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Trump vs. the New Class

The falcon cannot hear the falconer, wrote William Butler Yeats. Political leaders, like the falcon, were meant to obey their minders, but Yeats’s falcon had soared above them and loosed mere anarchy on the world. Today, Donald Trump’s campaign soars above our conservative elites, who in their foundations, their little magazines, their think tanks, define what conservatives may do or say. Trump ignores them, they tell us, and disorder and chaos must follow.

Mere anarchy is a fair description of the state of the Republican Party, at least amongst those who purport to be its falconers. Mimicking the vulgarity they decry in Trump, they employ every vile epithet to describe him and his followers. National Review’s Rich Lowry enthused that Carly Fiorina had “cut his balls off.” For Lowry’s colleague Kevin Williamson, Trump is a “witless ape … not just an ass, but an ass of exceptionally intense asininity.” As for Trump’s followers, George Will calls them “invertebrates,” while John Hood describes them as “a motley crew of simpletons, bigots, and cynical manipulators.” In their hatred of Trump, they have come to resemble the man they despise.

It’s not hard to see a little wounded self-love in all this. The conservative elites thought they had ownership rights to the Republican Party, at least to its thinking component, and it’s a psychic shock to be quite ignored. Trump boasts that he is a winner, but the party had settled into a comfortable second-class status, more concerned with the purity of its policies than with winning anything. In 2012 George Will said that if the Republicans lost that year’s election they should get out of the business, but that showed that he didn’t understand the party of beautiful losers. Romney lost, but let’s not forget that he had a very pretty 59-point plan.

There is, I fancy, one more thing that troubles our falconers. Worse still than Trump is the fact that so many Americans like him, ripping apart the imagined America of the elites, a preppy, mid-Atlantic country south of Iceland and east of The New Yorker. Their America has no monster-truck races, no hip-hop, no reality TV, no Donald Trump; and yet Trump is authentically American. He is Sam Slick the Clockmaker [1], Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s fast-talking, Yankee peddler, whom Haliburton’s Canadian and British readers saw as the archetypal American. He is, like Johnny Cash and Muhammad Ali, a person who could only be American, and whom Americans will recognize as one of their own. At some level, our elites must recognize this too, and in their anger experience the rage of Caliban seeing his face in the mirror.

The Republican race is far from over, and the choice seems to have settled between Trump and Ted Cruz, between raw emotion and pure reason, between the heart and the head. Cruz is the perfect intellectual embodiment of deep conservatism, of free-market policies championed by the Republican Party every two years and betrayed just as often. This time it’s different, promises Cruz. With me we’ll return to a constitution of separation of powers and of libertarian principles, and we’ll not surrender.

Trump attracts—and repels—voters through his remarkably forthright personality. By contrast, Cruz’s appeal is based upon everything but his personality. He inspires little affection and has made enemies of all of his colleagues in the Senate, Democrat and Republican alike. A Bush alumnus explains why people take an instant dislike to Cruz: “It just saves time.” Psychologists tell us that he is unable to reproduce the Duchenne smile that signals sincere amusement and friendship. As with Nixon, you wouldn’t want to buy a used car from this man.


For the flint-eyed ideologues on the right, none of that matters. Cruz is a true conservative and Trump a liberal in disguise. In truth, Trump’s policies are not a little flexible, to use his word. So too is conservatism, however, and the conservative champions of today might do well to remember how closely their policies resemble those of yesterday’s liberals. I am thinking here not of the McGovern liberals but of an earlier generation of Democrats, the party to which Ronald Reagan said he belonged before it left him. This was the party of the Americans for Democratic Action, of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and of Lionel Trilling. They were strongly anti-communist and fought hard to expel the Marxists from their party. Of economics they were ignorant as swans, but then so too were the Republicans of the day. During the Eisenhower administration the highest marginal income tax rate was 91 percent, and it took Democrat John F. Kennedy to recognize that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and propose a tax reform that brought marginal rates down. Before Arthur Laffer, it was JFK who said that “it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”


My good friend Bob Tyrrell wrote a great book called The Death of Liberalism [2]. He was half right. Liberalism did die, but only in the Democratic Party. There it became progressivism, the bastard child of the New Left and identity politics, the perversion of liberalism’s every noble instinct. But liberalism itself did not die. Instead, it was incorporated into the Republican Party, through leaders such as Reagan, and now is almost mainstream conservatism. Like Reagan, today’s conservatives are yesterday’s liberals. What they are not are yesterday’s conservatives.

In Kennedy’s day, Republicans worried more about budget deficits than economic growth and therefore opposed his tax cuts. When the legislation came up for a final vote in the House of Representatives, only 48 Republicans supported it and 126 voted against it, and it passed only because 223 liberal Democrats voted for it. Remember, we are talking about a top marginal rate of 91 percent, which the bill reduced to a still very high 65 percent.

In the 1960s, conservative Southern Democrats aligned themselves with Republicans in voting against Kennedy’s tax cuts and also opposed civil-rights legislation aimed at ending racial segregation. So too did many conservative thinkers of the time, including William F. Buckley. But for the support of liberal Republicans in the House and Senate, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not have passed, and we can thank Ripon Society types in the Republican Party for this. They were right, the conservatives were wrong, and only the strictest of today’s “constitutional conservatives” such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz would question the law. No one would dissent from Martin Luther King’s vision of racially neutral laws, except today’s progressives with their race and gender triumphalism.

Kennedy’s Democratic Party was the natural home for ethnic voters, who felt uncomfortable in a white-shoe Republican Party. Ronald Reagan helped change that, but African-American and white ethnic Republicans will tell you that much of the older party remains. Of the recent success of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and John Kasich, Republicans have much to be proud. And Trump, while he is not the poster child of inclusiveness when it comes to immigrants, has nonetheless revived the old Reagan coalition by bringing formerly Democratic voters to the voting booths to support him. They have left a Democratic Party whose leaders think them ignorant rednecks who cling to their guns and religion, and they’re not made to feel especially welcome when Cruz supporters call them invertebrates and bigots: that’s a good way to win an election, said no one ever.

