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James Bennet shoots another brick


It is just astounding that the New York Times would publish this:

In contrast, almost all of the people I know in my hometown in Nebraska proudly supported him. They glossed over his infidelities and stressed that he seemed to be a good father. They were impressed by his “respectful” sons and admired the success of his daughters.

The people I know in Nebraska have the same moral views as my religious acquaintances in New York, yet they had a totally different view of Mr. Trump as a standard-bearer for family values. What made the difference? In a word, class.


Baffling as it may be to elites [I estimate the chances that an op-ed with this phrase will be good at 0%, plus Schmitz went to Princeton], Mr. Trump embodies a real if imperfect model of family values. People familiar with the purple family model tend to view his alienation from his children’s mother as normal and his closeness to his children as exceptional and admirable. I saw this among my acquaintances in Nebraska. Even those from red families were more likely than my acquaintances in New York to know someone who has had a child out of wedlock or is subject to a restraining order.

Mr. Trump’s purple family values may even explain some of his populist appeal. Global leaders like Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker appear to have stable and loving marriages. But their childlessness makes them worse exemplars of family values in the eyes of some non-elites than divorcees who have multiple children — a category that includes Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, and Marine Le Pen, of France’s National Rally party, as well as Donald Trump. Contempt for elite respectability is reflected not only in the respective party platforms, but in the personal lives of these populist leaders.

In addition to the obvious…

…is the fact this is exceptionally incompetent as political analysis. Like all such class-based arguments, it runs aground on the obvious shoals that the typical Trump voter was an affluent or more white person. But the even bigger problem is that there is a very obvious explanation for this non-puzzle: the people he knows in Nebraska didn’t suddenly discover that they thought that serial adultery, sexual assault, and domestic violence are OK; they rationalized their decision to vote Republican because they’re Republicans (or nominal independents who always vote a straight Republican ticket), and the vast majority of vote behavior is explained by partisanship. That’s it. He really doesn’t need to libel his fellow Nebraskans to explain this.

I mean, as it happens, a childless couple in what as far as we know was a faithful marriage with no children of their own fairly recently ran against an adulterer with daughter. Gee, I wonder how Nebraska voted:

Wow, Nebraska’s embrace of “purple family values” seems quite recent! Almost is if the real reason Nebraska voted Republican is that it always does!

It would be really useful if NYT opinion would hire someone who knows something about political science, history, something like that there, so they would stop feeding this abject and insulting nonsense to their readers.

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