In the wake of his big (yuge is tired, my friends) win in the Nevada caucuses, Donald Trump uttered one of the great lines in recent political memory: "I love the poorly educated."
That line is already being parodied, mocked, and scoffed at by everyone in the know, but it also exemplifies how Trump is taking on all comers and simply kicking their ass.
Indeed, according to CNN's entrance polls, Trump even easily won among Latino voters despite espousing nothing but contempt at Mexicans and others for coming here and taking our jobs and bringing crime and drugs. He got 45 percent of the Latino vote as opposed to just 28 percent for Marco Rubio and 18 percent for Ted Cruz, the second- and third-place finishers (and who also happen to be Hispanic). Trump also pulled 42 percent of the non-white vote, compared to 29 percent and 21 percent for Rubio and Cruz.
But back to the poorly educated. Here's Trump's line in context:
We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated. We're the smartest people, we're the most loyal people, and you know what I'm happy about? Because I've been saying it for a long time. 46% were the Hispanics—46%, number one with Hispanics. I'm really happy about that.
So I'm very proud of you, this is an amazing night. I love the country, I love the country.
No recent candidate has been more divisive than Trump, who couldn't get more than five minutes into announcing for president without going off on rapist Mexicans and building walls, beautiful walls. Yet he's also inclusive in a way that virtually no other candidate is (with the exception of Bernie Sanders, who I'll get to in a second). Trump has his villains, for sure, but they're never in the room he's addressing. They are always outsiders, and usually far, far away in places like China or Russia or Mexico—unless they are people like Jeb Bush, whom he dresses down to their faces, which is itself an act of solidarity with the audience. Watching Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or George Pataki get slapped around by Trump is like watching Moe Green get hassled by Michael Corleone. Even if you like Moe Green, you want to see him get roughed up by a master.
Trump "loves" the poorly educated without qualification, just as he loves the rich and the poor, the naked and the clothed, the fat and the skinny. Last night in Vegas, he was channeling Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and the universal oversoul of the American family. As long as you vote for him, it's all good. He will look out for you and your interests. He's happy that he won the Hispanic vote, because it proves that we're all on the same side—his side—and we're all in it together.
It's easy to be cynical about this (and to be frankly terrified of a Trump presidency), but Trump is the least cynical politician in the 2016 race.
He may be unprincipled, unphilosophical, and all over the place, but nobody doubts that he believes everything he says, at least at the moment he's saying it. And he's willing to thank every goddamn person who votes for him, no matter how big or how little, because he's in the service industry and that's what you do in the service industry. When he says he loves the country, it's not like when Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz says it. You know that deep down, they absolutely hate lots of things in America and about America. They know that too many of us are greedy or lazy, too white or too brown, too fat or too skinny, too racist or anti-abortion or pro-abortion or soft on the gays or tough on guns or whatever. At the very least, as Hillary Clinton put it in an early debate, if you're a Democrat, you hate the Republicans, right? And vice versa. They—the regular party types—are the haters.
Trump doesn't give off that vibe. Because if you're talking with him, by definition you agree with him, and everything is going to be all right. We can work things out, make a good deal for everyone, trust me. Even the poorly educated! When was the last time that an American politician acknowledged the poorly educated as something other than a tumor on the body politic that needs to be eradicated, much less thanked them?
Which brings me to the other establishment irritant in the 2016 election: Bernie Sanders. Because of the Clinton machine and the stacking of the Democratic deck against insurgents via super delegates, it seems unlikely that Sanders will knock off the former secretary of state. Indeed, his policy agenda may not even make it into whatever slate of issues the Democrats pretend to care about for very long. Hillary is running as Barack Obama's third term, after all: She'll stick with Obamacare (it used to be called Hillarycare!), she's good with Dodd-Frank, and droning Muslims and all that. She's also not addressing the one thing that makes Sanders interesting to Democrats.
"The American people are saying, 'No,' to a rigged economy," Sanders has said. As Glenn Beck has put it, Sanders "is right. people are tired of this rigged system. We have a corrupt capitalist system right now." At the same time, Beck points out that Sanders' solution, which is long on class warfare and short on anything other more free stuff for more people, regardless of wealth or work status, alienates most Americans. We don't want free stuff so much as we want a legit shot at earning our way, argues Beck. And we want someone to put a stop to the "rigged economy."
Beck is a prominent anti-Trump voice, even contributing to National Review's attack package on the billionaire and edorsing Ted Cruz as an alternative. I think he is generally accurate about Sanders' appeal and its limits. Trust in government is already at historic lows; putting the government in charge of more things, as Sanders wants to do, is no way to win hearts and minds.
What Beck and other Trump critics miss is that Trump is essentially sending the same message as Sanders: The Donald feels your pain. More than that, he feels your anger, your resentment, your sense of losing through no fault of your own—The Donald also feels this too. More than that, he loves you. He's proud of you. And he's going to make things right for you, through a mix of great deal-making and ball-busting and force and whatever it takes. Because you, my poorly educated friends and my highly educated friends, the young and the old—you're all part of America and nobody loves America more than Trump. He wants to make it great again, after all, whereas all these other candidates do is bitch and moan about how awful this type of person is or that type of person is.
It was an uintentional laugh line when Hillary Clinton, earlier this year, said she wanted to talk about "love and kindness." Her entire career is a testament to low-grade paranoia and the "politics of personal destruction." The most common sense of her, according to Gallup, is "Dishonest/Liar/Don't trust her/Poor character." People may not like Trump either—he's the only candidate with even higher negatives than Clinton—but they're more likely to believe that he will do what he says he's going to do.
And they are more likely to believe him when he talks of love and kindness, too. Because he actually says it from time to time too.