Cultural Conservatism and the Politics of Rage



During a recent episode of FiveThirtyEight’s “Elections” podcast, Harry Enten mentioned a phrase I haven’t thought of for a while that I thought warranted a second look. Enten’s been a vocal critic of not only Trump, but the wave of “cultural conservatism” behind his campaign’s success. He suggested that the core fissure within the Republican Party of 2016 exists between “Trumpian” cultural conservatives and social conservatives like Ted Cruz—which led me to wonder What is cultural conservatism and are we in its moment?


Social Conservatism

It’s probably best to start with an idea most politically engaged people are familiar with: social conservatism. This ideology within the American conservative impulse bases its worldview and governing philosophy upon traditional religious morality, especially in regards to gender relations, reproductive rights, sexual behavior, and marriage. While they use the rhetoric of “small government,” social conservatives also tend to support policies that enforce and protect their moral beliefs while prohibiting activities seen as immoral. Their candidates will usually emphasize their religious affiliation and run in support of “family values.”

It’s important to remember that social conservatives are not always economic conservatives—in fact, it is often an economically ambivalent ideology. Nor are they always Christians or white—they are often Muslim, Catholic, or Jewish, and they are present within every ethnic or racial community in the United States. One reason I believe Bernie Sanders failed so miserably during the Democratic primary campaign in the South is because he did not grasp the power of social conservatism within the African-American communities of the region.

Which leads to a final point: social conservatives aren’t necessarily Republicans. It’s probably more effective to understand social conservatism as moral code rather than a political ideology. As such, it reflects the vast diversity of “traditional” moral thinking within the United States, and those who seek to bring about social change succeed when they account for this heterogeneity. LGBT rights and same-sex marriage made significant advances when they appealed to the immorality of oppressing their community and emphasized their desire to enter into the institution of marriage. Simply put, social conservatism is a moral code with inclusionary aspirations. It seeks to not only protect, but expand its moral code. It is an ideology that believes in change, despite its fear of revolutionary action.


Cultural Conservatism

“Minorities Welcome! Only ‘good ones’ need apply!”

Cultural conservatism, on the other hand, is an inherently exclusionary ideology that believes in the supremacy of value systems and political practices based upon nationalist identity. While cultural conservatives don’t necessarily need to be religious, its Trumpian form is founded upon a belief that the United States has traditionally and should always be governed by Euro-American Christian nationalism. Even among supporters who don’t regularly attend church, their worldview is widely influenced by a racial and religious sense of nationalism. American cultural conservatives aren’t necessarily social or economic conservatives—they believe in nation about all else. Citizens are free to ascribe to any ethical or religious code, as long as it doesn’t threaten the integrity and security of the nation. They also believe that cultural outsiders can be brought into the nation, but only if they assimilate fully into the dominant culture—as opposed to diluting it through multiculturalism.

It’s also tempting to paint all cultural conservatives and Trump supporters as racists; however, it is more accurate to understand them as xenophobic above all else. American cultural conservatives view alien “others” as threats to themselves, their interests, and their county. Threatened as they imagine they are, cultural conservatives seek to bring order to chaos through social order, national integrity, law and order, and economic protectionism. Their ideal world is one divided by clear borders, with nations free to protect their physical and economic interests. In their minds, liberalism and globalism has destroyed order and left poor and middle people vulnerable to exploitation. Finally, American cultural conservatives also support social welfare programs, but only for “members” and “good outsiders” (members receiving clear priority).


Is this a Cultural Conservative Moment?

Of course it is. Whereas political conflict in since the 1960s has been between liberals and conservatives, I believe that we are entering a period of pluralism versus cultural conservatism. This should come as no surprise. While Republican leaders have, from time to time, continue to roll back the policies of a bygone battle—repealing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicade, or defunding higher education—its non-elite rank-and-file have been motivated by cultural and nationalistic concerns for at least twenty years. In the past, many of these populists put their faith in party, church, and class affiliations, but today they feel as if these institutions have failed or even betrayed them. The “imagined community” of nationalism is all that remains, and they’ve put all their hopes in the dream that is a strong American nation led by the most talented spinner of nationalistic fantasy—Donald Trump.

