Monday, May 2, 2016

Taking Our Conservative Dollies Home

A lot of conservatives are mighty offended by the rise of Donald Trump. We have #NeverTrump and now graybeard George Will is proposing that Republicans must keep Trump out of the White House, because Trump is a stain on conservatives' honor.

"Prudence..." he writes, " demands the prevention of a Trump presidency." But we must all work together to elect Republicans down-ballot.

Such a delicate effort of threading the needle, I fear, will not work. Politics is violence, civil war by other means. It laughs at such shilly-shallying.

And it fails to see the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

The Trump phenomenon signals the failure of conservatism to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans. You can see why. Whatever the honorable intentions of the Bush years, they resulted in a foolish war in the Middle East, and a nasty financial crash caused by government easy-credit policy.

Yeah, but Iraq regime change was Clinton policy, and mortgages for deadbeats was a Democrat wizard wheeze.

Too bad. The failures happened on Bush's watch.

Really, nothing spells uselessness better than a failed war and a failed credit policy. You can have all the stupid domestic policies in the world, but nothing fails like a mucked-up war and mucked-up money.

So conservatives should not be threatening to take their dollies and go home. They should be apologizing for their failure to deliver to the American people. All the American people want is peace and a stable economy in which to work and wive and thrive. Republicans failed to deliver.

In the words of many anti-Trumpsters I get the feeling that elite conservatives feel that they own the Republican Party. I don't think so, and my Three Peoples theory tells why.

On my Three Peoples theory the Democratic Party is a conspiracy between the People of the Creative Self and the People of the Subordinate Self against the People of the Responsible Self. The creatives offer to be the Big Man for the peasants and workers of the subordinate self. We will lead you, they say, and plunder the stuck-up bourgeoisie and the greedy 1% to give you loot and plunder. What is not to like?

But the People of the Responsible Self, who just want to go to work, follow the rules and obey the law, are not necessarily conservatives, or free-market enthusiasts, or adventurous entrepreneurs that just cannot sit still and work for the Man. They are not, you might say, conservatives by ideology but by temperament. They want the things that benefit them to continue, and the things that oppress them to be terminated. Like every other human.

They look at the world and see their kind of America coming to a close, and they want to stop it.

I have repeatedly said, following Ronald Reagan, that the post-war Republican Party is composed of people that feel that they didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left them. This is a cute way of saying that the Republican Party is not really in the business of searching out new recruits; the recruits keep showing up as they find the Democratic Party's neo-feudal approach to society unappealing.

In the case of the white working class, who seem to be the "base" of the Trump supporters, it is probably true to say that the Democrats threw them out, when the party changed from class politics to race politics around 1968. The bennies, and most important, the love have been going to women and minorities in the last 50 years, not to white working stiffs.

So Republicans should not be sneering at the Trumpers, but giving them love and understanding. They are just another group coming in from the wilderness. And the little girls threatening to go home and take their dollies with them should stick it out.

I suspect that the real impetus for the #NeverTrump movers and shakers is that they don't want to be associated with a campaign that they expect to be a blow-out failure.

Conventionally speaking, they are right. By all conventional yardsticks Donald Trump is heading for a rout, and a prudent member of the GOP elite should keep his powder dry, or even retreat to a nearby hilltop and wait for the smoke to clear.

And if Trump wins? Well, there will still be a need for conservative policy analysis and deputy under-secretaries.

In any case, I think that conservatives should be thinking the long game. The Bernie Sanders phenomenon should wake us up to the fact that our children get marinated in 20 years of lefty dogma so that 20 year old kids (and I know one) actually believe that socialism is the wave of the future. Talk about a war on science!

If there is one thing conservatives must do it is to break up the monopoly school system. We must teach America's mothers not to send their children into lefty government schools where, of course, children are taught ruling-class dogma. Vouchers, academies, home-schooling: let's push forward on all fronts. But don't let your kid be taught by a union schoolteacher.

And let's not pretend that teaching Trumpsters a lesson is going to do anything but give the Democrats another lease on Fundamental Change.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Who Is Conning Whom?

Paul Krugman has a typically annoying piece today on the "Wrath of the Conned," specifically the GOP conned.
Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.
While the Dems gave 20 million of their faithful Obamacare, Republicans just toyed with the base.
Their party has historically won elections by appealing to racial enmity and cultural anxiety, but its actual policy agenda is dedicated to serving the interests of the 1 percent, above all through tax cuts for the rich — which even Republican voters don’t support, while they truly loathe elite ideas like privatizing Social Security and Medicare.
Which raises the question, what do those "aggrieved white men" that the GOP strokes with "racial enmity and cultural anxiety" really want?

