Victor Davis Hanson articulates the Trump paradox in his excellent article in National Review, Elites Value Mellifluous Illegality over Crass Lawfulness.
Certainly, President Obama’s teleprompted speeches were mellifluous. As some sort of postmodern preacher, Obama often sermonized to Americans about the predetermined “arc of history” that purportedly bent all of us inescapably toward his own just moral version of the universe.
This is the critical idea that progressives use to demonize opposition. While they claim to be pragmatic, they must color the opposition as moral reprobates. The ‘arc of history’ like ‘the will of the people’ is far from an objective concept or defined by rational debate. It is what the charismatic leader or the demagogue says it is.
The modern demagogue can be the populist attracted to his followers with common experiences and values, but he can also be the credentialed elitist who is even more illiberal in his rejection and demonization of any opposition.
Historically populists tend to be illiberal and anti-pluralistic. Trump populists do not uphold this tradition. Many are outraged at the rejection of liberal rights such as free speech and intellectual diversity of the left.
Trump’s opponents must be racist or uneducated because otherwise they would have to face the corruption and failures of their anointed. Unable to face their defeat and faults they are doubling down on what lost them the election. Salena Zito and Brad Todd in The Great Revolt examines how so many counties in the swing states pivoted from strong support of Obama in two consecutive elections to strong support of Trump in 2016. Continuing to call them racists only drives them further away.