If you have time only for one longish opinion piece on this exciting day, let it be author and Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele's "Trump, Clinton, and the Culture of Deference" in today's Wall Street Journal.

It's not just another complaint about political correctness, though that is the general topic. Steele, however, has an interesting take on the origins of political correctness (which Clinton wields as a sword, and with which the cultural outsider Trump is, to put it mildly, at war).

Steele notes that conservative principles have much to offer but that in a world ruled by deference to political correctness, conservatives are all too often seen as heartless and bigoted. So liberal policies, even if they have previously failed, are tried again.  

The first question must be: How did this happen? Steele writes:

The answer begins in a certain fact of American life. As the late writer William Styron once put it, slavery was “the great transforming circumstance of American history.” Slavery, and also the diminishment of women and all minorities, was especially tragic because America was otherwise the most enlightened nation in the world. Here, in this instance of profound hypocrisy, began the idea of America as a victimizing nation. And then came the inevitable corollary: the nation’s moral indebtedness to its former victims: blacks especially but all other put-upon peoples as well.

This indebtedness became a cultural imperative, what Styron might call a “transforming circumstance.” Today America must honor this indebtedness or lose much of its moral authority and legitimacy as a democracy. America must show itself redeemed of its oppressive past.

How to do this? In a word: deference. Since the 1960s, when America finally became fully accountable for its past, deference toward all groups with any claim to past or present victimization became mandatory. The Great Society and the War on Poverty were some of the first truly deferential policies. Since then deference has become an almost universal marker of simple human decency that asserts one’s innocence of the American past. Deference is, above all else, an apology.

One thing this means is that deference toward victimization has evolved into a means to power. As deference acknowledges America’s indebtedness, it seems to redeem the nation and to validate its exceptional status in the world. This brings real power—the kind of power that puts people into office and that gives a special shine to commercial ventures it attaches to.

Since the ’60s the Democratic Party, and liberalism generally, have thrived on the power of deference. When Hillary Clinton speaks of a “basket of deplorables,“ she follows with a basket of isms and phobias—racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Each ism and phobia is an opportunity for her to show deference toward a victimized group and to cast herself as America’s redeemer. And, by implication, conservatism is bereft of deference. Donald Trump supporters are cast as small grudging people, as haters who blindly love America and long for its exclusionary past. Against this she is the very archetype of American redemption. The term “progressive” is code for redemption from a hate-driven America.

So deference is a power to muscle with. And it works by stigmatization, by threatening to label people as regressive bigots. Mrs. Clinton, Democrats and liberals generally practice combat by stigma. And they have been fairly successful in this so that many conservatives are at least a little embarrassed to “come out” as it were. Conservatism is an insurgent point of view, while liberalism is mainstream. And this is oppressive for conservatives because it puts them in the position of being a bit embarrassed by who they really are and what they really believe.

Political correctness, Steele writes, is the codification of deference. We may resent it, we may think we have policies that would be beneficial to a greater number of Americans, but we do not want to be called names. Trump, "a fundamentally limited man but a man with overwhelming charisma," is at odds with the culture of deference.

For this, he is regarded in enlightened circles as a monster. Hillary is the more soothing presence, who proclaims that we are "stronger together," never mind that she used public life to create gilded lives for herself and her family. But there is an irony to the view of Hillary as savior and Trump as destroyer:

As a society we are so captive to our historical shame that we thoughtlessly rush to deference simply to relieve the pressure. And yet every deferential gesture—the war on poverty, affirmative action, ObamaCare, every kind of “diversity” scheme—only weakens those who still suffer the legacy of our shameful history. Deference is now the great enemy of those toward whom it gushes compassion.

Trump was the great revolt against deference.

We'll judge the strength of that movement later tonight. .