Well, you tell me. What does the broad middle class of married people with children, who obey the law, go to work, and follow the rules, want from government?

Well, they want to Make America Great Again. They want to feel that the government honors them, and doesn't make it hard to get a job, get a home, raise their children, and doesn't bully them and hector them all the time. And when they have spent a working lifetime paying taxes they feel they have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The truth is that the GOP has monumentally failed to do this for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the GOP is the Outer party and doesn't control the culture. And followed by the fact that the GOP went down a rat-hole in Iraq after 9/11, and let the housing bubble pop on their watch.

But what about those "aggrieved white men" and their "racial enmity and cultural anxiety?" Well, I'd say that the GOP has been pretty embarrassed by aggrieved white men over the years. That's why Donald Trump has run the tables in the GOP primaries thus far. The Democrats have been running down white males for 50 years, and nobody until Trump stood up for them. The GOP has been frozen in the headlights by race for 50 years, and utterly discombobulated by the LGBT rights movement and the general left-wing "activism" culture. The GOP faithful know there is something wrong with this, but their party leaders have been unable to draw a line against the race politics of quotas and diversity, and unable to defend ordinary bourgeois marriage-and-children culture against the anti-cisnormative brigade.

So I'd say that the wrath of the GOP voters is not so much the wrath of the conned as the wrath of the badly-led. The job of GOP leaders and their cultural supporters is to promote and defend the culture of the People of the Responsible Self and they have done a pretty bad job of it. The reason for the failure is that conservative cultural and political leaders have been playing the game according to the rules set by liberals, in which, e.g., the racist Al Sharpton is invited to the White House while Republicans are racist for not excoriating David Duke and the KKK on demand. Obviously nothing is going to happen until the GOP grows a pair and kicks over the liberal chessboard and says: we ain't gonna play that game any more, pal.

The other wrath on display is the wrath of the abandoned. We may say that the GOP faithful are badly led, but the white working class that is rallying to Donald Trump was once the Democratic faithful that the liberal elite led, only too well, into the New Deal and powerful unions and payroll-tax-fed retirement benefits. It worked beautifully, and the Dems led the working class from victory to victory for years and years.

But then the Democratic leaders dropped their working class supporters off by the side of the road and recruited a new political army of minorities and women. Now the abandoned are rising up, and -- surprise  surprise -- they are rallying to the Republican Party.

Lots of people still don't realize that the New Deal and the Great Society were all a big con, buying peoples' votes with their own money. But the marks instinctively feel that something is wrong and they are finally revolting.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Free Trade and the American People: It's the Science, Donald

Everyone is against free trade, except an occasional economist, and you can see why. Free trade, in domestic affairs or foreign affairs, means that everyone surrenders to the market, and does not try to use force to alter the verdict of the market.

So when Donald Trump announces that
The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. I am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring America down, and will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs.
That sounds good, because it is dealing in power, which is what politics is all about. But then there is this:
NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the U.S. and has emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs. Never again. Only the reverse will happen. We will keep our jobs and bring in new ones. Their will be consequences for companies that leave the U.S. only to exploit it later.
Well, no president can promise to "keep our jobs and bring in new ones." Why? Because capitalism is innovation, it is a constant process of creative destruction of old jobs and their replacement with new ones. Put it this way. First the jobs in the candle industry were demolished when the candle industry was replaced by the illuminating oil lamp industry. Then the jobs in the lamp industry were destroyed by the electric lamp industry. Then the government decided to destroy all the jobs in the incandescent lamp industry and replace them with the CFL lamp industry. And now it looks like the CFL lamp and its mercury poision is going the way of the buggy industry to be replaced with the LED lamp industry.

The point is that nobody can promise to "keep jobs." In fact, I would suggest that anyone that uses government power to "keep jobs" is probably destroying a lot more jobs that he keeps. Because the kind of jobs that get kept are usually the jobs of politically powerful interest groups, such as union jobs or Florida sugar plantation jobs.
Under a Trump Administration, no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of foreign countries.
Well, I'm all in favor of that.

The question is: what can the government actually do to deliver on the promise to make the needs of America come before the needs of foreigners?

