MARs Attacks

I was reading a National Journal piece on a recently resuscitated political acronym: MARs middle American radicals. These representing America’s legacy bedrock middle class now grown so gauche as to threaten voting for a candidate who addresses their interests. The article traces a recent lineage of MARs candidates from George Wallace to Pat Buchanan to Ross Perot, and concludes that their current champion is no more likely than his spiritual forebears to occupy the white house. This being mostly a function of the same decaying demographics that MARs are condemned for noticing. The ethereal line between racial turpitude and gentility being determined by whether one views those changes as bad or good.

Appears to be screaming a racial epithet

Appears to be screaming a racial epithet

The piece was mostly accurate, particularly in identifying how useless terms such as liberal and conservative are in tracing the contours of this group. While liberalism has metastasized into a global white disembowelment project, conservatism has become little more than the political expression of AIPACorporatism. That there exists a sizable constituency unserved by either primary movement should not be entirely surprising. That threatened neocons like Jonah Goldberg abhor MARs more than his nominal opposition should not be either.

And while his overall analysis wasn’t poor, the author took plain satisfaction in repeating alleged deficiencies in income and education of the MARs. Something I can only dispute with multiple anecdotes, though found the repetition appearing more as emotional safety blanket than examination of fact. It can not be overstated how important for delicate liberal psyches it is to feel their side is superior. And that is why they discuss lower income 100IQ whites rather than negative income 85IQ blacks, whose monolithic support is mandatory for them to win any election starting with city bootlicker.

A general description of the Martian landscape follows.

While con­duct­ing ex­tens­ive sur­veys of white voters in 1971 and again in 1975, (Donald) War­ren iden­ti­fied a group who de­fied the usu­al par­tis­an and ideo­lo­gic­al di­vi­sions. These voters were not col­lege edu­cated; their in­come fell some­where in the middle or lower-middle range; and they primar­ily held skilled and semi-skilled blue-col­lar jobs or sales and cler­ic­al white-col­lar jobs. At the time, they made up about a quarter of the elect­or­ate. What dis­tin­guished them was their ideo­logy: It was neither con­ven­tion­ally lib­er­al nor con­ven­tion­ally con­ser­vat­ive, but in­stead re­volved around an in­tense con­vic­tion that the middle class was un­der siege from above and be­low.

War­ren called these voters Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­als, or MARS. “MARS are dis­tinct in the depth of their feel­ing that the middle class has been ser­i­ously neg­lected,” War­ren wrote. They saw “gov­ern­ment as fa­vor­ing both the rich and the poor sim­ul­tan­eously.” Like many on the left, MARS were deeply sus­pi­cious of big busi­ness: Com­pared with the oth­er groups he sur­veyed—lower-in­come whites, middle-in­come whites who went to col­lege, and what War­ren called “af­flu­ents”—MARS were the most likely to be­lieve that cor­por­a­tions had “too much power,” “don’t pay at­ten­tion,” and were “too big.” MARS also backed many lib­er­al pro­grams: By a large per­cent­age, they favored gov­ern­ment guar­an­tee­ing jobs to every­one; and they sup­por­ted price con­trols, Medi­care, some kind of na­tion­al health in­sur­ance, fed­er­al aid to edu­ca­tion, and So­cial Se­cur­ity.

On the oth­er hand, they held very con­ser­vat­ive po­s­i­tions on poverty and race. They were the least likely to agree that whites had any re­spons­ib­il­ity “to make up for wrongs done to blacks in the past,” they were the most crit­ic­al of wel­fare agen­cies, they re­jec­ted ra­cial bus­ing, and they wanted to grant po­lice a “heav­ier hand” to “con­trol crime.” They were also the group most dis­trust­ful of the na­tion­al gov­ern­ment. And in a stand that wasn’t really lib­er­al or con­ser­vat­ive (and that ap­peared, at least on the sur­face, to be in ten­sion with their dis­like of the na­tion­al gov­ern­ment), MARS were more likely than any oth­er group to fa­vor strong lead­er­ship in Wash­ing­ton—to ad­voc­ate for a situ­ation “when one per­son is in charge.”

