Jacobin: Republicans and Industrial Policy After Trump

It didn’t come as a surprise to White populists when Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. I predicted the outcome and gave the following reasons on this website well over a year ago:

Donald Trump Loses The 2020 Election

“If I had to bet on the outcome of the 2020 election, I would predict that Donald Trump will lose the 2020 election. I’m not saying this because I am personally disappointed with him.

Trump won the 2016 election because disaffected swing voters turned out in record numbers in the Rust Belt and because the Democratic base was overconfident and failed to rally behind Hillary. Those non-traditional voters who won him the presidency have melted away which is why his campaign is making a play for states like New Mexico in 2020. The Trump coalition has shrunk, Democrats will be energized in 2020 and the demographics will be less favorable. The Silent Generation and Boomers are a declining share of the electorate and the demographic tipping point was the 2018 midterms. The energy is still also on the Democratic side.”

This was before COVID and the George Floyd riots sealed his fate.

Trump ran in 2016 as an interesting populist and nationalist outsider against mainstream conservative orthodoxy and won the presidency. He spent four years governing as a conservative. When he tried to win reelection as a conservative, he slipped because he disappointed his own base. Far from being a decisive break with Reaganism, the Trump era was a continuation of Reaganite policies.

We were the original MAGA voters who pushed Trump through the Republican primaries. Trump gained traction with populist and nationalist voters in 2016 by activating White identity, running on economic populism and by breaking the norms of political correctness. He ran against Wall Street, globalization, endless wars and open borders. Trump didn’t sound like John McCain or Mitt Romney.

MAGA as a notion had been an enticing prospect to White populists in 2016. The reality of MAGA in 2020 was a different story though. It had come to symbolize a fusion of the policy agenda of mainstream conservatism, ultra-Zionism and Dems R Real Racists aversion to White identity, a vacuous celebrity personality cult surrounded by an army of grifters and a sort of cranky libertarianism and performance art politics epitomized by Alex Jones. In spite of this, the Left was so toxic and repulsive that Trump won 10 million more votes than last time, Republicans didn’t lose a single House seat and Trump nearly won in the swing states. The man was fortunate to have enemies with slogans like “defund the police.”

It is easy to imagine how the outcome could have been different:

  • What if Trump hadn’t staffed his administration from the beginning with his enemies like John Bolton and Gary Cohn?
  • What if Trump hadn’t spent his political capital in 2017 on advancing the wildly unpopular Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell True Cons agenda on health care and tax cuts?
  • What if Trump hadn’t empowered Jared Kushner and Ivanka who spent four years hobbling his administration and giving him bad political advice?
  • What if Trump hadn’t been such a lazy president and delegated responsibility for running the government to the conservatives around him?
  • What if Trump hadn’t been so obsessed with delivering policy victories for a tiny group of Jewish billionaire donors like Sheldon Adelson, Bernie Marcus and Steve Schwarzman?
  • What if Trump hadn’t listened to those donors and responded so poorly to COVID which was a genuine national crisis?
  • What if Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act to crush the riots?
  • What if Trump wasn’t so focused on the stock market and had wrangled a second stimulus check out of Congress before the 2020 election?
  • What if Trump had leveraged his celebrity personality cult to force the Republican Party to become more moderate on economics?
  • What if Trump had offered the Platinum Plan to college-educated Millennials drowning in student loan debt?
  • What if Trump had succeeded in bringing the troops home from the Middle East and taken more credit for destroying ISIS?
  • What if Trump had simply acknowledged the existence of the White voters who supported in 2016 with a few tweets or included them in his rhetoric?
  • What if Melania had taken away Trump’s Twitter account and forced him to act like the president of the United States?
  • What if MAGA and rightwing populists in general had not lost their minds and gone full conspiratard over COVID which is a moderately lethal virus that mainly kills sick and old people?

For years, I criticized the Trump administration on all of these issues.

There are countless missed opportunities like this which could have dramatically changed the outcome of the 2020 election. The Right was unable to reform itself under Donald Trump. If it had succeeded in reforming itself by becoming more moderate on economics and more willing to challenge the tyrannical norms of political correctness, it would have easily defeated Joe Biden.


“A major theme in liberal media is that the Trump era proves right-wing populism is nothing but standard conservatism, unvarnished. In this reading, the libertarian worldview of the Republican Party remains intact — Trump has only electrified the vulgar, racist, and authoritarian sentiments behind it.

When Trump first campaigned for president, he promised to break with free-market ideology in a bid to appear “pro-worker.” But aside from the CARES Act in response to the pandemic and haphazard attempts to increase manufacturing jobs through renegotiated trade deals, his administration has not wavered in its commitment to shrink the welfare state, cut taxes for the rich, and deregulate business.

