Exposing Rot

There’s a post by Ben Weingarten over at American Greatness about what he sees as Trump’s Greatest Achievement: Trump has exposed the  rot and corruption that pervades the American system.

For four years, President Trump has achieved major victories in the face of this opposition, making the country richer and stronger than it was when he assumed office.

But his greatest achievement has been boldly and courageously standing up to this wounded bear of a ruling class, which has now shown America its true face. Americans’ eyes are now irrevocably open to what has become of their country, and what must be overcome to take it back.

President Trump’s predecessors—Truman on the bureaucracy, or Eisenhower on the military-industrial complex, or Nixon on the corrupted media—scratched the surface of the challenges we face. But none exposed it so openly, and in such breadth and depth.

If the history is written by the ultimate victors—and the house almost always wins—it may well be that this entire story is missed. Certainly, it will be misrepresented, warped, and glossed over in the most outrageous of ways. It will probably be censored too.

Nevertheless, we must write it: For posterity, and for our fellow countrymen, in the here and now, more motivated than ever before to reclaim this land we love.

As Andrew Breitbart noted, politics is downstream from culture, and over the last six or so decades, the credentialed middle class has become more disconnected from the bulk of American society and began to view themselves as superior to the deplorables whose lives they rule by virtue of their positions in the bureaucracy, the media, and certain privileged professions.

Charles Murray pointed out in his book Coming Apart that as Our Betters led American society away from such virtues as marriage, industriousness, religiosity, and honesty, they still held on to some of those virtues themselves. College educated folks are now significantly more likely to marry and stay married, raising children in intact families, than are the population as whole. They work hard, often administrating or enabling the welfare state. They tend to have a religious focus for their lives—if not a traditional religion, then some marxist replacement. But they have given up on the epistemological underpinnings of Western logic, so they often view Truth as malleable, making consistently honest behavior unlikely if not impossible.

Trump pulled the bandage off the scab. Will we properly treat the wound?

BTW, the link above will take you to Amazon’s listing for Coming Apart. As an Amazon Associate, I can earn from qualifying purchases.

Coming Apart Religiously

Ross Douthat has a post at the NYT with his take on the implications of the religious differences between the elite in Belmont and the working class in Fishtown.

I have much more to say about this in the book, but so far as Murray’s argument is concerned, I think that religious institutions are both one of the areas of American life hit hardest by elite self-segregation (you can’t pastor a church in suburban Buffalo from a corner office in Washington D.C.) and one of the few areas where it’s plausible to imagine his call for elites to leave their cocoons and live among the people actually being answered. Institutions are only as strong as their personnel, and the major religious bodies in the United States have struggled mightily since the 1960s to attract large numbers of the best and brightest (and, indeed, large numbers period) to the ministry. This isn’t just a Catholic problem — the Protestant denominations, which allow clergy to marry and often ordain women, have had the same difficulties drawing in and keeping talent — and it’s a hard trend to reverse: In the scramble for money and status that we call meritocracy, a career in the clergy offers little of the former (save to megachurch-builders) and less of the latter than it used to.

Read the whole thing.

Two Opposing Cultures

Ed Morrissey has some interesting comments on a WaPo blog item referring to Barak Obama as the most polarizing president ever. Read both.

I’m working my way through Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart. I’ll post some more complete comments on it later. For now, let me say that Mr. Murray makes a good case that most of the polarization we see has to do with the real world differences between two new cultural grounds in America. One is a new educated elite. The other is a less educated, less successful lower class. As someone with connections to both cultures, I see the glass of white wine and the crushed beer can on the cover are remarkably good symbols of the two.

The cluelessness of many among Murray’s new elite and hopelessness among many of his new lower class are quite possibly major, perhaps the major, factors driving polarization in 21st-century America.

UPDATE—The disconnect between the new elite and the new lower class causes problems for both sides of the political spectrum. Here are a couple of examples.

First, the disconnect from religiosity (as Murray calls it) causes the elite to misunderstand the historic function of religious-based institutions in our society. The flap over religious charities having to provide abortion coverage for employees insurance is caused (at least in part) by that misunderstanding. Some members of the new elite, Kevin Drum for example, seem to believe that we are doing religious bodies a favor by allowing them to provide health care or soup kitchens or other services to the needy. Megan McArdle responds,

These people seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed.

While Ms. McArdle points out the practical foolishness of Mr. Drum’s position, she misses something important. Churches are not engaging in secular activity when they help the needy. They are obeying a commandment. Such work is profoundly rooted in their beliefs. This is not something that would have required an explanation as recently as 50 years ago.

Second, a disconnect from what Murray calls the founding virtues causes some on the right to lack a proper understanding of the new lower class. J. E. Dyer points out that Mitt Romney’s recent remark about not be concerned for the poor shows a managerial approach to government that isn’t necessary grounded in the founding principals of the nation.

[H]is wording indicates that his first political instinct is managerial rather than liberty-promoting.  The two postures pull in different directions.  Governments are perennially inclined to try to manage their people.  They don’t naturally respect their people’s liberties and dignity; they have to be ordered to, and kept under constant surveillance and rebuke.

Both the left and right wings of the new elite are getting the wrong answers because they keep asking the wrong questions. They ask the wrong questions because they don’t understand the way the real world works outside of their enclaves.