Trump and the Failure of the Expert Class

By Barton Swaim

In the wake of the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol, members of the expert class are busy congratulating themselves for being right about Mr. Trump all along. He really was the would-be autocrat they always said he was! But the important question was not Mr. Trump’s true nature or innermost designs but whether America’s democratic institutions, especially the courts and Congress, were prepared, if required, to rebuff his designs. Of course they were. If this was an attempted coup, it was a comically inept one. Hardly anyone in Mr. Trump’s own administration, including the vice president, wanted anything to do with it.  

Mr. Trump’s character deficiencies were always obvious, even to many of his supporters. Other questions required judiciousness to answer, and about them the expert class had almost nothing useful to say, so fixated were they on the president’s unworthiness. 

The most regrettable part of this class failure is that, with rare exceptions, the experts themselves acknowledge no error. Nothing about the Trump years has occasioned soul-searching or self-criticism on their part. But today’s experts will eventually retire and pass from the scene. A newer, fresher generation of pollsters, academics, think-tank scholars and journalists will care more about the truth than they do about aligning with today’s consensus. They will feel no need to disguise their ignorance by signaling hatred of Donald Trump. And they will not fail to note that their most accomplished and revered forerunners were, at crucial moments, idiots.

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