Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens had a column entitled “The Trumpkins’ Lament.”

Here is the opening of the commentary:

In the 1980s, Eddie Murphy had a hilarious skit in which he explained how it was that Jesse Jackson, then running for president, had a plausible shot at winning the Democratic nomination. The gag involved two white guys voting for Mr. Jackson “as a goof.”
“They get drunk . . . and go like: ‘Let's vote for Jesse Jackson!'”
‘I just voted for Jesse Jackson!'
And the next day would be like this: ‘He [bleeping] won?'”

Stephens then rebukes Trump’s supporters for their error: “Well, congratulations, fellas. If your avowed purpose was to knock Jeb Bush out of the race, you’ve won. It must feel great.” Then he says, “Too bad [Marco Rubio’s] task will be that much harder thanks to the ideological drunks who, when they knew better, cheered the Donald on.”

He proceeds to cast Trumpkins as people suffering from “schoolgirl crushes on the bad boy of the GOP class.”

That Stephens thinks Eddie Murphy’s gag is “hilarious” demonstrates just how much elites are out-of-touch. The joke here is on the drunken white guys, a couple of goofs jabbering over their booze, and we’re supposed to laugh at their stupidity. And the “bleep-ed” word gives a nice punctuation to their low-class dopiness.

Is it any wonder that working-class, high school-educated voters who support Trump have ignored the rebukes of Stephens, the Wall Street Journal, National Review . . . ? I can imagine how Trumpkins would react to this comparison: “Yeah, another smart guy telling us how awful and dumb we are.”

My own response is this: If you want to chide the rabble for heedlessness, it’s best not to begin with an 80s routine by a comic who turned cheap-shot race-playing and blunt obscenity into a shtick picked up by thousands of mass-culture imitators.

Mark Bauerlein is senior editor of First Things.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles