George Will’s Jan. 19 column eliminates and avoids several reasons for American distrust of government as of the 1980s. How can anyone who regards himself as an intellect (and he does) simply leave out the lies and destructiveness of the Vietnam War, or Nixon’s Watergate, or the Reagan era Iran-Contra crimes (not to mention over 100 investigations, convictions and/or indictments of members of Reagan’s administration)? There’s more to the story, but at least these significant events should be included in any examination of popular disillusionment with government.

Will also gets LBJ’s Great Society wrong, as do so many conservatives. Will panders to white nationalist “populism” by characterizing the Great Society as “caring professionals that served ‘clients’… disorganized by behaviors involving sex and substance abuse.” Is George Will actually lowering himself to “dog-whistle” negative stereotypes about black Americans, as the Reaganites did when speaking of “taxes” and “welfare”? (The majority on welfare have always been poor whites.)

LBJ’s Great Society was filled with programs to set poor people of all races on a footing of elevated self-reliance and dignity through Head Start, job training, opportunities for higher education, community decision-making, etc., etc. Had it not been for what LBJ called “that bitch of a war” draining the national treasury, we might just have won the other war, the “War on Poverty,” instead of ranking with the least advanced nations as to infant mortality, poverty, wealth inequality and homelessness.

I’ve rarely agreed with Will, but I’ve acknowledged his intellect and analysis of evidence. But here he engages in raw and prejudicial mythology. Maybe those who voted for the likes of Donald Trump will stop seeing Will as an “elitist” intellectual if he just stops being an intelligent and judicious thinker.

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