Thomas Edsall: When It Comes To Eating Away To Democracy, Trump Is a Winner

What happened to our liberal elites?

Why is there so much polarization and resentment of them?

New York Times:

“Donald Trump’s drive to undermine American democracy has proved strikingly successful.

Take the most recent analysis by Varieties of Democracy, better known as V-Dem, an international organization founded in 2014 to track trends in democratization:

While the United States remains a liberal democracy, V-Dem data shows that it is only a fraction away from losing this status after substantial autocratization. The U.S. Liberal Democratic Index score dropped from 0.85 in 2015 to 0.72 in 2020, driven by weakening constraints on the executive under the Trump administration.

Of 179 countries surveyed, V-Dem found that the United States was one of 33 to have moved substantially toward “autocratization.” From 2016, when Trump won the presidency, to 2021, when he involuntarily left office, the United States fell from 17th to 29th in the global V-Dem democracy rankings:

Liberal democracy remains significantly lower than before Trump came to power. Government misinformation declined last year but did not return to previous levels. Toxic levels of polarization continue to increase. Democracy survives in the United States, but it remains under threat. Of all the forces undermining democratic traditions in elections and policymaking — Donald Trump’s big lie, the politicization of ballot counting by Republican state legislatures, the attempt to disenfranchise segments of the population — one that has devastating potential is operating under the radar: the growing cynicism of younger voters. …

Herbert Kitschelt, a political scientist at Duke, noted in an email that the United States stands apart from most other developed nations in ways that may make this country especially vulnerable in the universe of democratic states to authoritarian appeals and democratic backsliding:

There are two unique American afflictions on which Trump could thrive and that are not shared by any other advanced Western O.E.C.D. country: the legacy of slavery and racism, and the presence of fundamentalist Evangelicalism, magnifying racial and class divisions. There is no social organization in America that is as segregated as churches.

In this context, Kitschelt wrote, a critical element of Trumpist support is trying to establish in all of the United States a geographical generalization of what prevailed in the American South until the 1960s Civil Rights movement: a white Evangelical oligarchy with repression — jailtime, physical violence and death — inflicted on those who will not succumb to this oligarchy. It’s a form of clero-fascism. A declining minority — defined in economic and religious terms — is fighting tooth and nail to assert its supremacy. …”

I should get off my ass and write a book about this.

A century ago, the United States was liberal, but the culture war was nascent. By and large, Americans had a common identity, culture and morality which has been lost in our times. In those days, liberalism meant crusading for free-market economics or causes like women’s suffrage which expanded political rights. It wasn’t focused on cultural liberation from traditional values or cultural egalitarianism.

Even in the War Between the States, the fundamental identity of the country was not really being contested. The Union and Confederacy fought over the issues of slavery and secession. When those issues were settled, the country was able to move on because otherwise the two sections shared so much in common. There wasn’t a cultural divide the size of the Grand Canyon.

Up until World War I, the vast majority of Americans would have agreed that the United States is a White country, an Anglo-Saxon country (in culture), a Protestant country (Catholics were tolerated) and a country with liberal and republican principles. The WASP elite in our Eastern states still ran the country. There was a racial, ethnic and cultural floor under their version of liberalism that kept them tethered to the country. They also made an effort to heal the sectional divide that was left over from the Civil War.

The Great Wave happened.

The World Wars happened.

The Great Depression happened.

Meritocracy happened.

The mass media happened.

The old WASP elite lost power.

The elites who are in power today replaced the WASPs.

Most importantly, the -isms (antiracism, modernism and cosmopolitanism) were imported from Europe and were adopted by our rising liberal elites in the 1920s who were creating what we now call the “mainstream.” PMCs also began to grow in number from this moment forward.

The result of this was this emerging class of college graduates who are concentrated in our cities who were becoming 1.) secular in their religion, 2.) modernist in their sensibility (anti-traditional, emphasis on self-expression), 3.) cosmopolitan in their loyalties (oriented toward “humanity” instead of their fellow citizens) and 4.) antiracist in their attitudes (favoring non-Whites over Whites and having a negative sense of White identity). These people also began taking over all American institutions and using them as a means to impose various social revolutions on the rest of the country. They began to redefine American identity. The Supreme Court, for example, was used as their favorite battering ram for decades.

