THE BLOG
02/06/2017 10:04 pm ET Updated Feb 07, 2018

Brain Drain

Democrats may have gotten their brains beaten out last year, but it's Republicans who are experiencing a brain drain. Educated Americans are horrified by Donald Trump. He is not just oblivious to facts but proud of it.

``We won with poorly educated,'' Trump said after the Nevada caucuses last year. ``I love the poorly educated.'' Meanwhile, the drift of educated voters away from the Republican Party is accelerating.

It's well established that Trump won because of a surge of support among white rural and working class voters. What's less well known is his weakness among affluent white suburban voters who used to be the Republican Party's base.

The chairman of the Harris County, Texas (Houston) Republican Party called 2016 ``an anomaly of an election'' because ``a lot of traditional Republicans would not vote for Trump.'' They were appalled, not just by the fact that Trump was so uninformed, but also by his coarseness and vulgarity. Trump may be rich, but he has no class.

The education gap has been growing for some time. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney carried non-college educated whites by 25 points and whites with a college degree by 14. In 2016, Trump's margin among non-college whites increased to 39 points while shrinking to a near tie among college-educated whites (49 percent for Trump, 45 percent for Hillary Clinton).

As President, Trump continues to appall educated voters. They're certainly not proud of the new President. They find him embarrassing and shameful. The Speaker of the British House of Commons says he is opposed to inviting Trump to address parliament when the new President makes a state visit to London this year. ``I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons,'' the Speaker said. If President Trump is invited to speak, some members of parliament are threatening to boycott. How embarrassing is that?

The latest CNN poll shows the President with just 38 percent approval among college-educated whites. President Trump is doing everything he can to drive them away. His disdain for facts -- like his claim, with no evidence, that as many as five million fradulent votes were cast for Clinton last year, and his assertion that the press is covering up news of terrorist attacks -- is generating alarm and disgust among well-informed Americans. Critics call Trump a ``bullshit artist'' -- someone for whom facts are irrelevant.

Scientists are planning a march on Washington on Earth Day to protest the President's disdain for scientific knowledge on issues like climate change and vaccine safety. A group of prominent tech firms -- including Uber, Netflix and Trump's favorite, Twitter -- have filed a joint legal brief calling Trump's immigration order discriminatory. Over 900 career diplomats signed a ``memo of dissent'' protesting the order.

The legal community was appalled when Trump attacked the federal judge who blocked the order, calling him ``this so-called judge.'' The President was challenging the legitimacy of the judicial branch of government.

We've seen a pattern building for a long time: the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican, and the better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. What happens to people who are well educated and wealthy? They are what sociologists call ``cross-pressured.'' If they vote their conservative interests, they vote Republican. If they vote their liberal values, they vote Democratic.

In 2012, Mitt Romney was the prince of wealth. Barack Obama was the prince of education. Neither one had a populist bone in his body. The result? A populist insurrection against the leadership of both political parties that gave us Donald Trump.

In 2012, non-college and college-educated white voters were equal in numbers (36 percent of voters nationwide in each category). In 2016, white college graduates, at 37 percent, began to outnumber non-college whites (34 percent).

Since the 1960s, educated white liberals have become a dominant force in the Democratic Party. They're exploding in rage. They have a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Trump challenges that commitment head on.

At the same time, many conservative intellectuals are repelled by Trump. He's turning the Republican Party into the ``know nothing'' party.

In 2016, the Trump movement and the conservative movement became allies. They use each other. Trump used conservatives to legitimize his rise to power. Conservatives need Trump in the White House to sign whatever legislation the Republican Congress passes -- and shut up.

But he won't shut up. Conservatives were shocked last week when the President equated Vladimir Putin's murderous record with U.S. policies. When the interviewer called Putin a murderer, Trump replied, ``What, you think our country's so innocent?'' Imagine what would have happened if Barack Obama had said that.

Trump rose to power on a wave of anti-establishment anger. It was directed at both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment. The Democratic establishment has gone into full-scale resistance. The Republican establishment may not be willing to defend the President much longer. If you declare war on the establishment, don't be surprised if the establishment fights back. Trump still has his populist base, but if he doesn't deliver what he promised them -- jobs -- they may not be there for him either.