The Origins of Trump Nihilism
Take immigration, a hot-button issue that ignited Trumpism, even when polls suggested voters’ real concerns were the economy and health care. If your experience with illegal immigration is hiring and patronizing with a daily “Buenas tardes” a José Garcia, your skilled, dependable—and rather inexpensive—gardener, or navigating around the political-correctness of an upper-middle-class diversity officer on campus or at work, then you are likely to embrace the Jeb Bush idea that illegal immigration is an “act of love.” That is an inexpensive and easily arrived at position—but not so if you are middle class and lack the romance of the poor and the influence and money of the well off.
If you do your own lawn and clean your own home, or you live and school among the lower middle classes, and your job is always in jeopardy, then even Trump’s vulgarity on issues is proof that he “cares” while the calm perspective of Jeb Bush, or an earlier incarnation of Marco Rubio, or the sermons of John Kasich can come across as crass indifference.
For half the week, I live at ground zero of Trump’s so-called poor white support, such as it is in blue California, and half the week I am with his critics on the Stanford campus. Aside from logic and to be crude, class is the chief divide that reveals attitudes about Mr. Trump. “Comprehensive immigration reform” for elites is a catchword that your children are not going to schools with Mexican illegal immigrants, who are not all dreamers but often include at least a few quite dangerous gang members. I know open-borders advocate Mark Zuckerberg’s kids will not enjoy a diverse Redwood City immigrant experience. (Why exactly has he stealthily bought up his surrounding neighborhood and staffed it with private security teams to adjudicate whom he sees while entering and leaving his compound?)
The children of Republican elites do not sit in classes where a quarter of the students do not speak English. When that specter of diversity looms, parents yank their kids and put them in the prep schools of Silicon Valley that are rapidly reaching New England numbers (or maybe better southern academies that followed integration). Their children are not on buses where an altercation between squabbling eight year olds leads to a tattooed parent arriving at your home to challenge you to a fight over “disrespecting” his family name. The establishment Republicans have rarely jogged around their neighborhoods only to be attacked by pit bulls, whose owners have little desire to speak English, much less to cage, vaccinate, or license their dogs. They have never been hit by illegal-alien drivers in Palo Alto. In other words, they do not wish to live anywhere near those who, as a result of an act of love, are desperately poor, here under illegal auspices, and assume California works and should work on the premises of Oaxaca.