The prevalence of cultural conservatism within the currently Republican Party manifests itself not only in its nationalistic rhetoric, but in its firm rejection of traditional social conservatism. The RNC’s vocal rejection of Ted Cruz, paragon of the Old Order, was striking. So was its response to Donald Trump’s pro-“LGBT . . . Q” line. As striking as these were, we should be careful not to believe that the Republican Party is moving into a new era of social progressivism and cultural pluralism. For all the talk about sexual justice, legal justice, economic prosperity, equal pay, and maternity leave, Trump and his surrogates were plucking a dangerous and reactionary chord.

The cultural conservatives currently run the Republican Party. They value nothing more than Euro-American Christian nationalism. They offer acceptance, economic support, sexual liberation, and justice to only those who support their definition of the American nation. Anyone who does not conform is perceived as a dangerous outsider who should be excluded from membership in the national community. Trump didn’t create this moment, nor will it end in November. The history of the United States is a history of justice versus oppression. Our history is also one of alternating nationalistic, pluralistic, liberal, and illiberal impulses. In 2016, the Republican Party has embraced the cultural conservatism and all of its white supremacist and nationalistic baggage.

Come November 8th, the people of the United States will elect one of two candidates, and neither will be named Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Anyone who votes for Trump or aids him in his potential victory will be abetting the same cultural conservative impulse that gave us Jim Crow, mass lynchings, Chinese massacres, and Know-Nothingism. That’s the kind of moment we’re in.

EXCLUSIVE: New Leaks Reveal CSM’s Account of Iraq War According to WWE Superstar John Cena

LOS ANGELES, CA—A hacker operating under the alias “SPCgaryPOWNen487” leaked a classified account of the history of the Iraq War this afternoon. While national security experts and historians have deemed much of the information contained within this presentation, they admit that it offers valuable insight into the mind of the average U.S. Army senior non-commissioned officer.

This 8-slide Powerpoint presentation appears to have been composed by CSM Anthony S. Ciotola of III Corps HQ stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. Department of Defense officials have not yet commented on the authenticity of this presentation or information as to who it was intended for.


Agreeing Loudly’s Allan Branstiter Receives Accolades for Coverage of Veterans’ Issues

Allan Accolades

LOS ANGELES, CA—Agreeing Loudly columnist Allan Branstiter received the accolades for his deft and insightful coverage of veterans issues. Jack and Jason, two prestigious and influential New media, poured praise for Branstiter’s work.

“I have been browsing online more than 3 hours nowadays,” Jack remarked about Branstiter’s article covering the obvious plight of a Minneapolis veteran who spend days soliciting the thanks of civilians on Memorial Day , “yet I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is beautiful value sufficient for me.”

Jason was evidently more impressed by Branstiter’s journalistic bravery, explaining “I believe that you simply could do with [just] a few p.c. to power the message house a bit, but instead of that, this is an excellent blog. . . . I will certainly be black.”

Both urged Agreeing Loudly’s editorial staff to pay Branstiter market rates for his contributions to their website. His peers universally agree.

“To be honest,” mused Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, “as exceptional as Troy Olson and Carson Starkey are, you can find writers just like them pretty easily. Allan Branstiter’s the unicorn of online journalism. You’re not going to find another Allan Branstiter.”

“Forget once in a generation,” stated David Brooks, “he’s more of a once in a lifetime talent.”

Retired public radio personality Garrison Keillor was more subdued in his praise for Branstiter’s growing influence. “I consider it an intensely personal failure on my part that Allan Branstiter hates me,” he said, “I worked for decades under the apparently misguided conception that I was good at my job; however, I’m clearly the embodiment of bad white liberalism and a stain upon the very term ‘entertainer.'”

While the Agreeing Loudly editorial staff could not be reached at press time, Branstiter’s colleague Carson  Starkey offered his praise. “Allan Branstiter is the Ta-Nehisi Coates of America’s veteran community,” he remarked. “Inequality and injustice flee at the sound of his keystroke.”

The Associated Press attempted to contact Jack and Jason; however, a “trojan horse” cracked their internal email server and emptied the organization’s trust fund.

The Gentrified Revolution

For all of Bernie Sanders’s rhetoric about the ills of income inequality and class warfare, in Los Angeles his message was most popular in gentrifying precincts. Dissecting the spacial aspects of why his presidential campaign failed offers important lessons as the movement he inspired looks to the future.

by Allan Branstiter

LA County

The Los Angeles Times published a fascinating and telling interactive map displaying how each of LA’s precincts voted during the Democratic Primary on June 7th. My first impression of the map was that of shock—Hillary Clinton absolutely dominated Bernie Sanders throughout the Los Angeles County. The map basically depicts a sea of blue swamping little boroughs of pinko insurgency.

