Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Megan McArdle's Theory Of Trumpism

"And I said to Rae Jean, today it's gay marriage, tomorrow it's the rice paddies."

Megan McArdle has responded to all the criticisms of her foolish Trump tax post and I will get to that soon, but I was distracted by a shiny object. Thanks to a heads-up from a reader whose e-mail I can no longer find (thanks!),  I listened to half of a bloggingheads episode that McArdle did with Robert Wright to discuss Trump's followers, and it was a revelation.

McArdle's theories on Trumpism are elaborate fantasies that explain why liberals force conservatives to be racist, which they, like, totally aren't. I only had time to listen to half of her hour-long podcast but by the end of that time two things became unusually clear: McArdle has read too much communist propaganda, and she is afraid her career will be damaged by her past anti-gay marriage stance if liberals gain more power. Everything else flows from that.

Wright and McArdle started their discussion of Trump and his supporters by saying they didn't expect Trump to get the nomination, and neither did anyone else. Wright says it makes you wonder if elites deserve respect, which Trump supporters already doubt. McArdle says the "elites were just constitutionally incapable of imagining that this could actually happen. And so, uh, one hesitates to call oneself elite, but, uh--"

Wright and McArdle agree that calling oneself an elite doesn't mean one thinks one is better than the non-elite, it's just a "sociological category."

"I would say I'm on the anti-elitist side of the spectrum," McArdle lied.

"In fact, it's the same thing, not thinking you are better than other people by virtue of being a quote unquote elite, is not being an elitist," Wright said.

McArdle said, "I claim I am anti-elitist, in some ways I have been more sympathetic to Trump supporters than I think a lot of people have. I am not sympathetic to Donald Trump himself, uh,  I think he is kind of shockingly bad prepared for the job that he says he wants to do. Uh, he is often vulgar and offensive uh, he, whether he is racist himself I cannot peek into his soul, he certainly has made heroic efforts to at the very least to not alienate the racists who like him."

Isn't that just the way things go: Everyone in the world is able to determine that Trump is a racist, based on his upbringing, words, and actions over a long period of time. Megan McArdle, who is paid a great deal of money to comment on economics and politics, is incapable of making that assessment. She must be able to peer into a man's soul to see if he is racist. This is confusing, for later we shall see that McArdle is able to peer into her own soul and determine that most of Trump's followers are not racist.

Wright said that people say Trump's voters support him for different reasons, such as racism, ethic and class resentment, or economic anxiety.

McArdle agreed that "you don't get people for one reason" and it's obvious some hard-core racists don't like Trump, but the racists and anti-Semites are only around 10% of Trump's constituency. McArdle described Trump's supporters as not doing "super well" but not disadvantaged and are "concentrated in the $30-100,000 band," which is both wrong and an odd definition of not doing very well.  But they fear they or their kids will lose their $100,000 jobs, so naturally they turn to Trump, who promises to deport day-labor construction workers, nannies, factory workers, housekeepers, mechanics and cooks.

Now that they had virtually written off racism in Trump's campaign, McArdle and Wright agreed that opposition to immigration is not necessarily racist.

McArdle said, "The way I would put this is, look, if you talked to someone about, say, some country in Africa that doesn't want to be swamped, uh, some small area that doesn't want to be swamped by say wealthy white tourists, right? Um, and it's not that the tourists [sic] are doing something kind of morally illegitimate, it's just that they want their community to be like their community."

Obviously Africans can't be racist, right? So if they don't want white people around, that's not racism. Likewise, if white people don't want black or brown people around, that's not racism either by the transitive laws of race relations. The Africans aren't morally bad people, they just don't want their community to be spoiled by the presence of people of other colors, which is what happens when other-color people enter your homogeneous community of Black people in Africa or white people in Alabama.

"I don't know that this place exists, but I am just saying as a sort of theoretical construct if that place said to me, "No, we want a community that's a certain way, that is our old way of life, we want to preserve that I wouldn't say that they're racists, I would say they have something affirmative that they want to preserve and influx of strangers does change it."

