CNN’s ‘Deplorables’ Moment

Last Saturday night, CNN showed America what the nation’s media elite thinks of them.

On a segment hosted by Don Lemon, commentator Wajahat Ali and ex-Republican strategist Rick Wilson began discussing the Ukraine issue in a typical CNN fashion, quickly shifting from “analysis” to outright mockery.

“Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter U and an actual physical crane next to it,” Wilson “joked.” The panel proceeded to crack up for the next two minutes, saying the administration was playing to the “credulous Boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump.” Affecting a stereotypical “redneck” accent, Wilson drawled, “Donald Trump’s the smart one, and y’all elitists are dumb!”

Ali responded, “You elitists with your geography, and your maps, and your spelling. . . . Only them elitists know where Ukraine is.”

This segment showed the condescending attitude, all too common in Washington and New York, that credentials, class, and residence make cosmopolitans superior to the rest of the country. They think it’s fine to mock more than 60 million Americans who voted for Trump, many of whom are working-class, as ignorant and backward. They think it’s fine to mock people for having poor grammar and less education, or for voting for the wrong candidate.

Of course, most Americans have no need to point out Ukraine on a map. In the real world, folks tend to be more concerned about their jobs and families than Eastern European geopolitics—and they have maps.

Don Lemon, on the other hand, is no expert in geography. He once suggested on CNN that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared because of a “black hole” near Earth. But that didn’t matter to the panel—they believe every conservative voter is an ignorant hick who thinks Trump walks on water.

Not only is that an insulting smear, but it’s also flat-out wrong. No voter thought they were getting a brilliant academic when they voted for Trump (or any other politician).

I lead Heritage Action, a grassroots organization with 20,000 dedicated conservative volunteers, most of whom support the president. I know these people, and they’re not rubes—far from it. They’re smart, caring people concerned about the direction of the country. They knew Trump isn’t a perfect man, but they pulled the lever for him anyway. They would rather have a flawed candidate who cared about the economy, the border, and about families than a polished, smug elite like Don Lemon, Rick Wilson, or Hillary Clinton, who would prefer to have open borders and socialism than a man who won’t play by their rules.

America’s ruling class still hasn’t learned the lesson of 2016. Despite having been proven wrong about the election, Trump, and most of his policies, the people at the top of media, finance, and politics in this country still mock Trump voters and hate what they stand for. It’s exactly the attitude of Obama and Hillary calling conservative voters “bitter clingers” and “deplorables”—an attitude that brought Trump the win in 2016.

Rick Wilson has had that attitude since 2016, when he worked on Evan McMullin’s campaign, which earned 0.5 percent of all votes cast. Recently, he has partnered with a crew of other former Republicans to establish something called the “Lincoln Project,” a group dedicated to defeating Trump and restoring the pre-Trump GOP consensus.

Despite its rhetoric, the Lincoln Project is really a picture of elitism, dedicated to taking revenge on the voters who spurned the old party line. It’s made up of ex-GOP consultants who worked for decades for moderate candidates and causes. When voters rejected their preferred candidates—particularly Ohio Governor John Kasich in 2016—they left the party instead of working to reform it from within. The project claims to support Abraham Lincoln’s principles of “civility” and “decency,” but it’s solely dedicated to electing Democrats, impeaching Trump, and insulting millions of Americans on TV.

While they claim conservative bona fides, they reject nearly every conservative politician. They even think Susan Collins, hardly the MAGA type, has been “corrupted” by Trump, and they’ve begun airing ads against her. This group of party operatives really have only one goal: to overturn the results of the 2016 election at all costs so they can get their power back.

“Elites” on both sides of the aisle think they’re superior to the American people—people who they assume can’t read a map or make an informed vote. But as they sit in their studios and laugh at the rest of the country, those very people are watching carefully. And even though most people’s memories are short, they won’t forget by November.

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