If Donald Trump is something of a liberal, then perhaps that’s not so bad. Indeed, it’s his departures from liberalism that are more troubling.


While I’ve not read it, I believe that Mitt Romney’s 59-point plan was every bit as good as anything Ted Cruz has come up with. I wouldn’t fault the 2012 nominee for having left anything out—for failing to come up with a 60- or 61-point plan. But then nobody paid any attention to the plan. Here’s what they heard instead:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

Romney’s talk, to a group of right-wing donors, became the defining moment of the campaign when it was published in Mother Jones. It revealed a contempt for ordinary Americans and seemingly conceded the election. The 59-point plan was ignored, and what voters listened to was Obama’s 2011 Osawatomie speech. America’s grand bargain, the president said, was that those who contribute to the country should share in its wealth. That bargain had made the country great, the envy of the world, but now it was betrayed by the “breathtaking greed” of the super-rich.

In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. … And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent. … Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent. One percent. That is the height of unfairness. It is wrong.

In a troubled economy, Obama told voters that he had their back. Romney came across as the boss about to hand you the pink slip. And Obama won.

What Obama had spoken to were the classically liberal themes of equality and mobility, of the promise of a better future. The Republicans weren’t interested in inequality—but inequality was interested in them. The conservative elite told us that we were a center-right country, that we didn’t do class warfare, that envy was un-American. But the voters, invertebrates that they are, disagreed. In fact, they thought Obama was on to something when he said that secretaries shouldn’t have to pay a higher tax rate than their billionaire bosses.

While the left had complained of inequality, the far greater problem is immobility, especially the idea that it results from a set of unjust rules that advantage a new class of aristocrats. We might be prepared to accept the fact of deep income inequality if we thought that everyone stood the same chance of getting ahead and that people were sorted out by their abilities. That indeed is the American Dream. But now the countries of high mobility are Denmark and Canada. Must we then speak of the Danish and not the American Dream? If so, the core understanding of American exceptionalism will have been lost.

Table 1 (Credit: Michael Hogue) [3]

Table 1 (Credit: Michael Hogue)

Table 1 reports on how countries rank on a measure of mobility, the correlation between the earnings of fathers and sons. With a ranking of zero there is perfect mobility, and perfect immobility with a ranking of one. It will come as a surprise to realize that the U.S. is one of the most immobile countries in the developed world, that children in other such countries are better able to climb the economic ladder. Through a broken educational system, insane immigration laws, a regulatory state on steroids, a disregard for the rule of law, we have created an aristocracy and betrayed the promise of America.

Presented with these findings, the conservative intellectual is apt to deny that anything can be done to make us more mobile. It’s all because of the technological revolution, he tells us, and we’re not about to give up our iPhones. Or else it’s a result of globalization. Or maybe there’s a genetic explanation. If Lady Gaga was born that way, why not the rich?

It takes but a moment, however, to realize that none of these explanations can account for cross-country differences in mobility. The technological revolution? People like Robert Gordon tell us it’s an illusion, and in any event it can’t explain why other countries are more mobile. The Danes aren’t exactly living in the Stone Age.

Our conservative elites would have us believe that none of this matters, that only socialists worry about income equality and mobility. That gives the issue away to the left, and is a good way to lose elections. The left would only make things worse, however. They want higher taxes, but we’re already one of the most highly taxed countries. When we compare our income, capital gains, and corporate tax rates with those of other countries, we have nowhere to go but down. As for our welfare policies, we’re among the most generous countries in the world. But that’s not to say that we have to leave things as they are. Instead, conservatives should begin by admitting that income mobility is the defining political issue of our time, that we lost the 2012 election because we ignored it, that anger at the class society we have become explains the rise of Donald Trump, and that the way back lies in the pursuit of socialist ends through capitalist means.

Our mobility problem results from departures from and not our adherence to capitalism. Rising inequality in America has been blamed on the “1 percent,” the people in the top income centile making more than $400,000 a year. They alone don’t explain American income immobility, however. Rather, it’s the risk-averse New Class—the 1, 2, or 3 percent, the professionals, academics, opinion leaders, and politically connected executives who float above the storm and constitute an American aristocracy. They oppose reforms that would make America mobile and have become the enemies of promise.

The New Class is apt to think it has earned its privileges through its merits, that America is still the kind of meritocracy that it was in Ragged Dick’s day, where anyone could rise from the very bottom through his talents and efforts. Today’s meritocracy is very different, however. Meritocratic parents raise meritocratic children in a highly immobile country, and the Ragged Dicks are going to stay where they are. We are meritocratic in name only. What we’ve become is Legacy Nation, a society of inherited privilege and frozen classes, and in The Way Back [4] I explain how we got here and what we can do about it.

