With regard to Trump being a “populist'” Krugman has some things to say about this, Reality TV Populism. For example:
Europe’s populist parties are actually populist; they pursue policies that really do help workers, as long as those workers are the right color and ethnicity. As someone put it, they’re selling a herrenvolk welfare state.
Trump, however, is different. He said lots of things on the campaign trail, but his personnel choices indicate that in practice he’s going to be a standard hard-line economic-right Republican.
…in what sense is Trump a populist? Basically, he plays one on TV — he claims to stand for the common man, disparages elites, trashes political correctness; but it’s all for show. When it comes to substance, he’s pro-elite all the way.
So what is the evidence that he an “Authoritarian?” Recently there has been lots written about this. For example Trump’s Authoritarian Approach to Managing Public Opinion, Trump ‘Is a Fraud’ Sending Nation in ‘Authoritarian Direction’. A CNN opinion piece by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Trump is following the authoritarian playbook, makes a couple of persuasive arguments:
- Trump is targeting the media.
- Strongmen also target the judiciary.
Strongmen show aggression to the press as part of a slow-drip strategy of discrediting all information that is not dispensed by their close allies. Many were surprised at Trump’s rude treatment of CNN at his recent press conference. Calling the media outlet “fake news,” he refused to allow reporter Jim Acosta to ask a question. This was classic authoritarian posturing.
Strongmen also target the judiciary, since it stands in the way of their “reforms” that often veer into extra-legality. ..So look forward to Trump administration efforts to tar individual judges who seem to block the fulfillment of GOP agendas or interfere with Trump’s personal interests.[e.g., U.S. District Judge James Robart temporary block of the travel ban]
Assuming that Thump and his set of White House advisors are “Authoritarians” — probability 1.0 — what should we do? I found two sets of advice that appeal to me. One is from a Keith Ellison interview on Trevor North Feb. 6 where Ellison gives advice on strategy for dealing with Trump and the current set of Republicans. The other is from Global Voices, These Venezuelans Have Some Ideas to Share With Trump Opponents. Both argue that we have to fight tooth and nail to regain the support of those that depend on us the most.
From the Keith Ellison Interview: We have to fight him at every turn. People do not expect you to be always successful but they expect you to be faithful.
From Global, Voices: Recognize you’re the enemy they need; show concern, not contempt, for the wounds of those that brought Trump to power; by all means be patient with democracy and struggle relentlessly to free yourself from the shackles of the caricature the populists have drawn of you.