Rauch v. NOP, rd. 2

Both have recommendations for how politics should pivot after Trump. Scott Alexander writes,

He didn’t use the word “class”. But he captured the idea. He implicitly understood that there was some kind of difference between the average working-class voter and the sorts of people who set trends in the media, academia, government, et cetera. His message – which he never put into words, but which came across clearly anyway – was “you working-class people should hate and fear the upper class, and I’m on your side”.

Whenever an upper-class institution tried to make him admit that they were the experts and he should bow to them, he spat in their faces instead. This was terrible; he spat in the faces of epidemiologists trying to tell him about an epidemic! But it sent his message loud and clear – just as South African populist Thabo Mbeki denied HIV/AIDS partly as a way of spitting in the face of the rich white countries who wanted him not to.

Consciously embracing the project of fighting classism would let future Republican politicians replicate Trump’s appeal without having to stoop to his tactics.

Jonathan Rauch writes,

professionals often define integrity in large measure by the conduct they disallow — in themselves and in others. A professional intelligence analyst does not spin his findings politically. A professional journalist does not invent sources. A professional scientist does not monkey with data. A professional accountant does not allow a CEO to cook the books. A professional police officer does not allow a partner to plant evidence. A professional lawyer does not permit a client to break the law.

…Professionals are thus the first, and often the only, line of defense against predatory elites who seek to abuse or circumvent institutional safeguards. That is why demagogic populism is, among other things, fundamentally a war on professionalism. It is why opportunists and rogue operators are so keen to push professionals aside. It is why devaluing and corrupting professionalism is a profound danger to a democracy.

I read Number One Pick as saying that the Republican Party should re-brand itself as the party of everyone who is not in the white-collar professional class. Meanwhile, Rauch is suggesting that we need to praise white-collar professionals, not bury them.

NOP and Rauch may not be as far apart as this makes them seem. They are both never-Trumpers. I imagine they both respect true expertise. I gather that both are wary of progressive ideological know-it-alls.

Rauch wants professional politicians and bureaucrats to earn enough respect so that amateurs defer to them. He treats both progressive ideologues and populist demagogues as meddling amateurs.

I think that NOP is posting too much. Maybe he thinks that the money he is getting from subscriptions means that he should work harder on his blog. I would rather he stick to posts where he is thinking in bets. The sociological analysis in this post is nothing you cannot find in Coming Apart or, for that matter, Bobos in Paradise.

Nonetheless, I am inclined to give the W to NOP. While NOP’s proposals for the Republicans are romantic and highly improbable, they are not beyond all realm of possibility. On the other hand, what Rauch’s proposals boil down to saying that if we can click our heels three times and repeat “There’s no place like home,” we can go back to 1985. He desperately needs to read Martin Gurri in order to understand 21st-century reality.