The upshot is that in the 2016 election cycle, populism first rose and then proceeded to consume itself. Even if Trump wins, he’ll will prove to be the insider New York businessman he always has been, and will likely do more good for the ultra-rich than the middle class. But most likely we will see the triumph of Hillary’s oligarchs, whose agenda will begin to impinge more seriously on the middle class and its way of life.
Moreover, Trump’s negative coattails could put Democrats back in control of the Senate, which translates to shaping the Supreme Court for a generation. Obama’s penchant for rule by decree will now grow without limit. Every community, every school, every business will fall ever more under the watchful eyes of the federal regime. Pain already evident in Appalachia will spread to the industrial sector, agribusiness, and, most of all, energy as Washington seeks to “save” the planet in ways that don’t threaten the profits of its oligarchic allies.
Fortunately, we will still have elections, and 2018 could be decisive. Given the still weak state of the economy, and the lack of tools to meet a downturn given consistent low interest rates, the country should be ready for a change. Unlike 2016, most of the vulnerable Senate seats will be held by Democrats, and 12 years of meager or no growth, and slumping productivity, do not augur well for them.
The question is whether opposition to Clinton will be fundamentally populist in nature.