“The wages of smug is Trump”

There’s an outstanding article at Vox in which the author castigates his liberal ilk for turning a blind eye to the real reason why Donald Trump’s popularity is so great.  I think his analysis of what plagues the liberal/progressive side of politics and society in the USA (those who he calls “the smug”) is spot on.  Here’s a brief excerpt from a very long article – one you really need to read in full.

If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it’s, Why are [the poor] voting against their own self-interest?

But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.

Abandoned and without any party willing to champion their interests, people cling to candidates who, at the very least, are willing to represent their moral convictions. The smug style resents them for it, and they resent the smug in turn.

. . .

Few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished — or even with anyone from the downscale, uncool, Trump-loving white working class. Few editors and legislators and Silicon Valley heroes have dinner with the lovely couple on food stamps down the road, much less those scraping by in Indiana.

. . .

I would be less troubled if I did not believe that the smug style has captured an enormous section of American liberalism. If I believed that its politics, as practiced by its supporters, extended beyond this line of thought. If this were an exception.

But even as many have come around to the notion that Trump is the prohibitive favorite for his party’s nomination, the smug interpretation has been predictable: We only underestimated how hateful, how stupid, the Republican base can be.

Trump capturing the nomination will not dispel the smug style; if anything, it will redouble it. Faced with the prospect of an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the smug will reach a fever pitch: six straight months of a sure thing, an opportunity to mock and scoff and ask, How could anybody vote for this guy? until a morning in November when they ask, What the **** happened?

. . .

The smug style resists empathy for the unknowing. It denies the possibility of a politics whereby those who do not share knowing culture, who do not like the right things or know the Good Facts or recognize the intellectual bankruptcy of their own ideas can be worked with, in spite of these differences, toward a common goal.

It is this attitude that has driven the dispossessed into the arms of a candidate who shares their fury. It is this attitude that may deliver him the White House, a “serious” threat, a threat to be mocked and called out and hated, but not to be taken seriously.

The wages of smug is Trump.

There’s much more at the linkHighly recommended reading.

I’m reminded of the attitude of the British administration in India in the run-up to 1857, or the Russian nobility before 1917, or the French aristocracy prior to 1789.  It can be summed up in the infamous phrase, “Let them eat cake!”  There was a massive dissociation between what the upper crust thought motivated the lower castes and classes, and their real thoughts, desires and aspirations;  between the (lack of) understanding of the former and the reality experienced by the latter.  That same dissociation is visible today between the ‘establishment’ on both sides of the political divide and the broad mass of the electorate, and between liberals and progressives on the one hand, and the broad mass of struggling-to-make-ends-meet, un- and under-employed America on the other.

It’s not going to be pretty when reality sets in.



  1. The establishment of both parties are on the line in this election. The GOPe has no idea how to handle Trump, and Hillary has no idea how to do it either. Both parties need to be burned to the ground, their HQs plowed with salt.

  2. The upper-upper class string-pullers and political elite have no freaking clue, or connection to, the working middle class that pays most of the taxes in this country.

    Yes, burn 'em down, and salt their earth….

  3. Ah, and if they manage to dump Trump… the consequences will be more extreme at the next election. Trump is a nationalist and populist, what would come next would be an ultra-nationalist. The more the pendulum swings to one side, the more extreme the follow-through.

  4. The mono-party has succeeded in a choice without a distinction this November: either way we lose and government grows and special interests are rewarded.

  5. Note the maddeningly patronizing subtext: that "we" (i.e. the Smug ones) know and understand the "best interests" of those poor ignorant flyover people better than they do themselves.

    The concept that a Kansas fundamentalist might actually consider Christianity to be more important than green energy subsidies is simply incomprehensible to them.

    They think they are wise and well-educated and smart, but they are shallow, narrow-minded, and foolish.

  6. It appears the irony of being 100% smug while decrying the smugness of others appears lost on our author.

    What can one expect?

  7. I've been recommending this to friends for several days now.

    There have been calls over the years to add to ballots a "none of the above" option. It's never taken seriously. Trump is the NOTA option–he's the Screw You All candidate.


  8. If I believed as much as 10% of the bullshit Trump has been shoveling, I'd be in heaven over this. Let us please try to keep in mind, though, that while he may be an outsider in the sense of not in the cozy Ryan/McConnell/Pelosi/Schumer/whoever camp, he's still a liar and a parasite and nobody knows what – if anything – he believes other than "Trump for President." He was a democrat contributor before he 'became' a republican, he's permanently fastened to the eminent domain teat, has no real reason to want to keep any one of his anti-immigration promises, and is probably going to be a scary dude when given actual power.

    It's situations like this where voters wake up and find they've elected a totalitarian, is all I'm saying.

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