During the 2016 election, the media perpetuated the following narratives about Trump: that he’s not an intellectual, and that intellectuals hate him. The first (at least going by the public image he projects) is true, but the second, somewhat surprisingly, isn’t.
Many intellectuals like Trump because he makes no pretense of being an intellectual. In other words, Trump is authentic, and intellectuals hate phoniness, whether it’s phony politicians, the sensationalist and phony mainstream media, or intellectual poseurs who think reading The New York Times and listening to NPR makes them erudite. And Trump also hates those three things, too. But it also depends on the type of intellectual. The petite intelligentsia (alluding to Marx’s petite bourgeoisie) are those with IQs in the 105-120 range; Vix Day calls such people ‘mid wits“. These mid-wits, both on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are Trump’s harshest critics and what the media has in mind when they say intellectuals hate Trump. These are talking heads, social media consultants, low-status columnists (not Ross Douthat), and, overall, people who have an overinflated sense of how educated, important, and smart they are. Then you also have the culture snobs–those with IQs in the 95-115 range–who similarly also have an overinflated sense of importance and intellect. These are the ‘old money’ liberals and conservatives that make up ‘donor class’, who wear top hats and ascots and attend plays and racetracks, but also people who habitually watch Letterman, Fallon, Colbert, Oliver, and Noah, along with millions of other viewers who equate ‘enlightenment’ with cheap laughs, yet ridicule Christianity for being ‘conformist and dumb’. By attacking Trump, who they perceive as unintelligent and uncouth, these poseurs feel intellectually empowered and important. The intellectuals who like Trump (or at least don’t have an irrational, inimical hatred of him) are those with IQs above 130. They see Trump not as a menace but as a jester who driving the intellectual poseurs into fits of rage, and real intellectuals find this amusing to watch.
But also, Trump’s idiosyncrasies make him unique from past presidents, such as holding important meetings at his resorts or his curtness in dealing with the press (the same press that wants to see him fail), and intellectuals can at least relate to how Trump, that despite not being an intellectual, has his own ‘way’ of doing things.