There are a lot of reasons why Britons are seriously considering divorcing the EU tomorrow — distrust of the Continent is a deeply ingrained British tradition — but a big one is the desire to flip the bird to the European ruling class, one that is just as insular, degenerate and incompetent as our own.
Now, what we call the “elites” of America, Britain and/or Europe represents a cluster of individuals well-connected to each other and who follow a unique culture created by members of the Baby Boomer generation. They are generally products of the top universities, all of whom float effortlessly between the top jobs in elected politics, unelected bureaucracy (which typically wields more power, especially within the EU), universities, Fortune 500 corporations, health care, and NGOs such as the Clinton Foundation. The latter organizations were once called “charities” by our grandparents — the switch to the term “NGO” discards any pretense that the people now running these things have any interest in charitable giving. The book Clinton Cash is a good primer on both the corruption of the Clintons, and the corruption of this “non-profit” (heh!) world in general — I’ve posted about the debasement of Goodwill and its Dickensian CEO before.
Regular British subjects who don’t have the right connections in London or Brussels correctly see their rulers as having nothing but deep contempt for ordinary Britons and their concerns, earning the ire of the proles in return, so globalist vs populist contempt is definitely a two-way phenomenon. Really, both sides would be perfectly content if the planet were emptied of the other.
Charges of racism are one of the biggest divides here. The elites see Brexit-leaning commoners as irrevocably racist, as this column and this hot take make perfectly clear. This charge remains the patricians’ most potent rhetorical weapon against the plebians. And they are correct: commoners and populists are certainly more racist than their rulers. Nigel Farage himself may not be racist, but many of his followers are as he knows perfectly well — and he absolutely depends on their support. Thus, he must walk a fine line as the American Republicans once did before him, dog-whistling to the racists in the UKIP base while at the same time being forced to disavow the most flagrantly bigoted members of his party.
Note that I said the Republicans “once” did this. Now, there is no need, as the party has been ripped between the openly racist Trumpkins on one side, and traditionalists on the other. No longer content with dutifully voting for Bushes and Romneys every four years, the so-called alt.right in Trump’s base, as well as the more old-school white nationalists, decided to send up the GOP elite by nominating a man they know drives them nuts. In response, #NeverTrumpers say good riddance — they are genuinely appalled by the racism of these people, and of how Trump openly welcomes it. This is not some sort of act. Anti-Trump Republicans really are just as fundamentally opposed to racism as their Democratic counterparts.
Interestingly, this means the traditional assumption among young liberals that “all Republicans are racist” has to go out the window — there’s now a very clear divide between Trumpkins and #NeverTrumpers, and one side has all the racists. Similarly, a charge that “all Tories are racist” can be laughed off, with UKIP hoovering up all the bigots who formerly voted Conservative, and with the PM just as pro-Remain as Jeremy Corbyn.
Purging their parties wasn’t planned by Republicans or Tories; rather, it was a revolt by the racists themselves. Nevertheless, it worked. And the elites of both sides in both countries can now claim with complete accuracy that they stand united against bigotry (most establishment endorsements of Trump are pro-forma, gritted-teeth affairs a la Paul Ryan). That is a powerful argument, even for populist rabble like me.
I don’t know how I feel about Brexit, but I do know how I feel about Trump and the racism he foments, not to mention the alarming thought of the Comboverlord in possession of the nuclear codes. Which puts me in a bind, as I have ranted in these pages plenty of times about elites of both the Republicans and the Democrats, about the incompetence of both the Bush 43 and the Obama administrations, about how sorry the leaders of universities and hospitals look compared to those of a generation or two ago. I definitely enjoyed seeing Jeb Bush, the face of aristocratic privilege, crash and burn in the face of populist rage.
And yet, on the conservative side at least, the elites — Jeb Bush among them — are taking a principled stand against Trumpism. #NeverTrump leaders such as Bill Kristol, Mark Levin, Sen. Ben Sasse, Gov. John Kasich, former Breitbart troll Ben Shapiro, and an army of writers at Weekly Standard, Redstate, Federalist, National review including, famously, David French — nobody may ever blithely accuse this bunch of racism or arguing from bad faith again. They are willing to tank the Republican Party’s chance at the White House purely out of principle, and to keep an unstable racist demagogue out of the Oval Office. Not even the usual drumbeat about Supreme Court nominations can sway them. Believe me, this deeply rattled both my populist and my Democratic leanings so I don’t even know what to believe anymore (and remain committed as ever to vote third-party in November).
It’s unclear how permanent this split will be with the GOP. Conventional wisdom says Trumpkins will reunite with regular Republicans after Trump is defeated in November, but it really seems hard to believe they will just go along with Rubio or some other “cuckservative” in 2020, especially since they are already designing stabbed-in-the-back myths to explain Trump’s eventual defeat. If they form their own nationalist, socialist party after this election, that would be a good outcome for everyone involved.
While a few dead-enders will never stop accusing the Conservatives of being racist, this will remain an empty claim as long as UKIP exists and has significant support. If Trumpkins split and form their own party, this will be true as well for the GOP. Let’s hope.