Donald Trump is giving the Cathedral a group heart attack on account of his populism, i.e., his unusually successful appeal to little people who are supposed to defer to their betters in matters of state, but some observers (at Naked Capitalism and the Archdruid Report, among others) have suggested that he’s appealing to conservative provincial elites while Hillary Clinton is appealing to liberal cosmopolitan elites in the big cities. We’ve discussed the latter in these pages at some length before, because they can be some real shitheads, but the former are worth a closer look. Bill Pulliam, a regular reader correspondent of the Archdruid’s, described Trump’s base in his area this way: “But the strongest Trump supporters are NOT the poor around here. They are the rural middle class, the old families, the landlords and slumlords, the business owners, those who live comfortably on their government and pension payments here in the ‘Check Republic.'”
I’ve had to deal with this crowd, mostly to my own misfortune. It can be traumatic. Pulliam describes my slumlords in Eureka, Professional Property Management, perfectly. In addition to directly and personally hosing the barely solvent portion of its tenant base for rent, PPM nurses abundantly with Mama Sugar for Section Eight payments on behalf of tenants too destitute to pay their own way. Five years after vacating my apartment in Eureka, I’m still scared to deal with other landlords, lest they treat me similarly. This is one of the reasons why I’m so often homeless; it’s honestly less traumatic, sometimes much less, to sleep in my car several nights a week than to be mistreated by holier-than-thou shitheads who hold threats of eviction over the heads of vulnerable tenants. As a matter of principle, these people deserve to lose business, anyway. They should not be rewarded for their tyranny and will to power. It’s important to note that landlords are commonly hesitant to say so much as a rude word to tenants at higher-end properties for fear that their reputations among other wealthy tenants with options will be ruined and that they’ll be sued for harassment.
We aren’t as far beyond feudalism as we’d like to imagine. There’s some bleak, ugly shit, if you know where to look for it. Joe Dirtbag is one of these local elites, after a very strange fashion. He and the Family Shrew have spent most of the past decade stewing about how they deserved better than they’ve gotten. In the sense that they worked hard for decades and got wiped out in the restaurant business, this is true. In the sense that Joe Dirtbag presides over a pre-rural electrification slumlord shantytown, among his horrifying variety of other immoralities, he deserves to be sleeping in his car, just as I often am. He has been able to hold onto significant real estate at a time when I rarely have a stable place to stay for a week straight. He and the Family Shrew revoked my rooming privileges in their guest cottage because I had offended them during a domestic dispute that JD had very nearly turned violent. This is exactly the kind of vindictive, retributive, holier-than-thou, tyrannical shit I’d expect from any especially vicious slumlord. JD had treated his other tenants even worse from the start. It’s too bad he never got sick from taking wads of rent money in hand from Pot-o-Shit Friend. Or maybe he did, but blamed it on eating too much grease the night before. Hell if I know.
Much of rural America is run by haughty, barely accountable local elites who make up their own rules by fiat and expect everyone else to obey them because they rarely provoke backsass from their intimidated inferiors. Often they don’t even get the city council to do their bidding. Laws and regulations prohibiting their routine business practices remain on the books, but they go unenforced because no one has the courage to file a formal complaint or suit. Prevailing community standards at Joe Dirtbag’s farm are whatever the extant community of slumdogs, neighborhood crazies, and shit-in-a-bucket milquetoasts say they are. Family and community values supposedly militate against ratting anyone out for pulling this shit. In point of fact, anyone who’s sick of it could call the sheriff’s office, OSP South Operations, the OLCC, or, hell, all three, and have cops on site in a matter of hours. Winters, spring, summer, or Falls, all you gotta do is–uh, I could totally get doxxed for using that kind of language, but anyone creepy enough to be snooping around here for dirt on me probably had the goods some time ago, anyway. Say, who boyfriend this is? Dude did some good old boy shit, I’ve been told, but the current one, the reformer from Tacoma, seemingly doesn’t. This isn’t why Joe Dirtbag brags about being buddies with the entire local regulatory apparatus; that’s probably just the antisocial narcissism again, or maybe a function of Psychotarp and Mixups not being the only nuts around there.
Cut the Norman Rockwell shit. Small-town life in America is about the more cutthroat local yokels getting their way by intimidating their neighbors with whatever works: appeals to family values, appeals to community values, public religiosity, threats, retaliatory evictions, employer blacklists. Etc. Git ‘er done. These local elites distinguish themselves from cosmopolitan (or, more currently, globalist) elites in Acelaland not only by their politics, which are more overtly reactionary and less flowery, but also in their tendency to do more of their own dirty work and to have a more direct destructive effect on their vulnerable neighbors. This is especially true if the liberal elites are construed to include failspawn who move to the Pearl District on allowances from their parents to drink coffee for a living. (Actually drinking coffee for a living means joining the California Highway Patrol, but having seen the new dumbass onesie utility tans and also told about the background investigation process, I can’t recommend it. They go over your life with a fine-tooth comb and then, if you prove yourself a winner, they dress you up like a baby.)