I'd say that the first thing to do is to get the government out of crony capitalism and "saving" jobs. Then, I'd say that it would be a good thing to limit unemployment benefits and welfare so that people cannot molder away for years in a town where the industrial plant left and the jobs with it. It is a lie to say that "good jobs at good wages" can last a lifetime.  Good jobs last as long as a product or an industry lasts. And then they are gone. That is the way of capitalism, or "innovism" as Deirdre McCloskey calls it. The basis of our prosperity is that, time and time again, the old ways have been disrupted and replaced with new ways that have radically improved our standard of living. But not for the folks displaced by the new ways.

So what do we do for the folks displaced by the new ways?

First, I'd say that we have to propagate a new national meme: no job is forever. There are no guaranteed jobs, no guaranteed pensions, no guaranteed anything. When things turn south, as they do in any life, then we have to get on our bikes, or get in our U-Hauls, and go find another job in another city.

Second, let's stop blaming foreigners. The reason we are losing jobs to China and India is that China and India finally got a clue and started going capitalist. So, just like Britain 200 years ago, and the US 140 years ago, people are coming off the farms and working for low wages, starting with simple assembly jobs. Your fancy iPhone costing hundreds of dollars was made in China. But Apple's for the 1%, not for the likes of me. My modest Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen cost $100. Also made in China. It is just not possible to make iPhones for a few hundred dollars a copy in the US at US wages. And for the rest of us, those outside the magic circle of iPhones, what about our $100 knockoffs?

Third, let's not pretend that government can help. The question is not whether free trade works or whether the US is being taken for a ride by foreigners. The question is rather whether government could possibly help, or more likely, screw things up. A lot of the things that government does screws things up. That's because force is very rarely the answer to our problems. Social Security? A system of generational injustice. Welfare? Condemns generations to drink and drugs. Education? A disaster for poor Americans. Tariffs and regulations? End up benefiting powerful special interests at the expense of ordinary people. Labor unions? Benefit a few aristocrats of labor for a while at the expense of workers in general. Affordable housing? Crashed the global financial system with bad loans at Fannie and Freddie.

The thing about capitalism, or innovism, or "trade-tested betterment" is that we barely understand it, even now. It seems to be based on the paradoxical idea that, in order to prosper in the future, you have to have the courage to step away from the past.

But most of us insist of holding onto the past with a death grip. Until we die.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

But Can Trump Beat Clinton?

My man Steve Sailer took one look at the Trump 5-state sweep of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Delaware, and predicted the Democrats' race-based general election strategy, based on the six states that were closest to flipping in 2012: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan.
The Democrats are going to go to Florida and Nevada and tell Hispanics that this is Race War: Trump has insulted your illegal alien Mexican compadres and therefore has insulted Florida’s Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Hispanic Miscellaneous, who must stand shoulder to shoulder with Mexican illegal aliens and tell the White Man (i.e., Donald Trump) where he can put it. Similarly, Nevada’s Filipinos will be told over and over by Hillary’s people that they are Honorary Hispanics and Official Nonwhites.
The thing is that if the election is conducted upon such lines then Trump is just the candidate to counter it. The point is that for 50 years Republicans have been terrified, not just of touching the Third Rail of Social Security, but the radioactive Kryponite of race.

I say that Trump is the only guy with the cojones to appeal directly for black and Hispanic votes and accuse Hillary Clinton of racism and worse when her minions gin up the Race War.

This sort of fish-market behavior is tough for regular Republicans to do, because we are all socialized to be good bourgeois responsibles. The whole point of middle-class morality, the bane of Alfred Doolittle, is to get outside your tribe, get along with strangers and not insult them.

But politics is war by other means. And as long as the race card works Democrats are going to play it. They will play the race card until one day some brash guy Trumps it.

Can Donald Trump do it? Nobody knows. But if anyone can do it, he can.

Let us rehearse what Trump has done this election season. He has revived the white working class and brought it in from the political wilderness where it had been left to die -- and is in fact dying of drink and drugs and despair -- by a Democratic Party that had graduated from class politics to race and gender politics and a Republican Party that had nothing to say to an abandoned working class.

Obviously the Democrats will be going after Trump hammer and tongs, starting no doubt with the miserable Trump University. The question is: can Trump dominate that battlefield? If he can, he can win; if not we get Hillary Clinton and a 5-4 liberal Supreme Court and a bigger clumsier administrative state.

