Populism is slowly becoming a dirty word in American politics. Since Donald Trump’s election, the DC establishment has framed far-right extremism as populism. Populism itself is branded as equivalent to neo-fascism. There is an element that is missing from the discussion. Left-wing populism has been on the rise recently. Unlike the faux-populists on the right, the left offers the best choices for the people.
What is “populism” exactly? Well, the basic definitions according to Google are “support for concerns of the ordinary people” and “the quality of appealing to or being aimed at ordinary people.” Populism, in a nutshell, is an ideal of looking after the common people.
Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016 was framed as a populist one. The mainstream media worked to associate populism with Trump’s racism and xenophobia. This framing completely ignored what populism really means. Trump certainly espoused many populist positions during the campaign. To say that Trump resembles anything close to a populist now is ludicrous.
Trump is attacking the very centers of security for the common people. He immediately threw off his promise to be a non-interventionist on foreign policy. One of Trump’s first acts as president was an executive order which effectively raised taxes on middle and lower class Americans. Trump and the Republicans are attempting to repeal Obamacare. While Trump blocked TPP, jobs are still being shipped overseas.
Trump’s administration has done everything opposite of what a populist would do. The DC establishment still seems to associate Trump and the so-called alt-right to populism, however. By doing so, of course, they smear all populism as neo-fascist extremism. This is highly deceptive. By calling Donald Trump and the alt-right “populists” you degrade the real populists; the progressive left which is being widely ignored here.
What makes the left much better on populism is economic issues. The alt-right have some economically populist positions, usually on trade issues. Their focus is on racial grounds, however. Building a wall with Mexico won’t generate a better economy. Deporting immigrants won’t provide job security. When the alt-right wants to make America “great” again, they want to make it white again.
Real populism wants to benefit all the people, not just a select group. Much of the leaders of the alt-right, including Trump, have elitist roots. Men like Richard Spencer were raised in well-to-do families and had little connection with the working class. Donald Trump, of course, never worked a day in his life.
The left is far superior in its populist vision. This is evident issue after issue. Even centrists and conservatives are beginning to agree with left-wing populism. On issues such as healthcare, raising the minimum wage, universal public college. Even conservatives are beginning to agree with the left. The reason the left’s populist message is more attractive is because its real populism. Building border walls and repealing healthcare has nothing to do with helping the common people.
Despite the superior nature of left-wing populism, the DC establishment continues their deceitful framing. Populism is associated as dangerous fascistic extremism. Anyone who considers himself a populist on any issue is then equated with men like Donald Trump or Richard Spencer. The irony is that neither of those men are populists. They have no interest in helping common people in America. Neither of them have roots with the common people. Trump is a robber-baron opportunist, while Spencer is a white-supremacist from a rich suburb in Dallas.
While the establishment in DC and the media are attempting to smear populism, the real populists are rising. The left has a groundswell of support emerging for their populist platforms. Real populism tries to help the common people, which the left continuously tries to accomplish. You don’t help the common man by taking away their healthcare while cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires. The common people, even on the right, are realizing this.
Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country. Over 60 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Bernie in a recent poll. When Bernie gave a town-hall in West Virginia, his message for universal healthcare was well received. The town-hall was conducted in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Bernie continues to grow in popularity among the common people.
Real populism comes from the left and are the only ones trying to help all of America’s working class. Providing universal healthcare, universal public college, paid sick-leave and maternity leave for workers, raising the minimum wage and tying it to inflation, these are real populist issues. The progressive left is fighting for these issues. Do not be fooled by establishment framing. Men like Donald Trump are not populists. The real populists are about to ride a left-wing wave that will sweep the country very soon.