Trump was not the brilliant businessman skilled at tax write-offs that we had been promised. He was a fraud who was paying nothing at all. Literally.
This was not the pitch he made to the American people in 2016. Back then, Trump repeatedly claimed that he’d impose a new tax regime that would cause him and his wealthy friends to pay significant sums. The media and his base lapped it up hook, line, and sinker…
The reality is that saying that you are an economic populist who cares about the forgotten man is more respectable in elite political circles than admitting you are a race hustler. You can tell it to a journalist or to your friends at the country club and not feel judged. It almost makes you sound like a good person! You are fighting for the working man and want to make things more fair. If anything you are harming your own interests! These new policies might “cost me a fortune.” Sure it will.
A face-saving ruse. That’s all it ever was. A story for the rubes.
The only “populist” shift in the Trump era regards the enabling of cultural grievance. The willingness to use the president’s bully pulpit to take those uppity athletes down a peg. Shutting the door on new immigrants and refugees. Punishing enemies. Law and order for protesters but a get-out-of-jail-free card for cronies. Wanting to use racial slurs without getting “canceled.”