As we saw when McArdle discussed Brexit, she thinks an influx of other-color or other-culture people will destroy a community which has existed unchanged for an unknown number of years, or at least change it for the worse.

"My relatives came here in the ninetieth century and they absolutely changed America radically, if you look at how America's politics changed, its religious make-up, um, any number of things. Now I think a lot of those changes were for the good, I think some of them weren't, you look at what happened in, in nineteenth century cities thanks largely to my people, as, you know, we were... [laughs] I,  I can see why the Protestants were upset."

Naturally she would side with the oppressor, and her decent Irish ancestors would spit on the lace curtain upstart. It's too bad we don't hear what the Irish immigrants did to the Protestant Americans. Deny them employment? Burn down their churches? Spit on them as low-lifes?

"Um, but, and, but the fact that I came here makes me feel even apart from the kind of benefits of having other foods, other cultures, etc., makes me feel sort of moral obligation to pay it forward, there are arguments to the other side, there are people who say look, my community is the way I want, it's not that I, like, hate those people or think they're inferior. I mean, but, they aren't like me, if they come here things will change.  You're importing your future electorate, and that does change things, right? So I think that's that, it's legitimate, and I think that elites conspire--"

As we know, McArdle is almost always talking about herself when she talks about others. This will become very clear later. McArdle assumes immigrants will be Democrats and she wants to prevent people from immigrating to America to gain a better life for their children because it would harm the chances of the political party she says she doesn't belong to. She is not the only one of course; Republicans often say this.

"But I would say this, this, that there's a fourth group, um, that I think is and, and, I think there is a lot of overlap with the this group and the other three, is that they're tired of being shushed by elites, right, and you can frame that as, like, white resentment, and also you can frame it as actually elites are kind of obnoxious about these people and this is a natural reaction backwards."

McArdle and Wright said that political correctness didn't change how people felt about others and it was very tedious to keep up with changing terms, such as disabled versus differently labeled. McArdle was upset that she was being forced to use words chosen by others instead of the terms she wanted to use.

McArdle said, "If you're not [an elite] what it feels like is some nanny came along, they have more economic power than you, they have way more cultural power than you, they're ordering you around and they're telling you you're not allowed to say what you think."

Political correctness killed terms like the n-word, retarded, and all the slurs commonly used in the near past. The statists are controlling speech. McArdle, who repeatedly said she is not a Randian, said she was worried about the same sort of repression that Ayn Rand most feared.

"And, you know, there's, there's a real, there's a whole literature of communist countries and one of the really interesting things is uh, I'm, I'm starting to read The Three Body Problem, the science fiction novel about China, which is obviously kind of very cryptically getting at these issues. What's interesting to me is you read these things, you read Orwell, you read lots of them uh, people make the same observation which is that they think that the object is to make them lie, not for any affirmative [unintelligible] just a purpose in and of itself and that the ultimate purpose of that is to shame them, degrade them and make them less, right, and so they, what they feel is that they're being controlled and shamed by people who have appointed themselves as their cultural betters, that they have no power over the conversation, and that--"

Yeah, that's not revealing at all.

McArdle's ability to peer into the mind of Trump supporters is nothing short of incredible. She realizes that it's not racism, they're really afraid of  Clinton imposing a Cultural Revolution, and it will all end up with her being sent to the sticks to take inventory in a dress shop. This paranoia is overwrought. Does she really think she's going to be shamed for using the wrong word for disabled?

Wright pointed out that conservative strategist have cultivated resentment to get votes and this election is partly is about a sense of contempt that people feel the elite have for them.

