Among those surprised by Donald Trump’s resounding victory was my old nemesis at National Review, Kevin Williamson. “Well, that was unexpected,” wrote the rag’s “roving correspondent,” whose roving didn’t uncover the obvious and overwhelming groundswell of support out there in the Real America for the real estate baron.
You might recall my Chronicles blog post earlier this year blasting Williamson for his disdain of regular Americans who didn’t cotton to NR’s elitism. His article was titled, “Chaos in the Family, Chaos in the State: The White Working Class’s Dysfunction,” and was an unfair and execrable attack on the American working class, so battered for decades by so many horrible policies, especially three that the “conservative” NR has championed: unrestricted immigration, dumb trade deals, and unnecessary, unconstitutional wars the working class fought while NR scribblers partied down.
Here are his most vicious words: “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen [expletive deleted]. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals [his word, not used today by those he’s attacking] stealing our jobs. Forget your [expletive deleted] gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”
On Nov. 8, these “dysfunctional, downscale communities” refused “to die” and instead rose up and voted for Trump. They want to Make America Great Again, a slogan that, for once, actually resonated in the Heartland and brought them out by the millions to support their champion. They ignored Kevin and the rest of NR, with its absurd “Against Trump” issue last January.
By contrast, for months I have been predicting a Trump victory. I now live in Orange County, California, which for the first time since the New Deal voted for a Democrat. Yet this used to be Reagan Country, and large elements still are conservative Republicans who backed Trump. For the rest of our great country, my main source of information was my relatives and friends back in Michigan, where I grew up. They all told me they and their kith and kin were backing Trump. The state went Republican for the first time since 1988, when Reagan’s glow elected the first Bush (who then betrayed Michiganders, and everybody, after giving his solemn word, “Read my lips! No new taxes!”).
As I wrote after quoting Kevin’s screed about our people leaving for other states, “No, they need an overhaul of the politics in a country for decades dominated by the oligarchs and publicists who have profited from a rigged crony capitalist system and so mistreated the people, in the very heart of the heartland of America, Williamson despises.”
That’s what just happened. Hooray!
At this point, Kevin should go out and get a real job, perhaps in a factory Trump will revive, and NR should fold up shop. Instead, he wrote, “Republicans should be ready for what is coming, though, and go into this with open eyes.” Which would be the first time NR opened its eyes in decades, at least since it purged its patriotic immigration writers two decades ago.
The magazine of the moment is the one that for three decades has sounded the patriotic alarm on immigration and so many other issues ignored by NR: Chronicles. For example, Chronicles was virtually alone opposing NAFTA more than 20 years ago, and opposing the horrible Bush-Obama-Hillary-Neocon wars. (Please donate to Chronicles here.)
Finally, we really are fighting to get our beautiful country back. It’s not over, and it’s not going to be easy. And we’re going to remember who was with us and who was against us.
NR long has passed its expiration date. If it were a vegetable, the FDA would insist its shelf life had passed and it ought to be thrown into the ash heap of history. NR, which I read eagerly from the late 1960s when I was in junior high school till the mid-1980s, long has ignored the famous phrase from the statement of its first issue, “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop.”
Now, conservatives and many millions of other Americans across the fruited plain, from the oceans to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, yell at NR, “You’re irrelevant. Scram!”
Longtime Orange County Register editorial writer John Seiler now writes freelance. Hire him. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org