Ross Douthat, an echt conservative intellectual, argues that conservative intellectuals should blame themselves for the Trumpkin peasant revolt. Firstly, by allying with George W. Bush’s failed presidency, and secondly, by relying on AM Talk Radio (Sean Hannity) and Internet bloggers (Matt Drudge, Breitbart) to do so much of the message communicating.
Every political movement in a democracy is shaped like a pyramid â€” elite actors on the top, the masses underneath. But the pyramid that is modern American conservatism has always been misshapen, with a wide, squat base that tapers far too quickly at its peak.
The broad base is right-wing populism, in all its post-World War II varietals: Orange County Cold Warriors, â€œSilent Majorityâ€ hard hats, Southern evangelicals, Reagan Democrats, the Tea Party, the Trumpistas. The too-small peak is the rightâ€™s intellectual cadres, its philosophers and legal theorists and foreign policy hands and wonks.
The peak is small because conservatives have always had a relatively weak presence within what James Burnham, one of modern conservatismâ€™s intellectual godfathers, called the â€œmanagerial classâ€ â€” the largely liberal meritocrats who staff our legal establishment, our bureaucracy, our culture industries, our universities. Whether as provincial critics of this class or dissidents within it, conservative intellectuals have long depended on populism to win the power that the managerial eliteâ€™s liberal tilt would otherwise deny them. …
But now, in the age of Donald Trump, the populists have seemingly decided that they can get along just fine without any elite direction whatsoever. …
History does not stand still; crises do not last forever. Eventually a path for conservative intellectuals will open.
But for now we find ourselves in a dark wood, with the straight way lost.