Aside from the degree of Clinton’s victory in Los Angeles, a close look of the precinct results offers progressives a few important lessons as they plan for the future.

Progressives Still Need to Engage Racial Injustice

If you want to make a Sanders supporter bristle, just talk about the fact that the core of his support tends to be comfortable, highly educated, and white. While Sanders made several important (albeit uncomfortable) overtures towards racial injustice and won the support of high-profile African-American intellectuals and activists like Killer Mike and Ta-Nehisi Coates, black and brown folks still voted largely for Clinton. This holds true in LA, where Clinton did very well South Central cities like Compton, Carson, Inglewood, and West Adams.


White Sanders supporters have been struggling for months to understand why their message of economic and social justice is not resonating in non-white communities. While I have a few theories, I certainly don’t claim to have the answers to this problem; however, I am certain that Bernie and the vast majority of his supporters failed to engage racial problems in a way that convince minorities that they saw their issues (poverty, discrimination, segregation, crime, mass incarceration) as more than abstract political issues. White liberals are adept at talking about racial justice, but they’re not very good at engaging racial injustice.

This map can help us explore this issue from the perspective of racial spaces, and how the old adage “Pay attention to what white folks do, not what they say” might help nurture a truly biracial progressive movement in the future.


Sanders Won the Gentrification Vote

The second thing about this map was the fact that Sander’s core of support roughly mapped out the gentrified/gentrifying areas of Los Angeles. This is important to understand because—despite what well-meaning realtors, developers, independent book shop owners, and young urban professional sincerely believes—gentrification is economic and racial violence.

Sadly, where we see concentrations of Sanders supporters on this map, we also see areas of intensifying economic and geographic displacement on the ground. For example, check out the South Beach area:


Lakewood and Long Beach (located southern of Signal Hill on the map) serve as somewhat affordable bedroom communities for white middle class entertainment, tech, and corporate professionals working north in Downtown and West LA. With this population comes good public services and commercial development. On June 7th, these communities were either evenly contested, with the trendier parts of town going for Sanders.

To the north and east are the communities of Carson and Compton, where precincts went solidly for Clinton. The fact that they are also largely African-American, poor, and neglected is a result of decades of urban redlining, economic predation, and systematic racism. In the past Long Beach and Lakewood worked endlessly to keep surrounding blacks out of their suburbs, but today the area is losing African-American residents due to poor economic opportunities, rising costs, crime, and persistent neglect. In their place are thousands of house flippers, land developers, and white middle class “settlers.”

The browns and blacks who remain face an increasingly precarious housing market, low paying service jobs, and heavy policing. Sure, they have a Trader Joe’s now, but their overall quality of life is stagnating. Considering these facts, it should come as no surprise that poor non-whites did not embrace the enthusiasm for Sanders displayed by their well-meaning but ultimately aloof white neighbors.

The South Beach phenomenon can be seen elsewhere in Los Angeles. For example, Sanders had a lot of support along the I-10 corridor in West LA, where a growing tech sector in “Silcon Beach” (Venice Beach) and the extension of the Metro Expo Line from Downtown to Santa Monica have fueled the displacement of poor Hispanics and blacks in the area:


Then there’s ground-zero of LA gentrification—Silver Lake, Echo Park, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock are all hotly developing boroughs with large white populations that voted for Sanders. In fact, one of the most notorious instances of racial displacement occurred in Elysian Park when Chavez Ravine (a Hispanic community) was forcefully emptied and bulldozed to make way for Dodger Stadium:


Long story short, if we’re going to talk about why Sanders did poorly among racial minorities, we need to discuss the failings of white liberalism. We should first begin by dispelling the ideal that all forms of racism—be it segregation, discrimination, neglect, or gentrification—are implicitly motivated by racial malevolence. We need to acknowledge the fact that good “woke” people who espouse even the most inclusive notions of racial justice can also unthinkingly sustain a system of racial inequality. Doing so might alleviate the burden of whiteness felt by white Sanders supporters, and hasten the arrival of a more inclusive and productive progressive movement.

