The country class victory over the ruling class in 2016 with its election of Republican President Donald Trump was momentous. For the ruling class, however, the 2020 election is lining up to present an even more seismic shift. Whomever from the long list of Democratic presidential hopefuls wins the nomination, odds are good that person will be, as the Las Vegas Sun put it, the party’s “version of Trump.” If so, neither the Democratic nor the Republican candidate would be the choice of the bipartisan ruling class. And in that situation, no matter the outcome, the ruling class loses a presidential election. Again.
But a loss for the ruling class would not be an automatic win for the country class. Although the contest is likely to be instructive in and of itself—illuminating the significant differences between Right and the Left that are often unexamined when the ruling class moderates debate—the possibility that an “extreme” candidate of the Democratic Left could win suggests a contest much more fraught with danger than the election of 2016.
That election made evident our nation’s struggle as a clash between the classes more than any meaningful disagreement between the two parties. Angelo Codevilla brilliantly described them in his 2010 essay at The American Spectator, later published as a book, The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It. Michael Walsh has convincingly argued much the same, referring to the “Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party” and its opposition, the “Other American Party.”
Codevilla describes the country class as “heterogeneous,” yet sharing “above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty.”
“Demographically,” he writes, the country class is “the other side of the ruling class’s coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice. While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members’ yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.”
The 2016 election represented the first time in recent history that the country class, which until then had no real political vehicle, found its voice in a candidate and chose Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.
“[Trump’s] candidacy,” Codevilla argued in a 2016 interview before the election, “is the only alternative to the intensification of everything that the ruling class has done to the rest of us over the past half-century. His candidacy is the only shield, available now, against the ruling class’s unconstrained expansion.”
At the time of that interview, few “experts” expected Trump to win. Even before the primaries, the bipartisan ruling class seemed to feel secure that it would still be in charge whether Hillary Clinton or a more traditional Republican was president. The ruling class is still reeling from the shock of Trump’s victory and unwilling to accept it.
Who Are the “Fringe”?
While a majority of the country class have been reliably Republican voters, the ruling class has enjoyed the support of most all Democratic voters. For 2020, however, the concern seems to be that the Democratic presidential candidate will not be the choice of the ruling class betters, but of a “fringe” of its voters.
A Las Vegas Sun editorial considered the voters who nominated Trump an “extreme fringe,” asserting that the Republican Party’s moderate voters split the vote among the more moderate candidates, resulting in Trump’s capture of the nomination. The editors worry that the same thing will happen in a large 2020 Democratic primary field, which would “create the same dynamics that led to Trump’s nomination. This is a numbers game.”
The editorial omitted descriptions of the “extreme fringe” of either party and what exactly the “extreme positions of some sort” are that could propel the candidacy of an “extremist” Democratic candidate. In any event, what seems to be feared are likely two things: that such a candidate would not be a formidable challenge to Trump, and also that said candidate would not be a suitable or reliable representative of the ruling class.
If the battle shapes up as one between each party’s supposed “extremists,” a comparison of the size and makeup of each “fringe” as well as the “extreme positions” that animate each is revealing. Tea Party types or Antifa thugs, pro-lifers or Women’s Marchers, the desire for secure or open borders, stance on environmental issues, etc., immediately come to mind. Are the protestors waving American flags or burning them? Are they for big government and socialism, or do they prefer smaller government and greater freedom? Which “fringe,” in general, seeks a restoration of our nation’s founding principles, or a transformation away from them?
What should concern us most, however, is the ruling class’s primary issue, which is one that undermines a restoration and enables a transformation that serves to solidify its power over the masses. The ruling class motto isn’t “Make America Great Again,” it is essentially, “Keep the Ruling Class Ruling.”
Codevilla identified that key issue:
The ruling class is keener to reform the American people’s family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones…It believes that the Christian family (and the Orthodox Jewish one too) is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles, that it is the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its very particular interest—often defined as mere coherence against outsiders who most often know better. Thus the family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform. Worst of all, it reproduces itself . . . Since marriage is the family’s fertile seed, government at all levels, along with “mainstream” academics and media, have waged war on it.
That this present war for the soul of our nation centers not on economics but on the traditional family was also recently noted by Tucker Carlson in his much-discussed monologue of January 2. Carlson said:
Economics is a topic for public debate. Family and faith and culture, meanwhile, those are personal matters. Both parties believe this . . . Both sides miss the obvious point: Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two . . . [The kind of country we want to live in is one] that actually cares about families, the building block of everything . . . Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having.
In a piece at The Atlantic, W. Bradford Wilcox and Samuel Hammond defended Carlson’s editorializing with statistics: the “stability of the working-class family life has eroded” and “elite policy makers” and “elite negligence have all played a role.”
The Elite Fringe
The elite on both sides would prefer to ignore these issues and would rather discuss economics and whatever the politically correct stance on any particular “social” issue should be during elections. Independent candidate Howard Schultz may add to the 2020 nightmare for the Democratic Party by tapping into that sentiment and potentially siphoning away crucial suburban votes from a Democratic nominee, especially if he chose to run as a third candidate in the general election.
But Schultz’s economic focus and stance could also siphon some moderate Republican votes away from Trump, making a contest against a “fringe” Democrat candidate more difficult.
It is incumbent upon conservatives to keep the core issue of family first and foremost in the upcoming months. Defending families and faith are winning issues that cross party lines and affect much more than the economy. Such a focus also has the potential to relate, personally, to some members of the ruling class for that necessary crossover appeal.
It is also time for conservatives in the NeverTrump camp to redirect their focus on what they see as deficiencies of Trump’s personal “character” and the “destiny” of his presidency to the more important task of defining and defending the traditional values and character of our nation, for its destiny is ultimately tied to that of its families.
As Carlson closed his monologue: “If you want to put America first, you’ve got to put its families first.”
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