A few weeks ago Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone R.I.P., GOP: How Trump Is Killing the Republican Party. It's a good article and in usual Taiibbi style, fun to read. Here's the crux:
Sullivan was right that white conservatives in places like Indiana hate Ivy Leaguers and Black Lives Matter and the gay left and safe-spacers and feminists and all the other mocking, sneering, atheistic know-it-all types from cosmopolitan cities who scoff, as Obama famously did once, at their guns and their religion.
But they also hated all of those people eight years ago, 16 years ago, 30 years ago. What's new about the Year of Trump is that they have now also suddenly turned on their own party. Why?
Sullivan basically ignored this question. The closest he came to an explanation was a passage saying that "global economic forces" hurt blue-collar workers in particular, forcing them to compete with lots of other unskilled and basically fungible human beings around the world. Which made them, he guessed, pissed off.
This avalanche of verbose disgust on the part of conservative intellectuals toward the Trump voter, who until very recently was the Republican voter, tells us everything we need to know about what actually happened in 2016.
There never was any real connection between the George Wills, Andrew Sullivans and David Brookses and the gun-toting, Jesus-loving ex-middle-class voters they claimed to embrace. All those intellectuals ever did for Middle America was cook up a sales pitch designed to get them to vote for politicians who would instantly betray them to business interests eager to ship their jobs off to China and India. The most successful trick was linking the corporate mantra of profit without responsibility to the concept of individual liberty.
Into the heartland were sent wave after wave of politicians, each more strident and freedom-y than the last. They arrived draped in the flag, spewed patriotic bromides about God, guns and small-town values, and pledged to give the liberals hell and bring the pride back.
Then they went off to Washington and year after year did absolutely squat for their constituents. They were excellent at securing corporate tax holidays and tax cuts for the rich, but they almost never returned to voter country with jobs in hand. Instead, they brought an ever-increasing list of villains responsible for the lack of work: communists, bra-burning feminists, black "race hustlers," climate-change activists, Muslims, Hollywood, horned owls...