Paul Krugman lays out a great case for why authentic populism is NOT Trumpism. Trumpism as its been practiced in reality, is Reagan era trickle down economics with a far more overtly racist appeal to the base instincts of downscale white voters. This is how Trump has kept together the Republican coalition. Lip service and judges for the religious right, tax cuts to mollify Wall Street, and twitter fights with the woke snowflakes to appease the secular identity rightists in his party and among swing voters.
It is starting to fail and his voters are starting to wake up to it.
First off, while he emulated Viktor Orban in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to using constitutional mechanisms to accrue unconstitutional powers, he has failed at basic populist economics.
Orban’s success has depended in part on throwing his base at least a few bones. Hungary has instituted a public jobs program for rural areas; offered debt relief, free schoolbooks and lunches; and so on, paid for in part by a significant rise in taxes.
Trump has done none of this. His tax cuts were nakedly partisan giveaways to the 1% and swamp creatures, not to the Main Streets he promised to fight. Infrastructure week is a joke and Bannons Trump New Deal went nowhere. The fact that he scoffs at the popular jobs programs sponsored by the left such as the Green New Deal or a federal jobs guarantee shows he is unserious about middle class jobs.
Voters are starting to wake up:
here’s the thing: White working-class voters seem to have noticed that Trump isn’t working for them. A new Fox News poll finds that only 5 percent of whites without a college degree believe that Trump’s economic policies benefit “people like me,” compared with 45 percent who believe that the benefits go to “people with more money.”
Trump may believe that he can make up for his pro-plutocrat tax and health policies with tariffs, his one significant deviation from G.O.P. orthodoxy. But despite Trump’s insistence that foreigners will pay the tariffs, an overwhelming majority of noncollege whites believe that they will end up paying more for the things they buy.
Kurgman ends with a warning about Democratic complacency:
Whatever the reasons, the simple fact is that Trump isn’t a populist, unless we redefine populism as nothing but a synonym for racism. At least some in the white working class seem to have realized that he’s not on their side. And Democrats would be foolish not to make the most of this opening.
I second this, which is why I am still skeptical that an Obama-Biden restoration/return to normalcy campaign will work in this climate. Not when the same voters who defected from that ticket are again up for grabs and eager for an authentic populism that lifts all boats instead of Trump doubling down on trickle down. Whoever our nominee is, and I believe Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg thus far have been our best messengers on these issues, has to be an ally of every working class voter. This is how we win. Make Trump out to be a racist bully and the Dem nominee a nice guy, and we will lose. Make Trump out to be a rich bully who doesn’t care about ordinary Americans, as we did in the midterms, and we will win.