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Assault on America, Day 19: Trump populism the new ticket to draining the putrid DC swamp










With the two-year anniversary of “populist” President Donald Trump’s inauguration passing yesterday, maybe it’s time to ask… what exactly is a populist? The dictionary defines populism as, “a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”

It goes without saying Donald Trump triggered an American political earthquake when he rode down the Trump Tower escalator and announced his run for president (on June 16, 2015). Trump more than shook the ground that day, not only with the launch of his outsider celebrity candidacy but also because he had the verve to challenge the swampy status quo perpetuated by self-centered leaders of both parties for decades.

During Trump’s announcement speech he spoke of big problems foisted on Americans or ignored by the political class, named names and reveled in stepping on sizeable egos. He didn’t sound like a standard rear-end pecking politician and certainly didn’t say things that would appeal to the politically correct lowest common denominator.

Trump’s atypical approach placed the Republican establishment on high alert; almost instantly they began rallying around the 2016 race’s would-be frontrunner, Jeb Bush, who then circled the wagons on the “way things were always done” while dismissing Trump as a flamboyant flash-in-the-pan.

The only problem was Republican voters weren’t buying the party poohbahs’ call to anoint the “next in line” as the GOP presidential candidate. Having been burned badly by the wishy-washy big government “compassionate conservative” presidency of George W. Bush and the haplessly pathetic runs of John McCain and Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, conservatives itched to take a chance on the brash New Yorker who always told you what he thought whether it was sensitive and inclusive or not.

Trump’s simple America First platform and unconventional apple pie campaign earned nothing but derision from the elites, who at first refused to take him seriously but then began smearing him as a “populist” for speaking from the heart concerning his fondness for the “forgotten Americans.” This political populism carried Trump to victory and remains a hot topic in movement circles to this day. Fox News host Tucker Carlson fanned the flames recently by suggesting the GOP should focus from this time forward on fostering “happiness” and less on promoting pure market capitalism.

Is there a balance? Perhaps. Senator Mike Lee wrote at National Review, “[Government] policies have subtly but inexorably rigged the American economy, privileging elites at everyone else’s expense. The real problem is not market capitalism but the failure of our political class to adapt with it — its refusal to reform outdated public policies to harness the forces of globalization to the commonweal of all Americans. Correcting these inequities reforms is beyond neither the scope of policy nor the wit of man. (I have introduced some myself.) They simply require a reassessment of national economic policy in this new era of global economic competition.

“The best path forward for Republicans, then, is for conservatives and populists to work together on a new synthesis — a reform agenda that would be more substantively useful and politically appealing than either side’s default platform.

“Tucker Carlson is right that if we want to put America first, we’ve ‘got to put its families first.’ Down the road, conservatives and populists may disagree about when and if that ever means putting government’s thumb on the scale for working families. But surely we can at least start by taking its boot off their neck.”

Hear, hear! Still, we won’t exactly know how a free market might work in the U.S. until government gets out of the way and allows everyone more freedom of choice to set their own paths in life. For Republicans it means continuing to work towards reducing taxes and regulations, but also to eventually wean people off government subsidies for retirement, healthcare and virtually everything else that drives the economy and common living.

Government should be there to offer a hand up, not a handout. At its core government is wasteful and corrupt, the product of an elite class almost completely detached from the people. Swamp creatures may dwell in a bog, but their shoreline is lined with gold mined by the masses.

How to push reform in a day and age Americans have become so accustomed to being taken care of by benefits wielding Washington decisionmakers? We should start by taking Lee’s advice and forming a permanent coalition of liberty-minded Tea Party conservatives and working-class so-called populists who want many of the same things -- strong borders, sane culture and government out of everyone’s lives. We should welcome Trump’s brand of populist appeal. There’s plenty to be gained by waging a perpetual joint battle against the elites; it’s a winning message without having to spend millions for media promotions.

At their heart conservative policies are popular when packaged right and sold to the public in easily digestible terms to civic minded people who pay attention to their government. Freedom of worship; freedom of speech; tolerance of opposing views; protection for deeply held beliefs. These aren’t revolutionary concepts.

Leave the race baiting and interest group pandering to the Democrats -- they’re much better at it anyway. Sprinkling government goodies on people will never work for the GOP -- and neither will devoting excessive attention to pleasing the big business consortium, the ones who hanker for crony capitalism and favor fixing the rules in favor of the largest bidders with strongest lobbying operations. Having government control the economy’s levers is the way of the left.

At their core, populists want more freedom, not less. Trump seeks to place Americans’ hopes and aspirations over those of other countries. What’s wrong with that?

It seems this debate is more complicated than it needs to be. Similar to the age-old dilemma of choosing between guns and butter, why can’t Americans enjoy conservative policies that are also “populist” at heart? Can’t we promote laws and regulations that put families first while simultaneously promoting a healthy and prosperous economy?

If that’s the case then Carlson’s notion of “happiness” will take care of itself.

No matter how successful Trump is in making America great again there will always be those hoping to lead the establishment in a comeback. David M. Drucker reported at The Washington Examiner last week, “Renegade Republicans intent on upending President Trump in 2020 are keeping their powder dry, waiting to see if legal and political controversies drive him from office first.

“Political operatives and potential candidates that inhabit the loose-knit community of Republicans who oppose Trump’s re-election are eyeing June as the approximate moment for deciding on a primary challenge or independent bid. It’s a strategic delay. Some Republicans think the weight of multiple investigations could motivate the president to exit the White House after one term — especially if special counsel Robert Mueller issues a politically damaging report.”

Really? What would constitute a “politically damaging report?” Seems clear anything Mueller throws out there would be roundly rejected by Trump’s supporters, which now includes just about everyone in Republican elephant’s skin. Trump is only solidifying his hold on the base with his stalwart stance on the government shutdown and the border wall.

Any intraparty challenges to Trump’s conservative/populist coalition are a pipedream. Who cares what Mueller says… he lost his credibility long ago by relying on the deep-state FBI and the stupid Steele dossier.

Donald Trump was elected president precisely because he understood what the people wanted -- and promised to give it to them. If this makes him a “populist,” it’s a mantle he’ll wear proudly. Democrats pledge free stuff, Trump offers prosperity and security. What will Americans choose in 2020?

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