In the light of Brexit and Donald Trump, Ross Douthat observes that the real divide in today’s politics is between “the cosmopolitans” and “the nationalists”.
But he accuses the cosmopolitans of being fakes. They are not truly comfortable with diversity, in fact they are stiflingly uniform in income, education, and worldview. They in fact are nothing more than a tribe with tribal interests which they are incapable of recognizing:
They can’t see that what feels diverse on the inside can still seem like an aristocracy to the excluded, who look at cities like London and see, as Peter Mandler wrote for Dissent after the Brexit vote, “a nearly hereditary professional caste of lawyers, journalists, publicists, and intellectuals, an increasingly hereditary caste of politicians, tight coteries of cultural movers-and-shakers richly sponsored by multinational corporations.”
They can’t see that paeans to multicultural openness can sound like self-serving cant coming from open-borders Londoners who love Afghan restaurants but would never live near an immigrant housing project, or American liberals who hail the end of whiteness while doing everything possible to keep their kids out of majority-minority schools.
They can’t see that their vision of history’s arc bending inexorably away from tribe and creed and nation-state looks to outsiders like something familiar from eras past: A powerful caste’s self-serving explanation for why it alone deserves to rule the world.
This class intends to vote for Clinton, a transparent crook, because she is one of them. People who are outside the class and want to belong to it, but can’t figure out how, voted Sanders. People outside the class who do not want to belong to it but rather resent it voted Trump.
UPDATE: In the original title and opening line of the post I confused the title of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan with the word cosmopolitan. I’ve never actually seen Metropolitan but I’m a fan of Barcelona and of course The Last Days of Disco, which is the one girly movie it is OK for guys to like.