The Washington Examiner has a new article on the failure of rightwing populism:
“Among the nearly 250 years of American politics, 2017 will stand out, along with 1829 (when Andrew Jackson was sworn in), as a moment when populists didn’t merely rattle the political establishment, but actually won a national election and gained real political power.
And 2017 will also stand as a year in which the populists most proximate to political power fell flat on their faces. The problem isn’t populism per se. The problem is that much of the populism accompanying (and also powering) Donald Trump’s rise has been purely negative — vacuous populism whose beginning, middle, and end is inchoate anger at the “establishment.” …
There’s a lesson in the collapse of these Bannonite populists, and it is a central political moral of 2017.
The lesson isn’t that populism is always bad, or that it can never fit with conservatism. At times, the Tea Party embodied intelligent conservative populism, because it saw populism as a stance and sentiment that could be put to the service of conservative goals, such as smaller government, local control, and defense of family and community.”
Here’s my take on the issue:
1.) Entrenched Conservatism – The primary lesson that I take away from 2017 is that populism is fundamentally incompatible with conservatism. There is no such thing as a “populist-conservative coalition.” In such a coalition, the only role played by the former will be to provide the votes to advance the agenda of the latter in exchange for the occasional dog whistle.
As hard as it is to remember now, Donald Trump once had a lot of great ideas. He was going to build a big, beautiful wall on the Mexican border. He was going to end the DACA amnesty. He wasn’t a puppet of Wall Street and was going to go after the hedge fund guys who were making a killing. He was going to rip up free trade agreements which had devastated the working class. He was going to protect entitlements. He was going to rebuild our national infrastructure, avoid regime change in foreign countries, break up media conglomerates, finally put an end to the Cold War with Russia, and so on.
What happened to Drain the Swamp? It turns out The Swamp was always conservatism. It was the big donors who fund the movement and whose influence sets the Republican legislative agenda. It was Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the True Cons Caucus who were the choke point to reform in Congress. It was the think tanks which generate the unpopular ideas. It was the cumulative influence of the conservative pundits, consultants and advisers who acted in unison to preserve the status quo. More than anything else, it was the people who staffed the Trump administration.
In 2016, there was a huge groundswell of populist support that flowed into the Republican Party. By the end of the 2016 campaign, Trump was out there talking about international bankers and the rigged system. In the words of David Brock, the Democrats got “clobbered in the digital space” by the Alt-Right. Ultimately, the Trump administration, Republican Party and conservatism never found a way to integrate rightwing populism into their agenda and coalition.
2.) Donald Trump – In the 2016 election, populist voters delivered the White House to Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Unlike Conservatism, Inc., there is no populist establishment. When it came time to build the Trump administration, the populist wing ended up being Trump and a small faction inside the White House. A year later, that faction has mostly been squeezed out the door.
As with any politician, the success or failure of rightwing populism ultimately depended on its champion. It is clear now that Donald Trump is no Pat Buchanan. He doesn’t have an ideological core. He didn’t staff his administration with fellow ideologues. Donald Trump staffed his government with people who he considered “winners” who have advised him to preserve the status quo. He has pretty much delegated the government to them and they are implementing their own agendas.
Desperate for “wins” and acclaim, Donald Trump has become a rubber stamp for the True Cons agenda. He can now boast about the tax cut bill and how he has slayed regulations. This morning he can boast about how he is standing up for human rights in Iran.
Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017
3.) The Alt-Lite – The biggest problem with rightwing populism is the Alt-Lite. At the end of a year’s trial, the MAGA movement or Alt-Lite – whatever you want to call it – looks more irrelevant than ever to us. Here are the self-styled enemies of the Deep State and the champions of “America First” cheering on the Deep State effort to topple the Iranian government in the name of women’s rights. It sounds like something we would have expected from President Hillary Clinton.
I wish I could take credit for one of our commentators who aptly described MAGA as the rhetoric of Pat Buchanan 1996 combined with the substance of Dole/Kemp 1996. As Bill Mitchell shows, it’s true that much of this phenomenon is a vacuous personality cult that be twisted into anything. It’s also true that it is larded down with grifters and mountebanks like Mike Cernovich. From Donald Trump downward to his MAGA cheerleaders, there is no intellectual core or coherent worldview.
More to the point: the “populist nationalist” movement has a Jewish brain and wallet. This is really a fundamental problem. It is incapable of mounting a real challenge to the status quo for that reason. It channels and diverts the energies of the movement down the drain of pet Jewish causes. It excludes the Gentile intelligence and keeps the movement stuck in a low state of consciousness. As long as that remains the case, there will be more of these pointless spasms against the establishment as ordinary White working class people lash out in pain as their lives become more miserable.
In 2018, the pendulum is going to swing back in the opposite direction. My guess is that leftwing populism will come roaring back and the Democrats will take over Congress. Then we will be stuck with gridlock until the 2020 elections. The leftwing version of populism will similarly be harnessed to advance social liberalism. As always, we will get the worst of both worlds from Washington.
Note: I’m not black-pilled here. I look at this and see that something is going to give. This can’t continue. I expect something more interesting to emerge from the wreckage. Just take a moment to look back and laugh at Trump doing tax cuts while Jack Posobiec screams about gerbils.