So many pundits and cable news talking heads have breathlessly referred to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as a “populist” one, indicating that they believe he ran by appealing to the wants and needs of everyday Americans. I personally am not sure that’s the case, though. I think he won by appealing to the lowest common denominator, the spark of hatred in the kind of people who vote for Republicans that makes them want to ensure that people they don’t think “deserve” nice things don’t get them.
That might be why it was completely glossed over, in all of that “populism” nonsense, that Trump was actually doing the opposite of appealing to the “working class” that the Democrats supposedly neglected in that election. Never mind the fact that Democrats are the only party of the two major outlets that’s consistently fought for unions and healthcare and childcare and everything that might benefit the “working class” lifestyle.
In fact, if they’d been paying a little more attention, all of those media types might have heard Trump say, all the way back before he even clinched the nomination for the GOP, that he actually thought wages were too high. In November of 2015, at one of the innumerable, interminable Republican debates, Trump was addressing raising the minimum wage — something that literally everyone, including even some moderate Republicans, agrees is necessary since the federal minimum hasn’t increased in a decade.
But Trump’s base aren’t moderates. Even if they make a paltry $10 an hour, it makes them happy to see that others who they consider less than them — less skilled, less American, less deserving — are making less than they are.
And of course, there were no moderate Republicans in that primary, so none of them endorsed raising the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
But none went as far as Trump — you could say, in fact, that he was the least “populist” of all the candidates — as he did right in his opening statement:
We are a country that is being beaten on every front — economically, militarily. Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”
It was a line that fell pretty flat with the audience, in fact, as I’m sure you can imagine. One outlet did happen to ask him about it the next day — MSNBC’s Morning Joe — but even host Mika Brzezinski was out of touch with “the people” as she got the actual federal minimum wage wrong by an extra quarter per hour, telling the soon-to-be President that people “can’t live on $7.50 an hour.”
But I want my readers to go into the 2020 election armed with the knowledge that Trump is in no way the populist candidate, no matter who the Democratic challenger winds up being. So here’s Donnie on video, on with Joe and Mika, doubling down on the DISGUSTINGLY detached notion that “wages are too high”:
Never forget that Trump’s idea of America is “competitive,” and that means good for business but not for workers.
Featured image is a screen capture.