The most obvious barrier to mobility is a broken educational system. Our K­–12 public schools perform poorly, relative to the rest of the advanced world. As for our universities, they’re great fun for the kids, but many students emerge on graduation no better educated than when they first walked in the classroom door. What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers. Why the sales clerks should want to keep things that way is perfectly understandable. The question, however, is why this is permitted to continue, why reform efforts meet with such opposition, especially from America’s elites. The answer is that aristocracy is society’s default position. For those who stand at America’s commanding heights, social and income mobility is precisely what must be opposed, and a broken educational system wonderfully serves the purpose. As such, the New Class will oppose school choice, vouchers and parochial schools, anything that smacks of competition to a broken system.

thisarticleappears [5]America prides itself on being the country of immigrants. There’s a bit of puffery in this, since there’s a much higher percentage of foreign-born residents in Australia and Canada, and America ranks only a little ahead of Great Britain and France. Still, the country historically has been the principal haven for waves of immigrants. Before the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, the new arrivals added immeasurably to the country’s economy, culture, and well-being. Since then, however, the quality of the America’s immigrant intake has declined. We’re still admitting the stellar scientists of years gone by, but on average immigrants are less educated than they were in the past, or even than Americans are today—not the highest of bars. We’re also incurring the opportunity costs of a broken immigration system in the high-quality immigrants we don’t admit and who either stay home or move to more immigrant-friendly countries. That burdens the country and makes us more unequal, but it’s heaven for an American aristocracy that can hire cheap household labor without worrying about competition from high-skilled immigrants.

For the Ragged Dicks who seek to rise, nothing is more important than the rule of law, the security of property rights, and sanctity of contract provided by a mature and efficient legal system. The alternative—contract law in the state of nature—is the old-boy network composed of America’s aristocrats. They know each other, and their personal bonds supply the trust that is needed before deals can be done and promises can be relied on. We’re all made worse off when the rule of law is weak, as it is in today’s America, when promises meant to be legally binding are imperfectly enforced by the courts. But then the costs of inefficient departures from the rule of law are borne disproportionately by the Ragged Dicks who begin without the benefit of an old-boy network.

For all these barriers to mobility we can thank the members of the New Class, who dominate America’s politics and constrain our policy choices. It is they who can be blamed for the recent run-up in American income inequality. The economy has become sclerotic, and the path to advancement over the last 40 and 50 years has been blocked by a profusion of new legal and regulatory barriers, all of which they have supported. They tell us they’re upset by inequality and immobility, but we shouldn’t believe them. You can’t suck and blow.

The falcon, that bird of prey, knows not to foul its own nest. But then for our New Class, the falconers, it’s not their own nest. It’s the nest of the invertebrates, the bigots, the Other.

F.H. Buckley is a professor at George Mason Law School and the author of The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America [6].

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "Trump vs. the New Class"

#1 Comment By Ken On May 2, 2016 @ 6:47 am

Four of the six most class-mobile societies are the Nordic countries and you conclude that the solution for us is to slash taxes and regulations? Shouldn’t any proposed cure for American class immobility come out of an actual examination of the sources of mobility in the countries involved? Seems like you use the comparison to show up America’s failings and then turn your back on it to offer solutions that emerge from your own political predilections.

#2 Comment By grumpy realist On May 2, 2016 @ 7:13 am

If regulatory barriers means that the factory next door can’t dump its toxic waste in my drinking water or use cheap but poisonous antifreeze to make my toothpaste sweet, I’m all for it.

You want to see what happens to a country that doesn’t have said regulatory barriers? Look at China. Look at the pollution levels in Beijing. Look at what China has done to the health of its citizens.

#3 Comment By Schuman On May 2, 2016 @ 7:49 am

One of the most insighful pieces I have read about the socioeconomic trends at play on this election. This essay also further corroborates what Ron Unz had already exposed in “The Myth of American Meritocracy”


The visceral hatred mainstream Republicans show against working class whites is sickening. Just check K. Williamson at NR saying that their communities “deserve to die”. In their warped worldview, individuals have nobody to blame but themselves for their lot in life, as if institutions and public policies meant nothing. How this ultra-Libertarian, “Horatio-Algerian” approach, which reminds me of Nozick, has become the standard “conservative” line of thought is beyond me.

In the end one must go back to the classics. James Burnham said it decades ago when he stated that we are ruled by managers, the “New Class”. To know more:


#4 Comment By JLF On May 2, 2016 @ 9:34 am

I suppose it would be impolitic of me to point out that all those countries at the bottom (top?) of the list in class mobility are countries that provide universal health care to all at very low/no cost to the patient? Where a simple doctor’s visit in the US can cost between $150-$200 without insurance, whose premiums are also beyond the reach of lower middle class working families, bankruptcy or health appear in too many cases the only two options, both of which shackle class mobility.

In another, related, meme, providing health care through primarily and only partially paid employee benefits, likewise shackles American competitiveness no less than “burdensome” environmental regulations.

#5 Comment By PubliusII On May 2, 2016 @ 9:52 am

Schuman: You’re wrong about what Kevin Williamson said. His point was that individuals have to take the first steps in responsibility for their own lives. That is, if you are stuck in a situation where you cannot get ahead — his example is a town where the local economy has collapsed — then move.

This is the original motive for the Anglo founding culture in this country, and it still works.

It’s not government’s job to smooth the bumps in people’s lives. All we ask of it is that it doesn’t add to them through attempts to “help.”

That said, I’m no Trumper as I support Ted Cruz. But I do understand where the Trumpers are coming from.

#6 Comment By Phil On May 2, 2016 @ 9:55 am

A nice theory by the author but it of course ignores the fact that over 60% of the GOP is voting against Trump. Perhaps they’re ALL current (or former) writers for conservative think tanks.

Or….perhaps they’ve taken stock of Trump and decided they weren’t interested. For paleoconservatarians, the desire to puff up Trump and lash out at the rest of the party comes with obvious careerist (and financial) incentives. But just because you’re claiming it doesn’t make you right. 60+% of the base aren’t all elites, and the only one U.S. writing for a conservative publication…is you. I realize George mason University and Fairfax, VA are technically “outside the Beltway, but that’s only because you border it instead.

Say hello to John Boehner’s favorite golfing buddy for us when you have a chance.

#7 Comment By jk On May 2, 2016 @ 10:33 am

JLF, great point the onus of healthcare is on the employers and they will get the cut rate minimum as the incentive to cut costs and overhead.

