Forget Trump and consider instead Trump’s constituencies. They are weary of being lectured that they deserve presidential rebuke for their supposed Islamophobia because they are angry about the terrorist killings of Americans. The middle classes are exhausted from being sermonized that they do not “pay their fair share,” when their state and federal tax bite is nearly 50 percent — especially when half the population pays no income tax, and massive federal entitlements have done little to address the pathologies of the underclasses. The contractor and the insurance salesman are furious at being scolded that “they didn’t build” their businesses, when those doing the scolding are pampered elites like Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama, who never built anything other than grievance careers.
Every demagogue, real or fictional, from Cleon to Catiline to Lonesome Rhodes to Ross Perot, owes his career to a fossilized, arrogant ruling class and its impotent opposition that fails to address the anxieties of the middle classes.
Second, is there an antidote offered by any other candidate to Trump’s vague and shifting agenda? Could any Republican promise to end racial quotas and base affirmative action on class rather than skin color, and thus suggest that Eric Holder’s kids should not have a leg up on the offspring of an unemployed Appalachian miner?
Could Republicans reform the tax code without conflating the upper middle class with the multimillionaire class, as if a couple earning $2 million a year needs the same sort of tax relief as those earning $200,000?
Instead of serially ridiculing Trump’s admittedly strange suggestion that Mexico must pay for the completion of the fence (ca. $3 to $5 billion), could they instead agree to a 10 percent federal surtax levied on all remittances sent abroad by undocumented U.S. residents — which would raise just about $3 to $5 billion?