Who Are the Trumpists?
Does not this Wikipedia description of France’s National Rally not sound like a perfect description of the transformation of the Republicans from Reaganism to Trumpism?
“At the end of the 1970s, Le Pen refurbished his party’s appeal by breaking away from the anti-capitalist heritage of Poujadism. He instead made an unambiguous commitment to popular capitalism, and started espousing an extremely market liberal and anti-statist programme. Issues included lower taxes, reducing state intervention, reducing the size of the public sector, privatisation, and scaling back government bureaucracy. Some scholars have even considered that the FN’s 1978 program may be regarded as “Reaganite before Reagan”.
The party’s economic policy shifted from the 1980s to the 1990s from neoliberalism to protectionism. This occurred within the framework of a changed international environment, from a battle between the Free World and Communism, to one between nationalism and globalisation. ] During the 1980s, Jean-Marie Le Pen complained about the rising number of “social parasites”, and called for deregulation, tax cuts, and the phasing-out of the welfare state. As the party gained growing support from the economically vulnerable, it converted towards politics of social welfare and economic protectionism. This was part of its shift away from its former claim of being the “social, popular and national right” to its claim of being “neither right nor left – French!” Increasingly, the party’s program became an amalgam of free market and welfarist policies, which some political commentators have claimed are left-wing economic policies, even putting her to the left of President François Hollande.
Under her leadership, Marine Le Pen has been more clear in her support for protectionism and she has criticised globalism and capitalism for certain industries. She has been characterised as a proponent of letting the government take care of health, education, transportation, banking and energy.”
The Reagan/Thatcher “supply-side” economic model that emerged in the late 70s and became the basis of neoliberalism was a counterattack against the Keynesian model that had been dominant since the Great Depression. Business elites saw this as a means of rolling back the welfare state, reducing taxes for themselves, and weakening the power of labor unions. A lot of working to middle-class folks went along with that because back then the postwar economic boom was still largely intact, at least on a residual level. The middle class was more concerned about taxes and inflation than unemployment and insecurity.
I remember that time well. In the US, inflation was a serious problem, people were worried about rising costs, fuel costs were increasing, and Reagan had this message of how he was going to restore the economy. The first thing the Reagan regime did was adjust monetary policy to reduce inflation, which caused a serious recession. Then the economy was lifted out of a recession with a “right-wing Keynesian” program of reducing capital gains taxes and massive state investment in military-connected industries, modest reductions in the social safety net, an overall increase in the growth rate of government, with massive deficit spending and public debt accumulation. The Reagan/Thatcher model was a total scam that amounted to “socialism for the rich.”
Then, ten years later, the era of globalization began, and an already weakened position of the working class was weakened still. At that point, some nationalist conservatives and populists started developing a more anti-corporate position. Too little, tool late. Buchanan spent the decades of the 80s propagandizing for the Reaganites as he had previously done for Nixon, then when Poppy Bush introduced his “New World Order” with things like NAFTA and the Gulf War, the Buchananites started moving in a more populist direction, like the Len Penists in France.
The best possible thing that could come out of the populist right insurgency within the GOP would for the populist wing to grow to the point of actually eclipsing and marginalizing the neocons within the party, while thwarting Democratic efforts to create a one-party state, and fueling the culture wars with the effect of escalating fractiousness and secessionist sympathy. In the past, I have been asked why I, as an anarchist, have been interested in outreach to the radical right, and this is why. The populist-right has the potential to weaken the influence of the Reaganites and neocons, constrain the totalitarian humanists/progressive authoritarians, and contribute to the eventual fragmentation of the state.