The two arguing "no", Jennifer Rubin and Bret Stevens (conservatives), recognized that the word "elites" does not express a clear sociological reality. Who exactly is the elite? Stevens put blame for the Trump phenomenon on Trump followers – without whom of course there would be no Trump phenomenon. Stevens sees Trump as a toxic demagogue. Stevens spoke up for responsibility, that support for Trump was the decision and responsibility of the Trump supporters rather than something to blame on a vague category of people.
Stevens and Rubin put Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh among the villains. Jennifer criticized the "yes" debaters for sounding too Marxist with their vague attacks on the ruling class. She pointed out that good historical perspective does not place in as terrible a place economically as was being suggested by the other side.
The two arguing "yes" put Democrats and Republicans together as members of the elite. They describe Trump supporters as seeing the country going in the wrong direction because of the elite's stupidity – as if the differences on policy between the Democrats and Republicans, or the conflict between President Obama and the Republicans in Congress, count for nothing.
The question came down to who is stupid, a vague grouping called the elite or people voting for Trump?
Bret Stevens is a big man at the Wall Street Journal, and in the mind of some he qualifies as a member of the elite that is supposed to be responsible for the Trump phenomenon. Ditto for Jennifer Rubin, who writes for the Washington Post. Both have contempt for Trump. That either of these two fine people can be blamed for participating in the Trump phenomenon is a terrible stretch.
We would be more substantive if we pointed to talk radio rightwingers and college dropouts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (neither of whom is widely considered part of any elite, despite their wealth).
The two arguing successfully on the "yes" side – the senior political columnist for the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney, and Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist – received applause and words of appreciation after the debate for the manner in which they presented their points of view.
The debate is here.
Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.