Parting Shot—Clinton Won the Rich and Older People Vote

As a true blue leftist with significant disdain for the outsized influence of wealthy people in the Democratic politics, I should also point out that Clinton won overwhelmingly in the enclaves of ca$h money in LA. Brentwood. Beverly Hills. Pacific Palisades. Westwood. Pasadena. All went for Clinton. Clinton also did well among older Democrats in the ‘burbs: Covina, Beverlywood, Studio City, Encino and the Valley more generally. On the other hand, Sanders did well in Hollywood, where he gummed up traffic and wooed the starry-eyed youths living along Sunset Strip.

Clinton Sports Realtree Hoodie to Win Back White Working-Class Voters


LIMA, OH—In an attempt to win back the support of the white working-class voting block, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has started to appear at rallies wearing a women’s Realtree hoodie and Lucky-brand jeans.

Throughout the 1990s and during Clinton’s 2008 primary campaign, so-called “Reagan Democrats” played a major role in the political dynasty’s electoral successes. Since the election of Barack Obama to the White House, however, this voting block has largely abandoned the Clinton’s brand of centrist Democracy and flocked to emotionally and racially appealing figures in the Republican Party. Eager to win back their support, former-Secretary Clinton has, according to a spokesperson, “started to let her guard down and let Real America see the real Hillary.”

Once again playing up her middle-class upbringing in Illinois and her life in Arkansas, Clinton surrogates say that the coarse language and hunting apparel that now play a major part in the new public image of the former New York Senator is a more authentic reflection of the woman they know behind the scenes.

“I was with her on that fateful day in 2001—we were both in a state of sheer disbelief,” close friend Jeff Foxworthy stated. “No one cried harder that Hillary Rodham Clinton when Dale Earnhardt died at the Daytona 500 that year. Now maybe people will get to see that side of her.”

While much of the substance of Clinton’s speeches at rallies have not changed, her presentation certainly has—some have even called it “Palinesque without the Tequila Rose.”

Clinton has also been more open about her private life, offering the public insights through members of her press team. While she has not yet held a press conference, her staff have made it clear that her brand preferences include Budweiser beers, Ford trucks, the Dallas Cowboys, Justin boots, and Remington rifles. Clinton has also quoted several lines from her favorite television show, “Big Bang Theory.”

Local Veteran Sole Recipient of Trump Donations


LOS ANGELES, CA—In response to allegations that he lied about raising millions of dollars for veterans, GOP presumptive nominee and millionaire Donald Trump revealed he donated $6 million to local veteran Christopher “Nazzi” Finazzi. “That’s NAH-zee, not NOT-zi,” Finazzi explained to reporters, earlier today “Mr. Trump’s in no way associated with those freaks.”

“The guy gets a bad rap,” the former seaman stated, drinking directly out of a 1.75 of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, “he’s always been generous with me. Super supportive of the troops.” Since receiving Trump’s patronage, Finazzi has relocated to Beverly Hills where he is investing in rent-stabilized housing units in Los Angeles County, turning the initial $6 million he received into a $250 million profit.

“I’ve also invested in an app that helps people who are into threesomes hook up,” he said. Finazzi went on to show reports the closet of screen-printed tee-shirts and blu-ray collection he has amassed with his new-found wealth. “I’m get a fat-ass ‘Scarface’ tattoo next week,” he explained as he walked reporters through his collection of firearms. Los Angeles’s newest millionaire also owns barstools made out of whale foreskins and employs an in-house DJ.

Besides his real estate investments, Finazzi has also invested his money into stocks of Rockstar Energy Drinks, Ducati, Masserati, Pinkberry, Pfizer, and an upcoming Steve Jobs biopic. “Me and a buddy are also making an app that will help people interested in threesome, foursomes, and fivesomes hook up,” he stated. “Thus my investment in Pfizer. This city’s full of old freaks.”

When asked if he thought it was immoral to receive so much money while other veterans struggled to make ends meet, Finazzi stated that there are plenty of opportunities for vets to ingratiate themselves to a wealthy patron. “The friggin’ real estate market is back, bitches,” he proclaimed as he played beer pong on a platinum ping-pong table next to his infinity pool, “all a Joe needs is a little motivation to get in the game.”