As I have explained, they ditched White identity in the 1960s and Anglo-Saxon culture in the 1970s. They ditched Christianity in the 1990s. They are ditching republicanism in the 2020s. They have created their own bizarre alternative calendar with PRIDE Month dedicated to the “LGBTQ community” and the rest of the year devoted to celebrating various non-White groups. They have taken this trinity of -isms – antiracism, modernism and cosmopolitanism, which are wedded to liberalism – to greater and greater extremes whether it is CRT in public schools and Wokeism in universities or open borders or the “trans” craze which is based on the idea that there is a “true self” that is distinct from your body. Those who haven’t embraced the worldview of progressive activists on “trans” are now rightwing extremists like earlier generations who didn’t embrace other fads like antiracism, feminism or multiculturalism.

Jews, of course, are at the core of this class of people who I am talking about, but it is a broader and more numerous group. They are defined more by their education, values and beliefs than ethnicity as well as their hostility and alienation from White Christian America. The definition of an “extremist” is an American with traditional values who hasn’t joined them on this voyage and hasn’t adopted all of their latest fads. It is “fascism” to believe what everyone believed twenty years ago that there are two genders.

If you believe in the republican ideal of self government, you are a “fascist” and an “authoritarian” now. It is “fascism” for the people of the states to make their own laws which reflect their values. It is “Christo-fascism” to want America to retain its Christian culture and to have Christian morality and values reflected in our laws. Libs on Twitter are heading down this track now even though Americans have always believed this and a majority of them still believe it in 2022.

It really isn’t surprising that we have ended up where we are now when our alienated urban liberal elites have dedicated so much of their time to dissolving our national identity and unraveling the social fabric in an effort to distinguish themselves from the masses. This is what it looks like when things come apart and nothing unites elites with the masses anymore. This is the day that they have been working toward for the better part of a century.


    • Brad, in my universe you would be a college professor. Too bad that’s not going to happen any time soon. Maybe you can teach officially when you are in your 60s and we have finally resolved the cultural and spiritual mess we are in.

  1. I think that USA have ceased to be a liberal democracy in the 60’s, but especially at the beginning of the woke era, namely after 2008/2010. As well as Europe. I see Trump not as a person who destroy liberal democracy, but as a person who destroy woke “democracy” (even if in the woke ideology there’s no democracy because all opponents are purged). Trump can bring back the concept of Liberal democracy as we intended it before the woke era, the true liberalism and not this shit of fake liberalism. True liberalism is based on freedom of thought and opinion, as well as economic freedom. Instead today we (USA and Europe) don’t have a society based on the freedom of thought and opinion due to left elite in institutions and universities. You said, Brad, that once time there were WASP elites, so now we have WOKE elites. Our task is destroy the society that this WOKE elites are creating ( a society which is not liberal because all people who oppose to wokism: immigration, gender fluid, far-left marxism are persecuted).

  2. I told you before, you should write a book. I wasn’t being obtuse. You really have an unusually detailed knowledge of American dissidents. Your one yourself. One thing that makes you important is that you do not dehumanize even your political opponents. You point out failures, but also remember people as human beings. This is important for history of this type, for many dissidents can be unpleasant people. You have also become a very good writer over the years.I have watched you on your blog get very good at it. So many of us really think you the person to write a book about all this. Anyway, that’s my thoughts about it.

    • I second the motion. This blog is by far the best on the internet today, both because of the erudition of its host on the subject matter presented and its tolerance for dissent between the commenters, and occasionally the host.

      I wanted to write a book about my overall view of the social/political/economic complex, but never got around to doing so. Life happens, then you wake up one day and the muse has passed. Don’t let that be you, Brad. I’ll buy your book, whatever the price (within reason, of course).

      • If Brad write a book, i ask to write the chapter about cancel culture and “formers”, i have something to say about these issues.

  3. Democracy is jewish government. The “Death of democracy” means the death of jew power and control. That’s what they’re scared of. Apparently, discussing ideas is a threat to democracy! There is nothing that threatens democracy more than people being allowed to freely converse on the internet. If there is one thing a democracy simply cannot survive, it is open discussion of ideas. People who have concerns about their families welfare want to have normal conversations, as we used to on Twitter and YouTube before 2017. But today, you better not comment before they come and get you or get you fired from your job for a thought crime, because of freedom and liberty.

  4. “Fundamentalist Evangelicalism?”

    Not Jewish Zionism?

    The entire mass media speaks with one voice: Jews Good, Christians Bad. The vast majority of money for the Democratic party comes from Zionist Jews.

  5. “I should get off my ass and write a book about this.”

    And then some, Brad. You’re not only a fine historian, but a good social commentator as well.

    “They are defined more by their education, values and beliefs than ethnicity as well as their hostility and alienation from White Christian America.”

    i call these people the “Judeo-Plutocracy”.

