The only “populist” shift in
the Trump era regards the enabling of cultural grievance. The
willingness to use the president’s bully pulpit to take those
uppity athletes down a peg. Shutting the door on new immigrants
and refugees. Punishing enemies. Law and order for protesters but
a get-out-of-jail-free card for cronies. Wanting to use racial
slurs without getting “canceled.”
This is just the same old racist, nativist nonsense wrapped in a phony soak-the-rich package.
You might even call it a “Trojan horse” for the racists and the scam artists.
~ Tim Miller (The Bulwark), September 28, 2020
Back in June and July of 2018 I wrote a
two-part post about elitism and phony populism in both American
politix and Scamworld. Part 1 focused on the faux-populism of #NotMyPresident Donald J.
Trump, who had clearly fooled millions
of American voters into thinking that he was a "man of the
people," when in fact he was and is one of the worst sorts
of elitists. (Not to mention that Trump is a long-time scammer,
which is why he became fodder for this blog in the first place.)
Trump's disregard and core contempt for the masses have been obvious to many of us for years, and have become more glaringly apparent in light of his dismissive rhetoric about, and overall botched response to, the COVID-19 crisis. (Was anybody really surprised by the recent revelation from VP Pence's former coronavirus task force adviser Olivia Troye, who said that at one of the task force meetings Trump remarked that the pandemic might be a "good thing," because it prevented him from feeling obligated to shake hands with "disgusting people"?)
But if there were any lingering doubts about the utter hollowness of Trump's populist rhetoric, a September 27, 2020 New York Times report about his income tax-avoidance shenanigans over the decades should put those doubts to rest in the minds of all except those who are most seriously infected with TTL (toxic Trump love). The Times article is a long one, the first of several promised ones to come, but very much worth your time to read.
Also worth a look is a response by writer and communications consultant Tim Miller on the conservative (but non-Trump-infected) site The Bulwark. Titled, "Trump Tax Returns Show He's a Populist Fraud," the piece summarizes some of the most damning information in the Times article. Miller opens by citing the campaign pitches Trump made back in 2015-2016 when he was pandering to the "forgotten Americans," promising to impose a new tax plan that would compel him and his wealthy friends to pay higher taxes. He claimed that he certainly didn't mind paying a little bit more if it would help the middle class, which he said, was "getting clobbered in this country." In September 2015, he unveiled a detailed tax plan and told reporters, "It's going to cost me a fortune, which is actually true." But, as Miller notes, it wasn't actually true, and wasn't just the standard politician's broken promise. Instead...
It was part and parcel of the broader so-called “economic populism” bill of goods that Trump and “sloppy” Steve Bannon, his pit-stained, triplicate-shirted, faux-everyman muse, sold the American people. They were going to raise taxes on the wealthy, take on Jeb and Ted and Hillary’s Wall Street cronies, and finally build a wall on the border, making Mexico pay.
None of this, of course, was true.
There was no economic populist agenda.
The tax bill Trump ended up signing into law was a boon to the wealthy and did nothing to address the “carried interest” tax rate he promised would ensnare the private equity and hedge-fund guys. Trump gave Goldman Sachs the keys to his cabinet and billed the American people for millions upon millions of their hard-earned tax dollars for copious golf holiday Doonbegdoggles at his own hotels.
Meanwhile Bannon spent most of his time in the White House leaking to Vanity Fair and making immigrants’ lives as miserable as possible, and then was dispatched to a globetrotting yacht life funded by Chinese billionaires and the forgotten MAGA man whom he allegedly bilked for millions to crowdfund a phony wall.
The reality is that saying that you are an economic populist who cares about the forgotten man is more respectable in elite political circles than admitting you are a race hustler. You can tell it to a journalist or to your friends at the country club and not feel judged. It almost makes you sound like a good person! You are fighting for the working man and want to make things more fair. If anything you are harming your own interests! These new policies might “cost me a fortune.” Sure it will.
A face-saving ruse. That’s all it ever was. A story for the rubes.
Indeed. The big question is this: How much will
the New York Times' initial report, and any related
articles that may follow regarding the financial info that Trump
has fought so furiously to conceal, shake his loyal base? I'm
guessing probably not much; the Trumpanzees are already echoing
Trump's own cry that this is yet more "fake news," just
another lame attempt by Trump's enemies to oust him from the Oval
Office. The Biden campaign will almost certainly take advantage
of the tax revelations, but how this will all play out in
November is anyone's guess. After the last disastrous US
presidential election, I'm not taking anything for granted. And
you shouldn't either.
Which is why it's more important than ever to get out and vote.
Related on this Whirled:
- August 2020: We Bilk Them All: Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage & 2 others indicted for We Build The Wall fraud
- June 2018: Elite and eliter... Part 1 of 2: The redcaps get a title upgrade
- July 2018: Elite and eliter...Part 2 of 2: Elitism in Scamworld