A lot of people are trying to determine the “winners” and “losers” in November’s presidential election. Conventional wisdom holds that the Democratic Party, the extreme political left, women and people of color suffered an ignominious defeat due to their connections, real or perceived, to “liberal élites.” That may be correct.
But only to a point.
I see an arrogant conservative élite, representing think-tanks and media who also took a stand against Donald Trump as being not being sufficiently conservative, as taking a major hit as well. A number of them, including Rich Lowry of National Review and several writers for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal as saying that a Trump victory would end the conservative movement as we know it. And, in one sense, they were right.
Because they too were out of touch with Trump voters.
Only recently did conservatives admit that income inequality, globalization and other issues plaguing much of the white “working class” that overwhelmingly voted for Trump was major. However, they still remained committed to cutting taxes on the rich as a key to economic recovery even though it absolutely never worked. During the campaign Trump also leaned toward protectionism, also anathema to conservative think-tankers. Others, and rightly so, were put off by his insulting those who disagreed with him.
But he blew away the rest of the Republican field, virtually all of them more conservative than he.
What that has demonstrated is that people really weren’t buying what they were selling after all. Still trying to channel Ronald Reagan, whom Dinesh D’Souza inaccurately insisted had “the winning agenda,” they don’t seem to understand that Reagan brought them to the table, not the other way around. And Reagan got to the White House with equally flowery promises, albeit much smoother and more polished, as well as scapegoating others, in his case the poor and African-Americans.
Many if not most Republican politicians dutifully lined up behind Trump, if for no reason than to save their own skins. And that strategy worked.
I haven’t heard just how the “never Trump” movement on the political right is dealing with the new reality. Perhaps it’s still trying to figure out just how it went wrong — because it certainly did.