George Orwell Explains the Politics of Today
In George Orwell’s 1941 essay, “England, your England,” he wrote with keen perception about an out of touch elite: “They take their cookery from Paris and opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institutions, from horse-racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box…”
For a liberal like me, Orwell’s description of a snobbish, blinkered left wing English intelligentsia in the 1930s resonates down the decades to our own particular moment in time.
The Trump supporters (Hillary’s “deplorables”) and many other citizens see a contemptuous, sniggering elite respond to insults to “their America” in ways they find shocking and unpatriotic. While observing the very same event, the doors of perception seem to open up on very different American vistas. Here are just a handful of examples of the profound disconnect and incomprehension that worsens all the time:
When the flag is burned in protest (or pro football players take a knee when national anthem is played), the first and visceral response of the Democrat intellectuals is to defend the free speech rights of the protesters, not feel and express disgust at the vandalism of a sacred object. Anger at the disrespect comes a distant second, if at all. The opposite is true for Trump supporters and many other citizens.
The Democrats worry themselves sick about capital punishment for criminals but barely shed a tear for an aborted fetus. The reverse is true for Trump Republicans.
Trans and Immigrant rights are far more pressing to Democrats than preserving traditional Mom and apple pie family values that are in steep decline.
The Democratic elite continue to support keeping prayer out of school while fetishizing things like AP courses in a country where “One Nation under God” is not some passing sentiment but an eternal verity. God comes first for Trump supporters not advanced placement courses for their children-- who will be brainwashed by liberal professors if they make it to university anyway.
For the vast majority of Americans who love their pork and beef, the elite’s politically correct celebration of a vegetarian diet and concomitant hostility to carnivores- who they march against at animal rights rallies-further enrage them.
Republicans have been brilliant (election cycle after election cycle) at wrapping themselves in the flag, NASCAR, and pork rinds while sounding the alarm about unpatriotic liberals. Many are hypocrites, of course, but their rhetoric touting their devotion to the traditional virtues of the homeland carries the day nonetheless. They have decisively won the “perception battle.”
By emphasizing above all else minority rights, and conveying a contempt and/or ignorance of the customs, religiosity and yes, food of their country, Democrats will continue to find it hard, or in some congressional districts impossible, to get a hearing for their ideas and policy prescriptions, however much they may truly be in the interest of the voters. (Republicans will continue to be successful even when their regressive tax policies, for example, do not serve the interest of the people they represent.)
Disdain for the “left wing” messengers and their un-American values make that next to impossible. These days it is not the “economy, stupid” it really is the cultural divide, friend.