Finazzi, a native of Trenton, New Jersey and a former machinist mate on the U.S.S. Gravely, stated that he met Trump when he was working as a janitor in Trump Tower. He would later go on to work for Trump’s son-in-law, real estate investor Jared Kushner, spending the last two years convincing elderly African-American homeowners in Brooklyn to sell their homes “for cheap.” Finazzi’s skill as a negotiator and entrepreneur is said to have garnered Trump’s enduring admiration after he cleared out 35 tenants from an affordable housing unit in East New York last September.  Trump refered to the former tenants as “not good people” and “lazy,” and called Finazzi “great” and “the future.”

Local Veteran Still Available to Receive Your Gratitude


MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Unable to dislodge the man from his position between the Typo and the Women’s Scarf Kiosk, staff at the Mall of America confirmed that Carson Starkey, an Iraq War veteran and recently appointed commandant of JROTC Company at E. Charles Knoblauch High School, will continue to make himself available for handshakes, salutes, and free beers from a grateful public. Starkey has posted himself at the Mall of America since Memorial Day in order to represent the what he calls “America’s Next Forgotten Generation.” “I’ll be here until Suzanne picks me up at 1800 today, I think,” Starkey explained, “It’s hard to say because I thought she meant 1800 yesterday, but she never showed. My bad.” During a period of 38 hours, Starkey claims to have shaken the hands of 3,853 bargain-seekers. When asked about his chaffed and bloody hands, Starkey admits that he may have underestimated his allergy to parabens often found in scented hand lotions. “Bath & Body Works has been giving out free samples of hand lotions since yesterday,” he sighed, “I can’t count the number of people who have used my hand to get rid of excess moisturizer.” Starkey’s wife could not be contacted by press time, but sources close to the couple state that she’s enjoying a day to herself.

Local Man to Reach “Peak Veteran” this Memorial Day


BLAINE, MN — After receiving his Grunt Life Gadsen Tee in the mail on Friday, a local veteran of the Iraq War is scheduled to reach “Peak Veteran” later today. Jason Halverson, who spent twelve months “in the shit” as a member of the 298th Finance Company in Kuwait, tweeted three pictures of his new shirt from the locker room of Hubert Humphrey Middle School.

“I’ve been working on my transition to ‘Peak Vet’ since 04MAY2008,” Halverson explained, “I bought this hat from the PX as soon as I arrived in sandbox. Haven’t washed it since.” His journey has not been an easy one. “Man, I can’t tell you how many times guys in Najaf, Samarra, or Sadr City would call my identity as a veteran into question when I f—ed up their pay,” Halverson recalls, “They’d call me stuff like . . . fobbit or POG.”

The memories often prove too difficult for Halverson to recall. “When I think of all the sacrifices my guys made over there only to be spit upon by their fellow servicemembers,” he recalls as he nervously rolls the bill of a hat that was last washed in 2010, “I mostly blame Obama. He doesn’t understand our culture, and that kind of attitude has trickled down to the rest of civilian society.”

Halverson, who spent over $200,000 on protein powder and energy supplements from since 2007, also thanked several organization for their help during his transition. “AAFES helped get me all the things I needed to become a bona fide veteran,” he explained gratefully, “everything from bad-ass sleeveless tees, to soft-soled combat boots, to rolls of Cope.” He also thanked for-profit groups like Infidel Apparel, Grunt Style, GNC, and Gander Mountain, as well as nominally non-profit organizations like Wounded Warrior.

“I can’t wait to get out there and be the veteran I’ve identified as since I was a little boy,” Halverson beamed. “First stop: tubing down the Otter Tail and tearing up some strange!” Halverson also looks forward to crying at a parade, yelling at college students, and using racial epitaphs near families at the Golden Corral.

“He’s not supposed to be in here,” added Mario Ramirez, the janitor at Humphrey Middle School.

Local Man Excited Encyclopedic Knowledge of Clinton Scandals Once Again Politically Relevant


WABASSO, MN — Firing up the wireless transistor radio duct-taped to the roof of his Bobcat skid-loader, local man and long-time conservative talk radio enthusiast Bruce Haldorson, is optimistic that his extensive knowledge of 1990’s Clinton Administration scandals will propel him back into political relevancy. Haldorson, who subscribed to the the Wall Street JournalLimbaugh Letter, and American Spectator from 1994 to 1999, looks forward to fervidly espousing his contention that the Clintons got away with tens—if not hundreds—of criminal acts during the 1990s. “A lot of people forget that Slick Willy sold nuclear secrets to the Chi-Coms for campaign contributions,” Haroldson, who once sold food stamps to fund a trip to Dayton Beach in 1995. “Thanks to Donald Trump we’ll finally have an open discussion about Hill and Bill’s involvement in Troopergate, Travelgate, Whitewater, the Vince Foster murder, Filegate, Pardongate, and Able-Danger, and I’ll be able to participate fully at the local Cenex station.” Haroldson went on to assert that Chelsea Clinton’s real father is actual Hillary Clinton’s former law partner Web Hubbell, while repeatedly asserting that Secretary Clinton is actually a “crypto-lesbian.”