But there is hope. I expect that African Americans are sadder and wiser after the existential disappointment of Obama. And I dare say that Hispanics and East Asians are a lot less Democratic inclined than they were. After all, if America's First Black President can't bring on the millennium, how can Hillary Clinton be anything but worse?

For those disappointed that 2016 will not see a glorious conservative renaissance, the old saw still applies: Put not your trust in princes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Bigger Task for Conservatism

Powerline contributer Steven Hayward asks today "How Did the Left Get the Drop on Us" after the resounding conservative victory of the Reagan years? His answer is that we conservatives assumed we had won the victory of the big ideas and just needed to work out the details.

And it was easy to argue against socialism and its totalitarianism during the Cold War rather than against the amorphous and contradictory mess of the welfare state.

I would disagree with this line. I have always felt, going back to the Reagan years, that conservatism needed a much broader and deeper foundation than the Reagan revolution provided. I felt that, without a strong moral/cultural movement, the Reagan revolution would lack staying power. Even so, I have been surprised by the ease with which the left has rolled back the culture and economics of the Reagan years.

In retrospect, the success of the revanchist left is not so surprising. Educated people, the ones that write and talk, are all raised in a liberal culture and really know nothing other than the platitudes they learned in their student years and that roll forth from the media and the New York Times and NPR. The average educated person has never encountered "conservative" ideas and has no basis for critiquing, e.g., the politicization of mortgage credit that led to the Crash of 2008 and the conversion of the banking industry into a regulated industry by Dodd-Frank. Nor could they possess the knowledge that an administrative-bureaucratic initiative like Obamacare would be bound to fail, because Hayek.

Also, the collapse of conventional Christian religious belief has left a hole that had to be filled by something. People that don't believe in God don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

That is why I have been interested in books like Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform by William G. McLoughlin, who argues that every period of political reform in the United States has been preceded by a religious revival or Awakening. That is why my bible is The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Michael Novak, which argues for what I call a Greater Separation of Powers between the political sector, the economic sector, and the moral/cultural sector of society. That is why I believe in the late Andrew Breitbart's dictum that politics is downstream from culture.

That is why I have written my American Manifesto, to imagine the possibility of an America after the collapse of the welfare state.

But what I have not been able to imagine is a religious movement to counter the secular religion of political correctness that has rolled over America and the west since the end of the Reagan years. We all know what political correctness is about; it is a reformulation of the totalitarian culture of Marxism based on race, sex, and economic identity rather than the pure economic class conflict of the original Marxian program. It uses all the tools of religion, from the building of an orthodoxy of correct opinion to the hounding of heretics with its Social Justice Warrior Inquisition; it is religion in everyting but name.

I have analyzed society into three parts, with my Three Peoples theory, and I have posted a dire warning to all those that trade their birthrights for a mess of pottage as the "little darlings" of the ruling class. But what I do not see is the moral/cultural or religious awakening that could challenge the PC culture and then move into a great reform era to end the cruelty and injustice of Big Government.

Obviously the Trump phenomenon in the US and the rise of nationalist parties in Europe reflect the bankruptcy of our current transnational ruling class with its foolish conceit that it can rule without the political advice and consent of ordinary people and can mix the world's peoples together and remain in control of the ensuing cultural mashup. But this neo-nationalist movement seems to be political rather than cultural, so it ignores the Breitbart dictum that politics is downstream from culture. Indeed, all observers agree that the Trump phenomenon is populist, a mere rebellion of the people against the ruling class, rather than a revolution in thinking.

Possibly the moral/cultural movment is already aborning, and staring us in the face, and we cannot see it because we are blind to it, being old and set in our ways.

And probably nothing will change until the present ruling class runs out of other peoples' money. After all, the French Revolution could never have happened without the Bourbons running out of money to fight against the Brits in the Second Hundred Years War. And the Bolshevik Revolution would never have happened without the Romanovs running out of money in World War I. And the Reagan revolution could never have happened without the stagflation of the Carter years.

But who can wish for revolution? It is grand to imagine the humiliation of today's rulers, but not to experience the reality of revolution and armed teenagers in the streets.

So there is no alternative to plugging away, trying to imagine a cultural and moral and religious awakening that will inspire the American people to reject the soft totalitarianism of Obamism and the conceits of left-wing activism.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Three Peoples: What the Better People Owe to the Other People

A great theme of the 19th century was to persuade the bourgeoisie to care about the working class. In Marx, of course, this theme extended to revolution: the bourgeoisie would be made to care with the help of a revolutionary avant-garde cadre and the working class as a magnificent revolutionary army.

