Comments 1

  1. I don’t disagree with your conclusion at all, but the analysis isn’t all accurate. It’s a fair and balanced image of the Builder generation that you paint, but it becomes an increasingly harsh caricature as you go.

    We might note the Builders have seen nothing but disruptive changes all their lives, like every other American and most people on the planet for the past several centuries. It was their kids, the Boomers, in the Sixties who are still at the center of our “culture wars,” framing the story as people in their 60s on up see it. They’ve been in reaction much if not all their lives and have not questioned whether there is something wrong with this vision or strategy. The Boomers however are far better off financially than you describe, especially in relation to their children and grandchildren, who have been saddled with enormous debts no one else has ever had to carry — debts for the longest war we’ve had, unprecedented college costs, and mortgages treated to a pump and dump by the “entrepreneurial” class. It was the Boomers and their parents who brought in the deregulation that allowed this situation to develop, and to unmake what little social safety net we once had.

    As for “the college-educated progressive,” you seem to be skipping Generation X to describe Millenials in a way I don’t recognize. What’s their new sexual ethic? Have they really all “left the church” and “joined political forces with people of color” — you mean they’ve become Democrats? — to become insincere activists who really just care about cool hipster consumption? Is this supposed to be the hostile caricature laid on them by their parents and grandparents? To whom do they “represent a kind of betrayal?” I can’t imagine anyone in these age groups reading this and not feeling unjustly maligned.

    Trump is not really a “financial elite.” Real financial elites regard him as a crass upstart from lower-class Brooklyn who was lucky and crooked enough to break into rich Manhattan society and pretend he is one of them. This is what makes him attractive to the white working class and middle class “flyover” people — everyone who feels despised, left behind, or looked down on. Trump has the celebrity, wealth and shamelessness to say and get away with saying what many white Americans wish they could say so openly. You’re right that his appeal divides and plays on division — and it is these divisions that really out to be faced. Maybe white Americans are really angry at their kids, their parents, their grandkids, and their grandparents. There have been injuries and misunderstandings, not much good communication. If this is how they treat each other — writing off every new generation as vapid, spoiled, uncommitted, libertines — there is no limit to what can be said and thought about people who are seen as even more different.

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