In a better world, Donald Trump’s political rise might have initiated a genuine soul-searching among a humiliated establishment. But the human capacity for denial in the face of rejection knows few bounds. Rather than consider how they had failed so badly that the American people would turn to a reality television star for relief, the policymaking elite have concluded that it is they who have been failed — by the people. 

In some tellings, “grievance”- and “resentment”-filled Americans simply do not understand how good they have it. In others, they are too racist to care. Assessments by pundits and politicians alike embrace the assumption underlying modern economics that maximising consumption is the highest good. So long as globalisation and uncontrolled immigration lead to more stuff at lower prices, no one has rational grounds to object. As Stephen Moore, founder of the Club for Growth and distinguished fellow in economics at the Heritage Foundation, said recently: “Cheap labour leads to a booming stock market? That benefits everyone.”

But few prominent institutions or analysts have explored what Americans actually believe and why. Or perhaps they prefer not to have the answer. Survey data published this week by American Compass helps to fill that gap. It depicts a public that has made nuanced and reasonable judgments that simply conflict with the preferences of their leaders. 

Continue reading at the Financial Times
Oren Cass
Oren Cass is the executive director at American Compass.
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