But the broader culture centered on helping the working class with beneficial legislation in the form of the right to vote, wage-and-hour laws, social insurance, elimination of child labor and funding of child education. To fund this, the bourgeoisie agreed to be taxed. It wasn't just practical; it was experienced as the right thing to do.

In my reductive Three Peoples theory, this means that the People of the Responsible Self agree that they ought to help the People of the Subordinate Self. The reason to do this would be partly because it is the right and responsible thing to do, and partly because it keeps the working class out of the street where they might harm the middle class. But also it involves a recognition of the Other. We People of the Responsible Self may want a society that honors and rewards people that go to work, obey the law, and follow the rules, but we accept that other people do not think as we do. The People of the Subordinate Self look to a powerful patron, economic or political, for protection, and they have a right to do so. It is, after all, the only way to live, as far as they know.

Enough of what the People of the Responsible Self and what they owe to the People of the Subordinate Self. What about the People of the Creative Self?  What should they owe to the People of the Responsible Self? Should they treat the People of the Responsible Self in the avuncular way that they expect the People of the Responsible Self to act towards the People of the Subordinate Self? Or should they regard the People of the Responsible Self as racists, sexists, homophobes, and general all-round religious bigots that should be made to care about the much superior culture of the People of the Creative Self?

The answer of the People of the Creative Self make to this question is unequivocal. The creative people are the bosses and the People of the Responsible Self had better kow-tow to the creative gods or the creative people will know the reason why. This started, on the view of Deirdre McCloskey in her Bourgeois Equality, no later than 1848 when the "clerisy" came out for nationalism, socialism, labor-unions, and economic regulation as a four-front war against the bourgeoisie and everything it stood for.

Of course, while the People of the Responsible Self are to bow the knee to their betters in the creative class and follow every latest rule promulgated by the executive committee of the People of the Creative Self or else, the People of the Creative Self can have no restriction on their behavior and life projects. Because creativity.

I was reminded of this an an excellent show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Mashup: The Birth of Modern Culture. It is a celebration of creativity for creativity's sake, "documenting the emergence and evolution of a mode of creativity that has grown to become the dominant form of cultural production in the early 21st century." All the great artists of the last 100 years are celebrated above all for their creativity and their breaking down of barriers to artistic freedom.

A central part of the creative culture has been to ├ępater la bourgeoisie by sneering and trashing the bourgeoisie and its responsibility culture.

I'm here to say that this is wrong. I hold that the immortal words of the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell at the turn of the 20th century still apply: Do anything you want, but don't frighten the horses in the street.

Of course in those days the advice was practical rather than moral. The creative culture was still strictly elite and small; it needed to be careful lest its creative freedom unleashed a backlash against the culture of creativity.

The measure of a man is made not when he behaves because he is afraid of getting caught. It is when he has the power to crush and humiliate others and enjoy the lamentation of their women, and he stays the coup de mort.

I am here to say that it is cruel and unjust for today's cultural elite to force their culture on the ordinary middle class of Bible-believing middle-class Christians and ordinary middle-class businessmen. I take this attitude from the work of new-age philosopher Ken Wilber. His central idea is a developmental model of human consciousness taken from the developmental psychologists.

But he issues a caution to enthusiasts. When you construct a multi-level consciousness system you become aware that the people that live in the higher levels tend to look down on the lower orders as fools and bigots. The people in the lower levels tend to think of the people in the upper levels as mad and bad. It is a recipe for discord and chaos.

You can see that there is only one way to avoid chaos and violence. The people in the upper levels need to put themselves in the place of the Other and recognize that the Other will never understand them. So it makes sense to act with compassion towards those less evolved and educated than oneself. And it is also right to take Mrs. Patrick Campbell's advice and not frighten the horses in the street.

Unfortunately I do not think that our liberal friends, the People of the Creative Self, have the wisdom or the compassion to see this truth and act upon it. Certainly in the Obama years they are engaged in a full-frontal offensive against the People of the Responsible Self, humiliating them, and driving them from the public square.

This culture of cultural aggression is cruel, it is unjust, and it is wrong. But I do not see any chance of a peace process on the horizon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The "Liberals are Just Too Smug" Meme

At least some liberals are beginning to get it. Sort of. According to Emmett Rensin in Vox, liberals are just too smug.

