Anti-Elitism, the Trump Version

Anti-Elitism, the Trump Version
Michael Heiman/Pool Photo via AP

Donald Trump's inaugural address, for which the heavens wept, culminated a strand of American conservatism that has been with us since Republicans began attacking Franklin Roosevelt. It is to refocus any anti-elitist sentiment away from finance and big business, and toward the political establishment.

In one form or another, it has long been a defining motif of the American right, stretching from Joe McCarthy's allegations of treason by striped-pants diplomats, to George Wallace's attacks on pointy-headed bureaucrats, to Ronald Reagan's war on government, up to Trump's assault today on Washington for selling out the (largely white) factory workers to the benefit of—as Trump put it—themselves.

“Their victories were not yours,” he noted. Their days of power, of betraying American workers, were at an end.

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