[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Donald Trump is now fashioning himself the darling of the Tea Party crowd:
TRUMP: I think the people of the Tea Party like me, because I represent a lot of the ingredients of the Tea Party. What I represent very much, I think, represents the Tea Party.In this segment, Fox's Bret Baier mentions that Trump once sent a nice note to Nancy Pelosi, which is certain to get him into hot water with the Tea Partiers -- though even then, he probably managed to score points with them with his sexist dismissal of the question. Far more likely to get him in trouble both with Tea Partiers as well as with rank-and-file Republicans is his 2008 declaration that George W. Bush should have been impeached by Pelosi.
But in reality, Trump may be right. Bill O'Reilly has taken to identifying Trump as a "populist," which might seem absurd on its face -- for one of the world's richest men to claim to be a man of the people is like Colonel Sanders claiming to be a man of the chickens.
However, they're actually right, insofar as Trump is clearly a right-wing populist -- which means he's a manifestation of all their wildest Randian fantasies and the mythology attached thereupon. This might explain why Trump has been doing so well in Republican polls lately.
As we explained awhile back:
This kind of obeisance to the captains of industry and their utrammeled right to make profits at the expense of everyone else is a phenomenon known as Producerism, which is a hallmark of right-wing populism. It's accurately defined in Wikipedia as:I guess this means there's a Republican born every minute.
a syncretic ideology of populist economic nationalism which holds that the productive forces of society - the ordinary worker, the small businessman, and the entrepreneur, are being held back by parasitical elements at both the top and bottom of the social structure....
... Producerism sees society's strength being "drained from both ends"--from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations which together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern Producerism (Kazin, Berlet & Lyons). Illegal immigrants are viewed as a threat to the prosperity of the middle class, a drain on social services, and as a vanguard of globalization that threatens to destroy national identities and sovereignty. Some advocates of producerism go further, taking a similar position on legal immigration.
In the United States, Producerists are distrustful of both major political parties. The Republican Party is rejected for its support of corrupt Big Business and the Democratic Party for its advocacy of the unproductive lazy waiting for their entitlement handouts (Kazin, Stock, Berlet & Lyons).
The Producerist narrative is why Henry Ford – who, as the ostensible author of The International Jew, a 1920 conspiracist tome that inspired Hitler’s paranoia, and whose capital later helped build the Nazi war machine in the 1930s, was also (and not coincidentally) perhaps the ultimate American enabler of fascism – is such a seminal figure for American right-wing populists, both as a leader in the 1920s and ‘30s, as well as a figure of reverence today. (Glenn Beck, in fact, has on several occasions on his Fox News show referenced Ford as something of a holy figure for his efforts to resist FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s.) The same narrative is also why, in today’s context, Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged – a tendentious novel speculating on the disasters that would befall the world if its great industrial leaders suddenly chose to stop producing – are so important in their mythology.
Right-wing populism is essentially predicated on what today we might call the psychology of celebrity-worship: convincing working-class schlubs that they too can someday become rich and famous -- because when they do, would they want to be taxed heavily? It's all about dangling that lottery carrot out there for the poor stiffs who were never any good at math to begin with, and more than eager to delude themselves about their chances of hitting the jackpot.
The thing about right-wing populism is that it’s manifestly self-defeating: those who stand to primarily benefit from this ideology are the wealthy, which is why they so willingly underwrite it. It might, in fact, more accurately be called "sucker populism."