Trump’s swift abandonment of substantive economic populism may have been a factor in his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, given that Joe Biden’s victory pivoted on recapturing Rust Belt states that Trump had won in 2016 like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

The gulf between Trump’s early promises and his actual record, however, has not stopped a loose cohort of heterodox conservatives and right-wing communitarians from developing a framework to convince more working-class voters that they have a real alternative in the Republican Party.

Precisely because the premise is to make capitalism more rewarding for workers while reproducing the fundamental hierarchies of capitalist society — as well as preserving the power of hyper-extractive industries — a heterodox approach to economics from the Right could well pose a serious threat to the egalitarian and climate-focused goals of the Left.

What unites the heterodox-populist group is not only an aversion to “globalism,” but a willingness to criticize the Republican establishment’s role in its acceleration since the end of the Cold War. Spanning journals like American Affairs and First Things, the think tank American Compass, and communitarian populists like Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, proponents of a new Republican economic agenda are trying to give substance to what Trump’s former advisor, Steve Bannon, envisioned as a new mass politics.

In this vision, a realignment of the working class toward “economic nationalism,” combined with the Democrats’ focus on increasing support among the college-educated in highly affluent suburbs, will decisively fracture the Democratic coalition, and the GOP will pick up the pieces. …

As the center-left political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson illustrate in their 2016 book American Amnesia, the mainstream of the GOP wasn’t hostile to welfare capitalism, and in fact was supportive of government investment in infrastructure, research, and development, until “fusionist” conservatives and radical libertarians began to take over the party in the 1970s. …”

Socialism is deeply unpopular.

Libertarianism is even more unpopular.

Populism is the sweet spot between these two extremes: moderate on economics, conservative on social issues. History shows that social instability is caused by extreme levels of income inequality.

The Right is hamstrung by its conservative/libertarian wing. If the Oren Cass/Julius Krein/Michael Lind wing or the developmentalist Right had been hegemonic in the Trump era, Trump would have sailed to victory. Instead, he listened to people like Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore. From the state level to the federal level, these people and their thinking still dominate and hobble the mainstream Right.

I would go much further than Cass and Krein. The ideal candidate to run against the Democrats in 2024 would be an immigration restrictionist, a non-interventionist, a protectionist and someone who is loudly against political correctness, which is at least the image (if not the reality) that Trump cultivated in the 2016 election, but also someone who supports raising the corporate tax rate, student loan debt forgiveness, Universal Basic Income and a single government program that guarantees health insurance. Yes, I know it would take a miracle to get such a candidate through the Republican primary.

The GOP has the most to gain by conceding the health care issue:

Health care is the primary issue that unites Democratic Independent Liberal Elites (DILEs) and Democrat Leaning Working Class (DLWC) voters. Otherwise, the Democrats are two different parties with competing agendas. The White upper middle class professional wing is animated by wokeness and climate change. The rest of the party is much less interested in these issues.

I would love to see a real populist candidate, not a demagogue like Trump or a circus act like Alex Jones, run against the Democrats and the socialists who is capable of pinning them down on economic justice and forcing them to run solely on the basis of their unpopular positions on social issues.

About Hunter Wallace 12366 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Vox Day is spinning out of control raging and lashing out. The Trump situation has caused him to lose his mind. He’s now threatening to sue Google.

    He is a total fraud and a low IQ moron. It’s is humorous witnessing his mental breakdown over being so wrong about the election.

    • I find it amusing how much faith Vox has in judges and the legal system. It must be a aspergers thing.

      If Trump really believed he had been cheated he wouldn’t be tweeting, he’d declare Martial Law, and order the cheating Democrats to be rounded up and executed. But alas, the only people who believe Trump was cheated are Trump’s poor dumb supporters. Trump is just there to act as a pressure release valve.

      • “he’d declare Martial Law, and order the cheating Democrats to be rounded up and executed.”

        Oh that would work. You can’t very well do much about cheating when even “moderate populist white nationalists” would rather pretend, for the sake of some sort of pseudo-intellectual “prestige”, that those people aren’t willing and able to do it.

        • You seriously believe this little blog affected the outcome of Trump’s failed court cases? He lost 50 out of 51.

          Picture a movie where two cowboys are playing poker in a saloon. One of the cowboys believes the other cowboy is cheating. The cheated cowboy (Trump) doesn’t draw his six shooter, he whines about cheating, leaves his money on the table, goes out into the street, and begs for money from his friends

          That is Trump’s true character. That is why Biden will be President in January and Trump will be banned from Twitter.

