November 26, 2019

SALENA ZITO AND BRAD TODD: The Great Revolt enters a new phase: How the populist uprising of 2016 will reverberate in 2020.

In a country increasingly engaged in national politics and divided, the next 12 months may feel like 12 years. Voters in both trenches are eager to vote, convinced not only of victory but also of vindication. The shocking result in 2016 wasn’t a black swan, an irregular election deviating from normalcy, but instead the indicator of the realignment we describe in The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition, now available in a new a paperback edition in time for the 2020 election season.

The story of America’s evolving political topography is one of tectonic plates, slowly grinding against each other until a break notably alters the landscape with seismic consequences — a sudden lurch long in development. The election of President Trump cemented a realignment of the two political parties rooted in cultural and economic change years in the making. Although he has been the epicenter of all politics since his announcement of candidacy in 2015, Trump is the product of this realignment more than its cause, a fact that becomes clear as you travel the back roads to the places that made him the most unlikely president of our era.

Thirty-year-old dairy farmer Ben Klinkner doesn’t consider himself a member of either political part. “I am a Christian conservative,” he says matter-of-factly.

Sitting at conference table at the Westby Co-op Credit Union, the sixth-generation family farmer has a master’s degree in meat science, Klinkner explains when he left to attend college at the University of Wisconsin River Falls and then North Dakota State University in Fargo for his master’s he vowed he was never going to milk another cow again.

“And I’ve been doing just that every day for the past six years.”

“I chose my life because, not for the money obviously, but because I get to see my family every day. That’s what it’s about. I got to see my parents every day growing up. And my kids get to see that too,” said Klinkner, the father of three with another one on the way.

On Trump, Klinkner is pragmatic, “I am very happy with his policies, I just wish he’d put that Twitter down,” he said of the president’s unorthodox style of communicating. This cuts against the national media’s narrative that farmers will dump the president because of the trade uncertainty.

And yes, Klinkner will vote for him again.

Read the whole thing. But Trump would be crazy to “put Twitter down” in this media environment.

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