Humility is a virtue but fake humility is a sin, or ought to be. So let me begin the new year with full-throated praise of some people and institutions that supposedly got their comeuppance in November: the mainstream media, so-called “coastal elites,” share-the-wealth liberals, pointy-headed intellectuals, and others said to be hopelessly out of touch with the “real America.”
In what too quickly became the consensus view, all of the above were put in their place by Donald Trump’s narrow electoral victory. We unreal Americans were demonstrated to be clueless, the conventional wisdom has ruled, and now are obliged to slink away and repent.
All of this is pure rubbish. It’s time to stop all the self-flagellation and raise our voices to insist that things like knowledge, experience, qualifications and respect for objective fact still matter — now, perhaps, more than ever.
Let me start with a much-maligned sector that is near and dear to my heart: the news media. We have been accused of causing the whole Trump phenomenon, failing to notice said phenomenon was happening, or both.
We did neither. Trump’s campaign was initially covered as nothing more than a publicity-seeking stunt, for good reason: He had a long history of publicity-seeking stunts. His outrageous and inflammatory statements were reported because they were newsworthy. His raucous and unscripted rallies were, let’s face it, a lot more interesting to watch than Jeb Bush’s or Marco Rubio’s. The fact that Trump got a lot of exposure did not compel a single voter to support him; many, in fact, were motivated in the other direction, to oppose him any way they could.