In 2008, when a Progressive friend expressed absolute horror that Sarah Palin was on the Republican ticket, I asked him to tell me why she was less qualified than Obama. After all, unlike Obama, Palin had experience governing. With his back against the wall, my friend uttered the worst indictment he could think of, and it had nothing to do with Palin’s abilities: “She’s not one of us.”
As someone who is by birth and upbringing “one of us,” I know exactly what he meant. The “us” people have all attended prestigious schools, whether public or private or large or small.
The “us” people always laugh at the cartoons in The New Yorker, and they often read the articles.
For news, the “us” people all go to the New York Times, where they read the front page and the style section. They feel smug about the fact that they’re entirely comfortable with the LGBTQI marriages now announced on the wedding page. In the car (and they all wish they could have a Tesla), they listen to NPR. In the evening, during or after dinner, they watch NBCCBSABCPBSCNN, but not Fox. If they’re edgy, they watch MSNBC.
The “us” people always make sure to see the movies that “everyone” is talking about. And when they say “everyone,” they don’t actually mean that. They mean the reviewers at The New York Times, NPR, and other select, sophisticated outlets. If those reviewers say a movie is important, the “us” people will rave about it too, no matter that the plot was unintelligible, the dialogue mumbled, and the message ugly. “It’s important, don’t you know.”
Rather peculiarly, given their snobbery (especially about education), the “us” people think that the opinions of Hollywood actors, many of whom are minimally educated and all of whom live peculiar, cloistered lives, surrounded by unimaginable wealth and unseemly yes-men, are valuable advocates for the “us” crowd.
The “us” people believe passionately in climate change (never mind that none of the predictions have borne fruit) and think it’s a brilliant thing to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible. (After all, they’re Tesla drivers.) The little people at home and abroad who depend on fossil fuels for food, protection against temperature extremes, and all other aspects of their basic livelihood will just have to adapt. Mother Gaia is more important.
The “us” people agree with Hillary that all white people are racists — except that each individual member of the “us” people knows in her heart-of-hearts, just as Hillary knows in the shriveled, blackened mass that once was her heart, that this indictment doesn’t apply personally to her.
The “us” people passionately support abortion. As Obama, the King of “Us” so beautifully expressed it when speaking of his young daughters in 2008, “if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”
The “us” people travel extensively abroad and always come home talking about how much better “abroad” is than America. If it’s Europe, it’s more cultured and sophisticated; if it’s the Third World, it’s more genuine and less materialistic. If the “us” people are really lucky, they grew up in a cosmopolitan home with non-American parents, entitling them to look down upon American culture, despite having been born and raised in America.
Although the “us” people travel extensively abroad, they never go to the Midwest unless on business. After those trips, they always explain that the cities were unexpectedly nice (“and so clean”) but that the people are yokels (“but really nice”). Moreover, those “us” people who happen to have grown up or gone to school in the Midwest, make sure to say how grateful they are for having been able to escape the stifling confines of flyover country.
In the 1990s, the “us” people all watched The West Wing and congratulated themselves on being able to keep up with Aaron Sorkin’s coked-up, rapid-fire dialogue — and, more importantly, they revered the president and staff who tirelessly, week after week, in the vacuum of our TV sets, advanced perfect Progressive policy.
I needn’t bring up more examples. It’s enough to know that the “us” people are sophisticated, cultured, educated, and Progressive. They are not Idaho born or Alaskan raised Sarah Palin with a degree from the University of Idaho. They are, instead, Barack Obama, with his edgy, multicultural background, his fancy Hawaiian private school, and above all his Ivy League credentials — never mind that his transcripts have had to be hidden lest they reveal either that he was a sub par student or that he leveraged himself into those schools by falsely claiming to be a foreign national. And like Obama, they aren’t troubled by facts; it’s enough to be “one of us.”
The “one of us” dynamic is obviously class-based, with the division being one of culture, rather than lineage. That’s why, even though Hillary and Bill emerged from the political swamp in Arkansas (definitely not a “one of us” state), they were still shiny sophisticates because Hillary went to Wellesley and Yale, and Bill went to Yale and got a Rhodes Scholarship (a very racist thing to do, in retrospect).