How many life saving’s wiping out cancer stories (because there was some clause in the HMO that says they only cover X amount for treatment) need to occur before people realize how screwed or bureaucratic US medical care is?

#8 Comment By Brian B On May 2, 2016 @ 10:39 am

I have to agree with the commenters who note countries with massive welfare states rank better in mobility.

However the reason they do is mainly because they are on an unsustainable path of robbing Peter to pay Paul, not because of economic vitality, entrepreneurship, innovation or productivity gains.

I also love the red herring that if you oppose insane regulations like seeking to bring ozone levels down below their natural state or, after spending x to eliminate 95% of air and water pollution you conclude it doesn’t make sense to spend 100x to eliminate 4% more, then you are in favor of burning rivers and air you ingest with a spoon.

The world has already run out of Other People’s Money and has embarked on a grand and tragic experiment (which has already been tried and has failed many times before) of making money out of thin air in order to continue living in the magic world in which cost v benefit is an anachronism and tradeoffs and difficult choices don’t have to be made and price signals, productivity growth and compensation determined by output are tired myths that can be ignored or flouted indefinitely without consequence.

China, Japan, the EU and the US, the vast majority of world production, after suffering the worst worldwide financial collapse in 80 years, brought about like most such collapses from a giant balloon of overhanging debt, has decided the cure to fixing that explosion is to pump up another balloon three times as big and apparently believing, against thousands of years of history, that this time it really is different. Finally the central bank’s alchemists have actually found the formula for a free lunch.
What they have really done is put in the hands of the poor and middle classes, still blackened and burnt from the firecracker that went off in their hands in 2008, a small nuclear debt bomb.
As the author points out the connected are always in their bomb shelter when it goes off and just scrape up more of the leftovers when they do emerge.

The only thing he was wrong about is, the elites and the New Class he speaks of both suck and blow.

#9 Comment By Johann On May 2, 2016 @ 10:45 am

Interesting that Obama made an issue of income and wealth inequality during his campaign. Under his presidency, its become even worse.

#10 Comment By Clint On May 2, 2016 @ 10:48 am

Trump recognizes the present flaws of The Public School System,the lie of these phony “Free Trade” Deals,the problem of “Crony Capitalism” and the failure of The Obama Administration to create an atmosphere of good paying jobs and recession recovery,the bastardizing of American sovereignty by illegal border invaders,etc., The Washington Establishment of Both Major Parties don’t seem to get it nor effectively deal with it.

#11 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 2, 2016 @ 11:29 am

“But for the support of liberal Republicans in the House and Senate, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not have passed, and we can thank Ripon Society types in the Republican Party for this.”

Not true. House and Senate Democrats both voted for the Act by large majorities. And the Democrats had large majorities in both Houses. If there had been no Republican Senators or Representatives at all, or if the GOP Senators and Reps had split 50/50, the law would still have passed.

#12 Comment By S Peter Cordner On May 2, 2016 @ 11:34 am

It takes a special, honed ignorance to be aware of American mobility ratings and still decry American taxation as too high.

There are words to be said of America’s transfer system, but it is much more complicated than “too much”.

#13 Comment By Schuman On May 2, 2016 @ 11:57 am

Ok PubliusII, but ask yourself this: would he ever say something equally harsh about blacks? I don’t think so. First of all, I wanted to highlight this double standard, which is growing increasingly pervasive in the media.

Secondly, yes, you are probably right about his point. But his choice of words betrays an insufferable snobbery. It’s all the more disgusting since during the Bush years the “haughty liberal” meme, a stereotypical college-educated East Coaster looking down on rural Americans, became one of the favourite strawmen of the neocon punditry. Turns out they were the real elitists after all.

And thirdly, yes and no. As you say, self-reliance has always been important in the American ethos, but does it really “still” work? We are in a post-industrial society now; technological progress has advanced to a degree where the economy no longer can easily absorb poorly educated people. Much less when you add the unchecked immigration which further decreases wages for the poorest Americans. It’s unfair, to say the least, for people like Williamson to moralize about their lack of initiative. Not everybody can become an entrepreneur, or a computer programmer, or any of the professional types in demand. Those who are young maybe have some hopes, but forty, fifty somethings with a family? Give me a break. All this talk about “responsibility”, about “pulling yourself by the bootstraps” and the like, reeks of hypocrisy given the facts exposed in this piece. There is no meritocracy anymore.

#14 Comment By mr burns On May 2, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

Romney was and is a RINO . He did not believe in a limited government or much of the constitution (he implemented the first state health insurance mandate) , such as states rights. He like most of the DC GOP leadership , McConnell, Hatch, Boehner, Ryan, Corker, etc. cannot conceive of a smaller federal government with less reach and power. They just want to be in control of that government and use it for different purposes than the democrats . Cruz has a record of protecting the 1st and 2nd amendments , winning important cases before the supreme court . He also won Medeliin , protecting american sovereignty against the UN, the world court and President George Bush . Cruz is the only man in DC who tried to defund Obamacare,and had the RINO leadership supported him he could have succeeded . Even betrayed by his party’s leadership his actions convinced tea party republicans to give the GOP huge wins in the senate and house.
We are called homo sapiens because of out intellects, not our ability to hate . Men live longer and in greater comfort than ever before because of our intellects not our emotions . The US constitution is the product of educated intelligent men’s minds, not their emotions, and the US constitution along with the organization of government the constitution specifies is all that separates the USA from Venezuela, North Korea or Italy (which we would become depends upon what organization of government we replace our current constitutional form with) . The idea that the country will improve because of the personality. looks, clothing or speaking style of some new leader is ridiculous. We have had 8 years of a president who is all appearance and calm cool disdain and hate, without a trace of coherent thought. Now many want the same again . Those so-called republicans who cannot see that the tea party made a lot of progress and that changing a political party takes work, money and time, want to get even with “their party” by running a lifelong liberal democrat, who cares nothing about conservative principles, the constitution or the republican party, but who is an entertaining , albeit content free, insult comic . Trump and trump’s supporters openly espouse destroying the republican party (they incorrectly conflate the national and state parties) because it betrayed them, yet they want to not only use the state parties, most of which did NOT betray them , to gain power but insist the people who built, maintained and believe in their party and its principles help them destroy those parties. When state republican party members, officials and activists are less than eager to do do they are reviled as traitors, criminals and worse. This perfectly embodies all that trump has to offer, namely almost unbelievable intellectual vacuity and lots and lots of of emotion. That emotion being hate.

