-called meritocracy we perpetuate.