Editor’s Note: Check out the archive of my discussion with James Edwards about Trump’s Cabinet picks.
Thomas Edsall explains why here:
“Donald Trump’s supporters from the white working and middle class are, for the moment, elated.
In a survey conducted by Pew after the election, 96 percent of those who cast votes for Trump said they were hopeful; 74 percent said they were “proud.” They were almost unanimous in their expectation that Trump will have a successful first term. …
The obvious question is what will happen if, over time, Trump disappoints his buoyant supporters and revives their feelings of discontent and estrangement. How will they respond to continued economic marginalization and a failure on Trump’s part to produce sufficient numbers of good jobs at good pay?
If rising expectations are thwarted, the radical white nationalism of the alt-right holds the potential to become more broadly attractive. Disheartened voters can quickly become a caldron of resentment and discontent. They may seek out a leader who promises solutions even more sweeping and uncompromising than the ones Trump has proposed. There is no way to predict where anger will lead if the promises Trump made do not materialize, and if the numbers of those marginalized by hyper competition — by automation, offshoring, skill mismatch and the forces of globalization — continue to increase inexorably. Where will the blame fall then?”
Trump’s Cabinet picks have been a disappointment.
I want to emphasize here that we still don’t know how this will go. Keep your powder dry for now. Maybe Trump is serious about following through with his populist nationalist agenda. Maybe all these CEOs, generals, establishment Republicans and conventional conservatives in the Cabinet will do his bidding. Maybe we will be very happy with Trump’s performance a year for now or maybe we will be very disillusioned.
Either way, I thought this through a year ago before I decided to support Trump in the primaries. By running with a populist nationalist campaign message, Trump was effectively doing two things. He was making a deal with us and he was shifting the goal posts. If he was successful in winning the election, he would open himself up to devastating criticism if he ever backed away from his own campaign promises.
What if Trump raised expectations only to fail to deliver on the promises of Trumpism? Well, I thought about it and it seemed to me – this was around this time last year when I had a big decision to make – that any hint of selling out would further radicalize his supporters. More people would look even further outside the mainstream for solutions.
I’m happy to have an argument with Trump on nationalist and populist grounds. It is a win-win if we fight battles on our playing field. We can win the argument on that terrain. Just look at how badly Jeffrey Lord loses the argument below with Robert Reich when he tries to defend picking the president of Goldman Sachs.
Note: There is buzz that Rick Perry is Trump’s top choice for Secretary of Energy.