Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy
(This is the re-edit of an article I wrote in April of 2017.)
Donald Trump is no Populist. He is the farthest thing from a Populist. He is, in fact, a liar who pretends to support Populist laws and policies but then encourages laws that support the Right Wing rich of which he is a part. He lied to the American voter. Once elected, he has supported policies that do nothing but expand the power of the rich over the average American family.
Trump has claimed to be for policies that support the people. But can we trust what he says? Politifact says it is even worse. Since being elected, Trump has reversed himself, or lied deliberately 86% of the time…just in his public policy statements. Not even involving his chaotic personal sexual appetites and habits. Take a look at his own statements. You must at least believe your own eyes and ears.xxx
How do we know for certain, that Trump is no Populist? Well, apart from his lies, pretending to be for affordable health care, or for compassionate handling of illegal immigrants, or for living wages or for women’s rights, it is his support of his pals among the Right Wing super-rich. It is the support of the Koch-brothers-backed anti-Middle Class Republican legislative agenda. Tax cuts for his buddies, the rich and powerful and cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the average citizen.
It is his talk of ending the justice system and instituting his own brand of a political justice system. It is his threats to political opponents and to any group that stands up against his moves towards irrational, dictatorial policies. And it is his courting of support by neo-Nazi groups and belligerent armed groups like the NRA, now tending towards a racist, white supremacist hate group rather than a national organization of shotgun-owning hunters.
The fact is that Donald Trump has always been intellectually lazy, a playboy, whose wealth is largely the result of hugely inflated values on the tens of millions of dollars of New York City real estate he inherited and owned decades before the enormous real estate upturns of the 1990s and 2000s. As one can see from the video, Donald Trump made a career of trying to be liked, by pretending to be a “populist” or a rich man trending Liberal. Now we know it was all a facade.
Trump is not–will never be–your buddy. If he met you on the street, which he wouldn’t because he goes from his office to a limousine, he would not recognize you five minutes after he had shaken your hand unless you were worth more money than he is. He is no Teddy Roosevelt nor Robert La Follette, nor George Norris nor William Jennings Bryan nor Harry Truman. He is no Jack, Robert or Teddy Kennedy. He is simply a wealthier version of George W. Bush with a Vice President equally as Neo-Fascist as Dick Cheney. Mike Pence is not a good man. Good men do not vote to cut 24 million people from health care with a smile. Good men do not support terrifying children by tearing them from their mothers, with no plan or even a forethought of how they will bring them back together.
And, by the way, Ronald Reagan was no Populist. He may have been good to his family, kind to animals and some kind of glad-handing television hero to millions of people, but Ronald Reagan was either one of two things. Either he was a two-faced liar, focused on a plan to turn the country over to the rich and large corporations while removing unions and personal rights, or he was a dupe, a stupid, smiling, narcissistic moron who was pushed to the extreme Right Wing politically by General Electric and Bechtel and a few other Conservative radicals and his second wife, the daughter of a prominently arch-Conservative surgeon.
Reagan’s first job for them was to cut taxes for the rich. His second was to start the movement to remove unions from the workplace. Third was to create a giant military-industrial complex and locate it with good paying jobs in every state so that it would be almost politically impossible to get rid of it. Reagan left this country with a mind-set constantly drummed into the dimmest minds of the people that we could have beneficial government but very low taxes. We could have low taxes and a strong government forever into the future, with a huge military around the world.
Of course it was a lie. It was “the Big Lie.” It was the one that controlled the political landscape for the next forty years. The national debt, which must remain in a relatively safe position began to grow out of control…tripled…under Reagan. Reagan started the ruin of this country and he either did it deliberately or he did it mindlessly. Either way, he was nothing to be proud of and certainly no populist. All of our troubles today, yours and mine…(although not Trump’s—he’s rich)…are the result of the many bad policies started and encouraged by Ronald Reagan. Nonetheless, you may like Ronald Reagan. But he was no Populist. He did not work for the people.
On the campaign trail, Trump said he was going to repeal that “disaster” Obamacare. He says that it is “spiraling down.” He said that everyone will get much better and more affordable health care. Well, we didn’t get that. He went right along with the “Repeal and Replace” bill that the Republican Neo-Fascists in Congress tried to foist off on the American public. He not only ignored Democrats to tried to stop this unjust law, but when the law failed to pass, failed even to get to the floor of Congress, he, Trump, blamed the very people who tried to stop the law. He said that the Democrats caused a Republican Obama “repeal-and-replace” law to fail, but that was a lie. Democrats did not have the votes to do anything. Still, they were happy that it failed because 24 million Americans under the Republican “repeal and replace” would have lost health care coverage. But Trump was for it. Not very “Populist.”
Trump’s first big, publicized piece of legislation, the Ryan Republican’s American Health Care Act failed because cruel, “ordinary” Conservative Republicans were too lenient in knocking only 24 million off the health care rolls. That was not good enough for the ultra-Conervative, Neo-Fascist FreedomWorks, Tea Party, ultra Right Wing, Republicans, beholden to Right Wing billionaires, like the Koch brothers.