McArdle responded, "So, I-I think that that's true, but I also think that the contempt is absolutely there, and, I-I still remember the first time I encountered it, the first time I noticed it, so I underwent a conver-I grew up in a super liberal part of New York City and I went to college and I still remember a communications major talking about Rush Limbaugh, who I had never heard, I think I had listened to Rush Limbaugh twice in my life, he is not my cup  of tea on any level. Um, but she [laughs] said she wanted him banned from the radio and I-I said, "Well, but you know, that's bad, that's censorship" and she said, [forcefully] "You don't understand these people listen to him and they believe what he says," and that thing has always stuck with me because it really is a kind of running theme in conversations that I hear very frequently in DC and in New York, is like "these people," "these people" are sheep and they are bad sheep and they need to be controlled and herded somewhere because they are terrible."

McArdle does not want people to tell her she is terrible for taking a stand against gay marriage and the idea that some liberal policies are more moral in fact is extremely grating to her.

"Um, um, and, so I think that yes, absolutely, do conservative strategists use that strategically, absolutely, just as Democratic strategists strategically heighten the perception of conservative racism in minority communities. There is racism in the conservative movement um, but it is railed on constantly because that is to their political advantage. Like, this is how politics works. This is how people are raised."

Both sides do it, but liberals did it first and forced conservatives to do it, whatever "it" is. Democrats inflame minorities communities by constantly railing on the dreadfulness of racism, which the minority communities might not even notice without all that political maneuvering. And this is not only politics, it's how minorities are raised. They're told by their parents all their lives that white people treat them badly, so naturally when they grow up they think badly of white people.

Remember, racism is rare. That's how we know it's all in Democrats' heads.

Wright said, " Trumpism has been described as white identity politics, do you think it is to some extent a reaction against the non-white identity politics that have become such a big part of coalition building on the Democratic side?"

McArdle agreed that Blacks created racism by seeing themselves as a political group.

"Uh, yeah. Look, I think first of all the more you have ethnic identity politics, there's [unintelligible] dimension along which stuff is played, if you define everyone else as a racial demographic category then the people the residual is also going to define itself as a racial demographic. If that is the major cleavage line in politics, then we'll have white identity politics. Um, so yes, I think that that is part of it. Um, I think that as America becomes majority minority, right, it-it no longer makes sense to say as a white person you're just kind of a default American and then everyone else is a member of a particularist ah, minority. Now you're a member of a minority too and minorities tend to have identification with each other, they cleave together along those lines, right, there are cultural similarities between white people, they have shared experiences that non-white people don't, um--.

What else could the United States do after the Civil Rights Act but become racist for the first time?

Wright pointed out that white people don't just hate minorities, "a lot of the people they hate are white. You can call it white working class identity politics, too."

McArdle said, "But identity politics is always strongest, is always strongest in the working class, right, that's a generally tr--." Wright didn't agree and McArdle dropped it. She said workers used to identify with their fellow working class members but "that broke down" for some reason. What else could they do but become White Nationalists and get Hitler tattoos?

McArdle says she's concerned about "punitive norms." People feel threatened about having different options.  People are so afraid of being punished by the liberal cultural hegemony that reject the idea of violating norms altogether. But Trump violates all norms, McArdle said, and the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

She said Trumpism is a huge reaction against all the social justice stuff, that people used to be able to have a different opinions but now you'll be called racist. When there are lots of punitive norms that punish people for different opinions such as gay marriage, "people's reactions are no, I don't want that, and what starts to happen is that any violation of norms looks okay. So they like Trump for violating norms but Trump smashes all of them so people are so sick of it. They're rejecting the entire system, instead of the tenuous part."

Wait, how did gay marriage sneak in there? I thought we were talking about racism as a motivating factor for Trump voters.

"And I think that's what we're seeing here, is that people are so sick of the elite cultural control over them and I don't think this is all of it but this is a strand of his support, that that the fact that he's vulgar, the fact that he is not bound by any kind of decent norms of propriety. That's a big part of his appeal and the problem with that, and I think, but on the flip side, the problem with having so many punitive norms, of having norms not just be about we're going to have an argument, but no you can't say that and if you keep saying that, I'm going to see if I can destroy your livelihood, or get you get kicked out of school. Right?"

And there you go.

