This is a devastating article:
“Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, back in January, seemed to be announcing a break with the past. Unlike former presidents who stood at the steps of the Capitol building, Trump’s style that day was bleak. He spoke of ‘American carnage’ in inner cities, ‘rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones’, and ‘crime and gangs and drugs’. He pinned the blame for this carnage on the establishment, on Washington DC – that is, the politicians sitting a few feet behind him.
You could be forgiven for thinking on that day that we were witnessing the birth of a new ideology – Trumpism. Trump’s speech hit on themes that challenged longstanding Republican Party orthodoxy. These included economic nationalism (‘We’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry’); restrictions on immigration (‘We will bring back our borders’); a non-interventionist, ‘America First’ foreign policy (‘We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone’); and spending more government money at home (‘We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation’).
Yet, very quickly after entering the White House, Trump ditched much, perhaps nearly all, of this supposedly path-breaking programme. …
Meanwhile, as Trumpism has disintegrated over the past year, the sentiments of the voters who put Trump in office – their desire to reject the establishment and conventional politics, to gain recognition and improve their lives – have not gone away. Their needs are not being met, and Trump has abandoned even the pretense of trying to do so.
‘20 January 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again’, said Trump at his inauguration. ‘The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.’ What a crock. Trump has forgotten the people who elected him, but they have not forgotten what they were promised.”
I agree with every word of it.
I attended the Trump Inauguration. I was in the crowd and witnessed that speech. Of course, I already knew by January how this was going to go when flies like Anthony Scaramucci and Gary Cohn started buzzing around Trump Tower, but we had already made travel plans.
Donald Trump spent all of 2017 pushing the True Cons agenda: the Syria strike, the Charlottesville resolution, healthcare reform (20% approval in the polls) and tax reform (29% approval in the polls). Oddly enough, the Alt-Right focused on heritage preservation which of the three is by far the more popular issue (62% of Americans support preserving Confederate monuments). If Donald Trump had taken a stand on preserving the controversial Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, 48% of Americans would have supported him while 30% would have opposed him.
Trumpism was never a coherent ideology. It always combined populist elements with conservative elements. It just so happens that the populist agenda was shelved last December. Every policy reversal has also gone in a conservative direction: attacking Syria, arming Ukraine, preserving NATO, DACA amnesty, sending troops to Afghanistan, the carried interest loophole, Russia sanctions, the border tax, declaring China a currency manipulator, and so on. In practice, a “populist-conservative coalition” has amounted to nothing more than restoring mainstream conservatism to power.
Where do we go after the age of vapid e-celebs and nihilistic trolling is over? That’s not going to satisfy the deep yearning for change the people of this country have long desired.