I love the poorly educated,” Donald Trump said last February, during a speech in Las Vegas. The phrase was the opening sentence of a piece on the Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau that I wrote for The New Yorker in August. Now we know that the poorly educated—or, at least, many white men without college degrees—love Trump back, almost unanimously. The stunning political revolution in the United States has exposed a stark educational and rural-urban divide; Rousseau might help us solve at least one part of the intellectual puzzle that Trump’s rise to power has posed.
The Anti-Élite, Post-Fact Worlds of Trump and Rousseau