Like most of the media the author cannot resist childish insults of Cruz. He is ugly, no one likes him, he is slimy, he looks dishonest , despite his record he couldn’t possibly mean what he says . To his credit the author omits the sleazier and more absurd Cruz insults , such as Cruz lies, his primary wins are due to cheating and dirty tricks , he has mistresses, he mistreats his wife and children, he is a tool of the DC GOP leadership . But most of the media parrots these lies and sleaze relentlessly. All the while Donald Trump who actually does lie, and lie repeatedly, who changes his position almost daily, who does in fact have many mistresses and boasts of them, who is a DC GOP insider, boasts of their endorsements and revels in their vilification of Cruz is excused, praised and “explained” by the MSM, just as this author does.

The MSM is this countries dept. of propaganda. Pundits and authors of articles like this one are how the ruling class , who own and control the MSM , influence the serfs/proletariat and steer their behavior.

Consider how the MSM has dealt with 2 different tabloid sex scandals,both unsubstantiated and almost certainly sleazy garbage.
The first is the Ted Cruz has 5 mistresses National Inquirer nonsense. The second the case filed against Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein for sexually abusing a minor .
The Cruz filth received widespread coverage in print and on network TV. It dominated the news for days and intruded upon every interview or appearance Cruz gave .
The trump child sex abuse case , even his denial of the charges, has received almost no coverage at all . Only one paper , namely the DailyMail in the UK, has written about it and no network has mentioned it .

See any difference ? Kind of obvious who the ruling class prefers isn’t it ? if the ruling class is so desperate to stop Cruz that they are giving Trump billions in free coverage and continuously , blatantly attacking Cruz emotionally while denigrating intellect , as this author does, and reasoned discourse ( because they dare not encourage the voters to think ) could the reason be that Cruz is serious about limiting government and restoring constitutional government while Trump will leave the ruling class , of which he is a member, to grow and further suck the life out of america and americans?

#15 Comment By Steve in Ohio On May 2, 2016 @ 1:45 pm

“60% of the GOP is voting against Trump”

That figure goes back to the early primaries when Trump had as many as 17 opponents. Since New York, he has consistently captured above 50%–above 60% in several cases. Since Wisconsin, Trump has lost only in those states where a convention(i.e. party bosses) chooses the delegates.

#16 Comment By Clint On May 2, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

Rasmussen polling now has Trump with the support of 73% of Republicans, while 77% of Democrats back Clinton. But Trump picks up 15% of Democrats, while just eight percent (8%) of GOP voters prefer Clinton,

Rasmussen also has Trump now leading Clinton 41% to 39%

#17 Comment By Student On May 2, 2016 @ 4:04 pm

What is important is meritocracy, not “mobility.”
Smart, hardworking parents produce smart, hard-working children. An antithesis to this is the
notion of promotion via such means as “affirmative action,” which promotes mobility at the expense of merit. The US has low mobility although just about anyone with a tenth grade level education can attend college. This promotes opportunity, but dullards still will not excel.

#18 Comment By Clif On May 2, 2016 @ 5:41 pm

Mr. Buckley, you act as if the landed gentry is a new concept, that the kings did not need lords above the feudal peasants to keep order in a highly inequitable economic system. Today’s neofeudal lords are the 1%, who have been told by their kings of commerce that they deserve the $1.2 million dollar incomes as the masses exist on 30 times less per year by virtue of their inferior capabilities.

Today’s economic system depends on neolords, political and media elites to keep the people accepting their lot, to accept the lack of democracy and inequality of income sharing that has been exacerbated during the past 50 years.

America is now rallying behind Trump in a bid to take back some sense of fairness. It is not the new class they are coming for but the long lived billionaire class that must now give up some of the power it has taken since the Viet Nam war.

#19 Comment By Schwalling On May 2, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

Not only is there an upheaval on the right spearheaded by Trump, but there’s also a similar transformative movement on the left, spearheaded by Sanders. Witness the rise of the Alt-Left, an unlikely coalition of Red Tories, cultural libertarians, decentralists, anticorporatists, Greens, and Catholic conservatives (Yep: there are Catholic conservatives for Bernie! See [9]).

All of these groups will change the future of the progressive movement. Left-wing socialist conservatism FTW!


#20 Comment By CascadeJoe On May 2, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

“When we compare our income, capital gains, and corporate tax rates with those of other countries, we have nowhere to go but down.”

When comparing tax rates with Euro countries, why does everyone leave out VAT?

#21 Comment By Kurt Wilde On May 2, 2016 @ 11:35 pm

Good read. But you know that Norway and Denmark are very big on taxes right?

#22 Comment By JLF On May 3, 2016 @ 9:06 am

The idea of Donald Trump as president for four years is conceivable only if the persona he has exhibited during the campaign is bogus and a more measured, thoughtful, and insightful person takes the oath of office. Elsewhere, George Will has been (rightly) ridiculed for comments about Trump the vulgarian, however at the base of Will’s criticism Trump’s lack of civility, if not an act, should be disqualifying.

