Raucous cheers of “USA, USA, USA” flowed through the crowds at President Trump’s most recent rally to support Republican Congressional Candidate Rick Saccone in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
The speech was quintessentially populist, or rather, "Trumpian," free flowing, direct, personable, braggadocious, and quite humorous at times.
This fact was pointed out by Trump himself, when he critiqued a recent piece by Peggy Noonan which ridiculed his demeanor and deemed it not “presidential.”
He would go on to publically mock her concept of what it means to be presidential with a stiff and tight lipped imitation of a rank and file politician, to the chuckles of an enthralled crowd.
He would conclude that Noonan “is writing like I’m some kind of Neanderthal.”
This may have seemed to be just another soundbite in a headline-filled Trump rally, but in reality it is a very revealing moment in the overall clash of cultures taking place in the national discourse.
Many have been led to believe, primarily through the lecturing of coastal cosmopolitan elites and their associated media, that populism is nothing more than some dangerous and regressive political ideology that seeks to mislead the masses against their best interests by playing to their emotions and tempers to pit them against the rule of law and the established order.
While populism, when done right, certainly does rally the crowds, as Trump does, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.
For decades the American people have been subjected to the sort of lecturing from the podium and pomp that Peggy Noonan wishes we still had. They grew sick of it. It is distant, unrelatable, and all together foreign.
Trump’s use of language, theatrics, and his overall style is what awoke huge segments of the American electorate from their political slumber of apathy and nonvoting, it is what created a movement, and led him to a historic victory. This populist awakening has radically changed the American political landscape forever.
This was something that the left in this country and the world over once understood. They used the same style to rally the people and win power across the globe. It is no surprise that as the left has abandoned populism to the trash bin of history so too has their political strength waned.
They traded the working class, the middle class, and the broader public for a small, increasingly geographically marginalized segment of the population that resides almost exclusively in the multimillion dollar condos of San Francisco and the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It is for this reason that the Democratic Party has been reduced to a regional party by many metrics and will likely continue to lose ground for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day populism is not a concrete ideology at all, and certainly not exclusive to the right. It is a political strategy: a strategy that can and has been used by both the right and the left. Many political pundits and commentators can scoff at what they perceive to be Trump’s childishness and crudeness, but what they fail to grasp is how relatable he is to the public at large.
Those same pundits have often incorrectly joked that a billionaire from Manhattan is hardly a man of the people as Trump presents himself. In reality he represents the American mythos, a self-made man from the outer boroughs of New York. This is something that he always keenly understood, and the fact that he has built the support that he has shows that he really is the genius from Wharton after all. If he had listened to the orthodoxy, the mainline opinion, and followed the historical trends he would be nowhere — and as he said, the crowds would be “bored.” By virtue of going against the grain and revitalizing populist sentiment in this country’s heartland, he has been able to build a coalition to support traditional conservative policies of tax cuts, deregulation, and smaller government.
The sooner the Republican Party realizes that populism will not ideologically supplant conservatism but rather is a political tool that can advance it, is the moment they will become the dominant political force in America. Luckily for us, the Democrats do not seem to be anywhere near that end.
Gavin Wax is the Editor-In-Chief of The Liberty Conservative, a former New York State Director for the Ted Cruz Presidential campaign, and a small business entrepreneur. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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