We’ve gotten used to our lazy categories “the base” the “social conservatives” the “left.” This election cycle is expoloding all our categories.
I watched Trump at this press conference in Greenville, SC. The heart of his appeal was contained in one sentence that the Left is now defining as a dog whistle to racism. “You have a silent majority in this country that feels abused, that feels forgotten, that feels mistreated.”
Every day I have conversations with conservatives convinced Trump is no big deal, he’s too negative, he will fade. Increasingly to me they sound like that proverbial Los Angeles matron who woke up after the election in 1980 incredulous that Reagan was elected, because nobody she knew voted for him.
Peggy Noonan this week put her fingers on the way Trump’s success is rewriting all our scripts, that “America is in play.” Fascinatingly she’s the first to note that Trump may have appeal to Latinos not yet recorded in polling.
The appeal will be the same as that to other upwardly striving Americans who want America to be a winner again and who feel forgotten by the powerful:
On the subject of elites, I spoke to Scott Miller, co-founder of the Sawyer Miller political-consulting firm, who is now a corporate consultant. He worked on the Ross Perot campaign in 1992 and knows something about outside challenges. He views the key political fact of our time as this: “Over 80% of the American people, across the board, believe an elite group of political incumbents, plus big business, big media, big banks, big unions and big special interests—the whole Washington political class—have rigged the system for the wealthy and connected.” It is “a remarkable moment,” he said. More than half of the American people believe “something has changed, our democracy is not like it used to be, people feel they no longer have a voice.”
I do not support Trump. But that is no reason to disrespect him, or to ignore what he has done so far. Or to ignore the need to coalesce around a principled conservative if we do not support him.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.