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.
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.