“When will Republicans have the courage to stand up to Trump?” is a common refrain, rolled out again after all Senate Republicans but one voted to acquit the president at his impeachment trial. The implication is that courage and moral fortitude are found only in opposing Trump; supporting Trump demonstrates cowardice and immorality.
More specifically, Trump supporters are often asked, “How can you support someone who …,” followed by one or more of the usual multiple choices, ranging from, (a) “lies all the time,” (b) “demeans women,” (c) “thinks he’s a dictator,” (d) “puts children in cages,” (e) “is a Russian pawn,” (f) “uses the presidency to enrich himself,” (g) “is a racist” and so on, through the alphabet soup of Trump criticisms, as though a similar list couldn’t be compiled by opponents of any other candidate or previous president.
As far as Trump supporters are concerned, one might well ask: “When will more people have the courage to support Trump?” Still, such a barrage of moral lecturing might eventually lead one to question their association with Trump and the GOP — until someone like Mike Bloomberg comes along.
Bloomberg, the gazillionaire former mayor of New York who is seeking to buy the Democratic nomination for president, is quickly rivaling Trump on the sheer volume of regrettable words and deeds concerning women and minorities emerging from his recent past. But Bloomberg’s biggest mistake may not be in whatever sins he may have personally committed; it could be the contempt in which he apparently holds middle America.
An example came to light over the weekend with a 2016 video wherein Bloomberg described how simple — or simpleminded ― he thinks it is to be a farmer.
“I could teach anybody, even people in this room, to be a farmer,” Bloomberg said during remarks at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford in England. “You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn,” explained Farmer Mike.
The Bloomberg campaign complained that the clip was selectively edited to obscure that Bloomberg wasn’t talking about modern-day practices, but even granting that rather generous interpretation, the comments were ignorant and tone-deaf. Similarly problematic was the attitude Bloomberg seemed to hold toward factory work. “You put the piece of metal in the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow, you can have a job,” he said.
Bloomberg said the new “information economy” demands that people “think and analyze,” which depends on “a lot more gray matter” than is apparently necessary to be a farmer or a factory worker, in his view.
Bloomberg’s words were soon answered with reminders of just how much brainpower, technology and skill are required to be a modern farmer, and his condescension was noted by pundits and politicians across the ideological spectrum.
But Bloomberg’s haughtiness has ramifications beyond his own presidential quest. More troubling for Democrats is that it all contributed once again to the perception that the liberal elite views millions of Americans as uneducated, backward Neanderthals, or as comprising the “credulous boomer rube demo,” as political consultant Rick Wilson recently described it to a fit of giggles from CNN’s Don Lemon. (Lemon later said he was laughing at a joke made just prior to Wilson’s comment, not at any group of people.)
Democrats who are backing Bloomberg might well be asked, “Did you learn nothing from Hillary Clinton?” Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” description of “half” of Trump’s supporters — “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it,” she declared — undoubtedly lost her support in states that were supposedly part of the “blue wall.” Bloomberg didn’t use such vivid descriptions, but his dismissiveness toward the skills and intelligence of farmers and other industrial workers demonstrates the same contemptuous ivory-tower attitude.
At the same time Bloomberg’s comments on farmers and factory workers were coming to light, Trump was basking in the adoration of nearly 200,000 NASCAR fans at the Daytona 500 — voters representing millions of Americans who too often feel caricatured as “rubes” by many on the left.
Some Democrats are fretting about the possibility of nominating a socialist as their standard-bearer. To be sure, that would be uncharted territory. But they should worry even more about nominating another condescending elitist, because they know from four years ago how that will turn out.