What They Voted For: Corruption & Special Interest

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Oregon, 6 May 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

Who: Steve Benen (msnbc)
What: “Trump presents a new, twisted version of ‘populism'”
When: 11 November 2016

Steve Benen offers something of an obvious point:

The president-elect has effectively cornered the market on the former. Rhetorically, Trump is A Man of the People, railing against the established order. The elites have run roughshod over the interests of everyday Americans for too long, the billionaire celebrity told voters, and it was time the electorate overturn the corrupt system by electing Donald J. Trump, a champion of those overlooked taxpayers who’ve been left behind.

Trump, in other words, has a populist style. He adopted a populist tone. The more Trump railed against the elites, the more the media characterized him as a populist, and the more his fans swooned.

But then there’s actual populism, which is based on policies and proposals that advance the interests of working people. Real populists may struggle at times with style and tone, but they nevertheless fight for opportunities for those without, not those who are already members of the elite.

And if you mistook Trump as someone who believes in actual populism, I’m afraid he fooled you.

President-elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists. […]

Mr. Trump was swept to power in large part by white working-class voters who responded to his vow to restore the voices of forgotten people, ones drowned out by big business and Wall Street. But in his transition to power, some of the most prominent voices will be those of advisers who come from the same industries for which they are being asked to help set the regulatory groundwork.

This is not the sort of thing that will surprise, well, you know, people who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. But for those who did, it seems fair enough to wonder. As the Trump administration shapes up, will those people who wanted to send some manner of message to the system about whatever it was they were on about rather history judge them stupid or simply dishonest? That is to say, there will come a point when Trump voters will run out of excuses, and it was either about traditional supremacism or fundamental dishonesty. The American people answer the first black president with a white supremacist, and the prospect of the first female president with boasting sexual assailant who once trotted out a lawyer to patronizingly, and wrongly, explain that it’s not rape when it’s your wife. And a person is either okay with all that or not, and if you voted for Donald Trump, we have our answer. The only remaining question is to wonder if one is sinister or stupid, and then we might move on to the discussion about just how significant the difference is or isn’t.

These voters were either stupid enough to believe Donald Trump, or lying when they said their reason was sending this, that, or the other message to whatever Establishment.

True, some wondered at the idea of sending anti-institutional, anti-establishment, anti-corruption message by rallying behind an emblem of what one claims to loathe, but we lost. After all, he grabs ’em by the pussy, and he’s so damn famous he can get away with it, and that’s really what these voters want in their president. That and the crippling fear of all people non-white, non-christian, and non-male.

Seriously, though: Is anyone actually surprised?


Image note: Photo by Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Benen, Steve. “Trump presents a new, twisted version of ‘populism'”. msnbc. 11 November 2016.

Lipton, Eric. “Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, but Now They’re on His Transition Team”. The New York Times. 11 November 2016.

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