Moveover, with Trumpian nationalism provoking elites on the Democratic side of the aisle into spasms of identity-politics-fueled indignation, the newly populist Republican Party would be well placed to pick off millions of erstwhile Democratic voters — members of the white working class, but also some African Americans and Latinos. And with that, the populist realignment would be complete, with Republicans the clear beneficiaries.
That’s not at all how things have worked out. Aside from sabotaging himself by repeatedly interfering with the investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, Trump spent the bulk of his time during the crucial opening six months of his administration pushing the House and Senate to pass a series of wildly unpopular bills that would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act with an alternative that primarily benefited the wealthy at the expense of ordinary voters. Now he’s turned to tax reform, which is equally likely to leave the rich even better off than they already are while changing little for anyone else. And then there’s the president’s decision to extend the already interminable war in Afghanistan, which is exactly the policy that the establishments of both parties would prefer.