The populist party in the U.S. is not Democratic

Joan Walsh might be able to say she told us so. In September, she wrote of Donald Trump’s prospective “loyalty” pledge to the Republican Party, “Why would anyone expect that of Trump? His three marriages and four bankruptcies indicate a rather loose bond to his own word.”[1] He did indeed sign that pledge, on the very day that Walsh wrote that.[2] But now, less than three months later, he’s back to refusing to rule out a third party run.[3]

The narcissism[4] candidate presently has little reason for complaint. We hear noises from the Republican Party establishment that they want to stop Trump, and allegedly, “[t]he triggers for the anti-Trump onslaught would likely be: 1) if next month [November] arrives with Trump still in the lead, and 2) if Trump begins airing his own ads. ‘Once that starts, you’ll see a lot of people saying we’ve waited long enough,’ notes McIntosh.”[5] but Trump remains the leader in the race for the 2016 presidential nomination.[6] Now, in the wake of the Islamic State attack on Paris,

“The losers are going to be Donald Trump and Ben Carson on national security,” said Katon Dawson, the former chairman of the South Carolina GOP. “As the Republican base sobers up, they are the two, if this story lasts a long time, it’s going to hurt.”[7]

If the Republican Party establishment means to dump Trump, they’re being very passive—and we have yet to see aggressive—about it. There is zero evidence that the Republican base is “sobering up,” as “Fred Flintstone and Archie Bunker are alive and well in 2015, according to the American Values Survey released [on November 17] by the Public Religion Research Institute.”[8]

Which means, given the Democratic Party establishment’s more successful thumb on the scales for Hillary Clinton,[9] that we are looking at an increasingly probable Clinton-Trump match-up in the general election.

This suggests three things: First, once again, we will be treated to a contest between two utterly reprehensible candidates, with the Democrat once again marketed to the left as the lesser of evils. Second, because Clinton is an appallingly weak candidate—Bernie Sanders is more convincing in a race against Trump[10]—we are increasingly likely to see a President Trump taking the inaugural oath in January, 2017. And third, Democrats are passing the already deeply diminished populist mantle, albeit now in authoritarian populist form, to Republicans.

Democrats ought to be thinking about that. And so should anyone who votes for them.

  1. [1]Joan Walsh, “Donald Trump’s empty loyalty vow: Man with three marriages, four bankruptcies reportedly pledging fidelity to GOP,” Salon, September 3, 2015,
  2. [2]M. J. Lee and Chris Moody, “Donald Trump signs RNC loyalty pledge,” CNN, September 3, 2015,
  3. [3]Bradford Richardson, “Trump refuses to rule out third-party run,” Hill, November 22, 2015,
  4. [4]Henry Alford, “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!” Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015,
  5. [5]Byron York, “Panicked establishment gets ready for war against Trump,” Washington Examiner, October 19, 2015,
  6. [6]Dan Balz and Scott Clement, “Trump leads, Carson second as GOP voters favor change over experience,” Washington Post, November 21, 2015,
  7. [7]Katie Glueck and Daniel Strauss, “GOP leaders: National security will end Carson and Trump campaigns,” Politico, November 17, 2015,
  8. [8]Laura Bliss, “The Pessimism of White, Working-Class America,” CityLab, November 17, 2015,
  9. [9]Lauren McCauley, “Viewers Tune Out, Voters Lose Out as Democratic National Committee Buries Second Debate,” Truthdig, November 16, 2015,
  10. [10]Brent Budowsky, “In new shock poll, Sanders has landslides over both Trump and Bush,” Hill, November 11, 2015,

One thought on “The populist party in the U.S. is not Democratic

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.