Trump pretended to be a Populist on the campaign trail, but it is clear now that he lied. So, do you know what we call populist-sounding politicians who lie to the people? We call them demagogues. Hitler was a demagogue. So was Mussolini.
As I said, Trump is a liar. But not your typical liar. He lies like a politician, but unlike a good politician, he proved this week, he does not have the deep, daily political skills, the brains and the focus and the patience for good legislation.
What else did this self-styled Populist lie about? He lied about his cabinet. He hasn’t appointed the best qualified people to make significant changes for the improvement of society. Instead, he has appointed people who have publicly said that they want to eliminate the departments they have been appointed to head. He has appointed Right Wing Conservatives to every post. Every single cabinet appointee is an advocate for the positions that their fellow billionaires would expect them to take. There are no foxes sent to carefully guard the hen house. These are all people who want to take the chickens for themselves and sell the rest to their friends for cash and more political influence.
None of these people are Populist. They may not be Fascists. But they are, at the least, hard core, anti-Middle Class Conservatives. This means that they do not support the concept of Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, aid for disabilities, unemployment insurance, and affordable, government subsidized health insurance. They do not support these things nor do they support Civil Rights legislation, environmental regulation, climate control legislation, product liability legislation, collective bargaining for better wages and working conditions and adequate workers’ compensation.
Trump’s administration is made up of wealthy people who, for the most part, inherited a large portion of their wealth, and even their legacy rights to educational institutions. Their friends are others with whom they attended schools, lived in the same communities, knew the same people and were taught the same values.
Did some escape the restricted values that this kind of upbringing fostered? No. As evidenced by their lives and careers, so far as we can read them, they did not break out of the mold of highly pampered, willful, narcissistic individuals whose only concerns are their own well being and that of their immediate families. They all have multiple homes, planes, yachts, and corporations over which each of them controls the lives of thousands of people. And that is before their influence on the rest of us through their work to destroy government.
Nothing was more evident than the recent attempt by Republicans in the House and those in the Trump White House to remove health care from the lives of 24 million Americans and increase costs for others. The propaganda campaign stating that Obamacare was in a “death spiral” or a “disaster” was tossed out by Paul Ryan and his surrogates—but it was fostered and promoted by President Trump.
Trump is not completely stupid. He knows that legislative actions of the Republicans in the House and Senate raised costs for Obamacare in a way that the President (Obama) could not veto. The Rubio amendment, by ultra-Right Wing Senator Marco Rubio, ex-Cuban from Miami, caused health insurance firms to raise rates and others to drop out.
Trump wants repeal because he does not like President Obama. As a man who was offered a good education but took little advantage of it, he has the bigoted nature often founde in the uneducated. He was also humiliated by President Obama in front of the entire national press corps at the national press dinner, where he made a laughing stock of Trump’s attempts to prove that President Obama’s birth certificate was fake.
So that is why Trump, not a Populist, wants to repeal affordable health care for tens of millions. That’s what a Fascist, like Hitler, would do. Furthermore, Fascists, not Populists align themselves with huge and powerful forces in industry, like the health care industry. They want to “repeal” Obamacare because it forces them to offer, real, meaningful, un-cancelable health care to millions of Americans, costing them millions in extra profits. If Obamacare is repealed, individual health industry corporations make tens or hundreds of millions and U.S. citizens lose billions.
The solution to a better life for the majority of Americans is to return to a balanced government, where the corporations are offered opportunity and support but not free rein over the lives of the people. This means more sharing of the cost of government, sensible government, by those who can most afford it and who derive most from living in a free, prosperous and healthy society. This is Populism and it is not shared by Fascists. In fact, Fascists do not share at all.
If Trump is the typical uncaring, lying Right Wing Republican, then Democrats like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and Dick Durbin are the typical fair-minded, counter balance. The “Freedom” Tea Party Right Wing Republicans think there should be no subsidies for health insurance. They don’t think there should be any citizen supported health care at all, that is, no Medicaid. In 17 states, largely Southern, these “Freedom” Republican governors did not allow Medicaid for their citizens.
So those are the “Trump” Republicans. It is clear, therefore, that you will not have the “more and better” Trump health care insurance. He lied. He has already laid out his plan. It involves cutting into Obamacare by introducing a version of health insurance that a.) allows insurance companies to deny insurance to people with pre-existing medical conditions and b) raises health premium costs for everyone else.
Another Trump “populist” promise was to bring back the coal industry. As a result of that lie, he persuaded 80% of voters in some key West Virginia and Kentucky coal mining districts to vote for him. Every single economist and energy expert says that this cannot be done. Other sources of energy are cheaper, cleaner, more economical and just as abundant.
Hillary Clinton took the hard road. She suggested large-scale investment in those states in industrial alternatives. But the Republicans don’t believe in investment in poor people. They don’t want to help them get work and they don’t want to support them. Why should they do anything, when they have been able to lie to them every election since Reagan and persuade these very low education individuals that they are better off voting against the very people—Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama who are the only ones who have ever done anything for them.