Apologists point to his “vast experience” and “tremendous successes” negotiating huge business deals. To prove this, they point to his fortune, a fortune that some on Wall Street have said has grown less than the average investor’s. Still, no specifics other than his boastings. A braggart only gets more bellicose when his inabilities are exposed, and four years in the White House will do nothing if not expose Trump as a fraud.

#23 Comment By Jim On May 3, 2016 @ 10:57 am

Clint says:
May 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

“Rasmussen polling now has Trump with the support of 73% of Republicans, while 77% of Democrats back Clinton. But Trump picks up 15% of Democrats, while just eight percent (8%) of GOP voters prefer Clinton,

Rasmussen also has Trump now leading Clinton 41% to 39%”

Great. Now how do you account for almost all of the other recent polls showing landslide losses? Also, not to get all Twitter on you here, but Rasmussen was the only pollster to really ever show Romney beating Obama consistently. I wouldn’t put my faith in them anymore than I would in Zogby.

#24 Comment By BurkeVA On May 3, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

“In their hatred of Trump, they have come to resemble the man they despise.” Probably one of the most insightful comments about the George Wills of the world I have ever seen.

#25 Comment By Steve On May 3, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

I don’t know how people in general can make sense out of all the stats, info, and input provided them. The more people there are, the more complicated things become. I guess the simple thing to observe would be to have a country that militarily protects us, a police force that protects us locally, and everything else will be sorted out. Unfair practices will be rooted out as we go along. In other words, back to the drawing board of ancient times, because this society and world have become too unwieldy.

#26 Comment By rdeco On May 3, 2016 @ 3:33 pm

Frank: a very nice piece, I look forward to a look at your new book.

One difference, probably the most important one, is that college education has become really difficult for those whose parents cannot or will not pay the bills. In DK for example, qualified students (more or less the top 25% or so, based on exams) actually recieve a salary as well as free tuition.

#27 Comment By Thrice a Viking On May 3, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

CascadeJoe, that’s a good point about VAT. My guess is that, since VAT is basically a sales tax and therefore regressive, it doesn’t fit with what the author here is saying. The three he mentions – income, capital gain, and corporate taxes – are all fairly progressive, for the most part anyway.

#28 Comment By Bruce Rosner On May 3, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

Comparing countries “mobility” ratings is not very useful since there are vast differences in culture, size and others factors. What I want to see is the US mobility index over time. Has it been changing? Does the change correlate with tax rates or which party is in power? As usual too much speculation no enough data.

#29 Comment By richard40 On May 3, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

I am getting so sick of these so called conservatives, like this traitor, boosting phony trump, and dissing Cruz. Yes lot of people fell for trumps con game, but that does not make trump right, anymore than winning made obama right. There is nothing in the trump program that is remotely like the reagan ideal, and trumps authoritarian populism is totally anti liberty. Trumps trade program is identical to Bernie the soclialist.

#30 Comment By Clint On May 3, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

Great. Now how do you account for almost all of the other recent polls showing landslide losses?

The same way Reagan was losing in polling to Carter for much of Their 1980 Election campaigns and then beat Carter.

Also,Clinton trails Republican primary front-runner Trump by a 45-43 margin head-to-head, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released February 17th,2916.

We’ll see what happens Tuesday,November 8th,2016

#31 Comment By kalendjay On May 3, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

What a coincidence! I was thumbing my history encyclopedia and learned just today that “Ragged Dick” was a novel by Horatio Alger, the quintessential mythmaker that you can get ahead with scruples and get rich. Glad you remembered Mr Buckley, and I have read your “Once and Future King”.

But the problem of our times may not be about class, but about paradigms of history and thought, which are very alive and very unique in America.

This is indeed a campaign about immigration, but not for the usual practical or bigoted reasons. We are witnessing the ‘Closing of the American Frontier’ in a way Frederick Jackson Turner discussed, as it was happening. We can no longer innovate ourselves as a culture with a frontier to tame: Multiculturalism and a lack of cultural sense have made it impossible to ‘tame’ immigrants according to social and governmental models that we have been taught to accept as part of American life.

Then there is the nature of the work ethic, which is Protestant, Germanic, and British. We have a perverted sense of empire that Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives nurtured, but that imperium, according to our political system, must exist within our borders, with no regard to the threats and obligations of declining neighboring states that export labor.

Trump and Reagan blue-collar liberalism is about sticking together, muddling through, and the rite of passage of work. But who will lose when there are no jobs or subsidies to hand out? You guessed it — immigrants, which we will see in hundreds of changes in “spending priorities”, and hundreds of demonstrations of civic action, which will change from Latino marches in Los Angeles, to outings of unwelcome criminals and other outliers.

This is not exactly class politics as neatly laid out by commentators. I suggest we are witnessing something less than a revolution, and something more like the Restoration.

The Restoration as we recall changed one set of bosses for the new set. Monarchy in Britain and France came backstronger than ever. Prior to the ascendancy of Louis IV, a struggle between two sets of noblemen ensued: The “men of the sword” who represented old-fashioned, rule of force-and-entitlement nobility, and lower nobles who represented business and the efficient bureaucracy.

Two “frondes” or uprisings occurred that were very similar to events that preceded the French Revolution. Declarations of state insolvency and demands for reform were made.

But in the end Colbert’s mercantalism prevailed, making France stronger and more threatening to her neighbors than ever, but life more ‘nasty,short, and brutish’ to the peasants.

Two points of Restoration thinking of the time were the concern that ‘hard facts’ could break through spiritual balance and contentment, and that the integrity of the soul, or whatever legitimacy that spiritual practices had at that time, would be torn asunder, or clouded in doubt and unreason.