  2. No doubt you are 100% right that a genuine populism that protected the 99% from temptation through effective social conservatism while making their material life secure with a social wage floor, via UBI-health savings accounts/government catastrophic events coverage, would be a political economy winner. The problem is that the people who control the assets that generate the social wealth out of which these predistributionary policies would come, and their cohorts in the communications and coercion apparatuses, like a system where the 99.999% are unwilling to risk their current status for a chance at more material security. That is why they fought an ineffectual Donald John Trump from day one. The infinitesimal possibility that Trump might secure any extra income for the wage earners could not allowed any opportunity to succeed.
    One person cannot change anything, not even the President of the United States. And not even a president wise to the levers of power within and outside the government could accomplish anything without support inside and outside the Executive Branch. Not even Huey. Trump had no chance because he was clueless about how to exercise political power, but even had he taken the time to learn he would have met the same fate unless his election was proceeded by populists gaining an effective majority in Congress and the Executive Branch departments.
    And in order for that to happen, citizens must vote those populists into office, and monitor them once elected, and vote them out if they do not govern popularly. And citizens must refuse to purchase products or services from businesses that support UniParty candidates or fund liar Establishment Media or Anti-American education systems.
    In other words, to create a fair society, we all must work to make it happen, individually between people we meet and systemically with organizations we deal with day to day and periodically. And to do that, we must give up the hatred of people who look to think or behave differently from each of us, and work with these strangers collectively to make our lives more secure. Until then, the Empire of Evil will roll on.

    • @Chloupek…

      You are absolutely correct : if it takes a nation to screw it up then it takes a nation to straighten it out.

      And, yes, we must stop being unconstructive with our neighbours, and we must stop projecting that in our minds.

      American White Supremacists who think that they are going to advance a pro-White agenda, either without some cooperation of our neighbours, or at their expence, are kidding themselves on every level of their humanity, if such a semantick could be applied to them.

      You cannot ignore tens of tens of millions of people and get somewhere, not to mention that it is not morally right.

      But, yes, I already feel the pinheads coming to tell me that, because I do not wish to evict, deport, and shoot my non-White neighbours, I must be a Cuckservative Zog-bot!

      Nope, if this Southern Nationalist and Secessionist hasa problem, it is that I am neither a demon, nor do I live in a fantasyland, where entire populaces can be simply erased without severe repercussions, as have White Gentile Societies undergone in the wake of Hitler’s vile treatment of non-Aryan Europeans, now 3/4 of a century ago, already….

    • @Goose…

      No, the system has not changed under Trump, but, the soil under the system has changed, and, in the longrun, that augers ominously for the system.

  3. The thing is Trump could have been more of a rino. It’s unrelaistic to think that the the whole party would be centrist, but he could have been less of a republican and more of a centrist.

    Nixon for example was Keynesian rino on economics.

  4. “What if Trump hadn’t been so obsessed with delivering policy victories for a tiny group of Jewish billionaire donors like Sheldon Adelson, Bernie Marcus and Steve Schwarzman?”

    He would have never run for President. Donald Trump Jr. said that Trump finally decided to run because Obama was “weak on Iran.”

    Which anyone could have told you way back five years ago, as Donald Trump had spent the entire Obama administration using Twitter to spread the “Birth Certificate” conspiracy theories of Israeli Orly Taitz.

    Of course this stuff doesn’t come from Donald Trump himself – it’s pretty obvious he is just a big narcissist showman that likes to be on TV. His handlers, his agents – his son-in-law’s family – are easily able to influence him especially about things he knows nothing about, like foreign policy.

    But I suppose that’s just a “conspiracy theory” and Donald Trump “really meant it” about the populism and just got blocked by the “Deep State” and the GOP establishment.

    Hey Whitey – getting suckered by a literal Game Show host employed by the most fanatic faction of the Israeli Likud party has consequences.

  5. Satanyahu removed Trump’s picture from his twitter page. As the old saying goes: Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away” Bibi squeezed all he could out of Blumph the chump and no he can just go away so he can work on the next sucker.

  6. Capitalism is both “developmental” and free market/laissez faire. It must be free from any effective restriction, because it will collapse and die if it ever stops developing – growing bigger and bigger – to gain and maintain total monopoly of “the market.” Capitalism’s ENDLESS DEVELOPMENT requires UNRESTRICTED EXPLOITATION of both Nature and humanity.

    • Apart from any duties he may have by law, or as a member of a family, or in friendship, every human being has a social duty—a single social duty—which is to say a duty that is his because he is of the view that someone other than himself exists. That duty is the following: To assess himself and to act in accordance with the assessment.

      In the case of you or any other communist, that means nothing more and nothing less than to remain silent, at every moment, lest you infect the world with your incapacity for joy.

