‘Trumpism’ May Be Temporary Setback

Ruy Teixeira is optimistic about a progressive triumph against Trump and the Republicans. “Liberals Will Beat Trump in the End,” he wrote in Washington Post: “The dominant ideology in the United States is one that combines ‘symbolic conservatism’ (honoring tradition, distrusting novelty, embracing the conservative label) with “operational liberalism” (wanting government to take more action in a wide variety of areas). As political scientists Christopher Ellis and James Stimson, the leading academic analysts of American ideology (book), note: “Most Americans like most government programs. Most of the time, on average, we want government to do more and spend more. It is no accident that we have created the programs of the welfare state. They were created — and are sustained — by massive public support.”

He compares Trumpism to the agrarian populism of the 1880s and 1890s, led by William Jennings Bryan, “which was also driven by demographic groups on the decline and was similarly undercut by structural change and the transition to a new economic era.” That era of early populism was followed by the Progressive Era, with strong social advancement.

However, Bryan’s agrarian populism was never dominant. He never came close to winning a presidential election. And I don’t quite see how Trump’s election represents the honoring of tradition, and the distrust of novelty. It seemed to me he attacked time-honored traditions and was all about novelty. I agree that novelty will wear off.

Teixeira predicts that Trump will do real damage, but it will only be temporary. He won’t enforce environmental and financial regulations, will underfund social programs, give tax cuts to the rich, and make no progress on health care or comprehensive immigration reforms. The Republican “solution” on health care — kicking 20 million who gained health insurance under Obama off insurance — is a political suicide pact.

 

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