Bitter clingers. The 47 percent who are takers. You’d think after Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got burned for coining these appellations, ambitious pols would learn not to talk about the opposing party’s voters that way.
Both those comments were said before private audiences and leaked out. But Hillary did them better by offering her diagnosis of the “basket of deplorables” at a public campaign event. And she refuses to learn even still. At a conference in India yesterday she confidently explained the 2016 election this way:
I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. . . . So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, “Make America Great Again,” was looking backwards. You know: “You didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs, you don’t want to, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.”
The first thing to say is that this is a kind of projected fantasy. And a pandering one at that. You know middle America, with its toxic envy of people from . . . uh, India.
Although she is not running anymore, Clinton’s comments are in some ways worse than Obama’s. He attributed the bitterness in “small towns in the Midwest” to the policy failures and false promises of the Clinton and Bush years. He prefaced the remark by saying, “Each successive administration has said somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.”
Clinton’s remarks manage to combine self-pity with contempt. They are unhelpful to Democrats trying to get elected. And they articulate what is becoming the central myth of the liberal elite: We are beautiful and successful because we’re morally superior. Clinton’s remarks connect the expanding GDP of her constituents to their commitment to diversity, and the economic trouble of the red states to their supposed opposition to “women having jobs” and civil rights. She seems to confirm the observation made by Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen at First Things:
Our ruling class is more blinkered than that of the ancien régime. Unlike the aristocrats of old, they insist that there are only egalitarians at their exclusive institutions. They loudly proclaim their virtue and redouble their commitment to diversity and inclusion. They cast bigoted rednecks as the great impediment to perfect equality — not the elite institutions from which they benefit.
Effectively, Clinton admitted she disclaims any responsibility to the states she lost, arguing that they deserve their lower economic status on account of their wickedness. Whereas she and her constituents deserve their riches, on account of their notional commitment to egalitarianism.
Effectively, Clinton admitted she disclaims any responsibility to the states she lost.
While Clinton is perhaps the worst exemplar of the attitude, it is almost omnipresent in mainstream and online media. And this, I predict, will remain a major problem for Democrats seeking office and the larger center-left going forward. Their desire to publicly announce and witness to their moral separation from the “rest” of the country frequently outweighs their better judgment on how to acquire power. The Democrats have lost the ability to denounce the “malefactors of great wealth” because they are led by an aristocratic klatch, one that can’t help adverting their contempt for the common man.
Each successive political guru has said that demographic trends would reelect them, and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, and cling to their chardonnay glasses or antipathy toward people who aren’t rich like them, or anti-populist sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.