  6. (((Cultural Marxist))) “intellectuals” like this scum weaseled their way into control of all the most crucial institutions, then without ever asking the Flyova White Trash opened our borders wide to all the world’s Wretched Refuse while simultaneously shitting in the empty heads of befuddled, naive White youth to infect them with absurd guilt over our ancestors vanquishing their mortal racial enemies so that they could create & bequeath to us what used to be the freest, most prosperous nation the world has ever seen, thereby transforming it into this filthy jew/fag/mud lunatic asylum.

    FUCK the Edsalls & the kikes that created them. And Our Democracy™, too.

  7. Really you could say ever since the Magna Carta of 1215, the English speaking world has been heading towards the left.
    England’s glorious revolution of 1688, when it morphed from a near absolute monarchy into an aristocratic constitutional monarchy, moved England further to the left.
    The revolutionary war, when America won its independence from Britain, becoming a liberal (at least in part and at the federal level, the states were still free to be as illiberal as they pleased for the time being) timocratic republic, moved America further to the left.
    During the Jacksonian era, America changed into a liberal democratic republic, moving it further leftwards.

    Then during the civil war era, under Lincoln the federal government began imposing many of New England’s, relatively for the time, liberal and progressive norms on all the states, a trend that has continued to this day, from the square deal, federal reserve and the new deal, to the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution, all the way to the latest craze, trans, with the coasts pushing more and more of their norms (or I should say ‘new norms’ rather, ‘norms’ that were invented just yesterday) on the rest of the US with little-no pushback except for perhaps some tax cuts here and there.

    The right has been on the defensive, the right sometimes says no to the ‘new normal’, but rarely does it attempt to bring the old normal back.

    But the left’s victory isn’t inevitable.
    Mankind goes through phases.
    The ultra left USSR collapsed giving way to the more conservative Russia.
    Similarly the USA could collapse, many states could secede and head in a more conservative direction.
    Rightwing populism, Brexit, Trumpism and Christian nationalism could be the beginning of this collapse.

    On the other hand, the rightwing could be brought to heel once again, only time will tell for sure.
    With the likes of trans and the left practically embracing pedophilia (you can see where they’re going with this, ‘drag story time’, if sex is nonbinary, it’s only a matter of time before they say age is nonbinary, if children are old enough to sexually mutilate themselves, they’ll say they’re old enough to consent to sex), I think if the right submits to that, they will submit to anything and the left will completely do away with the right this time.
    You can see that’s where they want to go, hence the great reset, the Antifa/BLM insurrection, spitting on the founders and toppling monuments, they will criminalize rightwing thinking and either abolish or neuter Christianity to the point it’ll be virtually unrecognizable, Jesus will be turned into a proto-hippy and homosexual, so no more watered down right, no more right at all.
    If there’s to be elections, it’ll be between relatively liberal progressives and more authoritarian progressives, there will be no conservatism of any kind except for perhaps underground and on the margins of western civilization, Christians and conservatives will have to flee to other parts of the world to protect themselves and their values.

    While the left is suppose to be more egalitarian, in practice the left can be every bit as elitist as the right, perhaps even more so.
    The difference is leftwing elitism is more covert and hypocritical, hence the right’s conspiracy theories about the left, factions on the right figure the left is really more elitist, and malicious than it claims to be, whereas rightwing elitism is more honest, they will tell you they are some degree of elitist, because that’s what it means to be rightwing, some sort of elitist, and/or traditionalist.

    I find it interesting how the contemporary left is far less preoccupied with economics than with cultural and social issues.
    This has made it more appealing to the upper middleclass and upper classes but less appealing to the lower middle class and the working classes.
    I suppose it’s the only way the left could succeed in the west, which has a relatively stronger middleclass than Russia, China and other former state socialist countries had, they had little-no middleclass.
    They were also more ethnically homogenous, at least at their core, Russia and China both have Muslims and others peripherally.

  8. HW. With all due respect, and much respect is due you.

    Conservatism Inc. Is directly definable as a pretend dissident movement that writes books about things it can’t and won’t be bothered to change. Has been this way all my life.

    The world doesn’t need another book.

    It needs people on the ground doing things to affect change in realistic spheres of influence, like the local level of politics.

    Small and timely writing is more tactically effective.

  9. Isn’t this similar to what Burnham/Francis called the managerial revolution?

    The managerial class (or PMC) undermines traditional identities (national, racial, religious, regional, familial, etc) in order to extend its power & reach globally. The -isms are the ideological rationalization of managerial structural interests.

    Jack Goldstone’s comments in Edsall’s article seemed accurate.

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