The Conservative Elite, Waiting for the Vulgarians

Iran Deal
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The Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens called Donald Trump’s supporters “vulgarians” in September, and attacked both Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a new rant Tuesday.

Not to be outdone, the National Review‘s Kevin Williamson has penned an essay for Playboy in which he accuses Trump’s supporters of “homoerotic fascination” with the GOP frontrunner. And Bill Kristol is now talking openly of a third party if Trump wins the GOP primary.

These are all highly esteemed writers with compelling things to say about the left–Williamson, for example, has recently deconstructed the totalitarian message of the Democratic Party in 2016–but seem unable to resist potshots at the conservative base.

These go beyond any legitimate criticism of Trump’s policies or antics, or Cruz’s tactics in the Senate. They are poisoned barbs aimed at the voters, indistinguishable from the elitism that typifies today’s left.

Williamson targets what he calls “the entertainment wing of the conservative movement,” but the truth is that those who consume talk radio, cable news, and–notably–National Review Online are also millions of taxpayers, activists and voters, members of the sort of association Alexis de Tocqueville admired as the backbone of American civil society. Without them, Williamson would not have a paycheck and the Republican Party would not have a prayer.

As for Stephens, he pleaded with the GOP to oppose the Iran deal, then turned up his nose when Trump, Cruz, and the “vulgarians” of the Tea Party rode to the rescue, not willing to accept they were the only solid constituency for his proposals. Trump and Cruz have begun to retaliate, panning the commentariat at the Journal and elsewhere.

The deeper problem is the alienation of the party elite from the base–and, broadly, from America beyond the BosWash.