If these voters are be­gin­ning to sound fa­mil­i­ar, they should: War­ren’s MARS of the 1970s are the Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers of today. Since at least the late 1960s, these voters have peri­od­ic­ally co­alesced to be­come a force in pres­id­en­tial polit­ics, just as they did this past sum­mer. In 1968 and 1972, they were at the heart of George Wal­lace’s pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns; in 1992 and 1996, many of them backed H. Ross Perot or Pat Buchanan. Over the years, some of their is­sues have changed—il­leg­al im­mig­ra­tion has re­placed ex­pli­citly ra­cist ap­peals—and many of these voters now have ju­ni­or-col­lege de­grees and are as likely to hold white-col­lar as blue-col­lar jobs. But the ba­sic MARS world­view that War­ren out­lined has re­mained sur­pris­ingly in­tact from the 1970s through the present.

How about that…many populists now have junior college degrees. Though it’s doubtful even half are in queer studies.

I’ll offer one final observation on the tone now obligatory in such pieces. The article approaches the study of its human subjects with a detached superciliousness the author wouldn’t dare to replicate on more hyphenated identity groups. There’s an always amusing subterfuge when liberals attempt to veil their animosity. What invariably emerges are the stilted ruminations of an entomologist over an ant hill. These MARs creatures are fascinating. They should be studied, perhaps pinned to boards.

Encroaching and outlier groups, by contrast, receive a mother’s cooing from the same outlets. Authors emote and empathize. Struggles are felt and shared. There are painful pasts and dreams of a better life. If only those with blue-eyes could feel pain and dream, alas. But authors don’t labor alone. Editors assiduously pivot every pronoun: when describing more diverse factions, they promptly becomes we. And we must conscientiously accommodate the caterwauling of every group that looks nothing like Donald Trump. In that is a lesson far more profound than the demographics of Mars.

The only aliens in modern America are the children of its founders. And embracing that role would be their most radical act of all.


12 thoughts on “MARs Attacks

  1. Mr. Judis, the author of the National Journal article that you link to, mentions that he first heard of Donald Warren’s MARs thesis through Sam Francis. It is only through Sam Francis’ writings that I am familiar with it myself, as I have never read Warren’s original work, but Francis had a couple of interesting essays about it in his book Beautiful Losers, and his Revolution From the Middle, a selection from his Chronicles column during the years when Pat Buchanan sought the American Presidency, is heavily influenced by his application of the MARs concept. Unfortunately, Sam Francis died ten years ago. It would be very interesting to hear his take on the Donald Trump phenomenon today, and why the strategy of appealing to the MARs failed for Pat Buchanan but seems to be working for Trump.

    • It’s working for Trump, because the Shit is this””close to the Fan, and everyone can taste it. The urgency just wasn’t there in 1992.

    • Yes, this post is missing a mention of Sam Francis. He took the theory from its early underpinnings of the Nixon strategy (Wallace) and applied it to the Buchanan campaign and beyond . . . Perhaps the MARs are simply more alienated from the GOP than they were in the 90s. The old George Wallace line “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the parties is truer than ever . . . And R.I.P., Sam – we miss you.

  2. Your writing brings a tear to my eye.

    There are two good things that could come out of 2016:

    1) Trump is elected and fulfills his promises to clean up the immigration mess and attack PC in the country. This possibly gives the U.S. a couple more decades of prominence depending on how deep the steam cleaning goes.

    2) Trump is not nominated, the GOP will then lose and finally crack-up as they are unable to win a national election ever again due to demographics.

    Without Trump, the will U.S. continue its slide to inevitable breakup and insolvency. A bright spot here is at least Obama’s retirement checks won’t be flowing out to his estate in Hawaii and his numerous cabana boys (purely platonic I assure you).

    Either way, I can’t wait for 2016. It’s going to be the true turning point for America.

  3. The MARs may only be 25% of the electorate, but they keep 100% of the lights on, the water running and the wheels turning. They’re mad as hell and who knows what they’ll do next.

    • Your comment makes me think of the hotel bathroom scene from my favorite movie – Fight Club – “We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.” Perhaps Trump is 2016’s Tyler Durden.

  4. I wonder where, when considering the MARs cohort, where our military personnel fall? That’s what matters most if Shiv’s scenario 2 comes to fruition. Fussell tells us they are surely proles, and continued indoctrination in goodthink makes them lambs at the moment. When the shit starts to fly, will they revert to their prole/MAR roots? One has to think they will. Is there anything that can be done to hasten the moment?

    • Well, as far as it goes for the military, the “fan” has been flinging turds one at a time for a while now. After what happened in Serbia. I fear that the best us founding Kosavars can hope for is incompetent suppression. I would not count on any high ranking officers being non-traitors. (Or would that be traitors) WTF.

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