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Politics

Populism died on Saturday

Catherine Rampell on

Many increasingly concluded that the answers were some version of: because they don't look like me.

I cannot tell you how many of the unemployed workers I interviewed during the recession and its aftermath blamed their inability to find work on employers' supposed favoritism of the young (if they themselves were old) or of the old (if they were young), of men (if they were women), of women (if they were men) and of the nonwhite (if they were white).

Of course, the main reason these workers couldn't get a job was that there weren't enough jobs to be gotten. With the economic pie no longer growing, every paltry slice was in dispute.

Those on the populist, anti-establishment left eventually found a savior in a socialist senator from Vermont. The populist, anti-establishment right chose a billionaire con artist. Both leaders vowed to deliver policies that would reward their acolytes and punish entrenched special interests.

In the end, only those on the populist right successfully took over a major political party, and later the country.

But what did they win, really? Did they get the great economic de-rigging they demanded? A fair shake for good, wholesome folk like themselves? The draining, at last, of the swamp?

 

No.

Instead, a week ago, the Trump administration began dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a post-financial crisis creation designed specifically to protect the little guy from scam artists and swamp creatures.

And then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed the most plutocratic, regressive, system-rigging piece of tax legislation in decades. A bill that allows multimillionaires to pass on their estates tax-free. That offers one special break to owners of private jets and another to those who send their kids to private school.

A bill that literally takes from the poor to give to the rich.

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