Who Are ‘The People’ Anyway?

Trump’s core constituency covers about 39 percent of prospective voters; and this raises certain questions about whether this percentage is coextensive with the entire “people.” Do the 4 out of 10 college students who would silence “hate speech” (that is speech from the Right) belong to “the people”? Do the 60 percent of those polled in a recent CNN survey who disapprove of Trump’s criticism of NFL players who took to their knees during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, belong to this mystical whole known as “the people”? What about the more than 60 million individuals who gave their votes to Clinton in our most recent presidential election? Do these voters belong to “the people”? If not, why not?

.. The Revolt of the Elites by Christopher Lasch—a work that tries to dissociate “the people” from the vile, transnational “overclass” that Lasch blames for the decline of the family and a traditional sense of community. Lasch studiously ignores a major reason that the entertainers, authors, and other celebrities whom he deprecates have done so remarkably well. It’s because “the people” adore them and their cultural products and have made them what they are. Without Lasch’s “people,” the overclass that he despises would not be prospering.

.. Lasch, a defender of settled communities, typically holds up as his paradigm a mid-twentieth century working-class family, featuring very traditional gender roles. Lasch’s ideal mommy packs a lunch pail for his ideal blue-collar dad, who goes off to work in a factory.

.. By contrast, most of those who I hear celebrating Trumpian populism—like Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich on Fox News—are not about to restore “the people” as they used to be, or at least how they were perceived to be

.. Our self-advertised populists do not therefore attempt to take us back to mid-twentieth century communities, lest they be accused of praising the bad old times. In any case, Trumpian populists have different priorities. For example, Hannity and other pundits on Fox News want to mobilize their viewers against the Democrats and in favor of Republican political candidates.

.. Reading Breitbart, one gets the impression that their staff’s understanding of populism is simply to support Trump at every turn, except when Steve Bannon decides to break ranks (such as on DACA).

.. These would-be populists were disciples of Strauss’s student, the late Harry Jaffa, or in some cases of Jaffa’s student Charles Kesler at Claremont University, and are promoting their trademark views about the United States as a propositional nation founded on natural rights theory. Jaffa combined his view of America’s founding with obligatory worship of certain democratic statesmen and heroes, including Lincoln, Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr. For more than 50 years, “West Coast Straussians” have been feuding with more mainstream Straussians, who are centered mostly in Chicago or else on the East Coast. Not surprisingly, this second group of sectarians has come to be known as “East Coast Straussians.”

.. I would be delighted if these websites simply stated some of their signature positions, such as criticizing judicial activism, without claiming to represent an entity called “the people.”

.. All that seems left of populism, a movement that arose in late 19th century America among rural and small-town populations, are a political style and distrust of elites. Unlike those who today appropriate this identity, American populists historically desired to return all domestic politics to the states and to create public utilities.

Get Up, Stand Up

All who cherish free expression, especially on campuses, must combat the growing zeal for censorship.

.. When speakers need police escort on and off college campuses, an alarm bell should be going off that something has gone seriously awry. Of course, an ever-growing part of the faculty is the reason that police protection is needed in the first place. Professors in all but the hardest of hard sciences increasingly indoctrinate students in the belief that to be a non-Asian minority or a female in America today is to be the target of nonstop oppression, even, uproariously, if you are among the privileged few to attend a fantastically well-endowed, resource-rich American college.

.. to challenge that claim of ubiquitous bigotry is to engage in “hate speech,” and that such speech is tantamount to a physical assault on minorities and females. As such, it can rightly be suppressed and punished. To those faculty, I am indeed a fascist, and a white supremacist, with the attendant loss of communication rights.

.. To try to prevent me or other dissenting intellectuals from connecting with students is simply an effort to maintain the Left’s monopoly of thought. The fact that this suppression goes under the title of “anti-fascism” is particularly rich.

.. But it must be observed that if campus conservatives tried to use physical force to block Senator Elizabeth Warren, say, from giving a speech, the New York Times would likely put the obstruction on the front page and the phrase “fascist” would be flying around like a swarm of hornets, followed immediately by the epithet “misogynist.

.. Before a planned blockade, the faculty must reaffirm in their classes the campus’s belief in free expression. And the faculty must show up to the threatened event itself to give meaning to the ideal of free speech; they must shame the students trying to prevent their fellow students from hearing ideas that challenge campus orthodoxies.

.. punishment violates the consumerist ethos of American higher education.

.. But the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.

She wanted to criticize Black Lives Matter in a college speech. A protest shut her down.

she said black-on-black crime is a bigger threat to African Americans than police violence

.. A disproportionate amount of crime happens in black communities, she told students at Claremont McKenna, and modern policing is driven by data, not racism.

.. She also argues that an outsize focus on police brutality has caused police to back off on proactive policing measures that brought huge crime drops across the nation. “Criminals,” a synopsis of the book says, “are being emboldened.”