Megan McArdle is supporting-not-supporting Donald Trump's Republican  party because she is afraid that she will suffer financially for being publicly against gay marriage. She can't give that reason for supporting the rehabilitation of the Party of Trump, but there it is. So she works her way backwards, inventing pseudo-intellectual reasons for covering her heteronormative hide.

She said Trump's following is a backlash against speech codes, and she has no problem with word bans-her mother slapped her when she was four for using the n-word after hearing a black friend use it, which is fine with her.

The problem, McArdle said, is that we're going beyond a word ban to an idea ban. "What happened with Brendan Eich and gay marriage is a good example [of an idea ban], right, that's not a word ban, he was--that is a ban for believing in heterosexual marriage and I can disagree with that but--the point is that--"

McArdle doesn't disagree with that. She said that gay marriage might harm heterosexual marriage, so it was better to forbid gays from marrying. She also slickly tries to minimize anti-gay legislation that has been run through the courts for years to restrict gay rights and calls anti-gay beliefs a belief in "heterosexual marriage," a miserable dodge. Wright pointed out that in the future, people might look back on anti-gay marriage advocates the way we now look back on anti-miscegenation advocates.

McArdle protested that Brendan Eich's action was private, his workplace not anti-gay, his donation was leaked by "someone at the tax office," and she "can't imagine an organization advocating against interracial marriage."

Wright said that that's his point, so McArdle fished up another segregation-era argument. "You need to give people space to change their minds. If you go from ten years-wait-but there's also this--is that-"

McArdle said she disagrees with comparing racial inter-marriage with gay marriage, that race is different from everything else, including gay rights. What followed was a long explanation in which she tried desperately to deny that racial bigotry was anything like sexual bigotry, so Megan McArdle wouldn't look bad to prospective employers.

"And I think the legacy of slavery in the United States is unique, it is the original sin of our republic, uh, it justified things, so for example, I think states should have a right to succeed, if Hawaii who wants to leave right now they should be free to, on the other hand, I also think that seceding over slavery is not okay.  And I kind of square this circle by saying, you have the right to secede, that the  South should have been allowed to secede and we should have invaded to end slavery."

Wright laughed. He will not be the last. She thinks parts of the nation should be able to dissolve it, never mind that whole war over secession to maintain slavery. But after we let the South secede, we should have invaded the now-foreign country to force them to give up slavery, which we will somehow enforce. She really must think that everything she says is wise, otherwise she would have learned to curb her musings when being recorded.

"But at any rate, the point is we did a bunch of things, we've always, and for the past 150 years we have taken legal steps that are kind of not justifiable on principle-on legal principle I mean, there are totally justifiable on the principle of extirpating this terrible wrong we did to millions of human beings. Um, I feel similarly about affirmative action, uh,  is that you know what, this thing happened we have to undo it, it's not kind of fair, and I don't care."

Affirmative action is unfair to whites.

"Um, and now you can, we can have practical arguments about affirmative action but as a principle matter, and I feel that way about just a large number of things, Brown v Board of Education was not necessarily a good but as a woman, right, I don't think that I deserve that, that, saying things about women is on the same par as saying things about Blacks. It's a different thing, I don't think, I don't think it's as bad. Uh, I think [unintelligible] comments that are okay to make about women that I don't think aren't okay to make about Black citizens. But-but that too has been applied to women and it's not a pace of change thing, these changes have been happening for 50 years."

School desegregation was not necessarily a good thing, my friends. McArdle might want to worry less about her anti-gay stance and more about her views on other races (and their IQs).

After talking about idea bans, we are now back to word bans. Insulting Blacks is worse than insulting women and gays, although we are not talking about insults, we are talking about systematic exploitation, repression, violence, and denial of civil and economic rights. But for McArdle, it's about words, specifically the words she used to explain why she was anti-gay rights.

