Editorial: Is there Trumpism after Trump?

The Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Political News

Again, the historians will have their say on a presidency unlike any other and a social movement populated by people who do not join movements.

But what we can say is that there are some solid instincts in Trumpism, mixed with a fair amount of crankery.

For example, an aggressive trade policy, in which trade is managed and there is reciprocity between trading partners, and American interests and workers are put first, makes great sense. But promising to bring back coal is an empty promise.

Or: Having a secure southern border is simply necessary. But the “wall” was over the top, just as separating children from parents was morally repugnant.

One key flaw in Trumpism is that it is a reaction. It is not a doctrine but a corrective, at best, and a mere posture, at worse.

Trumpism contains no ideal or a worldview from which one can glean a game plan, only those gut precepts.


Still, as a reaction it is a legitimate, even profound, one. Trumpism is a reaction to the rather stupendous failure of our elites these last 50 or 60 years. They have given us unwinnable wars and sent our best kids abroad to die in them. They also sent our best jobs — making things — abroad.

It’s a pretty wretched record.

No one asked the people of Lima or Youngstown, Ohio, or Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden spent his early years, if they wanted “free trade” and a “global economy.” No one asked them about keeping troops in Germany for 80 years after World War II.

Without developing a counter-elite, however — people good at government and thinking about government — the Trumpian reaction was often reduced to the president’s tweets and Barnum-like behavior or Huey Long-style rallies, with the traditional remedies of Republican politicians and think tanks as an add-on.


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