The Social Disorder of the Republican Party

by Allan Branstiter

A Cruz supporter sounds the call. | Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel, via Associated Press

Believe it or not, the #nevertrump movement is gaining momentum and part of this has to do with the National Review’s steady undermining of Trump’s mystique. Last week, the establishment Republican magazine ran an article by Michael Barone asserting that the primary division between Trump’s support and opposition within the GOP has more to do with “social connectedness” than region, religion, rural/suburban, or economics. According to Barone, Americans with weak family ties, few friends, few ties to churches, and unsteady levels of employment are more likely to reject traditional Republicanism in favor of Trumpism . While it is tempting to write off the phenomenon as a product of a few alienated and socially maladjusted MRAs and lone wolf bigots, I can’t help but feel that Barone’s observations are just as misguided as the rest of the magazine’s contemptible treatment of Trump voters and the white working class more generally.

Barone attempts to prove causation through overly simplistic geographic and ethnic stereotypes. He first points to the Dutch-Americans of Michigan and Iowa, who he characterizes as a community with “dense networks of churches and civic groups.” In past elections, counties with a large population of Dutch-Americans voted for Huckabee and Santorum. This year they voted heavily in favor of Ted Cruz, while Trump finished in third. On their face, these correlations seem to suggest that the “unusually high social connectedness” if Dutch-American communities shielded them from the shallow demagoguery of The Donald.

But Barone ignores the obvious fact that what makes Dutch-American communities in Michigan and Iowa unique isn’t simply a strong sense of community, but the cultural influence of reformed Dutch Calvinism in these regions. Voters in these towns didn’t support Cruz because their social ties protected them from ideological exploitation. They voted for Cruz, Santorum, and Huckabee because they’re very conservative evangelicals. Any sense of social connectedness is secondary to that fact.

Second, Barone points to the prevalence of disability in pro-Trump regions in Missouri. He argues that Trump prevailed in southeast Missouri, where high rates of disability insurance indicated “low workforce participation and low social connectedness”—a correlation built on a bias against modern welfare and a rosy view of how older forms of local and private social welfare offered plebeians with a more fulfilling social life. Injured on the job? Disability insurance isn’t the answer. Just join your boss’s church and they’ll find a way to feed you.

Barone also points out that Cruz one in the backyard of the Assemblies of God headquarters in southwestern Missouri. While it’s clear that he would like us to  believe that the Assemblies’ “dense networks of civically active churches”led these voters to reject Trump, it’s also clear that Cruz’s ability to exploit his affinity with very conservative  Christian voters was equally (if not more) significant.

Barone makes the same mistake in his conclusions about Trump’s loss in Oklahoma (he argues that high church attendance favored Cruz), as well as his victory in South Carolina (an traditionally evangelical state). All the while he ignores the fact that Oklahoma’s oil economy and fervent evangelicism favored Cruz the Texan, while overt race-baiting and anti-establishment rhetoric served Trump well in the Solid South.

And Utah. Somehow Barone forgot the fact that Trump questioned the sincerity of Mitt Romney’s faith and the fact that his personality and history flaunts almost every single cultural value that makes Mormon communities unique.

While Barone’s contention that social connectedness is “the most useful explanation [he’s] seen yet of the variation in Trump’s appeal” is tempting, it ignores a complex array of other factors. There is no way of knowing whether Trump’s supporters are anymore socially alienated than the average Cruz supporter without actually conducting a poll. Pointing to a few places where Trump lost to Cruz and identifying the strong social institutions that exist there—while ignoring race, economics, class, and religious politics—doesn’t prove that the former’s supporters are any less socially connected than the latter’s.

It does prove the fact that the National Review hates Donald Trump almost as much as it hates irreligious, disabled, and working-class Americans.