The smugness has occurred because, over the last half century, the working class has moved away from liberals and their political organ, the Democratic Party.
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the working class, once the core of the coalition, began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, in the immediate wake of the Franklin Roosevelt, 66 percent of manual laborers voted for Democrats, along with 60 percent of farmers. In 1964, it was 55 percent of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35 percent.
And in the white working class, the decline has been sharper. The result, according to Rensin, is that a "movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves."

The result has been the "what happened to Kansas" attitude, the smug assumption in LiberalLand that the poor schmucks don't know what is good for them. For,
It is central to the liberal self-conception that what separates them from reactionaries is a desire to help people, a desire to create a fairer and more just world. Liberals still want, or believe they still want, to make a more perfect union.
 Well, you know what my answer would be to that.

First, to echo Ronald Reagan, the white working class didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left them. In the 1960s liberals decided that they wanted to help create a fairer and more just world for women and minorities, not working people so much. And part of that turning was to marginalize the white working class as racist, sexist bigots like Archie Bunker that didn't deserve that high-mined help of the liberals.

Second is the delicious confirmation of my idea that liberals like to think they are kindly librarians just trying to help people find a book. But liberals do not "help" people by taking them by the hand and leading them to the Promised Land. They propose to help by occupying the commanding heights of culture and government and using force create that fairer and most just world. That's why I never stop rapping out my catchphrases: government is force, politics is violence. It is one thing to help people. It is another thing to slam down your clunking fist and bellow THIS is the way it's going to be. And my belief is that the "help" that liberals gave the working class is a sufficient reason for the working class's troubles today. It is my belief that to thrive in the city you need to become middle-class and bourgeois and accept the idea of personal responsibility. Liberals told workers that they didn't need to change their culture and become middle class; liberals would take care of them. Until they didn't.

Liberals "know" that their issues are dispositive, that "police reform, that abortion rights, that labor unions are important[.]" Period. And the same with gay rights, the environment, transgender bathrooms etc.

But do you know? We have already done all these issues. Police no longer walk around cuffing people. Abortion is here to stay. Labor unions have risen and fallen. Environmentalists are all over our governments. The Supreme Court just imposed gay marriage. Government spends about a third of our national income, and regulates far more.

The problem for liberals is that they have enacted just about everything they ever dreamed of and now they are scraping the bottom of the barrel worrying about the one-tenth of one percent that have gender identification issues.

And I think that a man from Mars would have to say that all these efforts to help people and make a fairer and more just society are a mixed bag. Let's say that, on balance they have improved things.

But that means that thoughtful people would be concerned that many things in the liberal agenda need tidying up, and other things will have turned out to be not such a good idea and ought to be repealed. Maybe the travails of the white working class illustrate the operation of the law of unintended consequences, that piling all those social gains on workers in the first half of the 20th century set them up for a fall in the second half. Maybe, just maybe.

But what do liberals do now, poor things?
The smug style did not arise by accident, and it cannot be abolished with a little self-reproach. So long as liberals cannot find common cause with the larger section of the American working class, they will search for reasons to justify that failure. 
So liberals must mend their ways and find a way to understand the American working class before they can hope to get back to creating a fairer and more just world.

I don't think so. The problem is not what to do about the American working class. Liberals already did it, and the doing was the problem. As I wrote in The American Thinker:
Perhaps the answer is in the great question asked by Frederick Douglass. “What shall be done with the Negro?” And his answer: “Do nothing with us.”

Really, the same could be said for the white working class, that all of a sudden we recognize is in bad shape after a century and a half of doing from the state, with a suicide rate among white working class men only exceeded by the suicide rate among Native Americans.

As Douglass said, “Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.” The doing with the Negro was the worst, and still is, but the doing with the worker has come a close second. First the worker had to be exempted from the law against combinations, then protected from the exploitation of long work days. Then the worker had to be protected from want with government social insurance instead of his own mutual-aid society. The result was inevitable. The working class came to expect that the ruling class would look after it with good jobs and good wages forever.
Now the ruling class smugly reckons that the working class is just a bunch of bigots and bitter clingers. So Emmett Rensin wants American liberals to recover their empathy for the working class so they can play the mischief with them all over again.

The problem is not that American liberals are too smug. The problem is the things they know that aren't so.