"But it is now dangerous to believe things in a way it wasn't 50 years ago, uh, that it wasn't 20 years ago. So if you think about, like, the gay marriage case, right, for me, if you, if you, if someone had told you ten years ago gay marriage is about it-it part of having gay marriage be legal is obviously people that disagree with gay marriage would be legally required to bake a wedding cake for that wedding. I don't know about you, but I would have been, like, "That is some bs propaganda, that is never going to happen, then you are just making crap up so you can like to make a stupid argument against gay marriage. And then it happened, right, things have changed so fast we not only say, well, we've changed our minds, but holding a position I held five years ago is now appalling and I will pummel you for it."

At this extremely interesting half-way mark I had to abandon the conversation.

McArdle felt protected by the covert racism and sexism of the right, just as she felt free to giggle about violence against peaceful protesters during our disastrous invasion of Iraq. She now feels less protected in a gay-positive Clinton Nation.

McArdle is Trump-curious because if the liberals win and dominate the Supreme Court, she is afraid she'll lose money. People might fire or refuse to hire someone with a history of being antagonistic to gay marriage, and despite her best efforts at erasing her past, her old posts can still be found. Everything she says is a rationalization for her desperate attempts to preserve her elite status and freely-given, comfortable, consequence-free "opinions" about race and sexuality.

ADDED: It's not too surprising that McArdle has sympathy for Trump voters. Both she and Trump (wrongly) think Democrats are letting in illegal aliens to gain more voters.

SECOND ADDITION: McArdle is worried about the liberal culture thought police while the anti-gay organizations are the ones firing people for their ideas on gay marriage.

One of the largest evangelical organizations on college campuses nationwide has told its 1,300 staff members they will be fired if they personally support gay marriage or otherwise disagree with its newly detailed positions on sexuality starting on Nov. 11.


Downpuppy said...

I've been thinking about Trump University today.

It was a clear fraud, possibly criminal.

NOBODY would hire this scammer for any job in their company.

Yet they want us to hire him as president of the United States.

The more I think why, the more I worry that they're out to split the country into overlords and underlings. Very, very, gloomy.

Susan of Texas said...

Maybe they are, but our elite aren't very competent. They'll mess it up royally.

Dr.BDH said...

Again and again I am amazed at your ability to read or listen to Megan McArdle. Shallow does not adequately describe her thinking. It is more like the residue left after something shallow has evaporated. All this palaver about race and gay marriage and Trump, when the simple truth is that racists and homophobes are enraged that some people see what they are and deplore it.

Keep up the good work. I couldn't bear to do it myself and I appreciate you for sticking with it.

Susan of Texas said...

Thank you very much. This one was especially hard because I wanted to have exact quotes and that meant listening to her every word four or five times. I should at least listen to the second half to see if there's anything especially good in it, such as McArdle begging future Supreme Court Justice Al Franken to not jail her for thought crimes.

chrome agnomen said...

for a party that constantly decries affirmative action, there are certainly a awful lot of their pundits whose very existence can be laid to no other possibility. for what are legacy positions if not a form of affirmative action? in a true meritocracy these people would be working those 3 or 4 jobs that W found so edifying and 'murikin.

ianmorris said...

she read the 3 body problem and didn't get that china was authoritarian and not liberal? sending intellectuals to their deaths is not progressive

gromet said...

The Second Addendum is perfect. I hope McMegan acknowledges the fact of it some day -- and I think she might! She's too impressed with herself to realize she's going to look hilarious when she writes a highly cantilevered rationalization for why it's okay when conservatives do the exact thing that liberals would be tyrants for doing.

Of course, one thing she'll never do is admit if/when polite society rejects her, and she finds a new home in one of the pro-segregation outfits around town, that she'll go there bereft, in tears. Because if this anti-elite elite ever lost the approval of the elites, she'd cry for a year. Need for their approval may be THE driving force in her life -- a visceral, intensely felt part of who she is, without which she would have to redefine herself comprehensively. (Or at least, that's my impression, but I defer to you, as perhaps the nation's top McArdle dissector -- thanks for writing these!)