It takes a great deal of work to be “one of us.” Like the firefly, blinking madly to attract its mate, the “us” people must constantly display their bona fides. Everything they say and do must prove that they’re better than the rest of us. It’s a very insecure way to live. Unlike Lord This and That or So Who’sItWhatsit, you can’t simply bask in the comforting knowledge that yours is one of the oldest titles in your kingdom. You have to be living proof of your class-based ascendancy — the neighborhood you choose, the car you drive, the wine you serve, the stores you frequent, the sport you play or watch, and the politician you pick.
As my conversation with the Progressive in 2008 showed, a politician’s actual abilities or wisdom are beside the point. What matters is that the candidate is “one of us.” This is why the Progressive sheeple in my world support Hillary notwithstanding the corruption and failure that hang around her like flies around a sheep’s carcass. She does all the right virtue signaling, thereby ensuring those nervous, insecure “us” people that, by supporting her, they are proving again their bona fides. Trump, no matter his wealthy upbringing and Wharton degree, fails when it comes to that oh-so-comfortable virtue signaling. Put some pro-Hillary and anti-Trump posters on your Facebook page and you will be perennially popular at parties.
Because the Progressive worldview is bound by virtue signaling, rather than substantive policies and their real-world effects, their political posters are always remarkably shallow — and in this regard, they are quite distinct from the political posters that Trump supporters pass around amongst themselves.
My Leftist friends like strong conclusions, unbounded by facts. They basically say that he failed “virtue signaling 101.” Their current frenzy is the fact that decades ago he said that a beauty queen who had gained weight in violation of her contract had . . . well, gained weight in violation of her contract.
And you know what? Because Trump is vulgar (which he is), he made the point in a vulgar way. As far as the “us” people are concerned, it’s infinitely worse, and less virtuous, to be vulgar than it is for someone like Hillary to use every bit of power and influence at hand to destroy completely the women who came forward and honestly stated that Hillary’s husband had raped them, assaulted them just shy of rape, or slandered them by calling them liars for speaking honestly about their sexual affairs with him.
When you run with the “not one of us” snobs, you can overlook some vicious, dishonest behavior in the service of abortion rights, but God forbid someone should be vulgar.
That attitude, incidentally, is why it’s utterly irrelevant when conservatives show that Alicia Machado, the porcine princess, drove a getaway car for a murderer, did hardcore porn, and generally behaved in ways unbecoming a lady, whether slender or voluminous. What matters is that Trump did not virtue signal back in the 1990s. He didn’t scold call out CNN, which reported on the horrors of Machado’s weight gain, as a fat shaming institution. Instead vulgarly agreed that she needed to lose weight.
Other lines of “us” people attack against Trump are equally lacking in substance:
“He’s a racist!” they holler.
Ask a Progressive to support that accusation and you’ll hear that Trump said all Mexicans are rapists and that all Muslims should be barred from America.
And here’s where we get to the shallow “us” people mind. They don’t want to know that the facts are different. They don’t want to know that Trump was castigating the Mexican government for using America as a dumping ground for its criminals or that Trump said that the US should put a moratorium on taking in Muslim refugees until there is a way to weed out the bombers. Nor do Progressives want to know that Trump demands only that the government abide by existing immigration laws or that St. Jimmy Carter himself put a moratorium on bombing Muslims back in 1979. Facts are irrelevant.
“He’s a misogynist!” women and their pet men shriek.
Trump likes the ladies and, because he is vulgar, speaks of them in public in ways more appropriate to a locker or smoking room. Hillary savagely attacks and tries to destroy the same ladies her husband savagely attacked. Doesn’t matter. The short version is that Trump is vulgar; Hillary is vicious. Vulgar loses every time.
“He’s a tax cheat!” the “us” people are now gloating.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t even bother telling them that, thanks to the New York Times‘ grossly illegal conduct, there’s currently no evidence of cheating. The only thing the Times can do is surmise that, based on known losses Trump suffered in the 1990s, it’s possible that he could have taken advantage of tax code provisions to write those losses off in subsequent years. Nor does it matter that the New York Times, in 2014, despite having profits (that’s a surprise) actually — not speculatively, but actually — paid no taxes. And please, don’t waste your time sharing with them this marvelous Judge Learned Hand quotation from 1934:
Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.
