They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; They pursued it with forks and hope; They threatened its life with a railway share; They charmed it with smiles and soap.
Such runs Lewis Carroll’s description of the Hunting of the Snark. His imaginary images of people and prey ring as true today as they did over a century ago. And presidential elections are hunts of the first kind, where the prey is demonized in order to allow all sorts of ridiculous analogies. But the hunt must end, even if the delusions it created go on.
And the delusion of the hunt effected all of us in this election. The Democrats, who lost, have imagined all sorts of reasons in their despair. Was it Russian hackers, or fake news, or voter fraud in three states, or an ornery FBI director? Of course, in imaging reasons for the loss, they have forgotten that the voters that defeated them live in a different delusion and had different reasons.
And listening to President-elect Donald Trump is like drinking from a fire hose. His stream of conscious speaking invariably loses the media looking for one line explanations. Yet if one listens close, single prescient thoughts do immerge. In the beginning of his victory speech, Trump said, “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” He very specifically gave us all his view of the election, his view of the voters to whom he was appealing in his speeches.
So who are the forgotten man and woman? According the famous essay by William Sumner, the forgotten man is:
He is the simple, honest laborer, ready to earn his living by productive work. We pass him by because he is independent, self-supporting, and asks no favors. He does not appeal to the emotions or excite the sentiments. He only wants to make a contract and fulfill it, with respect on both sides and favor on neither side. He must get his living out of the capital of the country. The larger the capital is, the better living he can get. Every particle of capital which is wasted on the vicious, the idle, and the shiftless is so much taken from the capital available to reward the independent and productive laborer. But we stand with our backs to the independent and productive laborer all the time. We do not remember him because he makes no clamor; but I appeal to you whether he is not the man who ought to be remembered first of all, and whether, on any sound social theory, we ought not to protect him against the burdens of the goodfornothing.
Note that the forgotten man is not the laborer who lost his job to outsourcing, although those votes certainly counted. Nor is he the Christian whose moral views have been destroyed by changing culture, although those votes certainly counted. Note that he probably voted for the last president in hope of change. But the forgotten man is instead the man or woman who takes up the burden of socialism with little or no benefits. And the capital that might have gone to his better employment is spent on the heroes of identity politics, whoever they might currently be.
Such is the Forgotten Man. He works, he votes, generally he prays– but he always pays–yes, above all, he pays. He does not want an office; his name never gets into the newspaper except when he gets married or dies. He keeps production going on. He contributes to the strength of parties. He is flattered before election. He is strongly patriotic. He is wanted, whenever, in his little circle, there is work to be done or counsel to be given. He may grumble some occasionally to his wife and family, but he does not frequent the grocery or talk politics at the tavern. Consequently, he is forgotten. He is a commonplace man.
And we still ignore the forgotten man, but Trump did not. The Democrats were hunting a snark, the easy prey of yore, an establishment Republican. The Republicans were hunting a Jubjub bird with a scream, shrill and high like a pencil squeaking on a slate, and significantly scares those who hear it, the Democrat who buys votes with government. Neither were expecting the snark that is Donald Trump. Never has reading Lewis Carroll been such a joy.
In the midst of the word she was trying to say,
In the midst of her laughter and glee,
She had softly and suddenly vanished away —
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.