Our stand-in for spiritual uncertainty and recertitude for today is the decline of Conservatism, and ofany spiritual or religious practices and concerns that have grown alongside it.

This is not to say we are devolving into Marxism, or entering a class war. We are instead witnessing an inability of class and bureaucratic institutions to articulate it, or live by its principles.

More on this?

#32 Comment By JanineC On May 4, 2016 @ 12:50 am

Steve in Ohio, party bosses do not choose the delegates. I suggest you learn how each state chooses their delegates. It is actually quite fair in most cases.

#33 Comment By John Butcher On May 4, 2016 @ 2:00 am

“But for the support of liberal Republicans in the House and Senate, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not have passed…” The author is correct.

Here is the tally of the final vote in the House on the Senate version, which President Johnson signed into law on the same day, July 2:

Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

Without the support of House Republicans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have failed by a large margin (as 218 votes constitute a majority). Note also the difference in the margins between the parties. It’s hard to believe now that 37% of House Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act.

#34 Comment By KXB On May 4, 2016 @ 12:07 pm

“The most obvious barrier to mobility is a broken educational system. Our K­–12 public schools perform poorly, relative to the rest of the advanced world.”

I’ve been hearing about broken schools since the 80s. That is far too simplistic. Generally speaking, American students in upper income suburban public schools often exceed their counterparts in other countries. That is why so many Asian families move into these districts the moment they have a down payment ready on a house. Think Great Neck in NY, Glenview in Chicago suburbs, etc.

For immigrants of more modest means, they will often target suburban public schools that are more average, but do have resources available for families that are seeking them out. One such example is Elmont High School on LI. This school was in my district – during the 80s and 90s it was probably the weakest of the five schools in our district. It was also the district with the highest number of black students, although they were not a majority. But, Elmont became an affordable working class suburb for a number of African & Caribbean families who wanted to get out of NYC. In the past 2 years, 2 Elmont graduates who are kids of Nigerian immigrants have been accepted into all Ivy Leagues.

The biggest problem is bloated big city school systems that have poor black & Latino students. The money spent there is largely aimed at interest groups. In Chicago, the teachers’ union objects to almost all attempts to get teachers to pick up the some more costs related to benefits. They object to any means of teacher evaluation. There was vociferous objection to closing down a number of schools with dwindling student populations, and all the jobs that go with them. Chicago spends more on its schools now than in the 50s & 60s, despite the lower number of students enrolled.

But, while Chicago public schools could use a better funding model, it would have negligible effect on student results. Because too many of the kids come from broken neighborhoods. If a child does not pick up a book before kindergarten, if there is no parent at home too make sure homework is done – no amount of money will fix that. The causes of broken city neighborhoods are numerous – failed drug war, economic policies that encourage companies to move out, poor law enforcement, etc. But it’s easier to say, “Spend more money on schools”

#35 Comment By cjm On May 4, 2016 @ 7:15 pm

For the commenters thinking Scandinavian socialistic countries are headed down a road to debt default, a list of total government debt as a percent of GDP (2012):

Denmark 50%
Finland 53%
Norway 37%
Sweden 38%
Russia 10%

Versus English-speaking countries

Australia 34%
Canada 86%
NZ 38%
UK 90%
USA 106%

The USA seems to be the leading candidate for a capitalist fail. Long live the oligarchs!

#36 Comment By Russell On May 5, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

Buckley’s etric displays a deep flaw, in that economic mobility under Scandinaviandemocratic socialism amounts largely to sucessful children moving into higher tax brackets than their parents.

#37 Comment By Philip Martin On May 6, 2016 @ 9:50 am

The schools aren’t the problem–the schools are where the problems become evident. If you come from a dysfunctional home, lacking a birth parent or two, where substance abuse and violence are not unusual, and unemployment or marginal employment is the norm–well, what would you expect? Yes, there are exceptions, but so few that those few who break through don’t move the needle.

Second, I don’t understand the point about how the old-boy-network has corrupted the rule of law as it pertains to the sanctity of contracts and property rights.

When I think of disregard for contracts, what about when politicians attempt to curtail or eliminate pensions for state employees? Those promises seem less important than the promises made to bondholders. And aren’t bondholders and politicians usually part of the “old-boy-network?” Or I think of the poor people ensnared by the terrible contracts of payday loan outfits, who skirt the law. Oh, let’s not forget student loans that will follow you to the grave and beyond. Gee, thanks, Congress for making that possible. Is this what you are talking about?

In short, I don’t see how your solutions are going to make it easier for average folks to get ahead.

#38 Comment By Sema M. On May 6, 2016 @ 11:52 am

“Neocons” hate Trump.

#39 Comment By Nelson On May 8, 2016 @ 12:00 am

Trump is not a liberal! Liberal would imply he believes in an ideal. Neither is he a conservative. He doesn’t fit on the left right scale because he does not believe in an ideology. He believes in only himself. He is a cult of personality.

#40 Comment By William Burns On May 11, 2016 @ 7:57 am

All this talk about the new class conceals the role of the old class–the truly rich, the owners of American assets, the people who the new class works for. For example, Buckley talks about the decline of contract law, without talking about the chief reason for this–the rise of binding arbitration clauses. Talking about courts enforcing contracts is becoming a quaint anachronism. And that operation, although carried out by new class lawyers, is in the interest of the old class, not the new.