Provincial elites do much of their own Sam Walton shit, personally intimidating the recalcitrant with good old boy shtick. They’re more likely than traditional national elites to be willing to socialize with any enforcers they retain; e.g., the Optimates at Lancaster Country Day School were on surprisingly cordial terms with Mike Mersky, whom the Brahmins barely tolerated. An important caveat here is that the national elites, especially in Washington, are getting coarser and coarser post-9/11 and are running with coarser and coarser associates, so there’s probably some ugly convergence. Hillary Clinton is reputed to be taking this coarseness to new extremes, treating the Secret Service–some of the most refined security personnel on earth–as Downton Abbey basement trash while consorting with the most vulgar ex-military thugs and policy shop chickenshits.
At a philosophical level, local elites are historically inclined to level everyone else down to their own preferred level of misery than to level the unfortunate up to some sort of privilege. Again, this seems to be changing, e.g., with the outbursts of Neo-Victorian sexbothering that have been consuming the nominal liberals of the Democratic Party. Provincial elites, though, are significantly more entrenched as miserable, resentful bastards who don’t want anyone else to have more fun in life than they’re having. They draw from a much deeper reservoir of philistinism, crabs-in-the-barrel smallmindedness, and self-important moral outrage over sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll (*Very Tom Lehrer Voice* AND OTHER CHILDREN’S RECORDS). They’re much more likely to be angry about welfare loafers, where cosmopolitan elites still have a residual sense of limousine liberal noblesse oblige to the effect that the losers in flyover country deserve some handouts, what with their being losers and all.
This is where C. S. Lewis failed: no, it is not better to be punished as a man in the image of God than to be medicalized as a child, an animal, or an idiot. Ask Rodrigo Gularte about that, if you’re spiritual enough to get an answer. The current moral panic about opiate abuse appeals more to bourgeois or better provincial shitheads who despise their own townspeople than to liberal city slickers. The BoBos can still be serious assholes, and they still demand a number of badly destructive policies, but they’re less directly malignant towards the hosts that they bleed for their sustenance. On a number of key policies, they’re probably less censorious and petty than local Republican elites. They don’t get into high dudgeon so often over thicky tricks getting food stamps and Section Eight. They’re less aggressive in their moral panicking about drugs. Usually. Some weird political realignments are taking place lately, Clinton being to the right of Trump among them, so I hesitate to say for sure.
Trump’s campaign, in spite of its populism, is clearly deploying surrogates to appeal to the #TCOT parasites. I can’t imagine that the ditzy bitch from The Apprentice whom CNN put on opposite Ali Velshi the other night had gone rogue. I felt bad for Velshi. I probably have some political differences with him, but he generally knows what the fuck he’s talking about, and he was put in the position of being forced by social convention to treat as his debating equal this dumbass bimbo who manifestly did not know Donald Trump’s ass from a hole in the ground. This bimbo was as tcotly stupid as Scott Baio but not as cute. She asked Velshi, with McCarthyite gotcha aggression, to answer her about whether he wanted the country to keep going down Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s path towards socialism.
Velshi got tripped up, but I could have answered that: no, Obama and Clinton are not socialists, but yes, I support Amtrak, Medicare, and Social Security, among other programs, as effective forms of socialism, but no, since you ask, I am not against the free market, and neither is Amtrak, which does business with numerous private vendors. We are so fucking stupid about socialism in this country, and as far as I can tell, it’s only because #TCOT keeps hurling all these painfully stupid slurs at socialism. Social Security couldn’t have anything to do with socialism, now could it? With a name like that? Gee. Homegirl had some breathless things to say about Ronald Reagan, too, things indicating that she knows nothing at all about Reagan beyond what her handlers or ditzkin told her.
If anyone in Trump’s campaign repudiates this “luxury real estate specialist” (may I be introduced as a “T&A specialist,” please?), I may believe that CNN put her up to this appallingly sorry excuse for a debate as a false flag to discredit Trump. I doubt this will happen, though. Baio may well have been an RNC agitprop asset operating independently from the Trump campaign, but some ridiculous airhead from Trump’s time on NBC is presumably a Trump campaign asset. For one thing, it’s hard to describe how overtly stupid she was by mainstream Republican Party standards. The GOP usually fronts people who at least sound educated and intelligent. This lady made Scott Baio sound like Bill Buckley, and she was tight with the Donald back in the day.
This is what our politics have come to: an almost homely ditz chest-heaving on television about how, ohmuhguhd, Hillary Clinton is a socialist, like, are you a socialist, too, because apparently appropriating government funds for anything that the House GOP Caucus isn’t currently advocating will magically transform the United States into Romania in 1980. Just when you think it can’t get any more retarded, it gets more retarded. Pretty soon we’ll be back to Bircher freaks accusing Ike of being a commie fifth columnist. Cracka say what, now. This stuff is bad enough to make me want more of Paul Ryan, not less. At least with him, we’re being lectured by someone who has done some independent thought and reading about politics. If our policy is in fact to be crafted by this rotten faction (remember, its supporters vote longtime), an intelligent, articulate shithead is an improvement over a brazenly stupid, sputteringly inarticulate shithead.
That sucks ass, but it’s the best I can do right now. Vladimir Vladimirovich, I second Donald Fredrickovich’s motion. Please perform additional international Soviet Russian Google-fu on Madame Secretary. Please save us from ourselves.