In essence: while economic numbers are very good, many of Trump’s base of supporters—the working and middle classes—are still struggling, or at least perceive that they are. In a longer piece from Joel Kotkin (also on Carlson’s Daily Caller website), the author argues that the tensions between the Trumpian lower classes and the ascendant upper class is akin to the friction between the French Third Estate (the commoners) and the First and Second Estates (the aristocracy and the clergy) just prior to the French Revolution.
Let’s hope we’re not going down that road. There do seem to be some eerie parallels, though: an elite increasingly unconcerned with the needs and struggles of its people; a reduced middle class; and a radical, revolutionary wing seeking to exploit the present difficulties.
Carlson lays out the key for Trump and Republicans:
With a middle class still struggling in many areas, Carlson argued that the candidate “who makes it easier for 30-year-olds to get married and have kids will win the election, and will deserve to win.”
“Remember that. It’s truer than any economic theory conceived on any college campus in the last 100 years,” he said. “Improve people’s lives, and they will vote for you. Period. Republicans ought to write that on their hands. Otherwise, the temptation will be to focus entirely on the lunacy now on display on the left right now. Democrats have gone crazy. It’s definitely worth pointing that out repeatedly. We do five nights a week. But it’s not enough to win. Winning candidates come with their own program. They convince voters they will make things better.”
Part of that is addressing student loan debt. Carlson argues that Bernie Sanders (or—God forbid—Elizabeth Warren) could win over disaffected youngsters struggling under a mountain of student loan obligations—a “crushing” load that has made it more difficult to get on with life.
But Carlson doesn’t seem to be calling for student loan forgiveness. Rather, he calls for Republicans to champion traditional values and repairing our tattered social fabric:
“But ordinary people know the social fabric is coming apart,” Carlson said. “A winning candidate will say that out loud. Defend traditional values. Don’t be embarrassed about it. There’s nothing embarrassing about it.”
“Democrats aren’t promising change,” he concluded. “They’re promising revolution: Centuries of American history and custom, abolished. A nation starting over from scratch. Year zero. That’s what they’re calling for, and most people aren’t for that. They may be frustrated with the state of the country, may are. They may be anxious about the future, but they don’t hate America. They don’t want to topple George Washington and implement Maoism.”
Americans do not want revolution, but history tells us that a determined, fanatical minority can and will bring it about. Democrats just have to dupe enough desperate people. The moderates will then be swallowed up quickly—excommunicated from (or worse!) or absorbed into the new revolutionary order—as a new regime of radicalism takes hold.
I don’t know what the answers are, but Republicans need to take these problems seriously. Simply offering economic encomiums isn’t enough. Yes, good economic policy will improve lives, and we’re seeing that already thanks to President Trump’s leadership in that area.
But there is more to life than money—and unbridled capitalism. People need to feel like they’re getting somewhere, and that their lives have meaning. That’s perhaps beyond any national political figures to address. But it’s the most important thing we as a people can do.