Trumpism vs. Trump

Elitist politicians and the mainstream media have been so obsessed with denouncing Trump’s egregious character that his voters developed a reflexive tendency to defend the man rather than his policies. But nearly four years later, many Trump voters feel unsatisfied with his list of accomplishments. Criminal justice reform and tax cuts, two of the achievements the administration most often boasts about, are not what his supporters signed up for. A series of recent SCOTUS decisions have rocked the conservative confidence that Trump’s judicial overhaul was change you could believe in. And Trump might tweet about law and order, but the riots and statue removals have continued unfettered for weeks across the country. Trump’s only significant response has been to put his liberal son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to appease the mob on police reform. As a result, nationalists and populists have geared up to hold Trump accountable from the right.

Trump is starting to get the hint that his combination of free-market skepticism, hardline immigration policy, pro-family messaging, and war-resistant foreign policy is more important to voters than he is. He reportedly regrets following some of Jared Kushner’s advice on pursuing more moderate policies while in office, indicating there will be ‘no more of Jared’s woke shit’, according to Axios. However, he has spent his four years in office fighting the Democrats and dissenters in his own party instead of honing and selling his message. Trump seems to have no idea what he is running on anymore. He has struggled in multiple interviews to give an agenda for a second-term, relying on past accomplishments rather than a vision for the future. Trumpers have filled this void with other, more thoughtful leaders who have embraced the party’s shift to populism: Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and most notably, Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s show has broken cable-news ratings records despite hemorrhaging advertisers. His nightly monologues have become something of required viewing for conservatives who care about the issues. Alex Thompson of Politico recently argued he may be the GOP’s best bet to run for president in 2024.