You’ll also be wasting time if you point out to the “us” people that Hillary and Bill funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through a tax-free foundation that donates to charity only 6% of the money it collects. The rest is used — tax-free — to keep Hillary and her family in highrises.
Again, that’s all irrelevant. The sheeple understand what’s important, which is that Trump is vulgar. The New York Times is not vulgar. It’s “one of us.”
This world division, untrammeled by irritating details, is perfectly illustrated by a cartoon that made the Facebook rounds (which for some reason I can’t find now). It shows a bathroom with a leaky sink labeled “Hillary” and, next to it, an overflowing toilet, flooding the bathroom with effluvia, labeled “Trump.” No substance; just sheeple talk — “Ignore the details. She’s one of us. He’s not one of us.”
How different are the political posters I see from Trump supporters. Delving into substance, they challenge
- Cattle futures;
- Bimbo eruptions;
- The mysterious deaths in Hillary’s wake since the 1990s;
- Hillary’s failed health care initiative;
- The lies and attacks Hillary mounted against innocent women to protect a husband now known to be guilty as charged (although Hillary was in good company — “I’d be happy to give [Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.“);
- Hillary’s disastrous Russian “reset”;
- Hillary’s disastrous Libya intervention;
- Hillary’s disastrous and deadly Benghazi management (and the subsequent lies);
- Hillary’s disastrous Syria policy;
- Hillary’s disastrous Libya policy;
- Hillary’s unsecured email server, which gave away America’s state secrets;
- Hillary’s pay-for-play Clinton Foundation, which took money from antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic nations and with Hillary then rewarding those nations with State Department favors;
- Hillary’s sell-of of American uranium;
- Hillary’s endless stream of lies (sniper fire, anyone?);
- Hillary’s documented vicious behavior (“F*cking Jew bastard“; “Stay the f*ck away from me! Just f*cking do as I say!”); and Hillary’s health, everything from Frenzel lenses, to coughs, to lesions on her tongue, to bizarrely rolling eyeballs, to collapses that look a whole lot more like seizures or Parkinsons than they do like pneumonia.
When Trump supporters and other conservatives are not busy highlighting Hillary’s past failures, as well as her chronic moral and physical problems, they launch attacks on her political positions (to the extent that “chase the Leftist voter Hillary” can ever be pinned down on anything):
- increasing gun control,
- making the government bigger,
- federally funding abortions,
- letting in significant numbers of unvetted “refugees” (mostly male, mostly Muslim) from ISIS-rich nations,
- continuing Obama’s open border to the South,
- continuing Obama’s deep-seated hostility to Israel,
- passing more control to the United Nations, and so on.
Another target-rich substantive environment for conservatives attacking Hillary is her deep hatred for the American people. Her “deplorables” speech is pretty darn impressive. First, she writes off roughly one-quarter of American voters as being irredeemable:
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?
The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.
The other half of Trump’s supporters aren’t treated much better. They may not be “deplorable,” but they’re pathetic, scared, and stupid:
But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
Let me say that Franklin Roosevelt, who did come from American royalty, would never be heard saying that he had to force himself to “understand and empathize” with suffering Americans. Hillary, however, does.
A Hillary victory will not just be a victory for an unprincipled, corrupt, incompetent woman. It will also mark the ascendancy of an educated class that has abandoned substance in favor of the type of posturing last seen in the corrupt, unprincipled, and guillotine-bound court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Just as Trump is a symptom, not a cause, of middle- and working-class Americans ground down by decades of being taxed and sidelined, Hillary is a symptom (and, I think, a cause) of a self-styled American elite that rejoices in its ignorance so long as its positions and appearance signal its importance.
If you want more political analysis, please check out WOW! Magazine, the online collaborative magazine from the Watcher’s Council and its friends.
UPDATE: This video deserves to be here because it directly attacks that “one of us” attitude that permeates Progressive thinking: