Failures of Trumpian Populism

Fixing long term shifts in manufacturing isn't easy.

Donald Trump VictoryVia the NYT:  Trump Promised to Protect Steel. Layoffs Are Coming Instead.

The layoffs have stunned these steelworkers who, just a year ago, greeted President Trump’s election as a new dawn for their industry. Mr. Trump pledged to build roads and bridges, strengthen “Buy America” provisions, protect factories from unfair imports and revive industry, especially steel.

But after a year in office, Mr. Trump has not enacted these policies. And when it comes to steel, his failure to follow through on a promise has actually done more harm than good.

It’s as if vague, populist claims can’t counter-act long-term economic trends.

Indeed, they can be damaging:

Foreign steel makers have rushed to get their product into the United States before tariffs start. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, which tracks shipments, steel imports were 19.4 percent higher in the first 10 months of 2017 than in the same period last year.

That surge of imports has hurt American steel makers, which were already struggling against a glut of cheap Chinese steel. When ArcelorMittal announced the layoffs in Conshohocken, it blamed those imports, as well as low demand for steel for bridges and military equipment.

Empty promises made without any concern or alliance to economic and political reality is a hallmark of populistic politics:

Earlier this year, tariffs seemed imminent. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said in late May that he expected to conclude the steel investigation by the end of June.

And in early June, Mr. Trump told a crowd in Cincinnati, “Wait till you see what I’m going to do for steel and your steel companies,” vowing that he would “stop the dumping” of products at superlow prices by other countries.

“We’ll be seeing that very soon. The steel folks are going to be very happy,” he said.

But the announcement never came.

[…]

Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a trade group that represents steelworkers, said he had “a profound sense of frustration that the president has been using steelworkers as political props.”

“The president’s own words and lack of action have actually put the industry in a worse position than if he had done nothing at all,” he said.

Such failure is especially true when the populist in question has no real policy skills and/or lacks the ability to directly manipulate the policy areas linked to the promises made.  Yes, there have been some executive orders, and yes, we pulled out of the TPP, but the reality is that Trump has no real ability to ignite a resurgence of the steel industry.

Populism is mostly about convincing key sectors of the population that you (the populist) are on their side:

Chuck Hauer, who has worked at the plant for 22 years and ranks around 80 on the seniority list — meaning he is likely to be laid off — said he had voted Republican because he believed that Mr. Trump was “for the people.” He said he still believed that the tariffs would happen, though perhaps not soon enough to save him.

“He’s just delaying it,” Mr. Hauer said of the president. “And I think the delay is hurting us more than he knows.”

More likely, doesn’t understand and doesn’t give it a lot of thought.  I do believe that President Trump would love to bring back steel jobs, if anything so he could have a win.  But, ultimately, he is just hyping his brand when he makes promises to steelworkers.

Ms. Allen, whose father worked at the Conshohocken plant before her, was not a Trump supporter. “He told them what they wanted to hear so they would vote for him, and now they’re seeing what president he is,” she said.

Indeed.

Meanwhile, via Forbes

A year ago, Donald Trump visited a Carrier factory in Indiana to promote his Christmas miracle. Using millions of dollars of Indiana taxpayer funds, he claimed to have arranged a deal that would save the jobs of a thousand workers at the dying Indianapolis plant.

Reality began to set in before the cheers had even died down. The CEO of Carrier’s parent company, UTC, gave an extensive TV interview a week later that largely ignored the deal.

[…]

Today, down at the Carrier factory, many of the jobs Trump supposedly “saved” are disappearing right on schedule. While Donald Trump is off somewhere else, rallying support for a child sexual predator, workers at the Carrier factory in Indianapolis are bracing for more layoffs, after the first round began in July. The next round has been mercifully delayed through the holidays, but the axe will still fall in January. A few factory jobs will be retained there, but most of the remaining workers at the Indianapolis facility will be engineers.

[…]

Over the longer term, automation is replacing those formerly well-paid, low-skill jobs in the US, Mexico, China and everywhere else. Raising more barriers to offshoring merely accelerates that shift.

See, also, this op-ed in WaPo:  A year ago, Trump promised Carrier workers help. We’re still waiting.

The workers at Carrier aren’t the only ones who feel victimized by Trump’s false promises. United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, is laying off another 700 workers right up the road from the Carrier plant in Huntington. And Rexnord, another plant in Indianapolis, just closed its doors, too. Workers at both plants hoped that Trump would come to the rescue, but he never showed up.

Beyond Indiana, workers across the country feel like they too are victims of a false Trumpian bargain, in which they were invited to trade their votes to keep their jobs. In fact, according to new research conducted by Good Jobs Nation, more than 91,000 jobs have been sent overseas since Trump was elected, the highest rate of jobs lost to outsourcing in five years.

It’s as if vague, populist claims can’t counter-act long-term economic trends,  but I repeat myself.

This was all quite predictable.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    “He’s just delaying it,” Mr. Hauer said of the president. “And I think the delay is hurting us more than he knows.”

    You gotta feel for Mr. Hauer, who really seems to be under the impression that Trump gives a s**t about it when he’s not pandering for applause.

    Steven L. Taylor: “More likely, doesn’t understand and doesn’t give it a lot of thought.”

    Honestly, you’re being charitable to imply he gives it any thought.




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  2. reid says:

    Anyone who wasn’t seeing Trump through orange-colored lenses would also have realized that he has a long history of saying and doing anything it takes to make “the sale”, and then he takes his money and screws over the other party. Unfortunately, lots of people were easily taken in by his BS. It’s all he has a talent for, conning people.




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  3. CSK says:

    Trump probably wouldn’t have been nearly as successful conning his fans if he hadn’t been able to con them in the most vulgar and buffoonish fashion. Low-rent charlatan with the manners of a pig = real Amurkan patriot.




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  4. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    It’s as if vague, populist claims can’t counter-act long-term economic trends.

    OMG! Who knew?




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  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I am surprised (but not much so) that some companies are passing out bonuses of $1000 to employees.

    This is a bit of a buyout. If the company stands to make billions, then a few million in payout to have the plebes say nice things is well worth the cost.

    Yeah, I’m embittered. Bread and circuses is winning.




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  6. michael reynolds says:

    It doesn’t matter to Trump voters because they’ll never really know that Trump’s promises all turn to dust.

    Trump voters are so fwcking dumb they can’t even parse this absurd tax cut. Somewhere in their tiny little brains they still think Trump cares for them. They still think the GOP gives a damn for them. If, after the tax bill, you can still convince yourself Trump is out to help the middle class you are waaaaay beyond mere facts. That’s cult territory.

    I can now, quite legally, pay pretty much zero federal, state or payroll taxes. Thank you, Donnie, thank you, Paul and Mitch. I’m already starting to set up my BVI corporation which will pay zero corporate taxes. And thanks to the GOP’s inclusion of ‘territorial’ taxation, I can pay myself and also pay zero personal income tax.

    But still the Trump toadies will be along to prattle about the bonuses being paid by companies with regulatory issues before the federal government. Because even blatant corruption is OK with them so long as it has a big, gold ‘T’ on it.




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  7. reid says:

    @michael reynolds: To be fair, there is a large propaganda machine dedicated to keeping people on the right in line. If you only watch Fox news and only visit far right news sites, then it’s easy to keep thinking that the tax cut is a good thing and all manner of false “facts”. Not only that, you’re constantly being told that actual news media and facts are fake and can’t be trusted. This, to me, is the biggest problem our society faces. And yes, I suppose it is cult territory.




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  8. @michael reynolds: Given the EC outcome in some key states (MI, WI, PA specifically), it won’t take a huge shift in terms of voters to make a difference in 2020.

    But no, there will be no large scale revelations.




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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    And yet fools like Bunge are still getting on their knees and praying to their Dear Leader…the one with the fake tan, fake hair, and fake teeth, who they swear is the most honest man in politics. while they pray to him…he preys on them.
    Again…it’s mourning in America.




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  10. James Pearce says:

    In fact, according to new research conducted by Good Jobs Nation, more than 91,000 jobs have been sent overseas since Trump was elected, the highest rate of jobs lost to outsourcing in five years.

    I expect more outsourcing, more foreign ownership of what we would think of as domestic firms, more grift, more corruption, bribery and extortion and fake Hollywood facades all the way down.

    @michael reynolds:

    I can now, quite legally, pay pretty much zero federal, state or payroll taxes. Thank you, Donnie, thank you, Paul and Mitch.

    When you say this stuff, bragging about how Republican tax policy is so great for you and how you can save so much money and buy French villas and London real estate and all that other stuff, do you think you’re arguing against the policy or for your own virtue?




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  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:
  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Love it…

    “You Dumb M’er F’er… He’s not fighting for you… he’s fighting for me”.

    @James Pearce:

    When you say this stuff, bragging about how Republican tax policy is so great for you and how you can save so much money and buy French villas and London real estate and all that other stuff, do you think you’re arguing against the policy or for your own virtue?

    I think you may be missing the point.

    People like Michael, and a few others here would love to share in the banquet that is America, and make sure that all get a seat a the table.

    But with the current tax plan in place, the rich get the thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings, lavishly laid out in copious amounts that are beyond their ability to eat… and now that overwhelming banquet is guaranteed not only for them but also their offspring for generations to come.

    Most of the rest of the USA gets a dry ham sandwich, which they will need to buy themselves on a credit card from a predatory lending institution.

    If you blame Michael for the way the tables were set by the GOP, you may be missing the point.

    Like Michael, I will also likely benefit. And I will do everything in my power to change that when the next election comes along.




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  13. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    do you think you’re arguing against the policy or for your own virtue?

    How am I arguing for virtue if I’m setting up an offshore in the BVI?




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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    For James missing the point is his go-to move.




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  15. Kathy says:

    It’s as though the Orange Twit thinks his word is law.

    Not judicial law, which would be bad enough, but natural law. As if by saying something, it will become so without any need to actually do anything about it.Likewise when he does something many of his predecessors have done, like meeting with or talking to the families of dead soldiers, and he claims he’s the very first one to do so. By saying this is so, it becomes so. In his mind.




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  16. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s shocking that Trump’s administration listened to economists when they talked about tariffs, but they didn’t when they were talking about a tax cut for the rich and corporations. Really can’t get over that one. But hey–let’s move on to asking how we can pay for entitlements after blowing a 1 trillion hole in the country.




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  17. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce:

    … do you think you’re arguing against the policy or for your own virtue?

    If he’s ‘bragging’ (which seems to be the implication), then a lot of other people are pointing out the same thing. If you make enough money, it will be better to set yourself up as a freelancer LLC because the taxes are much lower on corporations than on individuals. But only high-income people will be able to benefit from the move. This has been widely reported.

    There are a lot of other loopholes that appear to benefit Republican senators. Not sure why that is.




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  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kathy:

    It’s as though the Orange Twit thinks his word is law… By saying this is so, it becomes so. In his mind.

    It is dictatorial, and no longer in the best interest of America. Did you read his signing statement on Russian Sanctions?

    Trump just gave a bigger Christmas gift to Putin than corporate America — while no one was watching

    It is inconceivable that while the focus on Russian meddling in elections is so front and center, his signing statement is that, from his presidential perspective, most of the sanctions proposed will not be enforced.

    Seriously, what type of Manchurian candidate IS this??!!?




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  19. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    He’s playing to his base. You’re forgetting that they love Putin. Of course he should be rewarded. He’s a good Christian dictator who hates gays and murders dissenting journalists. What’s not to love????




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  20. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Pearce:

    I see you’ve come to the conclusion that people who want to pay taxes for schools, roads, parks, and the military is now “virtue-signaling.” Can’t have that!

    Pretty soon patriotism and equality and liberty and belief in a shared society will be “virtue-signaling” too.




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  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m already starting to set up my BVI corporation which will pay zero corporate taxes. And thanks to the GOP’s inclusion of ‘territorial’ taxation, I can pay myself and also pay zero personal income tax.

    You took my advice! Well played, sir. Well played 😀




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  22. Liberal Capitalist says:

    By the way, the tax bill has just been signed.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-signs-tax-bill-law-leaving-holidays/story?id=51954035

    What he said:

    “Everything in here is really tremendous things for businesses, for people, for the middle class, for workers. And I consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs. Corporations are literally going wild over this,” Trump said.

    If it rreflected reality:

    “Everything in here is really tremendous things for businesses. Corporations are literally going wild over this,” Trump said.

    Corporations get not only a massive tax cut, but a very sweet deal on repatriating funds from overseas holdings.

    Those who say things say that it is the worst economic package ever made, rivaling the one that brought on the Great Depression: We’re just F’ed




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  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Hey folks, BarbInTheBoonies should find this interesting:

    Facebook now lets you check to see if you followed Russian propaganda




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  24. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Modulo Myself: That one’s easy–we can’t pay for entitlements after this. That’s why the next step is to curtail them as much as possible before the mid-term elections, so one can go home and champion being the candidate “who did something about wasteful government spending.”

    They’re just fighting the good fight, after all.




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  25. MBunge says:

    Let me see if I follow this…

    We can change the climate of the entire freakin’ planet by accident.

    We can change it back on purpose.

    But we can’t do anything about American manufacturing jobs.

    I’m starting to get the sense this has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with willingness.

    Mike




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  26. James Pearce says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I think you may be missing the point.

    No, I think I’ve just lost my patience with all the performative morality on the left.

    Like Michael, I will also likely benefit

    There’s a lot of well-to-do lefties who will benefit from the tax cuts, even as they claim to oppose them. And how do disinterested well-to-do lefties “oppose” political issues they don’t really care about too much?

    They write a check.

    @Franklin:

    If you make enough money, it will be better to set yourself up as a freelancer LLC

    From what I’ve read, that’s not going to be so easy. Check with your accountant. Prepare for the audit.




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  27. t says:

    @James Pearce:

    There’s a lot of well-to-do lefties who will benefit from the tax cuts, even as they claim to oppose them.

    The goddamned definition of white privilege.




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  28. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Trump is never going to admit the Russians, or anyone else, interfered in his election. It would hurt his vanity and shatter whatever he uses instead of self-esteem.




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  29. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Going to territorial taxation is what did it for me. I can earn what I earn, pay no taxes, and travel as I please. Kind of unbelievable.

    @James Pearce:

    From what I’ve read, that’s not going to be so easy. Check with your accountant. Prepare for the audit.

    They can do it right now for $149. If the Trumpaloons move against S-Corps they’ll lose Main Street in a heartbeat. Doctors, lawyers and accountants give a whole lot of money to the GOP.

    This tax bill is designed to enrich people like @HL and me (and many others here.) Trump is plundering the United States for himself and his friends and inevitably fattening my account in the process. But hey, it’ll all be fine because I’m going to trickle on working people by creating good-paying jobs. (Yeah, that last bit was a joke.)




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  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kathy:

    Trump is never going to admit the Russians, or anyone else, interfered in his election. It would hurt his vanity and shatter whatever he uses instead of self-esteem.

    And that is why, trying to protect America, this gal (Reality Winner, that no one has heard of) is sitting in a jail cell.

    Lets not stop the Russian involvement in our elections, let’s put the gal in prison that tried to tell America that it was happening.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/who-is-reality-winner.html




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  31. michael reynolds says:

    @t:

    Actually I’m pretty sure Chris Rock will benefit, too. This is less ‘white privilege’ than ‘white stupidity.’ White people elected this baboon to take their money and give it to the corporations, big and little.

    Lower class white people have learned nothing since the days of slavery when they were kept poor and powerless by the very system they fought and died to protect. “At least we’re better off than them ni**er slaves!” Uh huh, and yet still poor, still weak and insignificant. Gee, I wonder who benefits from a system that uses race to drive a wedge between people with identical economic issues?

    If you think this is white folks fleecing black folks you’re missing the picture. The predator class doesn’t care what color meat it feeds on and there’s a lot more whites than blacks to rip off. The whole point of racism in the US is not to keep the black man down, it’s to keep the poor down and the rich on top. That’s the American tragedy, that lower class whites are too fwcking stupid to realize that they are not just the instruments of oppression for blacks, but that they are the instruments of their own subjugation.




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  32. James Pearce says:

    @t:

    The goddamned definition of white privilege.

    Nah, white privilege is that thing where James Pearce will get the call back, but Jamal Pearce will not. This is just Michael flaunting his wealth again.

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I see you’ve come to the conclusion that people who want to pay taxes for schools, roads, parks, and the military is now “virtue-signaling.”

    No, no, no. There’s a British term called “taking the piss.” Surely you’ve heard of it. Michael’s doing it with his “I’m incorporating in the BVI” shtick, and I’m doing it too.

    Anyone is invited to take the piss out of me too. Trample. It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world.




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  33. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trample. It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world.

    I’m thinking you may need to move from OTB to a different sort of website…




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  34. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey: Ha!

    I stepped right into that one.

    (Here‘s the actual context of that quote.)




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  35. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    My weekly TV watching includes Would I Lie To You, QI, Only Connect, Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week and Eight Out of 10 Cats. Subject to lazy British scheduling. I am familiar with taking the piss.

    Shall we have a truce? I’m high and mellow.




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  36. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Shall we have a truce? I’m high and mellow.

    Absolutely. Whachoo got? Pass it over here.




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  37. An Interested Party says:

    Seriously, what type of Manchurian candidate IS this??!!?

    I was thinking of both versions of that movie recently and I realized, that especially relating to the latter version, corporations don’t have to secretly brainwash a war “hero” to get him into the White House to promote their interests…it is much easier and completely legal for them to funnel tons of cash to whores, some Democratic, but mostly Republican, who will do their bidding with no trouble at all, as this abomination of a tax bill proves…

    Meanwhile, as long as so many people willingly allow themselves to be screwed over, our country is severely fu@ked…




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  38. Matt says:

    @michael reynolds: I have had multiple Trump fans tell me that thanks to Trump’s tax plan we won’t be paying taxes next year……..

    I just had to walk away because there is no countering such ignorance. What I want to know is where they are getting that crap from. The clearest answer I got was “from reading the tax plan”.. Others eluded to some truthful news source that can be trusted. I have a bit of a reputation for being very political astute and a liberal so that might have some bearing on why they were being so vague.




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  39. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Just wondering — when you watch Only Connect, do you ever figure out the upper-level puzzles? I’m thinking primarily about the pattern-recognition one, where you’re supposed to predict the next picture. I stare at these things in awe…




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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    Prepare for the audit.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… gasp…. wheeze…. I mean, do you actually think the IRS is a functioning department of the govt? They can barely process tax returns these days.




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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt: The clearest answer I got was “from reading the tax plan”.

    HA! Not even the republicans who voted for it actually read it.




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  42. Barry says:

    @MBunge: MBunge says:
    “We can change the climate of the entire freakin’ planet by accident.

    We can change it back on purpose.”

    Note – with huge efforts on our part, so you’re not following well.

    “But we can’t do anything about American manufacturing jobs.

    I’m starting to get the sense this has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with willingness.”

    Now this, IMHO, is correct (partially), and it’s something that Steven got mostly wrong – Trump and his fellow plutocrats/lackeys to plutocrats are only populist until it comes to pulling money from the rest of us and stuffing their own pockets.




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  43. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    1) My 20 year-old daughter (previously son, because: my life) and I watch together, usually mildly high. Our rule is we get to play both sides of the connecting wall as a compensation for the distinctly British questions involving soccer or dates of royal accession.

    2) We do not typically cover ourselves with glory. Clara kills on the missing vowels, we’re both strong on the connecting wall, the early rounds are usually OK, when they go to ‘provide the next’ I don’t do as well.

    3) I have only ever gotten one musical question.

    4) Only once have I ‘won’ in the sense of having a higher score than one of the two competing teams.

    5) It’s possible – I’m still working on the science – that smoking weed and drinking Talisker is not very helpful.

    6) Victoria Coren Mitchell is my wife in an alternate timeline.




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  44. @Barry:

    Now this, IMHO, is correct (partially), and it’s something that Steven got mostly wrong – Trump and his fellow plutocrats/lackeys to plutocrats are only populist until it comes to pulling money from the rest of us and stuffing their own pockets.

    Really, that is basically baked into my view–populists make promised and they rarely fully deliver (and when they do deliver, it tends to be temporary). This is actually part of the point.

    I will say that more skillful populists usually find a way to make some immediate move to help out their key supporters.

    But, of course, as you note: Trump’s real allies aren’t the working class. Still, if he knew what he was doing, he would find a way to throw the masses a bone or two to help him consolidate his power. But all Trump really knows how to do is burnish his brand,

    I would note: the tax plan really was a creature of Congress, not of the President.




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  45. @Steven L. Taylor: I will say that Trump’s brand of populism is more hollow than most.

    Three prominent examples that come to mind from Latin America, Juan Peron in Argentina, Alberto Fujimori in Peru, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela all had early successes in delivering goods and services to the key constituencies that elected them. Over time the ability to continue to provides those goodies faded, and the consequences of their policies short-comings came to light. Two were ousted (Peron and Fujimori) and Chavez died in office.

    Peron used money from nationalization, Fujimori from privatization of state assets (and a re-write of the constitution to give the president substantial fiscal powers), and Chavez used oil revenues,

    Trump has no such source of special power to exploit, so that is part of the reason (that, and he really doesn’t know what he is doing).




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  46. @MBunge:

    I’m starting to get the sense this has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with willingness.

    Well, the manufacturing economy of the 1950s and 1960s isn’t coming back. Global competition and automation mean there is no turning back (unless we have a major war that cripples global productivity, but the US mainland remains sheltered from the devastation. Even then, technology means a different landscape).

    Also: for the wages of the 1950s, we need stronger unions. That isn’t likely to happen.

    More importantly, and to the thesis of my post: Trump’s promises on this matter are empty words, and they always have been.

    And even if you want to take Trump at his word, his party is not interested in reviving manufacturing they way you seem to be suggesting.




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  47. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Trump has no such source of special power to exploit, so that is part of the reason (that, and he really doesn’t know what he is doing).

    If he was more than rhetoric, he probably would have pushed a massive infrastructure plan or found some way to infuse money into states like MI, PA, and WI to try and consolidate support among the handful of working class voters in those normally blue states that gave him the EC victory.




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  48. rachel says:

    This was all quite predictable.

    And was predicted.




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  49. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: for the wages of the 1950s, we need stronger unions.

    Amen, brother !!!

    Sadly, poor white trash has been conned into believing that Unions are evil baby killers that will suck the blood out of their veins.

    And they can’t understand why their three 30 hours a week jobs only pay minimum wage.

    But yet they are fed the belief that independently, they alone can negotiate for better wages.

    morons.




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  50. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Actually I’m pretty sure Chris Rock will benefit, too. This is less ‘white privilege’ than ‘white stupidity.

    Actually, Chris Rock is the guy who once said, “There ain’t a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me…and I’m rich!”

    That’s white privilege in a nutshell.




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  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Amen brother, amen.




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  52. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Boom!




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  53. michael reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    Yes, I know what white privilege is. But it’s always good to be reminded of things I’ve known for, oh, let’s say 50 years.




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  54. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, I know what white privilege is. But it’s always good to be reminded of things I’ve known for, oh, let’s say 50 years.

    I wasn’t questioning your understanding of white privilege, I was clarifying what Chris Rock thinks about the matter after you mentioned him.




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  55. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump voters are so fwcking dumb they can’t even parse this absurd tax cut.

    About half the country’s medical doctors, and more than half of its surgeons voted for Trump. So did a lot of accountants, engineers, economists and lawyers. I suspect you can even find some successful published writers who voted for Trump.

    You can argue that Trump voters are evil, but saying they’re dumb is simply counter-factual; some of them are intelligent by any normal definition of the word. And its always a mistake to assume your opponents are stupid … underestimating opponents rarely turns out well.




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  56. Mikey says:

    Of course it didn’t take long for Trump to say what the GOP tax scam is really about. We just had to wait until he was behind closed doors with 1%-ers.

    Trump told friends at Mar-a-Lago ‘you all just got a lot richer’ after tax bill passed




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  57. george says:

    @Kylopod:

    Its also wrong, unless he was in a very unusual room. For instance, I know a lot of white men who would love to trade places with Michael Jordan or Lebron James, women who’d love to change places with Beyonce or Oprah.

    White privilege is very real. But class privilege is too, as is for example able privilege. One friend of mine argues that the most powerful (though not permanent) privilege is that of attractiveness, especially for women – being rich is more useful for men. There’s a growing awareness of just how many kinds of privilege are out there, and while some synchronize, some are antagonistic.

    To a certain extent they’re orthogonal. A rich white man is more privileged than a rich black man, but a rich black man is more privileged than a poor white man (compare say Michael Jordan to some poor guy living on the street). To a surprising degree the absolute amount of privilege an individual has depends on the details of his or her life, when its really examined it turns out very hard to find a formula that applies to everyone.




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  58. @george: I know Ph.D.s who voted for Trump, so no, they are not all stupid.




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  59. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Oh, there are plenty of stupid PhD’s. If you ever need a really stupid, harmful policy idea you go to academics, everything from Marxism to Cultural Appropriation. Education ≠ Intelligence. A lot of PhD’s are a mile deep and an inch wide.

    But that snark aside, stupid is as stupid does. I’m not necessarily talking IQ. The bulk of Trump voters chose a man to manage the American nuclear arsenal, either on the basis of personal pique or cupidity. Handing a loaded firearm to a malicious, mentally unbalanced toddler is, in all circumstances, stupid. That’s what 46% of American voters did. If you can’t see that Trump is unhinged you’re an idiot, and if you hand such a person thousands of nukes, you’re an even bigger idiot. Degrees and titles notwithstanding.




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  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @george: @Steven L. Taylor: Just because one is intelligent does not mean they can not be complete F’n idiots.

    @michael reynolds: I see you got there first.




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  61. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If you can’t see that Trump is unhinged you’re an idiot, and if you hand such a person thousands of nukes, you’re an even bigger idiot. Degrees and titles notwithstanding.

    Alternatively an intelligent but immoral person could calculate the risk of Trump starting a nuclear war or something that would harm them directly, and weigh that against the potential personal gains they stood to make from his policies. If someone calculates that something has a 99% chance of hurting most of the population while making him/herself wealthy and/or powerful, and with say a 10% chance of killing everyone including themselves, it would be immoral for them to go ahead with it, but not stupid.

    Because its only stupid if you don’t understand the risks. Its immoral if you understand the risks but decide to roll the dice anyway.




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  62. george says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    True. But you overlook the possibility of being intelligent but evil (clearly I’m not talking about Trump here, but you could argue Putin falls into this category).

    Idiot refers to doing actions that are extremely unlikely to get you your goal (and even there the tolerance for risk varies among individuals). But if someone has a different goal (ie benefiting themselves to the detriment of others) than they’re not being idiots, just immoral.




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  63. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’ll go with Reynolds on this. There’s a difference between “ignorant” and “stupid” although society does tend to conflate the two because they frequently appear side by side.




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  64. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @george: Okay then, stupid and immoral it is.




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  65. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @george: Allow me to elaborate–there were plenty of choices, by my count as many as 19, of immoral choices to be made during the GOP primary. Cruz, Rubio, the guy from Ohio, heck even JEB! would have voted in the tax cut/capital/income/wealth transfer legislation and most of them are fine on draconian immigration policy and the other parts of the racism agenda, too. To pick the, if you will, worst loose cannon among an arsenal of faulty artillery pieces is in addition to being evil also foolish and stupid.




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  66. george says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Most of the intelligent Trump voters I know (using the standard definition of intelligence) were against him during the GOP primary, but voted for him against Clinton because they figured he would cut taxes and they would benefit. In fact, most were quite open about their cold calculation, and said only a stupid person believed any major politician really had the best interests of everyone in mind.

    It’s kind of interesting that you have different groups of successful people, in fields requiring what is normally called intelligence, who think the other groups are stupid. Which is why Machiavelli’s breakdown is so useful, and why he warns against assuming people who oppose your goals are stupid. Assuming an evil but intelligent person opposing you is stupid tends to lead to disaster, because too often you get careless (they’re idiots, so they won’t come up with an intelligent strategy, so no need to improve ours) and they outsmart you.

    Its satisfying to call your opponents stupid. Its rarely useful, because in fact a lot of evil people are in fact disturbingly intelligent.




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  67. michael reynolds says:

    @george:

    Yes, it goes to the underlying reality that life is. . . brace yourself for the big reveal. . . unfair. When Twitternits tell me to ‘check my privilege’ I’m tempted to correct: privileges. Plural. It is absolutely great being white. Huge advantage. It’s also great being a male. Also a huge advantage. And being born American. And being tall. Having a decent voice. Being (knock on wood) healthy. Not being prone to serious mental illness. Not being dyslexic. There’s quite a long list.

    The nature of our lives is determined by DNA, our lifelong environment (which includes education in all its iterations), our free will and random chance, with overlaid interactions between the four. I am very well aware that I have what I have in life because of DNA and luck. I’ve had to argue with people who insisted that it was all hard work. I worked quite a bit harder waiting tables at the Wild Goose Chase in Ocean City, at which point I was subletting an unheated apartment and driving an unregistered, brake-free, rust-bucket Dodge.

    But once someone has a hammer every question is a nail. The yutes have discovered that it’s good to be a white male. This is no different than the ‘Absolute Original First-time Discovery of the Existence of Hypocrisy’ usually in high school, but given extra significance in college. The difference being that enlightened youth used to only be able to annoy their parents with angry assertions of the fwcking obvious, whereas now they can do it in social media and annoy far more people.




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  68. @michael reynolds: I get all of that. I really do.

    The problem remains, that people will rationalize any number of things when faced with a binary choice colored by partisan filters.

    Ultimately, I don’t disagree that the danger of Trump should have been obvious enough that it should have overrode those partisan filters more than ended up being the case.




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  69. @michael reynolds: I get all of that. I really do.

    The problem remains, that people will rationalize any number of things when faced with a binary choice colored by partisan filters.

    Ultimately, I don’t disagree that the danger of Trump should have been obvious enough that it should have overrode those partisan filters more than ended up being the case.




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  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @george:

    But you overlook the possibility of being intelligent but evil

    Actually, no I don’t. I just said that intelligence, no matter how great, is not immune to stupidity.




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  71. Mister Bluster says:

    Failures of Trumpian Populism
    On the First Day of Christmas…
    ‘Merry Christmas!’ Trump brags that big companies ‘showering their workers with bonuses’ are all the rage because of tax cuts – as Morning Joe calls him ‘Chairman Mao’
    Daily Mail Dec 22

    On the Second Day of Christmas…
    AT&T ANNOUNCES THOUSANDS OF LAYOFFS, FIRINGS JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS
    AT&T will layoff and fire more than a thousand workers starting early next year, according to local reports.
    Newsweek Dec 24

    HO! HO! HO!




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  72. Scott O says:

    @Mister Bluster: I wish I had your optimism that facts still mattered.




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  73. Mister Bluster says:

    Facts!?! Truth?!?
    I remember when the Big Kid down the block told me there was no Santa Claus. He had to be at least in the first grade. I’m not sure if I had started kindergarten yet.
    When I got home that day I asked my mom and dad what was up with this no Santa business?
    “It’s true son. We’ve been buying your Christmas presents all these years. (Was I 5 or maybe 6?) There is no Santa Claus.”
    Don’t remember any disappointment or grief. I don’t think I really believed one guy could visit everyone’s house in one night around the world. Can’t fool me.
    Of course I still believed in the Easter Bunny for a while after that.
    They laid out baskets full of candy eggs for several more years to keep up the charade and even told me that they saw him running off to the neighbors as the sun came up Easter Morning!
    I guess they wanted to see how long they could trick me.
    I bought it hook, line and sinker.

    Maybe I’m still a sap.

    Deck Us All With Boston Charlie…
    Thank You Walt Kelly RIP




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  74. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @michael reynolds: The concept of White Superiority itself was birthed in early 17th Century European academia. Before that, the idea of skin pigmentation as a qualitative measure of virtue would have been considered an alien concept.




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  75. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    Most Assuredly! Thanks for the link. I’ve had this song in my mind for about a week or so, always do at Christmas.




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  76. al-Ameda says:

    Working middle class Trump supporters are already defaulting to: ‘just look at the bonuses that companies are paying to their workers because of Trump’s tax reform bill!’

    I do think that this is part of a ‘starve the beast’ strategy. If this ‘tax reform’ does not work (the deficit dramatically increases, any measure will do) then Republicans, as long as they control the entire federal government, will have a pretext to begin cutting “entitlement” programs.




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  77. michael reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Convenient timing, eh? Right around the time it occurred to some clever Portuguese that there could be quite a profit in the slave trade.




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  78. Teve tory says:

    At its height, the Nazi party had fewer than 9 million Germans.

    Right now we have tens of millions of Americans who are at least willing to go along with this racist potentially violent bulshit and who blame brown people for their economic struggles.

    We’ve got a president who’s a bumbling demagogue who doesn’t care about anything except worship from his base.

    We have a party in near complete control who don’t care about absolutely anything other than enriching the oligarchs.

    And we’ve got a News Network on his side that those tens of millions of people listen to pretty much exclusively while aggressively denying anything in the reality media.

    Shit could get real scary, real quick.




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