Nov 13, 2016
I believe Trumpism has a future after Trump’s term in office. Even if Trump had lost the election, I would have still written that Trumpism would have continued.
There were two key reasons why Trump was successful: nationalism and authenticity.
What Trumpism Isn’tFirst, what Trumpism isn’t. Notably absent from Trumpism are social issues. Trump did not campaign on hating homosexuals, restoring Biblical morality, family values, drug prohibition, etc. Even his lip service opposing abortion seemed nothing more than a forced shibboleth to give Evangelicals something to latch onto.
On the other hand, during the convention Trump stated he was proud of openly gay Republicans and has appointed an openly gay billionaire to his transition advisory team. Social conservatives are on the wrong side of history, and the Republican Party will be stronger if they deemphasize those issues.
America-First NationalismThe ideological part of Trumpism is what is perceived as an America-first policy. Trump’s rhetoric on how Wall Street and DC politicians are screwing the common man were examples of this: by it he meant politicians and wealthy elites are pursuing their own self-interests at the expense of America. There were three policy components of this: immigration, trade, and war.
ImmigrationFirst and foremost is opposition to open immigration. While some may think immigration is good for America, the fact is immigration is just not popular with Americans: 61% of Americans believe “continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States.”
Trump, with all his anti-Mexico rhetoric, even got a higher percent of the Hispanic vote than Romney! Indeed did better than Romney among black and Asian voters. This shows that open borders immigration is not as popular with Hispanics and other minorities as pundits leads us to believe. Blue collar union workers oppose immigration: working class blacks and whites both view Hispanic immigration as an economic threat. Despite that, both parties have favored open borders.
The Democrat Party leadership correctly sees Hispanics and Asians as future Democrat voters. Their support of open borders is not about compassion but rather about giving themselves a permanent majority, a very wise move on their part.
So why would the Republican Party support a policy that will doom their party? Because they are in bed with big business, and the wealthy donors from groups like the Club for Growth want the low wages that come with a glut in the supply of labor. So Republicans can either oppose immigration, lose the lobbyist dollars, and lose elections now by being outspent, or they can support open borders and lose elections to changing demographics sometime down the road.
Protectionist TradeIgnore the fact that protectionism will destroy the American economy: most voters don’t understand economics. Although some polls show Americans like the idea of free trade, asking about specific trade agreements like NAFTA shows they dislike the “free” trade deals we currently have.
The Republican party supports it because they are pro-business. Between the socialists and labor unions behind the Democrat Party, one would think that party would be opposed, but Bill Clinton and Obama have probably done more to promote free trade than the two Bushes. I can’t explain that. Feel free to post comments if you have your own theories.
I’m using the word “free trade” loosely here. Many argue, and I agree, that things like NAFTA aren’t really free trade but regular trade: it’s not free because it’s governed by large bureaucracies and burdensome regulations, but at least all countries involved have the same uniform (or regular) bureaucracies and regulations.
Opposition to trade agreements got labor unions behind Trump, if not the union leaders themselves then at least their rank and file membership.
Avoiding World War IIIOverthrowing foreign countries, destabilizing the Middle East, and warmongering imperialism in general is not popular with Americans, nor is America playing the role of globocop and providing national security for the rest of the planet. Clinton invoked the spirit of George Bush’s neoconservatism by promising, if elected in 2008, to bomb Iran and this time around also promised to make bombing Syria her first priority for that country. She has also threatened bomb nuclear-armed Russia.
We should take her word for it: she also led Obama’s disasterous overthrow of Lybia and bombing of Syria, voted as senator for Bush’s bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan, and supported her husband’s bombing of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Yemen, and Somalia. And while many politicians, including Clinton (per WikiLeaked e-mails), say one thing publicly and the opposite privately, even in secret meetings with Wall Street she reiterated her plans to bomb the planet into peace.
Her blood thirst for war seems to know no bounds. And as a person who literally laughed and joked about Muammar Gaddafi being killed by being sodomized with a knife, I don’t think “blood thirst” is an inappropriate word. Yet, sadly, her policy of death and destruction for the Middle East is the same one we have seen from Obama, Romney, McCain, both the Bushes, Kerry, and Bill Clinton.
Trump, in contrast, has argued against bombing Iraq and Syria and risking World War III with Russia, and also against the US being world’s police man and subsidizing the national defense of so many other countries, a view most Americans support. From a libertarian perspective, the only positive thing I can say about Trump is the contrast on the issue of war between him and almost everyone else who has run for president since the 1980s and possibly earlier.
AuthenticityThe other key to Trumpism is Trump’s authenticity. Americans are sick of politicians who only say things their political aids tell them to say after running it through focus groups and marketing experts. The WikiLeak of Clinton e-mails show her staffers debating what opinion Clinton should have for this or that. Trump, for the most part, seems to just say what he honestly believes. This is a trait that many admired in Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Even people who didn’t agree with these men on the issues often supported them for their authenticity and integrity.
Unfortunately, Trump’s authenticity was the root cause of his near failure. He revealed his true authentic self so the world could see how awful and disgusting he is: narcissistic, greedy, narcissistic, misogynistic, narcissistic, arrogant, narcissistic, vindictive, narcissistic, petty, narcissistic, thin-skinned, and narcissistic. In this way he parts ways from the humility and love that that were the root of Paul and Kucinich’s authenticity.
If Trump didn’t have such a disgusting personality, he’d have won the popular vote by large margin.
ConclusionThere were other factors affecting Trump’s win, like the entirely predictable disaster Obamacare has been to our health care costs, etc. But those were not the core of Trumpism.
Now suppose we have a politician campaign on Trumpism: America-first policies of opposing immigration, opposing free trade, and reducing American imperialism. And suppose that politician is open an authentic in his personality, but, unlike Trump, isn’t a completely unlikeable asshole, then that politician could very well be “yugely” successful!
Why do you think Bernie Sanders gave Clinton such hard competition? Sanders also ran on Trumpism: opposing free trade, immigration, and imperialist wars. He also shouted that Wall Street and DC politicians are screwing the little guy, and like Trump his public personality was very authentic. (This also shows that Trumpism could live on in the Democratic Party if the Republicans drive it out of their own party.)
The only difference between Sanders and Trump was money: Sanders lacked the funds to overcome the corruption and cheating of the DNC to give Clinton a coronation. I guess another difference was Sanders wasn’t a complete asshole, which proves his point that money in politics wins the day.
Like Sanders, money will be the barrier to the future of Trumpism. Trump stood against the special interests of international corporations, the military industrial complex, and Wall Street, which greatly curtailed how much money he could raise. Trumpism required a millionaire to fund his own campaign. Sorry Trumpites: Peter Thiel was born a German citizen so can’t run for president.
Who knows what the future holds? While it’s too early know for certain if Trumpism is here to stay, I would not rule out some smart politician (or a rich non-politician) learning from Trump’s mistakes and carrying Trumpism beyond the next eight years.
For better or for worse, Trumpism will remain an important part of American politics.