Don't be fooled by the rhetoric of yet another American oligarch, Trump is the establishment
While Donald Trump has successfully positioned himself as an anti-establishment candidate, there is an open question as to whether this is a legitimate perception. Trump has been able to channel anti-DC resentment among Republican voters, and it is near certain that he will use this against Hillary Clinton in the general election. However, is Trump really as anti-establishment as he claims? Not really.
It is true that Trump has never held elected office before, so he doesn’t have the close inside connections to DC politics the way Hillary Clinton does for example. In that sense, yes Trump could be considered an “outsider.” But, where it really counts, Trump is just as much an establishment candidate as anyone in DC. Let us not forget who Trump is. He is the one percent.
While Trump is not a DC politician, he is perhaps a far more menacing figure. While Trump has been able to brand himself as anti-establishment, people like him are the exact reason why voters are so angry at DC in the first place. Trump is an American oligarch, a classic robber baron. He is the perfect caricature of a shady corporate CEO or Wall Street trader. He would have made Gordon Gekko proud.
Progressives need not forget the source of our anger and frustration with the political establishment. We are angry at our democracy being bought and owned by wealthy oligarchs. News flash: Trump is a wealthy oligarch. He’s come out and said he’d dismantle any regulations on Wall Street, and recent reports have revealed that he wished for the economic collapse in 2008, as it was a good way to “make a lot of money.” That’s about as sleazy as it comes.
In a way, Trump is the quintessential establishment candidate. While Wall Street and other corporate barons are fearful of Trump’s wildcard nature, it should be not be forgotten that Trump is one of them. Trump is a vulture capitalist who inherited his fortune, screwing over workers while bankrupting every business he ever touched, all while walking away with huge profits. Trump, while railing against foreign trade deals, has often benefited greatly from those trade deals.
It seems that by nominating Trump, the Republicans have effectively cut out the middle man. No longer are they electing corrupt politicians in DC to represent the interests of the corporate class, rather they are electing the oligarchs themselves. It’s a masterstroke of Trump’s marketing abilities. He has been able to convince Republican voters and many others that he is running against the establishment, while his entire life and wealth has been immersed in that establishment.
Trump is not a working class champion of the people. He is a supposed billionaire, who has lived his life the way any other American from corporate stock does. To consider Trump anti-establishment seems laughable in a way. He is clearly just as corrupt and uncaring of poor and middle class struggles as any trader in Goldman Sachs. It seems amazing Trump has been able to cast himself as so anti-establishment, yet somehow he has.
As much as Trump rails about how politicians are bought and corrupted by money in politics, he initially tried to collect the same corporate cash that all the other Republican candidates did. He was initially turned down for funds by the corporate class, which could explain why Trump started running on an anti-establishment platform. He has now shifted his position and is lobbying wealthy donors, with Sheldon Adelson (longtime robber baron donor to Republicans) pledging $100 million to fund Trump’s campaign. So much for Trump’s campaign being “self funded.”
Make no mistake, Trump is not a populist. He is certainly not as populist as Bernie Sanders, as Bernie actually has a career backing up his populist rhetoric. Trump has no record of populism, only sharp rhetoric, which he has marketed extremely well. Marketing is Trump’s greatest strength, which he no doubt learned from growing up in America’s vulture corporate hierarchy.
What makes Trump so effective is his ability to sell himself, which is why the Democratic Party establishment needs to be on guard going forward. They’ve already lost the populism advantage to a born and raised corporate oligarch, just imagine what else they could lose to messaging…