The Republican Civil War Will Be a Culture War
Trump vs. DeSantis is an in-group / out-group fight.
1. Who Are the Elites?
My friend Jay Nordlinger has an excellent piece in National Review about the uses and misuses of in-group / out-group signalers such as “the people,” “workers,” and “the elites.”
In my experience, people who say “the people” mean “people I agree with.” “People I like.” This is akin to “real Americans,” who live in “real America,” as opposed to the false Americans, who live in false America. And the people who are our people — the people — are definitely not . . . “elites.” Those cocktail-sippin’ enemies of the people.
Last month, George F. Will and Karl Rove spoke at a forum on “the future of conservatism.” Both had criticisms of the Heritage Foundation, the think tank in D.C. The foundation’s president, Kevin Roberts, responded on Twitter, calling Will and Rove “two elitists.” “The chattering class thinks the peasants need to pipe down,” he said.
In 2021, the president of the Heritage Foundation (Kevin Roberts’s predecessor) was paid $956,394. You might assume that a guy running a think tank and making somewhere in the neighborhood of a million a year would also qualify as a member of the chattering class and be a member of the elite—that his identification with “the peasants” is preposterous. But that’s not really how this works, is it?
“The people versus the elites” is, more or less, the entire ideological frame for today’s Republican party. Republicans no longer fight about ideas like free-trade or the size of