Defining the limits of respectability is, in fact, the central mode of contemporary progressive politics. Contemporary American progressives do not engage with conservative ideas or nonconforming political opinion — they simply attempt to define those as infra dig and outside of the boundaries of that which polite intellectual society is obliged to consider.
The Right has reciprocated, in its way. And that is a big part of what the Trump phenomenon is all about: so-called nationalists who despise the commanding heights of American culture, politics, and business, along with the institutions associated with them. Hence the bumptious anti-“elitism” of contemporary conservatives whose creed is “American Greatness” but who sneer at the parts of the country where most of the people and the money are, who sing hymns of national glory while abominating the East Coast, the West Coast, the major cities, the Ivy League, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the major cultural institutions (and, indeed, high culture itself as effete and elitist), the political parties, trade associations, broad swathes of the economy (“financialization”), newspapers — even the churches, as conservative American Christians (from Catholic to Evangelical) embrace a new antinomianism based not in religion but in the politics of cultural resentment.
Williamson goes on to point out how all of this has little connection to the “Real America” we hear so much about these days but alas:
There is much that is in need of reform in American life. But reform is not very much in fashion among populists, who are ensorcelled by the much more exciting prospect of revolution — and destruction.
This gets a bit at why I feel so politically and ideologically homeless these days. Not quite comfortable in the “establishment” wing of the GOP having serious questions about foreign policy, and the overall direction of Bush era GOP for lack of a better term, but also not comfortable with the Trump world and the at least adjacent anti-elite/populists.
If you haven’t already, I recommend you subscribe to The Tuesday. Interesting commentary and always some fund language stuff too.