Populism is now a dirty word; revisionist history has taken care of that quite well. And Orwell would be smiling and saying, “I told you so!” A cursory internet search will link populism with the “Know Nothings,” Father Coughlin, George Wallace, Huey Long, and other charming examples of American politicians who used appeals to the common man. But even granting that these people were populist, it is an incomplete and manipulative sample…trying to tar a political focus with racism, ignorance, and xenophobia.
Yesterday’s guest rant, courtesy of WeirdDave, made an interesting point: “…the Trump populist movement is reactionary. It’s seeking a return to the America we know and love.” But nowhere in President Trump’s goals is there anything remotely like the anti-foreigner cant of so many movements called “populist” by a lazy and ignorant media. You will have to enter the chaotic fever dreams of the Democrat party to find any of that.
Unless you want to describe the elites as foreigners, which isn’t such a bad idea, because our current crop of mandarins and globalists are much more comfortable with foreigners enjoying the lion’s share of the American bounty.
From Britannica, complete with their silly Brit spelling and commie-fluffing:
Populism, political program or movement that champions, or claims to champion, the common person, usually by favourable contrast with a real or perceived elite or establishment. Populism usually combines elements of the left and the right, opposing large business and financial interests but also frequently being hostile to established socialist and labour parties.
Or The Oxford English Dictionary, which is much more concise and accurate:
A political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.
And there it is: Elites! But as WeirdDave so astutely points out, President Trump’s populism is focused on positive outcomes for the American people, and thta means returning to a time during which those elites were unabashedly pro-American, and not in thrall to a new world order filled with globalist sentiments that very concretely damage the prospects of the typical American citizen. There is nothing in the President’s actions that can be construed as xenophobia. In fact he has spoken glowingly about legal immigration and recent legal immigrants as being part of the fabric of American Exceptionalism. What he is carefully attacking is the idea that Americans should not be the primary beneficiaries of our wealth and success. The elites of yesteryear may very well have been cutthroat competitors and ruthlessly pursued profit, but they were not focused on the ultimate goal of globalism at the expense of their country.
So, “reactionary” is an excellent word to describe Trump’s populism. We could do much worse than return to an age in which the elites cared more for the American worker than the Chinese worker, and in which those Rockefellers and Vanderbilts and Morgans and Carnegies kept their success for America.