Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist?

Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist?

He seems determined to betray his base.

By Paul Krugman

June 17, 2019

“I love the poorly educated.” So declared Donald Trump back in February 2016, after a decisive win in the Nevada primary. And the poorly educated love him back: Whites without a college degree are pretty much the only group among whom Trump has more than 50 percent approval.

But in that case, why has Trump been unwilling to do anything, and I mean anything, to help the people who installed him in the White House?

News media often describe Trump as a “populist” and lump him in with politicians in other countries, like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who have also gained power by exploiting white resentment against immigrants and global elites. And there are indeed strong and scary parallels: Orban has effectively turned Hungary into an authoritarian state, retaining the forms of democracy but rigging the system in such a way that his party has a permanent lock on power.

It’s alarmingly easy to envision the U.S. going the same way, and very soon: If Trump is re-elected next year, that could mark the end of America’s democratic experiment.

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