      Be good enough to keep that in mind when you are tempted to present us again with a passage from your Marxist coloring-book.

        • In my undergraduate years, Ivan, 1971-75—the latter years of the so-called sixties—I had a brief, sidewalk exchange with a communist who somehow engaged me in conversation as I and many others were walking past him on our ways to morning classes. Maybe he’d been proffering fliers, which I would usually pause to accept and examine.

          in those days of the Vietnam War, including its post-American denouement, crude communist fliers with cries like “Smash Racism” or “Smash Capitalism” were regularly to be seen on, say, bulletin boards in the student union or on telephone poles along the campus streets. This, I should say, was at a university in the heart of the North Philadelphia ghetto; and maybe that’s why black militancy, as things seemed to me, was a large part of the ubiquitous communist agitation at the school.

          Anyway, this young fellow’s joylessness was so intense as to seem not merely a negative—i.e., not merely a lack of something—but a positive, a force, like the gravitational pull of a black hole. Having never imagined that such a force existed, I found my few minutes with him odd. Even as he and i were conversing, I was asking myself whether I was simply imagining what I thought I was perceiving about him.

          An odd thing was that the fellow did not look to have been shortchanged by life. Though short and small-framed, he was well-proportioned, so that his build, overall, was like that of the actor Michael J. Fox in his youth. He had nice features, too; but as he leaned with his back against the wall of the campus building I’d been passing, he had an overpowering air of poverty, as if a coin that you were to toss at him would simply disappear into him, never to be spendable. In my memory, at least, he’s wearing a padded, army-surplus jacket, so that he looks like a character in an old World War II movie—in a snowy setting, like the Battle of the Bulge. I’d guess that was a fairly-common look for young commies in those days.

          Maybe that’s what Marx was talking about when he spoke of the lumpen proletariat, which seems to be one of those commie terms. Maybe there are many persons like that, but that’s the only time I personally exchanged words with one of them.

  7. We need a Southern Natioalist Party and Southern independence. Everything else is just a distraction.

    We haf to work on getting control of our Southern State governments and getting rid of the scalawags, cucks, panderers, sellouts and Carpetbaggers that infest them. Not on worrying about what a bunch of Yankees are up to in a government that we have no real say in, anyway.

    There is no opposition to Southern Nationalism, in Dixie. We’ve got the field wide open for action. The only thing holding us back.., is us…

    Side note;

    The people in the Northern States don’t think like, or vote like us. They never have, and they never will. It’s a product of their Puritan and Quaker cultural origins. Not ours. It can be summed up as “Yankees gotta Yank.”

    • “There is no opposition to Southern Nationalism, in Dixie. We’ve got the field wide open for action. The only thing holding us back.., is us…”

      That’s true, James; but permit me to say it is more true than you are inclined to recognize. That’s what I’ve been saying, in one way or another, with virtually my every comment here, at Occidental Dissent—across years.

      Southern Man by his very nature can not prevail, because the attitudes and habits of those who would prevail are exactly what his nature lacks, nay, excludes. Point out to him that cities are man’s true political battlefields, as they always have been and always will be, and he’ll scorn you as an urbanite. Point out to him that supernaturalism is untenable, and he’ll tell you to get Jesus. Point out to him that his Confederate flag has no cultural valence outside the South and is, in fact, ignored, when it’s not downright hated, outside the South, and he’ll tell you it’s a worldwide symbol of white pride.

      With a little bit of reflection, I could go on, but the point is made: What the men of the South would have to do to preserve themselves is to obliterate themselves. There is no triumphant future for Scythia—and that’s where you live.

      • >Point out to him that supernaturalism is untenable

        It is though. The highest breeding societies are ones like Pakistan and Timor Leste.

        What you call the “weakness” of “supernaturalism” is really just how the transformation starting from the Axial age and cemented with Christianity in Europe is complete. What’s the point to going to a Church listening to some cuck yelling about worshiping a dead Kike nailed to a cross and that all men are made in the image of one deity when he can just snort some coke and attend a BLM protest? Notions of “unconditional rights” or “human dignity” or “the individual” are a post-Axial corruption that needed Christianity to finish blooming.

        Your man in the cuckshed had no loyalty to his lineage, to his polis, and to no man. He is “loyal” to muh Constitution, to “his conscious.”

    • @James…

      “We need a Southern Nationalist Party and Southern independence. ”

      I wish I had a dollar for every time I have read you write that, throughout the years…

  8. If there is an ‘after Trump period’, on January 21, then I believe the GOP will attempt to act as if the last 5 years were a mirage and that nothing happened.

    Will that work?

    No, but, they will try.

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