Wednesday, March 28, 2018

'Trumpism' and the GOP

Not sure exactly what "Trumpism" is, but if WaPo's Ashley Parker means populist nationalism, then she's on to something.

An interesting piece, "How Trumpism has come to define the Republican":

Over just a few days last week, the essence of Trumpism was on global display: The president ignored his advisers by congratulating Vladi­mir Putin, took the first steps toward imposing tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods and signed a huge $1.3 trillion spending bill that will balloon the federal deficit.

In each case, President Trump cast aside years of Republican orthodoxy — and most of the party followed right along. The raw, undefined brand of populism that Trump rode into office is now hardening into a clearer set of policies in his second year, remaking the Republican Party and the country on issues ranging from trade and immigration to spending and entitlement programs.

Even amid persistent unpopularity and the chaotic din of his White House, Trump has used a mix of legislation and unilateral actions to successfully push ahead with key parts of his vision — tariffs that have rocked global markets; harsh crackdowns on illegal immigrants; a nationalistic foreign policy that spurns allies while embracing foes and costly policies with little concern for the growing national debt.

The spending legislation — which puts the deficit on track to pass $1 trillion in 2019 — faced little meaningful opposition from Republican lawmakers despite years of GOP complaints that federal expenditures were out of control. Trump called the bill “ridiculous,” but focused on issues other than the amount of spending.

It was another example of how Trump seems to have overtaken his party’s previously understood values, from a willingness to flout free-trade principles and fiscal austerity to a seeming abdication of America’s role as a global voice for democratic values.

“While the president’s vision of pro-American immigration, trade and national security policies may not have had widespread support in Washington, they are widely supported by the American people,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. “This is President Trump’s Republican Party.”

A tweet Friday, in which Trump threatened to veto the spending bill, also underscored another tenet of Trumpism — a state of continuous uncertainty about where he will land on key policies. In the tweet, Trump said he was frustrated with the legislation both because it “totally abandoned” young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” (long a Democratic priority) and because it failed to “fully” fund his controversial border wall (now a Republican priority).

“There has certainly been a wholesale repudiation of many core principles that have guided the Republican Party’s thinking over the years,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University. “Their willingness to accept certain victories on their agenda in return for the acceptance of Trumpism more broadly — that seems to be the guiding principle of Republican Party leaders.”

Trump allies and advisers say that while he has in some ways reshaped the Republican Party, he rose to power by understanding where the party’s base already was and channeling those existing worries and desires.

“I would argue that Trump is more a reflection of where the voters are today,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser. “I don’t think he persuaded them into these stances. That’s where they were. He’s merely being a mirror to them. . . . He heard what the voters were talking about, what they feared, the pain that they had, and he immediately championed it.”

White House officials also stressed that Trump’s professed “America First” theme serves as a kind of connective ideology, whether in prioritizing American workers over foreign workers on immigration or calling for NATO members to spend more on a shared defense. They said that on many regulatory and economic issues, such as last year’s tax cuts, the president and Republican lawmakers remain naturally aligned.

For many pro-Trump voters, one senior White House official said, the actual policies are less important than the principle — and the principal, Trump himself, promising to stand up and fight for them...
Keep reading.