We need to tax hedge fund managers, billionaires, at a reasonable rate, something like 25-30% over ten years. With that money alone we could retrain and reestablish entire communities in coal country, with clean jobs, strong communities, local tax bases and new housing and infrastructure.
We have a 20 trillion dollar deficit.
Trump is no different in philosophy from two other billionaires, David and Charles Koch. Their father, who founded the John Birch Society was pro-Fascist. With the assistance of paid employees in hundreds of so-called “think tanks” and other outright lobbying and propaganda organizations are they spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to cut their taxes and reduce government services to the average working family.
Always remember this. While the Kochs do pay large amounts in taxes, they keep over 80% of what their companies and workers earn for them. They then spend less than 1% of what they keep to promote a continuing effort to cut government—a government for which you pay a much higher percentage in taxes than they do…and the total of which dwarfs what they pay in taxes. In other words, they are using the money they keep to leverage voters to support cutting their taxes and taxes on their corporations so that they can use the money to create more campaigns to cut their taxes and reduce government.
But you pay more taxes in aggregate than they do. So why should you vote Republican to cut their taxes and reduce government that they don’t need but you do. The aggregate of everyone else’s taxes dwarfs their contribution, but they money you help them keep…they use against you.
For example, in 2016, the Koch brothers and their affiliates, other billionaires like Mercer and Adelson and Anschutz and Griffen and others spent more than $400 million on campaigns to elect Republican legislators, and a Republican President, who would vote for more tax cuts and not veto such a stupid, wasteful, plutocrat-pandering plan. In late 2017 those Republicans did cut their taxes again. Of course they had to toss a pittance to the average American family, something like $1000 a year to persuade the ignorant Trump voters that this was “the biggest tax cut ever/”
The Kochs spent heavily to elect those House members who were part of the “Freedom Caucus.” It is a group of about 30 to 40 Right Wing Republican Congressmen pledged to the Koch Brothers in return for complete financial support. Now, to pass any legislation at all, even the totally anti-Middle Class legislation, like the “anti-health care” health care proposals, the Republicans need to go begging to the true Fascists, the “Freedom Caucus,” the new name for the Tea Party Republicans. So we have a government that is majority Right Wing Republicans..working for corporations and the truly wealthy, basically those with incomes over $300,000 per year. Then we have the ultra-Right Wing the people who work exclusively for those billionaires who pay them and promise them better paying jobs if they lose an election.
Does any of this sound “Populist” to you? If it does, you are in serious intellectual trouble. Because supporting billionaires who want to destroy your government, one you pay for, to help you—so that they can simply have a few more million dollars on top of the already hundreds and hundreds they receive—every year—is so illogical that it would almost seem to require psychological testing. The fact is that the accurate name for it is “Fascist.” That means the alignment of one political party, motivated by money or political ideology, to support the rich and powerful and the military and often one religion, to control an entire country, dominating the rest of the general population.
Trump wants to lead that effort. He wants to lead that one political party, what I call plainly and simply “Fascist’ because the Republican Party, which now controls half the states, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Presidency has all the characteristics of a ruthless, dispassionate Fascist regime.
If I told you that the Kochs want to dump toxic chemicals in a river near your house, you would fight against it. The Kochs are the largest polluters, the largest, in our history, just based on fines they already have been forced to pay. But of course that does not cover the people who died or had serious health problems or the inconveniences or the damage to private property they caused. Their solution is to spend hundreds of millions electing officials who then vote to ignore their pollution. This is another part of the Fascist program…to ignore the crimes or serious public disasters caused by their campaign funders.
A Populist, a true Populist, works for the “polis” which is the Greek word for city. So what is a city? A city is not ten billionaires and a hundred thousand average Joes. The city is everyone. It is a place where everyone lives, the “populus’ the Latin word for “people.” Finally, remember this. A man who pretends to be a Populist, who holds out all sorts and manner of promises but does the opposite…is often worse than simply a liar…that man may work, as we have seen, for a handful of rich and powerful men. That man is a Fasicst…the most dangerous kind of politician that exists.
Donald Trump is not about the people. He is one of those about whom Teddy Kennedy said…when is the greed going to end? How little taxes and how many billions do the billionaires need before they will be satiated and will stop trying to drive the average person to an early grave, totally divested of every single piece of property–impoverished, indebted and destitute?
Popuists are good people. Senator George Norris of Nebraska voted for the right things, like expensive but necessary rural electrification for farms and rural villages and for labor’s right to negotiate for better wages, a reasonable work week and raising the age and the rules about hiring children. But he had no problem voting for what was right, whether or not he would lose popular support. He did what was right for the people, whether they knew it was right or not. Donald Trump should never even be mentioned in the same conversations as men like George Norris or Robert LaFollette.
In the end it is your choice. Will you support a true Populist, someone like Bernie Sanders, or another similar progressive leader? There are only two political parties. The Republicans have shown themselves to be in the hands of the Right Wing, and show many signals that they are, in fact, Fascist in their political philosophy. Trump is no Populist. He is a Republican. And most Republicans, as I see it now, are Fascists.