“Trump! How did this happen?” asks Brendan O’Neill. Well, he doesn’t ask it. He already knows the answer. There is a cottage industry of commentators telling us why Trump won and invariably their answers accord with their politics. Bret Stephens, for example, a by-the-numbers neocon who writes opinion columns for the Wall Street Journal, claims the commutation of the sentence of a whistleblower explains why Trump won. What a marvellous game! Everything that one dislikes can be why Trump won! Man buns? Why Trump won. Bad Wi-Fi connections? Why Trump won. My failure to be rich? You’d best believe that’s why Trump won.
For O’Neill, of course, it was liberals not being liberal enough. That, in O’Neilliand, is the problem with everything. As usual, he is comically superficial. The grievances that are not assimilable into his “you progressives are regressive” narrative are excluded. So, he has no space for unemployment, underemployment, taxes, terrorism, crime and foreign affairs, yet he mentions the banning of super-size sodas and hate speech laws on university campuses. Yes, I bet poor white folk rotting in the Rust Belt were outraged about SJWs in the Ivy Leagues – and their insufficiently sized cups of coca-cola must have really tipped the balance.
O’Neill, who struggles to align his populist pretensions with his libertarian ideals, does say people were “unsure about immigration”. Unsure? Mr O’Neill, they were sure. They were sure there was too much of it. I have more respect for leftist condemnations of Trump voters as unreconstructed bigots than this euphemistic dilly-dallying around the issues. At least they are honest.
O’Neill is always pretending that he speaks for the people, but, as this proves, he has no more connection with them than the liberal elitists he so boringly decries. (If he is so in touch with the masses, I will add, why is Wayne Rooney his prime example of a beloved footballer? God bless Rooney but he is no national treasure.) He might be a charming, loyal and funny man in person, and this is the last I’ll write on him for fear of being dull myself, but his opportunism, monomania and frivolousness illustrate the worst tendencies of the modern “right wing” commentariat.