#41 Comment By John On May 17, 2016 @ 9:52 am

In the third paragraph, you wrote “The conservative elites thought they had ownership rights to the Republican Party, at least to its thinking component …”. Fat lot of good having a thinking component has done for the RP. They have been inconsequential. RP has been run by big business and the Chamber of Commerce for decades by RHINOs like Boehner and McConnell – indistinguishable from Ds. It appeared that the party battle between Big Business and Conservatives/Limited Government was finally shifting away from Big Business in the past few election cycles, largely due to the Tea Party and genuine conservatives like Cruz. People were fed up with Rs you could no distinguish from Ds. Now along comes Trump who should have been on the D-Party ticket running and winning the RP nomination with help from a lot of disenchanted Ds (and $1+b MSM advertising – and who is not acting in the RPs interest). Will these Trump voters magically become conservative Rs? No – they either go back to the DP or stay but ruin the power shift in the RP by derailing its shift to Limited Government. Trump may win, but I think he will turn out to be a D in Rs clothing.

#42 Comment By connecticut farmer On May 18, 2016 @ 9:07 am

The author references the “New Class”, one of whose charter members is Hillary Clinton. Much of the voting public can see through the smoke and mirror. They recognize that electing Hillary Clinton is simply same old…same old. “Business as usual.”

Hence the significance of the Trump candidacy.

#43 Comment By Nicolas On July 19, 2016 @ 11:57 pm

The same author used portions of this article for a speech he wrote for one of Trump’s sons? Is that correct?

#44 Comment By Pacific Moderate On July 19, 2016 @ 11:59 pm

More significance of the Trump candidacy: cribbing from this article. The business about schools of elevators seems to have impressed Trump fils. From his speech at the RNC: “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and administrators and not the students.”

#45 Comment By Sal On July 20, 2016 @ 8:14 am

My anecdotal information really clashes with the immobility data you show. Most immigrants I know want to go to the US where they think they can find work and prosperity. Most immigrants stuck in Europe, and I say ‘stuck in’ because usually their goal is the US or at least Canada, end up on generous government assistance and opportunities for employment at every level are few.

#46 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 20, 2016 @ 8:40 am

In Trump country we like to print this stuff off and pass it around:

“Mimicking the vulgarity they decry in Trump, they employ every vile epithet to describe him and his followers. National Review’s Rich Lowry enthused that Carly Fiorina had ‘cut his balls off.’ For Lowry’s colleague Kevin Williamson, Trump is a ‘witless ape … not just an ass, but an ass of exceptionally intense asininity.’As for Trump’s followers, George Will calls them ‘invertebrates,’ while John Hood describes them as ‘a motley crew of simpletons, bigots, and cynical manipulators’.”

Keep it coming, boys! In Trump country the words of the Lowrys, Williamsons, Wills, and Hoods bring smiles to our faces.

Janice Merkel gives a Trump supporter reaction to getting “flipped off” by the likes of Lowry, Williamson, Will, and Hood — and how we’ll miss it:

“If the sun is shining down on the verdant hills of Henry County, Virginia, chances are that Janice Merkel can be found on the side of the road somewhere, waving at the traffic from a lawn chair under a giant sign: ‘TRUMP GEAR’.

“Since she began selling six weeks ago, Merkel has become something of an unofficial pollster for the people who stop to peruse her selection of (unofficial) Trump T-shirts and hats emblazoned with slogans like, ‘Build That Wall’ and ‘Finally Someone With Balls.’

“On a sweltering day in early July, she sits just feet from the traffic hurtling past in front of a motorcycle shop. Truckers blast their horns in approval as they thunder past.

“’I’ve noticed a shift, I’m getting more honks and waves,’ says the 48-year-old mother of two. ‘I’m actually disappointed I’m not getting flipped off’.”


#47 Comment By connecticut farmer On July 20, 2016 @ 8:43 am

And it should be emphasized that the “New Class” includes both parties, because the Clintons, Obama etc. are all part of this same group.Obama’s comment about the secretary paying a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss rings hollow in retrospect. The US Tax Code (to which he was implicity referring) is an abomination and should have been overhauled decades ago. But nobody wants to take the first step because, after all, when all is said and done it benefits The Ruling Class

#48 Comment By Observer On July 20, 2016 @ 9:33 am

Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

Without the support of House Republicans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have failed by a large margin (as 218 votes constitute a majority). Note also the difference in the margins between the parties. It’s hard to believe now that 37% of House Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act.

This is actually a famous paradox that is taught in Statistics classes. It’s called Simpson’s Paradox.

There were actually 4 types of Representatives:

Southern Democrats: 7 of 94 (7%)
Southern Republicans: 0 of 10 (0%)
Other Democrats: 145 of 154 (94%)
Other Republicans: 138 of 162 (85%)

Each type of Democrat voted for the Civil Rights Act in greater percentages than the equivalent type of Republican. However, there were a lot more Southern Democrats than Southern Republicans.

If you replaced every Republican with his Democratic opponent in the 1962 election, you would add very few Southern Democrats and a lot of other Democrats. The Civil Rights Act would have passed by an even larger margin.

Incidentally, most Southern Democrats turned into Southern Republicans after the 1968 election. That’s how Democratic they really were.

#49 Comment By RichardB On July 21, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

One of the premises here – that Americans are highly taxed – may be accepted as self-evidently true by the right, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Most honest analyses show that American incomes are lightly taxed compared to other developed nations. Here’s one example:


It’s similar for corporate tax rates – the theoretical number is high, but most medium and large businesses actually end up paying rates that are low by the standards of any country you’d want to live in. It’s mostly just small businesses that end up paying full freight because we can’t afford to use those loopholes.

Another error in the article is all the criticism of schools with nary a word about parenting – it’s exactly like the worst of modern liberalism. Teachers and schools (the state!) cannot produce excellence alone, no matter how much we wish it. The home environment must be repaired, and that’s primarily a matter of somehow providing economic security and opportunity – when that’s there, people improve themselves all on their own, free from the crushing strains and stresses of poverty and hopelessness.

Anyway, most of the article is fine work but you’ll never get to an accurate model of reality, or useful conclusions, if you accept these articles of conservative faith as facts.