populist style

Another Memo to the Late Party of Reagan

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters in North Charleston, 19 February 2016. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

MEMORANDUM

To: Republican voters

re: What now? (Follow-up)

So it turns out we weren’t the only ones who noticed. Or, as Steve Benen put it today:

In the same interview, Moore added, “Reagan ran as an ideological conservative. Trump ran as an economic populist. Trump’s victory turned it into the Trump party.”

One of these days, conservatives are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they have no idea what “populism” means.

Indeed, not long after Moore’s remarks, the Republican president-elect, leading the newly transformed “populist working-class party,” indicated a variety of far-right billionaires would join his cabinet, including vulture capitalist Wilbur Ross for the Department of Commerce.

Which was right around the time Republicans celebrated a court ruling blocking President Obama’s policy expanding access to overtime pay for millions of working-class Americans.

Which was right around the time the Associated Press reported―about a month too late―that Trump’s tax plan would actually raise taxes on many middle-class Americans while delivering a windfall to those at the top.

This. Is. Not. Populism.

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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.

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