What Makes Trump’s Populism So Contemptible

The billionaire businessman doesn’t lift people up; he drags his supporters down to his level.

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

There are many reasons why Donald Trump and his presidential candidacy are so contemptible. One is that he deliberately inspires the worst in his supporters.

Robert Tracinski argues at The Federalist that Trump’s is different from traditional right-wing populism.

The latter tells ordinary Americans that while the elites may think they’re rotten, “the joke’s on them because you’re actually better than them.”

You’re honest, hard-working, salt-of-earth people with heartland values, unlike those corrupt, effete, cynical jerks.

That was never entirely true and could amount to reverse snobbery, writes Tracinski, “but there sure was something to it.”

Trump, however, tells his followers that if the elites think they’re rotten, they might as well give up trying to be good.

You’re never going to be politically correct enough, so throw out all standards of decency. They’re going to hate you anyway, so you might as well be what they hate you for.

It’s an appeal to popular vice instead of popular virtue. Instead of offering voters a better version of themselves, Trump wants them to be the worst version of themselves. “He wants to rise to highest office by dragging everybody else down,” is how Tracinski puts it.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Comments

  • What I despise about Trump is that he is definitely NOT a free-enterprise man. He has praised eminent domain, and, from what I understand, has even tried to take advantage of it. He has bragged about his lack of principle in donating to those who supposedly are his ideological enemies. He claimed, so far as I understood it, that he was playing the game as it had been set up. That is why I voted for Cruz in the Virginia primary. I have been hoping Cruz will win the nomination, although I do not like what was done in that other state, canceling the primary. But — it is not for Trump, with his past behavior, to blame Cruz for playing the game as it was set up.

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